The Cult Christmas beauty advent calendar 2021 is here and Lipstick Café is ready to thoroughly review its contents, price, ingredients and variety. How much skincare or makeup do you get? What is the true value of the deluxe sizes? Are you getting your money’s worth and most importantly – is the ingredient list good?
£215 worth £960
Makeup: 12 items
Finally, a calendar that allows me to split the makeup section into categories! Yes, you read that correctly, the Cult Christmas beauty advent calendar 2021 has quite a few makeup items! This makes a third of the calendar’s contents, as you will soon discover this one has a lot more than 25 items in.
Eyes: 6 items
Looking through the list with products for the eyes I am not even sure where to start. There is a Charlotte Tilbury cream eyeshadow, the Eyes to Mesmerise in Amber Gold. This comes in full size (7ml) and is worth £22. The shade is a warm toned gold, flattering on all skin tones and a shade that I would say any beauty lover would wear. It is also very festive! This product is vegan friendly.
The second single eyeshadow in the Cult advent calendar is the Westman Atelier Eye Pod in Tabac. This is another gorgeous looking one: the shade is a beautiful luxurious tone of brown with golden undertones. It comes in full size (0.8g) and on its own is worth around £26. This product is vegan and claims no animal testing.
The third eyeshadow is a palette from Roen. The 75° Warm Eye Shadow Palette comes in full size (4.2g) and is worth £41. It has four shades: gold, warm taupe, terracotta and a shimmering dark brown. All four seem luminous and light reflective. Again, these shades are flattering on most skin tones and are wearable, earthy shades that I feel like most beauty lovers would enjoy. This product is vegan and cruelty free.
To further define the eyes there is also a liquid liner from Natasha Denona in Black. The Macro Blade Liquid Liner comes in full size (0.55g) and is worth £29. This is another staple item in a beauty lover’s collection, since a black eyeliner is always needed. This eyeliner is water resistant. It is also vegan and cruelty free.
To finish up the look there are two mascaras to choose from. There is the Too Faced, Better than Sex Mascara in a deluxe size (3.9g) worth £12. This is a popular product amongst beauty lovers. It has film forming polymers. As I previously mentioned in other reviews, travel size mascaras are just as good as full size ones because it is a product that needs to be replaced very often due to hygiene reasons. This mascara is vegan and cruelty free.
The second mascara is the Sweed Lashes Pro Lash Lift Mascara in full size (8ml) worth £22. This mascara looks very interesting and promises to deliver insane lengths. The inclusion of mascaras in advent calendars is always great – they are a product that most people use and it’s always fun to try a new one! This mascara is vegan and cruelty free.
Complexion: 4 items
Luckily there are also a few products focused on complexion, such as bronzers, highlighters and setting powders. The Laura Mercier Loose Setting Powder comes in a deluxe size of 3.5g and is worth around £7. It comes in the shade translucent, being suitable for all skin tones. This is a popular product and it is fantastic that it is included in an advent calendar! The powder promises to minimise fine lines and pores while avoiding that powdery, dry look.
The bronzer is the Nars Bronzing Powder in a deluxe size (1.2g) worth around £5. This seems to be even smaller than the travel size of this product. It comes in the shade Laguna, which is a golden brown with light shimmer in it. While the shade might not suit all skin tones, this could double as an eyeshadow.
A gorgeous, innovative product is the Live Tinted Hueglow which comes in full size (50ml) and is worth £32. This is a hybrid product, being a serum that moisturises the skin while also offering a glow. You can wear it under or on your makeup, blended in with other products or on its own as a highlighter. The shade it comes in is called Dawn and it is a rose gold. The ingredient list is also great, having squalane and sunflower oil amongst the first ingredients. Both will nourish and replenish the skin. This product is vegan, cruelty free and fragrance free.
To finish up the products intended for the complexion there is the IT Cosmetics Buki Brush which is worth £36. This is a big brush, ideal to be used with liquids or powders, providing a helpful tool in applying those face products in the calendar. It has synthetic bristles and promises an airbrush finish.
