Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Best Xmas Gifts

T’was night before Christmas, not a sound could be heard from the Beauty residence. A mother (let’s call her Molly) bent down to kiss her children’s foreheads and as they lay deep in slumber she inhaled their warm breath and let out her own small sigh of contentment. All the excitement and energy leading up to Christmas Eve had been replaced with a serenity of such calm it was as though the air was still.  The chores all done, the house lay prepared for a busy day ahead. Twinkling lights adorned the Mantle, mince pies lay by the hearth as did a half glass of Malibu and there hanging up were the lifeless souls of the stockings waiting to be filled. For her son the anticipation of a Chocolate waterfall, an Oompa Loompa and for her daughter the promise of appearing on SurpriseSurprise, and being rescued by Justin Bieber from her neglectful mum was the contract (wise girl) from Santa’s grotto.  Yet as Molly drunk in the scene and the Malibu, she proved to herself she needed Botox, as a deep crease appeared on her forehead and like coming out of the Shrek Swamp the fog became clear. For there would be no presents, no cotton wool, no satsuma, not even a blooming brussel sprout , because the truth of it was….she went to Lakeside and after trying to park for half an hour, cursing and flashing the guy who refused to indicate,  she gave up and came home empty handed. As a mother she had failed!

That’s not me though…ooh no - I have a plan! Being a self-confessed shopaholic, I know the best local shops where I can get everything and I will not get stressed, I will be that calm, gentle prepared mother who bakes gingerbread and wears an apron and if I can’t get it locally there’s always that thing called the Internet….

My first stop is one of my favourite shops The New Pharmacy, Brentwood and the proof of its popularity is standing the test of time for over 25 years. Its winning formula is not due to the huge brand names that you get in department stores, such as Lauder, Clarins, Dior and Darphin. Nor is it down to the rows of sumptuously displayed perfumes. It’s quite simply down to the best service of any shop I know in Brentwood. As soon as you walk in the staff are ready to help you find that perfect gift and as they are independent stockists there is no bias to any one brand. As a result you know their advice is genuine. Shopping is a doddle and with their expertise when the wife/girlfriend/mother opens her present(s), huge brownie points will be scored and the Sky remote will be yours all night.  Shopping here is fun, it’s not stressful, your gifts are professionally wrapped with their compliments with shiny paper and ribbon and there’s even a home delivery service! I’ve been a regular since I had my own visa.  The owners Umesh and Raakhee Amin and their team, Margaret, Linda, Pat and Chris are so welcoming it’s easy to see why customers are so loyal. Upstairs is an accessory and shoe boutique, with luxury names such as Jimmy Crystal, New York.  Take time to browse though, as you may miss that rare brand only found in Paris, or that elegant gift for a special lady. The men are not left out, with a huge array of aftershaves and leather goods.

One gift that caught my eye was the Estee Lauder Gift Set. It’s on offer for £50 with any Lauder perfume, yet its value is worth over £250!  Presented in a red crocodile bag and filled to the brim with luxury products suitable for all skin tones and ages. Detailed instructions are included in the matching red wallet, showing how to make the most of the delicious colours of smokey plums and muted neutrals.  Play around as there are so many options to create, daytime, evening, work – everything is included for your make up wardrobe - lipsticks, blushers, eye-shadows, liners and even makeup remover.  This is a present that will draw that inaudible gasp from whoever is lucky enough to receive it.

I also fell in love with the most amazing Christian Dior Grand Bal Palette - this gets my ‘Glamour’ award of the year. Encased in a sleek, gold compact is a duo of gold and silver highlighter, intricately braided, the molten, silky powders glide onto your eyes, lips, cheeks and even a flash on the collarbone gives an alluring glow to the skin. Within this compact lies a secret compartment of glosses, when lightly applied gives an illusion of fullness to the lips. Dainty brushes are also included, but for me the piece de resistance is the black eyeliner which closes the compact. All of this is wrapped in the most luxurious gold compact that will make you look and feel a million dollars.

Next stop The Skin Clinic, Brentwood.  Wave goodbye to eyelash extensions with Revitalish Eye Defining Gift Set – this unique formula literally lengthens lashes in less than a few weeks. The set contains a patented eyelash conditioner, which is so potent it must only be applied once in the evening, just one lash stroke per application. The formula has been proven to grow eyelashes within 21 days, there is no denying if used correctly it works. The reviews from other testers include ‘I stopped using it when my eyelashes hit my glasses’ and ‘I’ve been asked if they’re false’.  The set also provides an amazing volumising mascara, eyelash curler and eyebrow/eyelash comb.

For the men, The Skin Clinic came up trumps with a skincare set that’s easy to use, but will get results quickly so your man will be impressed - an easy to follow system, to get him looking his best. It contains two professional products by Australian brand Skinn which includes Total Shave and Daily Moisture presented in a minimalistic black travel bag. The sizes are easily transportable for gym/travel bag, but will last ages - a good no nonsense kit to kick start some good habits into your man, rather than him slathering on whatever moisturiser comes to hand first.

Also for the men from Menace in Shenfield, is the promise of some male indulgence. Why not send him for a manly pamper to the UK’s Best Male Grooming Salon (its beaten top London salons for this prestigious award).  Menace offer an abundance of treatments from facials to cut-throat shaves and gift vouchers which make an ideal stocking gift. Also pop in some Babassu and Bergamot Gentlemen’s Tonic (Shower Gel), ideal for him to grab and go or display in his shower.  The quality ingredients mean you only need to use a tiny amount, so it will last ages. Finally consider some Dermalogica Daily Scrub, an ideal pre shave to give him baby soft skin and make shaving so much easier.  

If however you really can’t face leaving the Omnibus Eastenders and want to order from home, then I have a couple of great websites for gifts, and my first is Here you will find a wide range of luxury essential oil body/face products  and gifts.  I absolutely love the Chocolate Xmas Gift Box. As soon as you open the box, the Restorative candle scents the whole room with essences of Palmarosa, Sweet Orange and Lavender. Also included is a huge jar of indulgent, award winning William Curley drinking chocolate. This is the creamiest, richest chocolate and my only tip is not to share it, savour every mouthful and curl up.

Finally, my last suggestion I admit is not to do with beauty. However, most of you may know I have an obsession with bling and it doesn’t come better than Tanya’s jewellery adorns the bodies of celebs and it’s not hard to see why. Fabulously girly, with designs that rival Swarovski but at affordable prices and with a spectrum ranging from delicate hearts, chunky bangles to the blingiest of headbands there is something for everyone. A selection is also stocked at French Quarter, Brentwood.

Before I go and wrap up all these wonderful treats, I’d like to say a huge thank you to Kayleigh of Tres Chic, for letting me hijack their Christmas tree!

1.        Estee Lauder Gift Set £50 (RRP £250) with any purchase of fragrance.

2.        Christian Dior Luxury Gold Palette £60

3.        Revitilash Eye Kit  £99

4.        SKINN Mens   kit  £50

5.        Dermalogica Daily Clean Scrub £24.50

6.        Babassu and Bergamot Gentlemens Tonic £13

7.        Espa Hot Chocolate Gift Set  £40

8.        Tanya Jewellery prices start from £12.95

Prices correct at going to press.

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