15 best beauty gift sets for Christmas 2021: Last-minute goodies from Fenty, Dyson, Benefit and more

We’ve included classic favourites, new launches and cult buys (iStock/The Independent)
We’ve included classic favourites, new launches and cult buys (iStock/The Independent)

Everyone deserves a bit of luxury come Christmas morning, and you can’t go far wrong with a gift set. 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 intentionally minimalist.

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, you deserve it) 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 beauty gift sets at a range of price points, in a bid to help you find the perfect present. If, like us, you’re still looking for some last-minute inspiration, our extensive guide is here to save the day, as these kits are all still available for delivery ahead of the main event.

How we tested

In our efforts to find the best of the bunch, we were looking for a mix of classic favourites, new launches and cult beauty buys. 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.

Festive opulence is all the rage this year, so we refused to settle for naff Christmassy designs. We were 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.

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The best beauty gift sets for Christmas 2021 are:

  • Best overall – Nursem sanitise and protect gift set: £20, Nursem.co.uk

  • Best luxury hair buy – Dyson corrale gift set: £399.99, Currys.co.uk

  • Best for blondes – Olaplex healthy hair essentials: £60, Spacenk.com

  • Best luxury gift set – Maison Francis Kurkdjian baccarat rouge 540 gift set: £390, Harveynichols.com

  • Best value for money – Rituals the ritual of Ayurveda large gift set: £38.16, Lookfantastic.com

  • Best for sustainable packaging – Aesop the advocate gift set: £77, Selfridges.com

  • Best for chapped winter lips – Nars pleasure seeker afterglow lip balm gift set: £36, Lookfantastic.com

  • Best brush set – Bobbi Brown luxury brush collection: £79, Bobbibrown.co.uk

  • Best scent – Sol de Janerio stellar celebration gift set: £38, Feelunique.com

  • Best luxury skincare set – Charlotte Tilbury Charlotte’s magic skin secrets set: £50, Charlottetilbury.com

  • Best for variation – Jo Malone house of Jo Malone London gift set: £139, Jomalome.co.uk

  • Best lightweight hair tool – Ghd platinum+ smart styler gift set in black: £189, Johnlewis.com

  • Best stocking filler – Fenty Skin daily duo set: £12.80, Boots.com

  • Best minimalist make-up look – Glossier the makeup set dresses up: £49, Glossier.com

  • Best for a matte finish – Benefit winter glammin’: £37.20, Boots.com

Nursem sanitise and protect gift set

Best: Overall

Rating: 9.5/10

Since finding this brand last year, our eczema-prone tester has used its hand cream exclusively, as it’s become her absolute go-to for soothing and protecting chapped, sore skin. Even better, it’s a company that gives back, too. 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. It’s helped more than 337,000 nurses to date and is a cause worth celebrating, particularly during the pandemic. Its gift sets go one step further with this idea, as they include a Nursem promise nomination card, meaning your giftee can donate a month’s worth of free Nursem to a healthcare professional of their choice.

We plumped for this hand cream and alcohol-free hand santisier duo, and have yet to find an anti-bac spritz that is so gentle on our mitts. The cream is fast absorbing and instantly soothes our tester’s painfully dry and itchy hands, thanks to the medical-grade manuka honey and soothing white willow extract. We love everything about this brand, from the fun packaging to the concept of giving back and the truly efficacious products.

Buy now £20.00, Nursem.co.uk

Dyson corrale gift set

Best: Luxury hair buy

Rating: 8/10

Needing little introduction, Dyson creates some of the most sought-after hair tools around, with its coveted airwrap and supersonic hair dryer regularly selling out. Just like its other tech, the brand’s cordless straightener caused a stir when it launched last year thanks to its innovative design. Continuing the company’s focus on reducing heat damage, Dyson’s corrale straightener features flexible plates that shape around your hair while styling. This, Dyson claims, reduces the pressure you’d apply when using other straighteners, thus limiting heat damage and giving you more control.

We found that to be true, as just like the airwrap tool, Dyson’s corrale straightener does all the hard work for you, as the flexible plates move with your hair and allow you to get to those hard-to-reach spots with minimal effort. This means you’re spending less time on perfecting your style and applying less pressure to your strands in order to achieve a poker-straight look.

We also found that the plates made it easier to curl our hair – they worked really well to create those flicky ends that you’d get with a bouncy blow-dry. We did find the straighteners to be very heavy, which is something to consider if you’re buying for someone with a weaker wrist, and while they are travel friendly (you can pack them in your carry-on luggage), their weight does make them feel marginally less portable. With that said, everything about the tool feels seamless, from the magnetic 360-degree cable to the slick stand that they come with.

