10 best beauty gift sets for Christmas 2020 they’ll love to receive – The Independent

November 10, 2020 - Body Fragrance

Christmas is looking rather different this year, as the latest lockdown measures have left our festive plans engulfed in uncertainty. After a year like 2020, the gifts you choose matter more than ever, whether you’ll be opening them over a video call or in person.

Everyone deserves a bit of luxury come Christmas morning, and you can’t go far wrong with a gift set when making someone feel special. For beauty lovers, it’s an exciting time of year, as brands reveal boxes housing a range of treats, all wrapped up in exquisite packaging, some festive, some completely off-piste.

Every year, across skincare, make-up and haircare, brands strive to go bigger and better with their seasonal offerings – but with so much choice, finding the perfect gift set for your loved one (or yourself, no judgement here) can be an arduous endeavour.

To save you searching endlessly online and ending up with 20 options in your basket, unsure on which will really suit your lucky recipient, we’ve reviewed a collection of gift sets at a range of price points, in a bid to help you find the perfect present.

In our efforts to find the best of the bunch, we were looking for a mix of classic favourites as well as new launches. Ideally products would be full-sized; we only featured minis if we thought they offered good value for money, or the opportunity to try something new before investing in the full product.

As 2020 has been such an unusual year, we were also looking for sets that offered something a little different, whether that be the rejection of overtly festive packaging, or a gift that gives back to others. Our choices are the perfect antidote to such challenging times.

So whether you’re after fragrance, hair tools, body care or a mix of everything, read on for our ultimate guide to beauty gift sets this Christmas.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

Space NK the winter wind down collection

This curated collection from the luxury beauty retailer really represents everything we wanted from a gift set this year. The recyclable box is refreshingly simple, with no golden ribbon or festive sparkle in sight, but the contents inside is sure to impress. Designed to arm you with everything you need for a cosy night of self-care, the box houses five full-sized products from different brands, giving you more variety than most other gift sets.

The selection screams me-time and comfort. The 190g Diptyque candle in the perfumers best-selling scent, “baies”, is perfect for setting the scene, while the body oil from Aromatherapy Associates, packed with camomile, vertivert and ylany ylang, absorbs easily into the skin, leaving a subtle scent that will help you drift off. A lip balm from Augustinus Bader, a skincare brand with a stem cell scientist at the helm, feels luxurious, with weighty metal packaging and a deeply conditioning formula.

REN’s cult-favourite pillow spray is another addition to the set, but our favourite product is the Nursem hand cream. Developed with nurses to help combat the effects of endless hand washing, for every product sold, the brand gives a month’s worth of free Nursem to a nurse or midwife, an initiative that makes this set more thoughtful than most. The cream itself is fast absorbing and instantly soothed our tester’s eczema prone hands, thanks to the medical grade manuka honey and soothing white willow extract.

With £149’s worth of luxury products, this set is well thought out and feels truly special. A real remedy for tough times.

Benefit Cosmetics magnificent brow show

The brow experts at Benefit know how to impress at Christmas, and this set is no exception. The brand always goes a step further when it comes to packaging, and although we were slightly disappointed to see the same circus theme as last year, this set still has the fun factor and feels high quality.

Benefit’s brow products are renowned for being fail proof, and this set gives you everything you’d ever need to perfect them, whether you’re into a super fluffy brow or the dramatic, carved out kind. For just over £50, you’ll enjoy five full-size products that are worth £112.50, which is serious value for money.

There are some best-sellers here, like Benefit’s brow pomade “ka-brow” and its brow defining pencil “precisely my brow” for filling in brows with ease. But our favourite product of the bunch has to be “gimmie brow”, a brow gel/pomade hybrid that volumises your brow hairs while adding definition – perfect for achieving that feathered brow look that’s so in vogue. Available in three shades.

Dyson airwrap exclusive copper gift edition

We were hesitant to give into the hype around Dyson’s coveted airwrap styler, but now we understand why people fork out this kind of cash for the brand’s hair tools.

This gift set edition features six interchangeable heads, including a mini version of Dyson’s hair dryer, four different curling barrels and three brushes, all housed in a beautiful leather case that helps to justify the price tag – with an extra travel bag too.

So how does it work? The airwrap uses aerodynamic technology, known as the “coanda effect”, to attract strands of hair to the device before wrapping it to style, relying on air rather than extreme heat. The tool quite literally grabs the hair itself and wraps it automatically, without the need to manually place the hair around the barrel like with traditional stylers.

This sounded like a recipe for disaster to our tester, who sees herself as quite frankly useless at hair styling, with thick locks that usually get stuck in any tool she tries to use. But this has genuinely revolutionised the way we style our hair as it is so simple and fast to use, whether you’re after big bouncy curls, a straight but voluminous look or tight ringlets. It’s impossible to get your hair stuck in the barrel and the air technology is more intuitive than it sounds, wrapping the hair effortlessly.

The only niggle we have is that the airwrap barrels and brushes are designed to be used on damp hair, in order for the style to last, which feels slightly limiting. However, our tester’s curls lasted all day and evening, unlike most other tools we’ve tried where our hair only keeps a curl for a couple of hours. A total splurge but for hair obsessives, a justifiable one.

