In 2014, Liberty London took the Advent calendar — a time-honored tradition of daily chocolate-eating and twee Christmas scenes — and beauty-fied it, swapping out candy for a selection of its best-selling products. Needless to say, it was a hit, and many beauty retailers quickly followed suit. Now just about everyone has a gift-worthy Advent calendar, from Space NK to YesStyle to Macy’s, offering a curation of their greatest hits. The deals vary. Some, like the Cult Beauty calendar, contain lots of full-size products, making them well worth the money. Others offer tons of travel sizes and minis with a few full-size products thrown in, a good way to discover new brands or stock up on TSA-approved versions of things you’re already familiar with.
Below, I’ve curated the best calendars available this year, many of which we’ve mentioned in years past. If you’re planning on grabbing one, I recommend shopping early. Although December is a ways off, these often sell out by Thanksgiving, if not sooner.
Kiehl’s advent calendar is filled with minis of the brand’s best offerings, from the Ultra Facial Cream to the Calendula Toner. It’s a good curation of a brand with lots of stuff (there’s been hundreds of years of product releases), and it would be a solid gift for a brand loyalist in need of some travel-size products.
As always, the Liberty London calendar contains some of the year’s most coveted (and luxurious) beauty products, and similar to years past, there’s enough variety to overhaul your entire beauty routine. Some standouts from this year’s calendar: Paula’s Choice exfoliant (a beauty-editor favorite), a full-size Byredo lipstick, and a sample of Le Labo Rose 31 — a favorite of Robb Report senior editor Justin Fenner, who describes it as “charming and warm.”
Bluemercury has some of the best curation I’ve seen this season — it’s a mix of established and emerging luxury brands and contains everything you might need to build out a beauty routine. A few highlights: a sample of D.S. and Durga’s heady I Don’t Know What perfume, Oleo Para O Corpo’s firming oil, Supergoop’s Play sunscreen, and Olaplex’s dry shampoo, which contains microstarch to absorb scalp oils.
At $560, Dr. Barbara Sturm’s Advent calendar is among the priciest, but it’s worth it given that a single serum will run you around $150. This set lets you try out the beloved skin-care brand and includes an assortment of full-, deluxe-, and travel-size products, including a travel version of the face mask, a favorite of tennis phenom Maria Sharapova, who uses it as a moisturizer.
111Skin’s face masks are a favorite here at the Strategist — recommended by celebrities and Strategist staffers alike. Its 12-day advent calendar is a smart way to stock up on an assortment while also trying out other products from the brand like the NAC Y serum, which helps to smooth fine lines.
This year’s Diptyque calendar is a healthy mix of scents from the fragrance house, featuring 11 mini-candles (including my favorite, Feu de Bois) and eight perfume samples.
And if Jo Malone is more your speed, the brand has a 25-day advent calendar that contains a mix of colognes (including a full size of Wood Sage & Sea Salt), hand washes, body washes, and two mini-candles.
Cult Beauty’s calendar is always one to watch, especially if you’re looking for lots of full-size products. This year’s calendar has 20, and, at $321 (converted from pounds), it’s the best value for the money. Among the spoils: a full-size bottle of Sunday Riley’s Good Genes Glycolic Acid Treatment ($91 at full price) and Dieux Skin’s Forever Eye Masks, which are so beloved here at the Strategist that they made the “Beauty 100.”
L’Occitane, a brand that tends to be a hit with moms (and others who hoard hand creams), has an Advent calendar packed with some creams as well as soaps. One of its hand creams — which our friends at the Cut say is as “luxurious as the packaging” — typically costs $12, so the fact that you’re getting a medley of 24 pocket-size goodies for $80 makes this a really nice gift for said moms or anyone else you’re looking to impress.
Macy’s beauty Advent calendar is a who’s who of beauty-guru-approved products like Belif’s Aqua Bomb (a personal favorite), Stila’s Stay All Day liquid liner, and Sunday Riley’s Good Genes lactic-acid serum. Unlike most other calendars, it includes a coupon for $10 off your next $40 beauty purchase.
Olive and June’s $65 calendar includes six mini-polishes, a set of press-ons, and a shrunken, travel-friendly version of its manicure accessories, so you’ll have everything you need to do your nails on the go. This includes the hand-stabilizing Poppy, which makes it easier to paint with your nondominant hand.
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