The OLED screen indicates when the straighteners have reached your desired temperature and gives you a range of heat settings to choose from. In cordless mode, the tool lasts for 30 minutes, which was more than enough time to style our mid-length hair, but for longer tresses, you may find yourself needing to plug the cord in. The gift set feels truly luxe, with a sleek matte case in the same deep blue colour as the tool itself. This is a real investment, but is worth it for anyone who straightens their hair daily and wants to limit damage.

Buy now £399.99, Currys.co.uk

Olaplex healthy hair essentials

Best: For bleached hair

Rating: 8.5/10

Partners who are buying for Christmas, be warned: if you dare borrow this shampoo in the shower, there will be serious consequences. Why, you ask? Because it’s expensive – these holy-grail formulas are like gold dust to anyone wanting to restore damaged tresses. Recommended by hairdressers everywhere, our tester started using Olaplaex when she went from jet black to blonde in the space of a few months, and found it significantly helped strengthen her hair, add shine and reduce split ends and frizziness.

This set features the brand’s bestsellers and encompasses everything you need for a full Olaplex routine. We found using the shampoo and conditioner daily was too heavy for our hair, so would suggest using it a few times a week alongside your other regular products. The no.3 hair treatment makes a real difference to the healthiness of our locks: every time we use it, we feel like we’ve just come out of the salon again. The hair oil should be used sparingly (we’re talking a few tiny drops) but adds serious shine to lacklustre strands. This is the perfect set for bleached hair in particular, we can’t get enough of the hero products inside.

Buy now £60.00, Spacenk.com

Maison Francis Kurkdjian baccarat rouge 540 gift set

Best: Luxury gift set

Rating: 9/10

Hailed as the “it” fragrance of the year, baccarat rouge 540 has become somewhat of a cultural phenomenon after garnering huge attention on social media, thanks to its instantly recognisable, intoxicating scent that quite literally stops people in their tracks. The coveted fragrance was created by perfumer powerhouse Francis Kurkdjian, whose portfolio includes the likes of Jean-Paul Gautier’s le male and Narciso Rodrigez for her. Now running his own successful line, Kurkdjan has just been appointed Dior’s creative director of perfume, and as soon as you smell baccarat 540, you’ll understand why.

With notes of jasmine, cedar and saffron, there’s a deep sweetness that’s offset by a woody backdrop of balsam fir and ambergris, the latter being a creamy, addictive note that really gets under your skin (plus, it’s one of the most expensive raw ingredients on the planet). We got stopped on the tube as a fellow commuter asked what fragrance we were wearing, while friends who were already familiar with the scent could spot it from a mile off.

This luxury set features a full-size bottle of the perfume, as well as a chic candle that burns beautifully and a hair spritz in the same scent, all adorned with the brand’s signature red and gold detailing. Exclusive to Harvey Nichols, the huge box feels like a real treat to open, as you’d expect at this price. It’s certainly a splurge, but if you’re shopping for a fragrance fanatic, it’s an unforgettable gift. If your budget doesn’t stretch that far, Maison Francis also offers a four-piece set of mini baccarat rouge 540 vials that are perfect for slipping into your clutch (£130, Harveynichols.com).

Buy now £390.00, Harveynichols.com

Rituals the ritual of Ayurveda large gift set

Best: Value for money

Rating: 8/10

Rituals is one of our favourite brands to shop at Christmas, thanks to its products feeling far more luxurious than the price tag suggests. The rituals of Ayurveda range is our top pick, with a subtle spa-like scent of sweet almond and Indian rose that feels warm and not at all cloying. Housed inside an FSC-certified paper box that’s etched with the words “a life filled with wonder is a wonderful life”, the gifts inside include a buttery body cream, a foaming shower gel that creates the most luxurious lather, a body mist and a mini reed diffuser, all for under £40. This set offers great value for money and is a real treat to delve into.

Buy now £38.16, Lookfantastic.com

Aesop the advocate gift set

Best: For sustainable packaging

Rating: 7.5/10

Another brand that’s giving back this year, Aesop’s Christmas collection celebrates the “anatomy of generosity” with five different gift sets all named after a certain type of role in society, from “the listener” to “the mentor”. Each kit supports a different charity group via the Aesop Foundation, meaning you’ll be giving to an important cause while shopping for your lucky recipient this festive season. We plumped for “the advocate”, a set that gives back to Voice of Witness, a non-profit that aims to advance human rights by amplifying marginalised voices of people who are impacted, and are fighting against, societal injustice.