Lips: 2 items
There are also two items intended for the lips. There is the Victoria Beckham Beauty Posh Lipstick in the shade Pout. This comes in full size (2g) and it is worth £34. The lipstick claims to nourish the lips, be lightweight and very rich in colour. The shade is a pale coral pink but it is suitable for all skin tones. This is another item from a high end, popular brand. It is also vegan and cruelty free.
For when you are not in the mood for a lipstick, there is also a gorgeous lip oil from Vieve. Their Lip Dew comes in full size (6ml) and is worth £17. It comes in a golden shimmer, suitable to be worn as a gloss. It is supposed to nourish dry lips. This is a fantastic product for winter when our lips get dryer. The golden shimmer is also festive! This product is vegan and cruelty free.
Skincare: 20 items
Cleansers, toner and exfoliators: 5 items
The skincare section in the Cult Christmas beauty advent calendar is very generous, offering 20 items. To make it easier to follow, I have arranged the products into a potential skincare routine, starting with the night cleansers that can remove makeup and sunscreen. There is the Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Meltaway Cleansing Balm which comes in 50ml worth £24. This is a solid balm to oil cleanser that will help remove makeup and any pollution off your face. It contains a multitude of potentially irritant ingredients, such as lime, bergamot and orange oil. However, this is a wash off product that would not sit on your skin for long. This product is cruelty free.
Another cleanser is the Youth To The People – Kale + Green Tea Spinach Vitamins Superfood Cleanser in travel size (59ml) worth £12. Again, this removes makeup and pollution. It contains aloe vera, vitamin B5, C and E. It also contains a variety of plant extracts which lack in much research proving their benefits to the skin. This product is fragranced. Some plant extracts in this product could also be sensitising to the skin, such as gardenia florida extract. This product is vegan and cruelty free.
Moving onto the cleansers that also exfoliate, there is the fresh Sugar Strawberry Exfoliating Face Wash which comes in 50ml and is worth £13. This has fruit extracts and oils that promise to leave your skin clean and free of excess oil and impurities. The fruit extracts such as strawberry, grape seed and black currant are rich in antioxidants. This product is fragranced and contains a few ingredients that are on the EU’s list of 26 potential allergens to the skin which have to be disclosed separately on the ingredient list. The ones present in this face wash are limonene, benzyl alcohol, citral and linalool. However, this is a wash off product that would not sit on the skin for long.
Following these makeup removers and cleansers, there is an exfoliating toner. The Glow Recipe – Watermelon Glow PHA + BHA Pore-Tight Toner comes in travel size (40ml) and is worth £14. This toner promises smaller pores. It is alcohol free. It has a multitude of plant extracts: the cactus, watermelon and cucumber being all antioxidants. It contains a poly hydroxy acid and naturally derived beta hydroxy acid which will help exfoliate the skin. Poly hydroxy acids are supposed to be as effective as alpha hydroxy acids, but are considered less irritating to the skin. That being said, this product contains fragrance and limonene, a potential allergen on the EU’s list. This product is vegan and cruelty free.
Another exfoliating product in the Cult beauty advent calendar is the Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment that comes in 15ml and is worth £21. This is another wash off product although this one is advertised as a mask, being called a “2 minute facial”. It contains alpha hydroxy acids for a gentle chemical exfoliation but it also has silica particles that will mechanically exfoliate the skin. It has soothing aloe vera, antimicrobial honey and the antioxidant soy oil. However, it also contains many potential sensitising ingredients, such as lavender and geranium oil, alcohol, cinnamon, orange and papaya. From the EU’s list of potential skin allergens it also contains cinnamal, eugenol, limonene and linalool.
Eyes: 2 items
After cleansing, there are two products for the eyes that you could use. There is the Sunday Riley Auto Correct Brightening and Depuffing Eye Contour Cream that comes in 15ml and is worth £60. This is a full size product. It promises a youthful and radiant look to your eye area. The ingredient list is very long! It contains hydrating ingredients, antioxidants and emollients. It is perfume free. This is also a cruelty free product.
