School has started, pumpkin spice is everywhere and it’s that awkward phase where it’s too risky to leave your jacket at home, but wearing it leaves you sweating to death.
While some might call it autumn, for us it means one thing: the countdown to Christmas has begun.
For beauty junkies, this countdown has only got more exciting in recent years, as traditional advent calendars have been injected with a bit more glamour and luxury. Beauty advent calendars seem to have sprung up from nowhere, but nobody’s complaining when you can wake up to a different lipstick every morning.
To find our top choice for 2019, our tester learnt from her beauty mistakes of Christmas past. While quantity can seem tempting, ideally we want 24 different products destined to become lifelong staples in our beauty routine.
Similarly, the bigger the products, the better – while a lot of mini products seems fun, the reality is that most find their homes at the bottom of your handbag. Eager to find our new favourite, we dove into the Christmas season early and opened hundreds of calendar doors to find the best on offer this year.
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.
Feelunique 24 day beauty advent calendar: £79, Feelunique
Beauty website Feelunique has been in the advent calendar business for a while now and its 2018 offering sold out in two weeks. This year the brand has introduced two options – a 12-day and 24-day calendar –with the latter offering £250 worth of some of the site’s top-selling products. Behind the Northern Lights-inspired packaging, there’s a lot of impressive brands, including Nuxe, Shiseido and Huda Beauty. While we won’t ruin the surprise of what’s behind door 24, we can promise it’s more than worth the wait.
Charlotte Tilbury glittering galaxy of make-up magic: £150, Charlotte Tilbury
Anyone looking to be the most glamorous person in the room on Christmas day will love this Charlotte Tilbury offering. The galaxy-inspired calendar features the products to create two different makeup looks, including four full-size products. While there are only twelve days, quality is favoured over quantity – we especially loved the inclusion of eyes to mesmerise cream eyeshadow and Charlotte’s cult-classic moisturiser, magic cream. The excessive glitter on the packaging also doesn’t hurt, making a jaw-dropping addition to your Christmas decor.
Cath Kidston advent calendar: £40, Cath Kidston
It doesn’t get much cuter than Cath Kidston’s advent calendar. Decorated in a festive-rendition of its trademark illustrations, it contains everything you need to treat yourself over the season, with its contents ranging from body lotions and soaps to hand creams and bath bombs. The brand also offers a more luxe option for £80, shaped like a Christmas house.
L’Occitane luxury beauty advent calendar: £79, L’Occitane
You can always rely on L’Occitane to design high-quality gifts that look as good as they feel. This year there are two different calendars to choose from, but our favourite is the 24-day calendar. Travel-sized versions of its most popular products take you all the way up to the big day, as well as following the calendar’s “tree of dreams” story that delivers different tips on how to nurture nature. Every product is ideal for slipping into your bag for any last-minute beauty emergencies, and our tester’s skin felt better than ever after just a few days.
The Body Shop dream big this Christmas deluxe advent calendar: £65, The Body Shop
The Body Shop has outdone itself this year, releasing three advent calendar options – original, deluxe and ultimate. While all three are impressive in their own right, our pick is the deluxe, which balances luxury with affordability. With 25 treats from the Body Shop’s make-up, skincare and bath and body collections, there’s also the addition of daily trivia behind each door to celebrate the achievements of brilliant women throughout history. Once the big day’s come, you can also take each box and make it into your own Christmas village. It doesn’t get much more festive than that.
Elemis 25 days of beauty advent calendar: £165, Elemis
We absolutely love Elemis products at any time of year, but when 25 of the brand’s very best products are packed into a Christmas tree-shaped calendar it’s almost too much to handle. Anyone looking to elevate their skincare in 2020 is given the perfect introduction to a multi-step routine. It may be pricey but you can feel the quality in even the smallest of the travel-size products, and the final gift is one of the best we’ve seen in any calendar, leaving your skin glowing well into March.
