gifts they might actually want

The Best Beauty Advent Calendars to Buy Before They Sell Out

Photo-Illustration: retailers

For die-hard beauty fans, the release date of certain calendars stokes up excitement on limited-edition-sneaker level. Retailers tease the launch of their calendars some months in advance and the more elaborate and extravagant the calendar and its contents, the more feverish people get. Perhaps it’s the sheer delight of opening tiny doors or the joy of having everything in miniature — either way, beauty advent calendars sell out fast.
There’s no doubt a beauty advent calendar makes a great gift to any beauty lover in your life (including yourself), but which ones are really worth it? We asked six experts (including beauty editors, facialists, and makeup artists) which ones they’ll be picking up this Christmas, and also asked Strategist contributors for their recommendations, too.

The best overall beauty advent calendar

Liberty’s Advent Calendar was the pick of facialist Dija Ayodele, skin-health expert and author of BLACK SKIN — The Definitive Skincare Guide, as well as Style & City Diaries podcaster Prinny Rae. “I received one as a gift last year and I loved opening it every morning with my daughter to see what the surprise was — it gave us a chance to bond over beauty. Not to mention, it had so many of my favourite relaxing beauty products like Aromatherapy Associates Bath Oil and makeup like NARS Famous Red lipstick,” said Ayodele. She adds that as well as her old favourites, she discovered new products in the calendar and still uses the Liberty print wash bag as a pencil case. Rae on the other hand, is dropping hints in the hopes of receiving one for the first time this year. “I watched one of my favourite influencers, Melissa’s Wardrobe, open hers on her Instagram Story last year and I’ve wanted one ever since! The sheer selection and variety in the products and brands you get is amazing” Liberty claims their Beauty Advent Calendar was the first, and it’s certainly one of the most-anticipated: priced at £225 but with contents worth £844, this year’s has a selection of products from Olaplex, 111Skin, and Le Labo, as well as a reusable wash bag and a £15 Liberty gift card.

Other notable beauty advent calendars

For the second year in a row, Liberty is also offering a “men’s” advent calendar, which includes brands like Dr. Barbara Sturm, D.S. & Durga, Susanne Kaufmann, and more. “But it’s not just the typical beauty products packed in this advent calendar; you will also get a few alternative surprises, including a mini-bottle of Liberty Sloe Gin to get the Christmas mood in motion and a Liberty pocket square to complete the look,” says Emma Chiu, the global director of trend-forecasting company Wunderman Thompson Intelligence.

Freelance beauty editor Lucy Partington says Flannels Beauty Advent Calendar is her top pick this year, thanks to the mix of luxury and indie brands. “It has Augustinus Bader, Acqua di Parma, Natasha Denona, Medik8, Larry King and Escentric Molecules!” She continues, “it feels well considered and I love the fact there’s a great balance of skin care, fragrance, makeup (in shades and products that are diverse too) and hair care,” said Partington. As well as having many of her favourite products, Partington said the price point of £199 (with contents worth over £764) was good value, given just how expensive some of the brands are. Plus, Flannels say one advent calendar this year will have a £500 voucher to spend in-store hidden inside it. [Editor’s note: this product is available from 22 November].

The 12 miniature products within Benefit’s advent calendar include sample-size tubes of three mascaras — Bad Gal Bang! Mascara, Roller Lash, and “They’re Real” Lengthening & Volumizing Mascara— from our list of the best mascaras, according to makeup artists. Strategist U.S writer Chloe Anello told us about the calendar, which also contains fan-favourite products like the brand’s Hoola Matte Bronzer. She says it would make a great gift for a teen — or anyone — just getting into makeup because the affordably priced calendar and its selection of goodies are “youthful and fun.”

Freelance editor Naomi Pike says Selfridge’s Beauty Advent Calendar is on her list this year. “It’s a month-long walk through the hallowed beauty halls, all from the comfort of your own home,” said Pike. “It has such a great selection that you’ll be able to try lots of new things, but still have the comfort of some of your favourite products, too,” There’s fragrance from Ex Nihilo, cosmetics from Pat McGrath and Huda Beauty and skin care from Susanne Kaufmann and The Ordinary, all worth over £700 but priced at £210.

Strategist contributor Rio Viera-Newton has previously dubbed this her “personal favourite” advent calendar on its presentation alone. Anello also has her eye on it this year. The calendar is filled with 12 of Tilbury’s classic products — three of which are full-size — is always a good investment when you consider the cost of each item. [Editor’s note: This product is currently out of stock online, but you can check in-store stock via the John Lewis website.]

Brand consultant Bec Wilson said the only beauty advent calendar she’s ever wanted is the Net-a-Porter Beauty Advent Calendar, and tries to get one every year. “I always love it. It always has the best selection of beauty products and the samples are a generous size, which are perfect for travelling. It features some of my favourite brands, including Dr Barbara Sturm, 111 Skin or Augustinus Bader,” said Wilson. Priced at £255 but worth £1,300, the calendar includes 17 full-size products and eight minis.

Jenni Middleton, the director of beauty at trend-forecasting agency WGSN loves the Ciate London Mini Mani Month calendar, which includes 22 mini nail polishes, one full-size version, and a mini primer, too. The polishes all feature Ciate’s signature formulation, which is infused with strengthening biotin, nourishing bamboo, and hydrating bakuchiol extract to keep nails strong and healthy. Plus, they’re made with biodegradable glitter and are packaged in recyclable bottles.

The Strategist UK is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Read about who we are and what we do here. Our editors update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

The Best Beauty Advent Calendars to Buy Before They Sell Out