Beauty Bible

The Best Christmas Gift Ideas

Blue paper shoppign bag with blue tags on blue floor with one single red tag visible

Not sure if you’ve noticed, but there’s a shift away from Christmas presents this year. Lots of people we know are going without, or giving to charity – which is lovely, and has its own feel-good factor, of course. And we kind of get it. Both of us have received too many presents over the years which just aren’t ‘us’ – and soon after Christmas make their way to a carrier bag near the door, waiting for the next stroll past Oxfam. (Or in Jo’s case, the boot of her car – it being safer to transport unwanted gifts to the next town, lest her friends spot their rejected presents in a too-local charity.)

But this, for us, is where beauty ‘treats’ score, as gifts. Chosen well, they simply don’t hang around for long enough to gather dust. And over the years, we’ve learned which gifts are pretty fail-safe choices. Mostly because they’d please us, and we love a bit of pampering and self-TLC, and have spent enough time in this business to know what’s worth asking for, and what’s worth giving.

This year’s best Christmas gift ideas

Bottom line? We’d happily put any or all of these on our own ‘Dear Santa’ lists. And we suggest you might like to do the same.

Lixir Skin Good Skin Trio Mini Set, £34. From the genius cosmetic formulator Dr. Colette Haydon (a woman behind more beauty brands’ offerings than many of us have had hot dinners), three of her own bestselling products in generous travel sizes: Electrogel Cleanser, Universal Emulsion (which can be used on the body as well as face), and glow-getting Vitamin C paste. We could literally survive being cast away on a desert island, skincare-wise, with this lot.

Aromatherapy Associates Ultimate Bath & Shower Oil Collection, £65.What can we say? Hearts leap, smiles broaden, foreheads un-crinkle upon opening a gift box of Aromatherapy Associates Bath & Shower Oils. Multi-award-winning (including countless Beauty Bible Awards), they’re still the most effective mood-shifting oils we’ve ever used, and in this set, find 10 x 9ml sizes including classic Deep Relax, Inner Strength and Support Equilibrium. We know NOBODY who wouldn’t be thrilled with this. (Except Gill, who’s allergic to essential oils!)

Lebon Orange Gift Set, £29. Toothpaste, we hear you chorus? Toothpaste for Christmas? Well, this isn’t any old toothpaste: it’s Lebon organic toothpaste, created by perfumers in Grasse, and is basically the Chanel or Gucci of oral care. This set includes three fabulous flavours: mint and cinnamon Villa Naocarlina; mango, mint and papaya Back to Pampleonne (with brightening papaya enzymes), and pineapple/rooibos/mint Tropical Crush. We promise it’ll make the recipient smile – and that bit more brightly.

Lanolips Coconutter Cracker, £10.99. Well, the contents of this cracker sure beats a bad joke and a party hat: a pair of Lano’s coconut butter-enriched skin treats – 101 Multi Balm Coconutter (which excels at pretty much any skin challenge you throw at it), and the lavish-before-bedtime Coconutter Hand Cream Intense. Wafts of tropical coconut, but not enough to tip the product into the realms of Bounty bar sweetness.

ilapothecary Beat the Blues Ritual, £85. Definitely the priciest present on our shortlist, but if you’ve someone who really deserves something special and is perhaps having a tough time, look no further. Denise Leicester’s aromatherapy blends are astonishingly powerful – transformative, actually – and this features three products to be used alone or synergistically: Beat the Blues Rollerball (always in our handbags – frankly you could wear this tuberose-rich oil as a perfume, and we know people who do), Beat the Blues Shower & Bath Oil and Beat the Blues Room Spray. They are spectacularly good for anyone suffering from SAD, BTW, also featuring clary sage and geranium (for confidence and self-esteem), and petitgrain which is just a little ray of sunshine in its own right, as an essential oil.

This Works Choose Sleep, £10. Formerly known as the ‘Can’t Sleep Kit’, the most brilliant little Christmas stocking or Secret Santa gift, featuring 5ml sizes of Deep Sleep Stress Less (could come in v-e-r-y handy on Christmas Day itself), and Deep Sleep Pillow Spray, which is clinically proven to improve your zzzz’s. Right up there with the loaves and fishes in miracle terms, so far as we’re concerned.