Inside, you’ll find a generous bottle of Aesop’s cult-favourite hand wash, a tube of the zesty yet nourishing hand cream, a mini shower gel and body balm. The products all have a citrusy scent that is invigorating without being too overpowering, and are housed in a recycled paper pulp case that’s 100 per cent recyclable. It’s a luxury set no doubt, but this limited-edition offering certainly has the feel-good factor.

Buy now £77.00, Selfridges.com

Nars pleasure seeker afterglow lip balm gift set

Best: For chapped winter lips

Rating: 7/10

Few make-up products garner genuine cult status like Nars’s orgasm blush shade, which is why beauty buffs went wild when the brand launched a tinted lip balm inspired by the same hue back in 2018. Famed for imparting that same flushed glow that the original orgasm blush gives, Nars has since expanded its range of lip salves that are packed with skin-loving ingredients, making this set a must-have stocking filler.

Featuring one full-size afterglow balm in the subtle peachy orgasm shade and four minis including a clear shade, a red and a deep coral, it offers everything you need for a perfected pout this winter. Housed in sleek metallic bullets, the mini balms are the perfect size for your handbag. We love a multi-purpose product and this really fits the bill, as the balms offer a subtle shimmer, adding dimension and a plumpness akin to a lipgloss, all while protecting and softening the lips In the process. We’re obsessed with having one of these to hand for an on-the-go juicy lip.

Buy now £36.00, Lookfantastic.com

Bobbi Brown luxury brush collection

Best: Brush set

Rating: 9/10

If, like us, you follow make-up artist Hollie Olivia Ellis on Instagram, you’ll have a slight obsession with all things Bobbi Brown too. As a pro MUA for the brand, Hollie’s make-up tutorials look effortless, and result in gorgeously glowy looks that are totally achievable at home, especially if you’ve got the right tools to hand. Enter the brand’s luxury brush collection, which is made up of five of its bestselling brushes and comes in a limited-edition black zip-up case to look after them, as they deserve.

The brushes are instantly recognisable for their bone-coloured handles and contrasting bristles, and are loved for their super soft and fluffy brush heads. The set includes a full coverage face brush, a precise blending brush, eye blender brush, eyeshadow brush and an ultra-fine eyeliner brush, which all come packaged in a suitably festive snowflake-adorned box. We love the travel-friendly brush case too, which ticks the usual sophisticated Bobbi Brown look, and can’t be bought normally.

While the brushes live up to their reputation – we found them to be wonderfully soft, and our favourite was the precise blending brush. It did what it said on the tin when being used with blusher, easily blending it into our base make-up without it looking like a block of colour. The range of brushes meant we had all we needed to create our usual daytime look too. For a brush lover, this is a perfect set to up their game, and although £79 seems a lot for just five brushes, if they were bought separately they’d set you back almost double that.

Buy now £79.00, Bobbibrown.co.uk

Sol de Janerio stellar celebration gift set

Best: Scent

Rating: 8/10

We’re obsessed with plenty of products from this brand, namely the Brazilian kiss lip balm (£12.75, Feelunique.com) which we’re never without now. As well as the strengthening and smoothing shampoo (£22 for 295ml, Liberty.co.uk), the 4play shower gel (£21 for 385ml, Lookfantastic.com) and of course, it’s signature bum bum cream (£44 for 240ml, Spacenk.com). Luckily for us (and you) this set has three of our favourites included in it.

Apart from the lip balm, they’re all travel size; the bum bum cream is 75ml, the shower gel is 90ml and the smallest is the bright body cream, which comes in a dinky little pot of just 25ml. If you’d bought them all separately in the same sizes, it would cost you £61, so this set has a great saving of £23.

We love the brand for its fun product names, bright packaging and its gorgeous scent. If fragranced products aren’t usually for you, hear us out, as it’s not overly floral or heavily musky. Instead, it has light nutty notes with just a hint of sweetness to it – for us, it’s utterly delicious. Everything from the brand is thick and super moisturising, and our two favourites in the set are just that. The bum bum cream is decadently buttery, feeling luxurious and sinking into the skin quickly. The chunky lip balm, meanwhile, helps sooth chapped lips and is long lasting too.

The products in the set are vegan and cruelty free, and don’t include phthalates or parabens. We’re also giving this set extra eco brownie points, as it’s totally plastic free, and the packing can be easily recycled too.

