Product watch: Beauty stocking-fillers

Rachel Marie Walsh picks the best beauty stocking-fillers for this season.

Most beauty things come in small packages but what is nice, when you know someone’s taste, is that they are also finite. There are no everlasting gobstoppers in makeup, no perfume diamond-rings.

Like flowers and wine, the classics — black mascara, red nail polish, Chanel No5 — are always welcome.

Even one’s 20th makeup bag will be useful some day.

The nicest stocking-fillers combine beauty with utility.

According to The Smithsonian Magazine, the story of Christmas stockings began with St Nicholas helping a proud father.

 The man had three daughters he feared were destined for spinsterhood because he could not afford their dowries.

The florid one, aware of this father’s plight but also mindful of his ego, ensured the transfer of his little chattels by sliding down the family’s chimney and filling three socks with gold.

Clearly chocolate coins take priority here but there are also lots of gold beauty bits with which to honour this legend. 

Charlotte Tilbury’s Bar of Gold Skin Gilding Highlighter, €40, is hugely popular, I suspect because it complexion-corrects as well as highlights. 

Stroking the bar on the cheekbones and t-zone disguises large pores and pigmentation issues while giving skin a champagne glow. A little goes a long way, so this product does last.

Korean brand TonyMoly makes cosmetics that look like toys, so their golden egg is somewhat mysterious until you crack it.

TonyMoly Egg Pore Silky Smoothing Balm, €23, is wonderful.

I’ve been a fan of makeup artist Lisa Eldridge for years and was intrigued when she began using this primer in her online tutorials.

The yoke looks and smells like lemon sorbet. It is neither oil-controlling nor silicone-heave, so I was sceptical, but it is genuinely smoothing and kept my makeup in place for 12 hours without my using a setting spray or powder on top. 

There is alcohol in the formula, which is potentially irritating.

Here it is such a minor player, however, and so drowned in hydrating plant oils, peptides, retinol and hyaluronic acid that Egg Pore qualifies as a lightweight moisturiser.

Multi-purpose balms are always useful this time of year, what with Jack Frost nipping. PapayaGold Paw Paw Moisturising Skin Balm, €7.99 at boots.ie, is a classic.

Rich in Manuka honey, beeswax and antioxidant papaya extract, it comforts dry and eczema-prone skin and is family-friendly. RMS Beauty Lip and Skin Balm, €27

, is part of celeb makeup artist Rose-Marie Swift’s new collection at SpaceNK.

All ten emollients in this organic ointment were selected for their healing properties. The formula is especially high in coconut, jojoba and buriti butters.

Beyond treating dry skin, Rose-Marie advises using this product under makeup to soften lines around the eyes and lips.

Sheet masks, 2017’s biggest spa-at-home trends are really easy additions to your stockings and Secret Santa cache.

My favourite is Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Concentrated Recovery PowerFoil Mask, €74, one of the few that is both saturated with skin-plumping moisturisers and entirely irritant-free (for some reason the playful packaging many of these masks come in needs echoing with noxious scratch ’n’ sniff-type scents).

PowerFoil is a wonderful pre-party treatment and leaves you with a non-sticky layer of serum you can blend in as makeup primer. More purse-friendly is the Kind to Skin Rich De-stress Sheet Mask by Simple, €3 at dppharmacy.ie, a brand that almost always caters to fads without skimping on care.

The formula is high in agave extract and niacinamide, so supports natural repair while giving skin an instant moisture boost.

Curly hair is a bit of a diva, especially in bad weather, but even the Mariah Carey of mops will respond well to Moroccanoil’s new Curl Cleansing Conditioner, €32.22 at feelunique.com.

The brand’s take on the co-wash (conditioning shampoo) trend is a bit late to the market but they’ve clearly been learning from other brand’s mistakes.

This cleanser is hydrating without weighing curls down or imparting greasy residue. Leaving it on for 5-10 minutes also treats the scalp, as the formulas include several antioxidants and plant extracts, including argan, jojoba and tea tree oils.

Jo Malone London was a disruptor before every beauty company wanted to be, so its no surprise the brand’s plumped for a Pop Art-inspired “Crazy Colourful Christmas” over a traditional palette this year. Pink and green-striped candle jars and orange chevron print-crackers are fun but the limited-edition perfumes are the real bounty.

Orange Bitters Cologne, €54/30ml, is both warm and refreshing, opening with two strains of citrus that break to a sweet orange and mandarin heart.

These dry-down to a rich prune and sandalwood base. Nicer still is the pink-bottled Green Almond and Redcurrant Cologne, €54/30ml. This is a uplifting and very feminine: a blend of tart redcurrant and citrus cocooned in green almond and vanilla.

Finally, Le Mini Macaron Gel Manicure Kit, €41.99 at feelunique.com, is one of my favourite 2017 launches.

Gel nails look great but appointments add up and demand such time (I remember simply laying my head on the bar and napping through infills when I had tips at university), that this product is a double-economy.

The professional multi-step process is cut to a third by Le Mini Macaron’s combination base coat, colour and top coat.

This gives you the brilliant shine and chip-resistance of salon gels and does not require a special remover.

It dries in 30 seconds under an adorable macaroon-shaped lamp and lasts a week or so. The lamp can be plugged into any USB port and also works for pedicures.

I like the cassis and crimson Macarons for Christmas.


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