I’m cutting it fine I know but it’s taken me a while to collate this alternative gift guide mainly because there’s just so many beautiful items I’d like to find under my tree (which is actually a decorated plant) this year. So, I had to give myself a brief. These gifts must truly have an alternative beauty angle. That is, not be from a mass brand or something you’re likely to have already seen on every other blog from here to Lapland (Selfridges beauty advent calendar is already sold out anyway, so there.) Packaging is also a big issue for me. I’m a sucker for a pretty box just like the next girl, but I draw the line at unrecyclable plastic moulding and super shiny papers that won’t ever degrade. This year I want to keep bin bags to a minimum and my eco-credentials firmly intact thankyouverymuch. Besides, the best gifts don’t need to be planet-bashers, as the below prove, and eco no longer means ugly you know. Here’s my pick of the best ethical beauty gifts. I hope you have a few slots left on your ‘to buy’ list…
No 1. Aveda Warmth & Light Candle, £17 (20% off) at www.wantthelook.com
Okay I’ve kind of flouted my ‘mass brand’ rule already but I truly believe of all the big boys, Aveda really do deserve recognition for their philanthropic efforts. I was lucky enough to be gifted with this beautifully scented candle in a recycled glass beer bottle (yes, really) packaged in the most beautiful Nepali paper box (Aveda have been buying paper from Nepal for 5 years providing a much needed income to communities in this extremely impoverished county). It smells amazing – a spicy, warm, festive perfume – and will scent your entire house in about 15 minutes. It also burns really slowly, so it’s a gift with longevity.
No 2. Sikkim Girls Perfume, Gorilla Perfumes at www.lush.co.uk
I’m back in the Himalayas. What can I say? I’m a mountain dweller at heart. This time with a new scent from the Gorilla Perfumes stable, Sikkim Girls. Take a day off from mass-produced, predictably packaged ‘luxury’ fragrances (that everyone else will have anyway) and try out this artisanal blend of jasmine, tuberose and frangipani. It’ll smell even sweeter knowing it’s made of predominantly natural ingredients and produced in small batches at their Dorset factory.
No 3. Alexandra Mann make-up bag, £60, www.liberty.co.uk
One of these beautiful, handcrafted washbags with laundry bag lining (how clever?) has been on my wishlist for a while now. It’s not cheap, granted, but after working on a crafty cottage industry of my own recently, my eyes have been opened as to the true worth of one-off, ethical, local design. Up the artisans!
No 4. Booja Booja Dark Ecuadorian Truffles, £6.69, www.therawchocolateshop.com
Because no Christmas would be complete without chocolate. But this year I’m going all Wholefoods with raw, that is, not heat treated, which destroys all the goodness in your common or garden chocs. They’ll be enough sugar flying around with all those mince pies so treat yourself to an antioxidant packed truffle made with agave syrup to ward off sugar slumps. Plus these are so rich you won’t be tempted to cocoa OD.
No 5. Antonia Burrell Primrose Hill Polish facial, £120 for 60 minutes, Lost in Beauty, 117 Regents Park Road, NW1, www.antoniaburrell.com
She’s my newest facialist to champion and far too good a secret to keep to myself (tempted though I am). Antonia’s super pure skincare (cossetted in expensive violet glass to protect the fragile actives from light damage) has to be seen, and smelt, to be believed so I hands-down promise you a facial with her is going to make any recipient EXTREMELY happy. There isn’t much this ex-aromatherapy teacher doesn’t know about the molecular-structure of natural ingredients and how they can replace harsh, synthetic chemicals to far better effect for younger, clearer, happier skin without the environmental hangover.
No 6. Kings Road Apothecary ‘Busted Joint Elixir’, $24, www.kingsroadapothecary.com
The name says it all. One for the yogis, or anybody active really. It’s a blend of fresh Solomon’s seal, turmeric, ashwagandha root and wild crafted horsetail that’ll get you back on the mat ( slash treadmill/running track/pommel horse) ready for your new year’s health kick. Realistically you’re not going to get this before Christmas, they’re based in LA, but make it one transatlantic latecomer to look forward to.
No 7. No.1 Ass Pant Long (really), £96 with an extra 20% off this week only at www.workoutlife.com
The PR for these guys snubbed me when I tried to invite myself to their launch yoga class but hey, I’m bucking the bad karma and putting their hilariously named printed leggings on my fantasy Christmas list. I’m living in my yoga pants right now so some springtime florals would be a welcome additional to my ninja-like, all black yoga kit.
No 8. *STOCKING FILLER* Collapsible water bottle, £4.99 each, from www.ohyo.com
What a clever little idea. I’ve stopped amassing Evian bottles, bought a filter jug and now me and my Ohyo bottle are barely separated.
No 9. Kitchen & Co. by Ellie Grace and Rosie French, £16.99 at www.kylebooks.com
This one goes out to my favourite neighbourhood eatery, French & Grace of Brixton market. Okay, it’s not strictly beauty (or ethical) in nature but their beautiful recipes and chi-chi food styling are something to pour over longingly on a dark January afternoon and will nourish your heart AND soul so technically, it’s a wellbeing buy.