Fenty Beauty glow trio face, lip and body set

Rihanna’s beauty brand has played it relatively safe this year with its gifting range, revealing near-identical lipstick and lipgloss sets to its 2019 offering, but this new trio of products does have some variety. It includes a full-sized version of the brand’s coveted lip gloss in the rose nude shade “fenty glow”, which we love for its plumping, non-sticky qualities; a full-sized cream blush and a mini highlighter in the same shade, which are exclusive to the set. The cream blush formula is one of our favourites, and while we wouldn’t recommend the highlighter for glitter-phobes, it blends beautifully on the skin. We were disappointed with the packaging, as the cardboard felt rather flimsy and a bit lacklustre, but the products themselves make this a good value set.

Huda Beauty Kayali glitz gift set

The brainchild of Huda Beauty founders Huda and Mona Kattan, Kayali is a relatively new brand on the fragrance scene, inspired by the Middle Eastern ritual of layering fragrances together to create something bespoke. While the brand suggests combining its scents, we’re happy with wearing just one, and this set, which features a 50ml bottle of Kayali’s “deja vu” white floral scent and hair mist, feels like a real treat.

The fragrance is a warm, fruity scent that has a slight musk, with notes of sandalwood, white nectarine and orange flower, jasmine and patchouli. The brand claims that the perfume, made with a 25 per cent oil concentration, is designed to be intense, lasting all day, and we can testify to that after receiving lots of compliments on the scent after hours of wear. The fragranced hair mist is definitely non-essential, but Christmas is for luxury treats, right? Given the fragrance itself costs £67, this set isn’t saving you much, but it feels special.

Sol de Janeiro splashy celebration gift set

If you haven’t heard of Sol de Janeiro’s award winning Brazillian bum bum cream, you must have been living under a rock. An ode to Brazil’s obsession with behinds, it not only smells intoxicatingly good – think coconuts, nuts and tropical fruit – but contains firming and hydrating ingredients that will leave skin feeling toned and nourished. The main ingredient is guarana: a native Amazonian plant which contains almost five times more caffeine than coffee, working to stimulate circulation and minimise cellulite.

This colourful set features a 75ml tub of the stuff, as well as a shampoo and conditioner – a new venture for the brand that launched this year – and a hair and body fragrance mist. The conditioner has fast become one of our all-time favourites – infused with brazil nut, coconut oil, cupuacu butter and buriti fruit oil, we were expecting the formula to be heavy, but it somehow retains its creamy, thick lather while being notably lightweight with no greasy residue.

It immediately smooths frizzy, unruly locks, and leaves our hair looking glossy and healthy. Although this set contains all miniatures, given the brand’s products are quite pricey, we think this is a great introduction into its range without committing to full-sized products.

Tan-Luxe the super edit

Calling all fake tan lovers, this is your gift set of dreams. Tan-Luxe has fast become one of our favourite brands for formulas that offer skin-nourishing benefits as well as a golden glow, and its hyaluronic acid range does just that. Its gradual self-tan serums are infused with the powerhouse ingredient that holds up to 1,000 times its weight in water, helping your skin retain moisture.

Both the face and body serums are great for sensitive skin: our tester is acne-prone and didn’t experience any irritation when using the face serum, while the body product soothed our dry skin and applied evenly. The glow that the product imparts is natural and gradual, allowing you to build up the colour. While both products are minis, we think you’re still getting great value for money, as the full-sized super glow body is £35 on its own. The gold embossed packaging is a bit of us too.

Ole Henriksen daily juice brightening skincare set

Our skin could do with a bit of TLC right now, as the winter weather looms and we’re spending more time inside. Ole Henriksen’s brightening skincare set is the perfect antidote to dull, lacklustre skin, with three of its top selling products inside. The full-sized truth juice daily cleanser is the star of the show; a creamy, rich formula that works into a beautiful lather, this removes everything from stubborn mascara to SPF, all while leaving the skin fresh and hydrated. The banana bright face primer and eye cream are infused with colour correcting pigments, vitamin C and collagen to brighten and plump the skin. The primer preps the skin beautifully for make-up, while the eye cream reduces the appearance of dark circles and puffiness. You need this glowy trio in your skincare arsenal. It’s available in Boots from 9 December, or if you can’t wait, you can buy it from the brand’s US site now.

Charlotte Tilbury Charlotte’s magic skin secrets set

We’re usually against gift sets that exclusively feature minis, but this offering from Charlotte Tilbury awards you the opportunity to test some of the brand’s best-sellers without having to fork out for the (rather pricey) full-sized versions. Plus, it features some of our favourites from the brand, including the magic serum crystal elixir which is packed with powerhouse ingredients including blemish busting niacinamide and brightening vitamin C, and the brand’s award winning magic cream moisturiser which is perfect for dry skin. The four-part set also includes the goddess clay face mask which leaves our skin feeling nourished and balanced, and the wonder glow primer that blurs imperfections. Many of Charlotte Tilbury’s gift sets cost far more than this one, and despite the small sizes, it offers great variety. The packaging, as expected from the brand, is gorgeous.

Urban Decay precious duo

This brand has designed some of our favourite packaging of 2020, with a crystal-heavy theme that coincides with its recent “stoned vibes” eyeshadow palette launch. The perfect stocking filler, this set features two of the brand’s best-selling products, and there’s no miniatures in sight. The perversion mascara is a firm favourite, with a jet black formula and fluffy brush that gives real length to your lashes. The heavy glitter eyeliner is far more versatile than it may appear: we love applying a thin layer of this over a shimmery eyeshadow to add more drama to an eye look. It dries down quickly and stays put throughout the day. A lovely duo to perfect your peepers, which is especially valuable during mask-wearing times where our eyes are the star of the show.

The verdict: Beauty gift sets

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