Decleor advent calendar 2019: £85, Decleor
Skincare fanatics will see this advent calendar as a whole Christmas wrapped into one. Eight full-size products and 16 deluxe minis promise to smooth, refine and hydrate your skin against the harsh winter weather, with our tester most excited about the inclusion of the brand’s phytopeel exfoliating cream. It may not be the most Christmassy of the bunch, but a worthy investment for your skincare collection.
Morris and Co. mixed prints beauty advent calendar: £40, John Lewis & Partners
A selection of William Morris’ most iconic prints decorates this calendar, which features a range of beauty favourites in three scents: golden lily, strawberry thief and library of prints. Not only does it slip seamlessly into festive decor, but it’ll leave you smelling great for months to come.
Paul & Joe advent calendar: £80, Beauty Bay
This is Paul & Joe’s third advent calendar, practically making the brand veterans in the beauty industry. It’s therefore unsurprising that it has perfected the curation of products. Lipsticks, skincare, eyeshadows and more are decorated with the brand’s iconic chrysanthemums and cats, delivering high-quality additions to your make-up bag.
M&S beauty advent calendar: £40, M&S
As reliable as the brand’s stellar reputation suggests, the M&S beauty advent calendar is stuffed with make-up and skincare favourites. The brand’s own beauty line and cult classics like REN, This Works and L’Occitane bulk out the 24 days, worth over £300 in total. It has a more affordable price point than most of its competitors, costing just £40 when customers spend £25 on anything but food. We’d recommend this to skincare aficiendos in particular.
Available in-store now
Latest in Beauty 24 days of LIBmas: £65, Latest in Beauty
Beauty subscription service Latest In Beauty has pulled out all the stops to celebrate “LIBmas”. Wrapping 24 products up into a present-like box, an impressive 50 per cent of them are full-size. True to the spirit of subscription boxes themselves, there are plenty of surprises and new cult-classics to be discovered inside. As if that wasn’t enough, subscribers to the service can get a £7 discount and entry into a pre-order giveaway.
Moroccanoil beauty vault: £20, Look Fantastic
This calendar may be the cheapest offering on the list but manages to feel like one of the most luxurious. Glossy hair and soft skin is unlocked with each of the seven doors of Moroccanoil’s calendar. Available from the end of October, every travel-size product inside is destined to become a must-have in our tester’s daily routine from now on.
Glossybox beauty advent calendar: £80, Glossybox
Worth over £370 but only costing a fraction of the price, you’ll be ready for any occasion the festive season throws at you thanks to the Glossybox calendar. Big brand names like Chloé, NYX and Dermalogica have contributed the best of their collections to this baby pink beauty, and you can expect an exciting offering from Tarte Cosmetics on the big day itself. While it’s £80 for non-subscribers, those who have already caught onto the thrill of monthly subscription boxes (basically advent calendars you don’t have to wait until Christmas to open) can get it for a £10 discount.
Space NK the beauty anthology: £195, Space NK
Space NK launched its first advent calendar to mass hysteria in 2018, so it only makes sense that it’s back and bigger than ever. This is an anthology of its best products, so expect luxuries from the likes of Hourglass, Kate Sommerville, Drunk Elephant and more. While this definitely lies on the luxe side of the pricing scale, everything inside is as premium as any Space NK store. Serious beauty fans will feel like a child on Christmas Day for the whole advent season.
Asos face + body advent calendar: £70, Asos
Asos stocks some of the best beauty brands in the business, so its advent calendar was never going to be anything short of incredible. With 25 products from brands such as The Ordinary, NARS and Becca, this calendar feels luxe on a budget thanks to plenty of full-size offerings alongside its miniatures. It’s packaged inside a 100 per cent recyclable box that’s easy to reuse after, cutting down on plastic waste, and also feels a lot more practical than some of its competitors. It may not look the most festive but definitely feels like a gift.
Nuxe beauty countdown gift set: £59, Feel Unique
Natural skincare brand Nuxe has pulled out all the stops this year, offering everything from hand cream to face masks. What sets this apart from others is its inclusion of all lines, including the men’s skincare. We’re already obsessed with the brand’s famous orange-blossom and vanilla scent and are particularly big fans of the multi-tasking body oils too.
The verdict: Beauty advent calendars