Temple Spa Quietude, £25. Can we just recommend this for anyone who’s expecting a frenzied household over Christmas? You might suggest they open this early, to spritz this into the living room before the chaos of present-opening, actually – because this zingy, aromatic blend of lavender, cedarwood, cypress, clove, vetiver, orange, patchouli, frankincense and chamomile dials down the stress level immediately.

Beauty Bible Lip Balm, £6. Last but not least – and what can we say…? We honestly think this stocking-stuffer-sized balm is the best we’ve ever tried and are chuffed to bits that entirely independently, so did the diligent testers whose scores earned it a Beauty Bible Award. It’s big, it’s fat, it’s luscious – and our lips can’t get enough of its all-natural formula. Now, where’s that mistletoe…?

How To Ease Aches And Pains

wooden blocks spelling posture with wooden armature

Pain is no beautifier. We furrow our brows, the light goes out of our eyes, we stoop of slouch. (And, left untended our joints may suffer irreparable damage.) At Beauty Bible, as you’ll probably know, we take a holistic approach to beauty – and so that means doing what we can to keep aches and pains, with their knock-on effect on our looks and energy levels, at bay. Read More…

No Ads Ever

Pound symbol / hash symbol made of yellow pells on a blue background

Maybe we’re bonkers. Maybe we’ll go down in history as the biggest fools known to (wo)mankind, but at Beauty Bible, we’ve always had a strict policy of not doing any paid-for content across the website or on our social media platforms. Over the past few years we have become really rather uncomfortable with the growing amount of sponsored content going on around us.

Both of us (Sarah and Jo) worked our way up in an industry where editorial coverage was strictly separate from advertising. (On the magazine Jo cut her teeth on, Woman’s World, the editorial team weren’t even allowed to speak to the ad sales people, lest they somehow taint them with their commerciality!).

That’s why on our own website, we’ve never taken an ad. Not one. Nor do we take money to feature something on our #Instagram, or for promoting anything at all. And we never will, as we proudly proclaim on the front page of beautybible.com. We figure: the minute somebody paid us specifically to mention something, our editorial integrity would be permanently compromised. (It’s like losing your virginity. Once it’s gone, it’s gone – and there ain’t no getting it back!).

We believe absolutely in unbiased beauty reporting. So everything we’ve ever written about has made it there on merit. For the past 23 years, our whole Beauty Bible ‘empire’ (a very small one!) has been built on the premise of steering women to products that really work, based on the opinions of other real women. Over the years, we’ve had 30,000 of those real women trying products for us, reporting in-depth via detailed forms on their experiences over several months trialling the products. We’ve written more than a dozen books based on those results (now featured on our website, beautybible.com, because we’ve had enough of doing books, for now.) But it matters to us deeply that the results are independent and unbiased.

“Big beauty” consists of companies setting aside literally hundreds of millions out of their budgets (which formerly went into print and online advertising) to pay influencers. And everywhere we look – on Insta, on beauty sites and blogs – there are paid posts. (The fees can be eye-watering.) Yes, it’s all supposed to be visible – using the hashtag #ad, #sponsored or ‘paid partnership’. But is it always? Hmm. To quote Dazed Beauty (part of the Dazed digital empire), there’s a widespread phenomenon called “Stealth Shilling”, which is ‘the failure in properly disclosing paid endorsements.’ Even though the authorities in both the UK and the US are seeking to crack down on it, it’s still happening.

You might counter: at Beauty Bible, do we actually pay for every product or supplement we write about? No – although we do still shop for beauty like regular people, on the high street, in department stores and online, and feature our own picks. But this is called ‘editing’. We’re sent probably ten times more product than we end up featuring, and if we don’t like something (or our testers don’t), it doesn’t make the page or the ‘gram. That’s as it always has been, and the PRs (public relations people) we deal with understand that, and deeply respect our choices.

An equally worrying phenomenon, though, is that some of the advice is downright dangerous. Case in point: an Instagrammer who shared a tip recently about how adding lavender oil to her mascara was making her eyelashes grow. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME, CHILDREN! Essential oils should never, ever be used anywhere near the eyes. But there’s plenty of this shocking misinformation out there, and it’s entirely unpoliced.