Buy now £38.00, Feelunique.com

Charlotte Tilbury Charlotte’s magic skin secrets set

Best: Luxury skincare set

Rating: 8/10

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 bestsellers 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.

Buy now £50.00, Charlottetilbury.com

Jo Malone house of Jo Malone London gift set

Best: For variation

Rating: 8.5/10

You can’t go far wrong with a set from Jo Malone at Christmas, and this one offers a real mix of the brand’s classic offerings. Arriving in a classically understated box that screams British perfumery, inside things get a bit more festive, as the packaging is adorned with a starry print that we loved unveiling. The five treats inside include a 30ml bottle of the brand’s signature lime, basil and mandarin scent, two mini candles in pomegranate noir and English pear and freesia, plus a hand wash and hand lotion.

We love the variety this set offers, making it a great option for someone new to the luxury brand. The set does comprise minis, but they are generously sized, premium products, so we let that slide here. Packed with bestsellers, it’s a great way to find your favourite Jo Malone scent.

Buy now £139.00, Jomalone.co.uk

Ghd platinum+ smart styler gift set in black

Best: Lightweight hair tool

Rating: 8.5/10

The OG in the hair straightener game, ghd still holds its weight against its main competitor, Dyson. The platinum+ styler is the brand’s most advanced tool yet, and features sensors that monitor heat distribution a whopping 250 times a second. This is to help maintain an even temperature while styling, ensuring that the tool never reaches anything above 185C, as this is the temperature that the brand considers to be optimum to maintain a  balance of effortless styling while avoiding heat damage.

We found this straightener a total breeze to use, and were shocked at how lightweight and ergonomic it felt to hold. The wishbone hinge and rounded barrel gave us added flexibility and helped us achieve a range of styles with ease, from loose waves to pin-straight locks, and our finished look stayed put all day. This set comes with a chic heat resistant pouch and a paddle brush, making it perfect for Christmas.

Buy now £189.00, Johnlewis.com

Fenty Skin daily duo set

Best: Stocking filler

Rating: 7/10

Another cracking stocking filler, this is the perfect introduction to Rihanna’s skincare line, Fenty Skin. The unusually named fat water is a powerhouse toner that’s packed with refining ingredients including niacinamide, and after daily use for a week, our tester noticed a significant improvement in texture, dark spots and redness. Featuring Barbados cherry, a hero ingredient that’s loaded with vitamin C to help brighten the skin, the creamy cleanser has a gel-like consistency that gives a satisfying lather and removes stubborn make-up with ease. Both products are oil free and non-comedogenic, meaning they are safe for acne-prone skin. The box is fully recyclable, as are both bottles.

Buy now £12.80, Boots.com

Glossier the makeup set dresses up

Best: Minimalist make-up look

Rating: 8/10

Glossier has acquired a serious cult following and is a minimalist make-up-lovers dream. So if you’re buying for someone who is a serious fan of the brand and its pink envelopes, then this is the perfect set. It contains its signature stretch concealer, which provides light coverage, and a highlighter to give a dewy finish to any make-up look – we opted for the topaz shade and found it gave a much-needed sun-kissed glow. They’ll also receive lidstar, a cream eye shadow, of which there are eight shades to choose from, and a lipstick that has a buildable matte finish – our favourite colour was crush, a deep raspberry. We found all the products worked to give us a natural make-up look when worn together, but they also fitted in nicely with our existing beauty stash.

Buy now £49.00, Glossier.com

Benefit winter glammin’

Best: For a matte finish

Rating: 8/10

If you’re looking to give the gift of winter glam, this set is the answer. The porefessional primer is a holy grail for many and for good reason – we found it minimised the look of our pores and gave an all-over matte finish. As for Benefit’s hoola bronzer, it needs little introduction and gives us a great golden glow, perfectly mimicking that sunkissed holiday look we’re pining after.

The brown pencil made light work of helping us create the perfect brow arch, as it’s super easy to use and quickly fills in any sparse areas, while the mascara works wonders at lengthening and defining the lashes. The products all come packaged in a reusable tin, ready to gift and go.

Buy now £37.20, Boots.com

The verdict: Beauty gift sets

For a product that gives back and is a real pleasure to use, we’ve named the Nursem set our best buy. In the times we’re in, it feels even more important to support healthcare workers, and this brand just does that. For a luxury splurge, our favourite has to be the Baccarat Rouge fragrance set, and our top stocking filler option is Fenty Skin’s daily duo kit.

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There’s still time to get something they’ll appreciate – we’ve found the best last-minute Christmas presents