The second product intended for the eyes is the Patchology Serve Chilled Bubbly Eye Gels which come in one pair worth £3. These eye masks are supposed to moisturise and encourage elasticity of the skin in the delicate eye area. These could be stored in the fridge to help depuffing the eyes. Besides hydrating ingredients this product also contains antioxidants and potential protectants from blue light. While containing ingredients supposed to calm inflammation it does contain perfume and the potential allergen limonene. This is a cruelty free product.
Serums/ Night treatments: 7 items
For serums or night treatments there are quite a few products. Starting with the full size ones, there is the Oskia Isotonic Hydra Serum in the full size of 30ml worth £78. According to the brand, the benefits of this product revolve around the dimethyl sulfone (MSM) which is believed to boost collagen production and be anti ageing. However, sulfur can be a potent skin sensitiser. Moreover, the first ingredient of this product is lavandula angustifolia flower water, which can be another potent skin sensitiser.
Another full size item is The Inkey List Tranexamic Acid Night Treatment. This comes in 30ml and is worth £15. The Inkey list is a popular budget friendly brand. The Tranexamic Acid Night Treatment is supposed to brighten skin and improve the skin’s texture. The main benefits of tranexamic acid are fading discolouration and reducing dark spots. This product is fragrance free but it does contain the potential allergen benzyl alcohol. This product is vegan.
Another budget friendly brand included in the Cult advent calendar is The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%. This comes in full size (30ml) and is worth £5. Niacinamide is a popular ingredient in skincare. It has multiple benefits to the skin: it improves the appearance of pores, helps with blemishes and uneven skin tones. Zinc is believed to have anti ageing benefits. This product is fragrance free, vegan and cruelty free. Personally, I am not the biggest fan of this product as it leaves quite a greasy, heavy feeling on the skin.
The rest of the serums or night treatments come in tiny sizes. The Odacite CaR Wild Carrot Serum Concentrate Vital Glow comes in 5ml and is worth £52. This product comes in full size in the Cult calendar, even though it only has a few milliliters. The whole marketing around this product revolves around its inclusion of wild carrot oil. In fact, this product only contains two ingredients – wild carrot oil and Vitamin E. The product claims that wild carrot can target blemishes, hyperpigmentation and dullness. The oil coming from the seeds of the carrot can refer to two types of oil – the essential oil or the fixed oil. The fixed oil has moisturising fatty acids, antifungal and antioxidant properties. The essential oil mostly has the same properties but it could be sensitising to the skin due to its fragrant components. Usually, under the EU’s regulations, these would have to be listed in the ingredient list as they are potential allergens (see linalool, limonene and so on). However, this product does not have those listed and so I would assume this product uses the fixed oil, not the essential one. This is only speculation. This product is vegan and cruelty free.
The Drunk Elephant T.LC. Frambooks Glycolic Night Serum comes in 8ml and is worth around £20. The size of this product is very small, which might provide only a few uses. It is an exfoliating serum with alpha and beta hydroxy acids such as lactic, salicylic and glycolic acid. These will exfoliate the skin and help decongest it and keep it more luminous. It contains sodium hydroxide, also known as lye which is a potentially sensitising ingredient to the skin. It is a base that interacts with an acid, becoming a sodium salt. It is often used to maintain the pH of products. If present at the very end of the list of ingredients, it should not be an issue. However, in this serum, it is very high up the ingredient list. Still, If no quantity is left in excess after the explained chemical reactions, it should not be an irritant. This product is fragrance free.
Another product to be used in the evening routine would be the Augustinus Bader The Face Oil that comes in 10ml and is worth £65. Yes, you read that correctly. This is an oil that is supposed to nourish, hydrate and protect the skin. It is also supposed to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. This could also be used together with your foundation for example for extra luminosity. It contains a mixture of oils, such as grape oil, jojoba oil, cranberry oil, sunflower oil and many, many others. These are all antioxidants with emollient properties. This product does not mention any fragrance or potential allergens to the skin. Augutinus Bader is a very expensive brand that I think many beauty lovers would love to try. The Face Oil is vegan and cruelty free.