So personally, we’re sitting back and waiting for the backlash – when expertise, rather than the ability just to take a pretty picture or film a make-up tutorial comes back into style, and when products succeed or fail based purely on their performance and/or pleasure factor. Because as sure as hemlines rise and fall, it will happen.

Without wanting to blow our own trumpets too loudly, at Beauty Bible our expertise comes from literally decade upon decade of interviewing the world’s top make-up artists, skincare professionals, facialists, complementary therapists, doctors and other health practitioners – whose numbers we generally have on speed-dial, for fact-checking. That, and insights into make-up, skincare, haircare and other beauty categories that we’ve gleaned over the years from from reading the feedback from 30,000 Beauty Bible testers.

So: could this Beauty Bible duo sign up with one of the big-shot agencies who secure these lucrative deals for influencers? We could. But would we? Nope. Maybe the little men in white coats will indeed come and haul us away for missing out on the ‘opportunity of a lifetime’, but for us it comes down to one thing: trust. And as a beauty consumer, don’t you want to know if a product is being recommended to you because it’s quite simply a great product, based on the knowledge and longstanding expertise of the person who’s singing its praises – or because the person recommending it has had a jolly nice fee for saying so…?

The Beauty Bible August Essentials

Orange paper with a tear in the middle with the number 6 inside and the word six below

Over the years, we’ve seen that, slathered this, tried that. (And sent literally thousands of products out to be trialled by our Beauty Bible testers, too.) So as true connoisseurs of beauty products with (blimey!) 50+ years’ experience between us. we like to think we recognise a great product when we see it. As of course, does Gill, which is why all the following, chosen over the past months as ‘Beauty Bible Loves’ picks on our own website, can be found on VH. We bring you six of the best, which we’ve raved about recently – and share what we said about them on our own website.

Sea Magik Turmeric Serenity Salts

Unusually, Jo was felled earlier this year by a nasty virus and spent a couple of days in bed. (Nobody can remember this in recent history.) She needed something to get her back on her feet, however – and these came up trumps. They’re Epsom salts – known to be amazingly restorative – but with some added extras. The first is anti-inflammatory turmeric (which gives the bath a pale yellow tinge). Jo was super-generous and added half a pack, being in the midst of a real health S.O.S., but a cupful would do for a typical bath. The second is bitter orange oil, which is wonderfully mood-lifting and definitely helped ramp up her energy levels a few degrees. And then there’s safflower oil – enough of it to leave skin really quite soft and silky. The result? She definitely experienced a Lazarus effect – enough to get her through a weekend of guests and a christening, and put her back on the path to feeling ‘normal’.
Sea Magik Turmeric Serenity Salts, £8.99

Lebon Organic Toothpastes

Now, this was a beauty/wellness category ripe for some serious innovation. So: say ‘bonjour’ to a range of luxury toothpastes created in tandem with perfumer/flavour experts in Grasse. Which, as you might guess, means that Lebon oralcare offers a very different sensory experience to the usual tooth-brushing drudgery. The first flavour to capture our imagination was Sweet Extravagance, described as ‘haute couture and sexy’, in which ‘rose embraces orange blossom with a hint of mint’. And yes, it’s just as delectable as that sounds.

Since then, we’ve enjoyed Rhythm is Love, featuring citrusy yuzu and ylang ylang, ‘the flower of the flowers’. (Next on our toothpaste wishlist – and who knew there could be such a thing? – is Tropical Crush, which blends pineapple with rooibos and mint.) Above and beyond that, though, they’re all so colourfully and stylishly packaged that Lebon will have you rearranging your bathroom shelf, to show off your toothpaste.
Lebon Organic Toothpastes, from £17.99

