In a ‘normal’ year, as soon as the October half term is out of the way, and autumn winds down, my thoughts usually turn towards Christmas and the task of choosing gifts for a loved one. Boots is usually my first port of call. I’m lured in by its fabulous 3-for-2 offers, genius stocking fillers and the fact that I always find something for a high proportion of people on my list. Easy peasy.
2020… This year is different, yet the same. Boots is still there. Christmas is still coming. Yes, sometimes, it is the old faithfuls, the familiar faces (or brands) who get us through the uncertain times.
I recently was very excited at the prospect of having a sneak preview of a selection of Boots’ Christmas Gift ideas. And – fair warning – it will be difficult to part ways with some of these! But here is a run-down of my favourites…
Firstly, and perfect for the new consciousness, that is gaining momentum around care for our planet and sustainability, right now, Boots has collaborated with BBC Earth to offer some wonderful eco gifts. These are exclusive to Boots, with the range responding to the increase in searches on the brand’s website for eco-friendly products – growing by almost a third in a year. Boots already has a wide selection of planet-conscious gifts, but undoubtedly the new sustainable and carbon neutral BBC Earth Bathroom Collection is its ‘jewel in the crown’.
Perfect for a stocking filler is this BBC Earth Cleansing Bar Travel Set, £10. It contains a Shampoo, a Body Scrub, a Body Wash and a Soap Bar. Forget the old soap tablets of old – the ones which were drying and waxy and, frankly, horrible to use – the new generation of bars are worlds away from those. New technology means that they foam easily and are kind to the skin and super-hydrating. In other words, a real alternative to liquids. The cleansing soaps also have notes of sea salt, driftwood and mineral accords and, frankly, will whisk you off to the ocean somewhere far-flung – what we all need right now.
The complete BBC Earth collection has been designed to reduce the impact on the planet and be as transparent as possible. Each product in the range has achieved CarbonNeutral® product certification.
The bars have their own particular eco benefits: with no plastic bottles or packaging being used, each set saves the equivalent of 8.1 plastic bottles; they are smaller, lighter and more space-saving than their liquid counterparts (important to lessen the impact when transporting). Bars also tend to last longer and require less water in production. This means that not only are they great for use when travelling, but they also require less transportation (less fuel, less carbon footprint and impact on the planet).
What’s more, in line with its eco approach, Boots has also announced that it has as eliminated 2,020 tonnes of plastic from its entire Christmas gift ranges by completely ditching single-use plastic packaging. All gift packaging is plastic-free and is intended to be recycled or reused.
My next pick is this ‘oh-so-pretty’ Liz Earle tin. Liz Earle’s The Joy of Cleanse & Polish, £12, contains a mini version of brand’s iconic Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser, as well as a cotton cloth and cute little hook to hang the cloth on in your bathroom.
When Liz Earle launched her miraculous cleanser back in 2013, it was a beauty game-changer, and has now spurred on many brands to introduce their own imitation to the hot-wash product. But the original remains the best! Using the linen cloth to gently exfoliate as you cleanse, the velvety, kind-to-the-skin cleanser gives skin a deep-clean and, used with hot water, instantly melt away pollution, impurities and make-up. The result, when used every night, is blemish-free skin, which looks and feels balanced, smooth and comfortable. The little hook is a nice touch and allows you to dry the cloth naturally. What’s more, the folksy-design tin completes this perfect little present.
The nation’s new-found love for self-care is going nowhere post-lockdown, so Boots also has a nice range of pampering gifts to reflect the trend, including Cowshed’s Blissful Body Lotion Shot, £10. with a little hanging ribbon, this is like a tree decoration for the… body! It has a decadent floral blend of ylang-ylang, rose and palmarosa essential oils and deeply hydrates and smooths limbs – an ideal stocking filler.
Another winner in the ‘spoiling’ range is Rituals The Ritual of Ayurveda – Rebalancing Collection, £39.90. This is just SO heavenly and a generous gift for anyone to find under the tree! Containing a shower gel, body scrub, body cream and mini fragrance sticks, it has everything you need to give someone you love a real ‘pamper moment’.
Rituals is all about the principles of Ayurveda and these aromatic products, based around Indian rose and sweet almond oil, are designed to help you achieve inner harmony. The gift box can also be recycled and given a second lease of life as a memory box, keeping photographs, letters, or other items in it.
Up next is something that will tick any beauty buff’s box! The No7, Skincare Treats 7 Steps to Beautiful Skin, £50, contains seven iconic No7 products: Protect & Perfect Intense Advanced Day Cream SPF 15; Protect & Perfect Intense Advanced Night Cream; Protect & Perfect Intense Advanced Serum; Protect & Perfect Intense Advanced Eye Cream; Youthful Replenishing Facial Oil; Airbrush Away Primer and No7 Laboratories Line Correcting Booster Serum. These are literally everything you need for total and effective skincare.
You can mix and match all the essentials, starting your routine with a serum or face oil (or combine a little of both) on a clean face, follow up by massaging in the day cream and then dot on the eye cream (careful not to drag skin). The Primer gives a smoothing effect to use as a base before make-up and perfects your whole look, while the night cream – absolutely vital for rejuvenation – goes to work as you sleep.
Finally, you can’t go wrong with perfume for Christmas, can you? And La Librairie Neroli Divine Eau de Toilette, £25, is such a crowd-pleaser. The Parisian perfume house has made a name or itself due to its use of fine ingredients to create signature, on- trend fragrances, which are eminently affordable.
I love the elegant bottle (it really looks and feels luxe) and so much more top-end than the price suggests. Spritz it on and you’ll discover a ‘floriental’ scent with top notes of pear and orange flower, a heart of jasmine and tonka, and a base of almond milk. The result is a fresh light bouquet, which deepens with the vanilla-like tonka bean cut through with the floral notes of jasmine. It’s so gorgeous and unusual.
The creamy notes of almond milk and pear give this fragrance a mouth-watering effect – it is very moorish – that is cocooning and yet fresh and vibrant at the same time. It’s just perfect for our times.
*This review is based on press samples