A similar product to the Bader one is the Dr Barbara Sturm Glow Drops which comes in 10ml and is worth £40. This is an illuminating serum that is supposed to offer radiance to the skin. It is meant to be applied after moisturiser, but it can also be applied after makeup or combined with a makeup product. In many ways it has the same functionalities as the Bader product, except the Dr Sturm one has more mixed ingredients. Besides various oils, the Glow Drops also contains hyaluronic acid for hydration and mica, which will add that reflective property to the product. It is also fragrance free. This product appears to be cruelty free.
Morning routine: 6 items
From cleansing, exfoliating and serums or oils, we reached the morning routine. There are various products that are suitable to be used at the beginning of the day. There is the Summer Fridays Cloud Dew Oil-Free Gel Cream that comes in full size (50ml) and is worth £39. The ingredient list of this product looks very promising. It contains a mix of hydrating ingredients with emollient ones. It also has ceramides and antioxidants. It is fragrance free and vegan.
Another product that would be suitable for the morning routine is the Shiseido Vital Perfection Uplifting and Firming Cream that comes in 15ml worth £22. This cream is supposed to moisturise your skin and leave it plump and glowy. It is also supposed to help with fine lines and hyperpigmentation. It contains glycerine and silicone amongst the first ingredients. It also contains alcohol which might dry the skin but will provide the ‘’not greasy’’ effect they promise. The cream also has squalane, shea butter and an array of plant extracts like olive, camellia sinensis, rosemary and safflower. It contains fragrance and the potential allergens limonene, hexyl cinnamal, linalool and citronellol as a direct result from the lavender oil.
The Algenist GENIUS Collagen Calming Relief comes in full size (40ml) and is worth £55. This is a product supposed to be helping with inflammation and redness. It is also supposed to help with fine lines and wrinkles. This product looks very promising and has an excellent list of ingredients. It contains some amazing ingredients, such as squalane, shea butter, jojoba oil, avocado oil, sunflower oil amongst many others. This product also has vegan collagen as the second ingredient. It also has plant extracts such as algae extract and calendula officinalis which is supposed to reduce redness. It is fragrance free.
Medik8 C-Tetra Luxe comes in 8ml which is worth around £15. This is another product intended to be used in the morning. It has vitamin C and E and the aim of the product is to combat skin damage induced by sun and pollution. It has jojoba, sunflower and olive oil amongst others. Unfortunately, it also has some sensitising ingredients, like grapefruit oil and the potential allergens limonene, citral, linalool and geraniol. This product is cruelty free and vegan.
A gorgeous addition to the calendar and to the morning routine is the Jordan Samuel Skin Hydrate the Mist in 120ml worth £26. Not only that this comes in a very generous size but it will complement the other products well. Hydrating mists are great to be used on top of your skincare or throughout the day for an added moisture and comfort to the skin. It has algae extract, which is rich in antioxidants and will hydrate the skin, on top of protecting it from blue light exposure. It also has hyaluronic acid and other antioxidants. This product is free of alcohol and fragrance.
The Cult advent calendar also contains sunscreen! This is the Supergoop! Glowscreen SPF 30 in 15 ml worth £15. This is a UVA and UVB sunscreen that promises glowy and plump skin. It is a hybrid product, being also recommended as a makeup primer. As sunscreen filters it contains octocrylene and ethylhexyl salicylate which primarily protect from the UVB. For UVA it contains butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane (avobenzone). It also contains niacinamide and antioxidants. This is a fantastic product to come in a Christmas advent calendar and it is a step forward. Sunscreen should be used in the winter months as well. This sunscreen is cruelty free and appears to also be vegan.