Weleda Skin Food Light

Well, this only happens once every few decades. Weleda have never been a launch-a-minute kind of brand – it simply doesn’t fit with their ethos. (Weleda products are NATRUE-certified natural and with high levels of organics, always, NB.) Skin Food’s been around since 1926 – and it’s taken them almost 100 years to add to the line-up! Personally, we love the richness of the original Skin Food – it’s something we often advise people to turn to when their skin’s flaring up. But not everyone wants that kind of rich texture (notably combination skin types). So, with its slightly more grass-green packaging, Skin Food Light has an airier texture, yet includes all the same healing botanicals: calendula, chamomile, viola tricolor and rosemary. (It retains the signature sweet orange and lavender light fragrance that so many love.) We really hope it doesn’t take them another 93 years to extend this wonderful skincare line even further…
Weleda Skin Food Light, £12.95

Sarah Chapman Icon Night

This cream is like shrugging on your favourite cashmere sweater. Just comforting and inviting, instantly soothing (and instantly improving skin’s appearance with an ever-so-slightly-radiant-yet-not-shimmery finish, we’ve observed). Since we’re talking about Sarah Chapman, of course, it is fired up by a slew of wonder ingredients. So: should you want the science bit, we can reveal that this cream offers ‘a revolutionary X503 targeted peptide drone delivery system’. There’s ‘retinaldehyde vitamin A’ in there, too. Frankly, this isn’t what interests us about any skin cream. It’s surely clever stuff – and few facialists know more about skin or have higher standards than Sarah Chapman. (Yes, it’s pricy. But there are much more expensive creams out there.) But at Beauty Bible what we look for, always, is a product that delivers sensory pleasure while you use it – and visible results, ideally both instantly (as in this case) and over the longer-term.

After using this for a while ourselves, we’re certainly noticing fine lines are finer, and skin is brighter – but it hasn’t been long, so we’ll stick with it. (No reaction to the vitamin A ingredient, by the way, which we sometimes experience in form of redness and irritation. So that’s a good sign. But it is important to up the daytime SPF whenever you’re using a vitamin A product.) Most of all, we look forward to using it, at bedtime. Almost as much as slipping between cool sheets with a good book and a hot night-time drink. A cream that makes us feel like that will win our hearts, every time.
Sarah Chapman Icon Night Cream, £98

This Works Sleep Power Recharge Mask

Yes, you will look like Avatar when you apply this bright blue mask, via its brush top. (A very soothing feeling, BTW.) No, you should not open the door to the DPD delivery guy wearing it. But when you remove after 20 minutes, skin will be brightened by the fruit acids and plumped by a surge of hyaluronic acid. And yes, if you’re an aromatherapy devotee, you’re going to adore the scent – grounding and uplifting at once, with its blend of vetiver, patchouli, camphor and lemon.
This Works Sleep Power Recharge Mask, £32

Ilapothecary Beat The Blues Shower & Bath Oil and Beat The Blues Pulse Point

Ever since we first smelled Ilapothecary’s Beat the Blues blend, we’ve been spritzing the air at Beauty Bible HQ we are in need of strength, fortification or we’re feeling down or slump-y.. It’s gloriously tuberose-y, with touches of rebalancing geranium, clary sage (for mental strength) and petitgrain, which Denise Leicester – healer and Ilapothecary founder – incorporated in the blend ‘to banish negative energies’. It’s been such a hit that (hurrah and hooray!), Ilapothecary have now extended the range. First up is a sublime Beat The Blues Shower & Bath Oil, which leaves skin beautifully nourished and veiled in scent as we emerge from the fragrant waters. (Just brilliant before bedtime, NB.) It also makes the most glamorous and heaven-scented leg-shaving oil on the planet! Ilapothecary has also just launched a Beat The Blues Pulse Point perfect for the handbag. Can’t tell you how many times, since we recently started using this, people have already stopped us and said: ‘What’s that gorgeous fragrance you’re wearing…?
Ilapothecary Beat The Blues Shower & Bath Oil, £29, and Beat The Blues Pulse Point, £27.

How To Reduce A Bloated Tummy This Summer

Large green leaves on white

The swimsuit season is upon us. Which means most women’s thoughts are turning, at least a little, to how we look in cosies and bikinis. And you know what women have long told us they worry about most, in a swimsuit? Not cellulite ­– but a less-than-flat-tummy. So here’s what we’ve learned really works to help beat a bloated tummy, over our too-many-years-to-mention in the beauty and wellness world. Read More…