The beautiful big bang theory

A top beauty blogger is impressed by her industry’s wave of luxurious, limited-edition Christmas crackers

The first “beauty”crackers that entered into my horizon were from the perfumier Penhaligon’s in 2007;they were splendid, luxurious things filled with leather and silver covetablesand a New Year’s resolution, and there was a veritable bun-fight for them. It’sseared in my memory that, after hounding my insider contacts, a well-knowncelebrity got their hands on the very last available box while I failedmy family by not bringing home a bountiful bang. But, I had sat upand taken notice of this move by a fragrance and beauty company into makingsuch festive delights. It was the beginning of a trend that’s bedded down nicelyamong beauty aficionados for Christmas 2012.

Last year Lancômemade its entry into this new market (along with a sell-out beautyadvent calendar) with six crackers containing miniature gifts rangingfrom skincare to mascara. This year it is joined for the first timeby Liz Earle (Christmas Celebration Crackers, first picture, £35), Origins (Christmas Cracker Gift Set, £45, in very limited edition quantities), Estée Lauder (Christmas Cracker Gift Set, £45) and Maison Martin Margiela (Christmas Cracker Gift Set, £40). The six Margiela crackers each contain a 7ml spray of galbanum- andincense-laden Untitled fragrance in each one. Lancôme’s offerings contain aselection of bestselling mini beauty treats (one in each cracker), includingHypnôse mascara and a mini L’Absolu Rouge lipstick (Christmas Crackers Gift Set, £50). If you don’t mind goingwithout the fireworks, Jo Malone’s individual crackers contain Pomegranate NoirBody and Hand Wash, Lime, Basil and Mandarin Cologne and Orange Blossom BodyCrème minis (second picture, £28 each). There is a store rush for these as they have sold out online andare disappearing fast from counters.

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It has to be said that such crackers are for the beauty faithful: they have no place at a family Christmas table, but I have shared them at dinners with my girlfriends and they have been absolutely delighted – not least because their immaculate Richard Ward hairdos are spared from being squashed by embarrassing paper hats. There’s a time and a place for mortifying traditional cracker jokes such as, “Q: What do you call a vicar on a motorbike? A: Rev”, and toasting with champagne at Cecconi’s isn’t it. It’s far more elegant to discretely touch-up your lipstick or dab a little something sexy on the pulse points.

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The bigger beauty houses,such as Estée Lauder, have thrown down the gauntlet with their Christmas cracker offerings. I’d like to think that Dior, Guerlain and Chanel are watchingclosely. And next year I’m hoping for an even bigger beauty bang.

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