Hair: 2 items
The Cult Christmas advent calendar only has two items for the hair out of 38. The Briogeo Scalp Revival Charcoal + Coconut Oil Micro-Exfoliating Shampoo comes in 59m worth £12. This is a shampoo that also exfoliates the scalp. Briogeo is a brand that has been heavily promoted inside beauty circles. This product is vegan and cruelty free.
To nourish the hair after washing there is the Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair! Deep Conditioning Mask in 59ml worth £12. This is my favourite deep conditioning hair product of all time. My hair is bleached and dyed, it is very fine and dry on the lengths. This product conditions the hair, leaving it smooth and very shiny. It does not have that specific greasy feel that most conditioners do. The hair is left shiny and looking very healthy. This product is vegan and cruelty free.
Body, Bath & Other: 4 items
The body, bath and miscellaneous section only has four items out of 38, excluding the two hair care items. There is the Molton Brown Jasmine & Sun Rose Bath & Shower Gel in 100ml worth around £7. This smells of jasmine and roses. Not a very Christmas appropriate scent, which is a real shame. This shower gel appears to be vegan and cruelty free.
Another item suitable for a bath is the ESPA Modern Alchemy The Grounding Crystals which come in 55g worth £12. These are supposed to be added to your bath. It contains a mixture of salts, essential oils and plant extracts. They are supposed to purify your skin and energise your mind. The fragrance is ylang ylang, ginger and vetiver. If you do not have a bath, this product is also recommended for soaking your feet for tired legs or before doing your manicure.
In the miscellaneous section there is the Bella Freud Loving Candle that comes in full size (190g) and is worth £50. The scent it comes in is tuberose and sandalwood, another not very Christmas appropriate fragrance but a lovely item nevertheless. This is an expensive candle that will be lovely to enjoy.
Lastly, there is the HUM Nutrition Here Comes The Sun in full size (30 softgels) that are worth £15. These are supplements that contain Vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 is essential for the immune system, for bone strength, muscle and hearth health. It can also help boost mood. It is recommended to be taken during winter, as during the dark months sun exposure is very limited and our body might lack enough Vitamin D3. It contains 50 mcg (2000 IU) per serving, which means a 250% daily value. These could be lovely to have handy during the dark month of December and is a very thoughtful addition in the calendar as they are also vegan and gluten free. Make sure to consult your doctor or pharmacists before taking any supplements though as they can interact with other medicine.
The Cult Christmas advent calendar 2021 comes in a baby pink sturdy box. The accents are bright red, but for some reason the light pink is not giving me any Christmassy vibes. The inside of the doors is empty, with no decoration.
The calendar comes with 25 drawers that contain 38 items. In terms of experience, this is fantastic. I presume the drawer for the Christmas Day would come with several items, making this calendar suitable for an overall gift to someone, including their Christmas Day gift.
Extra excitement is added through the chance to win the Golden Ticket. One lucky calendar will offer £1000 to be spent on the Cult website.
This calendar will also donate £40,000 from the sales to an organisation that is meant to support beauty professionals through the pandemic and help the beauty industry revive itself. It also supports Woodland Carbon Code certified projects so for every calendar sold there will be one tree planted. So, besides spending a small fortune on an advent calendar at least you can soothe your soul by knowing a small percentage of your purchase will be donated and will result in an extra tree being planted.
Overall, because of its price and the expensive brands inside it, the Cult advent calendar will offer a luxurious experience.
IS IT WORTH IT?
The most notable thing with the Cult Christmas advent calendar for 2021 is the attention for detail. Most other calendars offer a random mixture of products. However, Cult Beauty has obviously spent time and effort into combining the items into full routines.
There is almost everything you need starting with a morning cleanser. You also get moisturisers and creams suitable to be used in the morning, including a hydrating mist to reapply throughout the day. The Cult calendar even includes sunscreen in order to fully complete your morning skincare routine. The sunscreen also doubles up as a primer for your makeup. The makeup section is extremely well mixed, offering many products that used together would offer a gorgeous look. You get setting powder, a bronzer, a highlighter and even a brush to apply them with. For the eyes you also get a complete set of products – from several eyeshadows to choose from, to eyeliner and mascaras. In terms of lips, you get some choices as well. To complete the day you have several cleansers to choose from to remove your makeup. You then have an array of serums and oils to choose from for your evening routine.
There is also an exfoliating shampoo and a conditioner. You also get bath salts, a shower gel and even a candle that could be used to further relax you. To top it up, there are also some vitamins that are usually advised for taking in the dark months of winter. There is no doubt that the contents of the calendar are extremely well chosen in terms of their usage and role in someone’s daily routine. From this point of view, the Cult calendar receives many extra points.
The second noticeable thing is that the Cult Christmas beauty advent calendar 2021 contains 38 items instead of 24 of 25. This is 13 items more than usual calendars.
Unpicking each section separately, the makeup category is worth around £283, which is already more than the price of the calendar (£215). There are luxury brands that most beauty lovers would love to try and use, such as Charlotte Tilbury, Victoria Beckham, Nataha Denona. There are also other luxury brands that would be interesting to try. For the makeup lover, this calendar offers more than enough excitement and variety of products.
The skincare section is the dominant category of this calendar, just like for the other mixed brands calendars available for 2021. Worth around £600, skincare is without any doubt the focus of it all. It contains all the items necessary for a full skincare routine. However, as mentioned in the individual review of the items, many products contain fragrance and other potentially irritants to the skin, so this is bad news for those of you with sensitive skin. The list of brands is very impressive again, with luxury brands like Augustinus Bader, Dr Barbara Sturm, Sunday Riley and Odacite. However, some of the full size items in this calendar are from brands like Inkey List and The Ordinary which are very affordable brands.
The hair section is only worth £24. Briogeo is a very popular, and very expensive brand that has some interesting haircare items on the market. The inclusion of the shampoo and deep conditioning mask in the Cult calendar are a lovely opportunity to try them, but I think I am not the only one that wished for either a bigger size of the items or more options in terms of hair. The body, bath and miscellaneous section is very short as well, having only four items worth around £84.
As usual, I would have preferred that the skincare section was smaller, allowing for other items to be present. Perhaps ones that are less likely to cause skin sensitivities and that are easier to use by a wide range of people. Items such as a hair styling cream comes to mind, or perhaps a hair oil. A body moisturiser is also missing, as well as nail polish or any fragrance. In fact, the biggest downside of this calendar is the overwhelming amount of skincare. Skincare is the most particular category, where, as mentioned, the inclusion of fragrance and potentially irritant ingredients might cause some issues to some.
It is also worth noting that quite a few products in the Cult calendar are vegan and cruelty free. However, this is not a completely vegan calendar.
For £215 the price is definitely steep, even though you get four times and a half your money’s worth. In a way, the price is more justifiable since it comes with as many as 38 different items. However, some of them come in very small sizes. 20 of these items come in full sizes, but some of them are a brush, a single use eye mask and a 5ml serum. In my opinion, this calendar would be suitable as the overall Christmas gift to someone, without having to spend anything on top. This is because on Christmas Day you get several items.
The Cult Christmas advent calendar for 2021 is without doubt one suitable for a very enthusiastic beauty lover. It would make a beautiful, luxurious and exciting gift. Some attention should be given to skin sensitivity and one’s passion for skincare in general, as this calendar contains an overwhelming number of skin focused items that might not be suitable for everyone.
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Disclaimer: This article is not sponsored and does not contain any affiliate links. Although some analysis has been performed on the ingredient lists, this is not an exhaustive review of each ingredient for every product.
The claims of vegan and cruelty free products have only been added where they are clearly stated on the brand’s website. For a thorough understanding of which items are truly vegan or certified cruelty free, independent research is encouraged.
None of the images used are Lipstick Café’s copyright and have been used solely for the purpose of reviewing the product.