The Elle Beauty Advent Calendar 2021 is filled with luxury and high end brands. But are the sizes generous? What is the actual value of each item? This article contains a review of all the items, including their ingredients and any potential skin irritants. It will also look at who this calendar is aimed towards and why.
£149 worth £654
Makeup: 6 items
The Elle beauty advent calendar for 2021 only contains six makeup items. Starting with the eyes, there is the Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Cream Shadow Stick coming in a mini size worth £14. This claims to be waterproof and easy to blend. This is supposed to come in the shade Taupe, which is a medium brown. This will be suitable to most skin tones and will be a very wearable eyeshadow.
The Eyeko Black Magic Liquid Eyeliner comes in full size and is worth £16. This will provide a detailed and elegant black line for the eyes. It is supposed to be smudge proof, but for me it does crease quite a bit throughout the day. This product was present in many calendars in 2020. This product is vegan.
To complete the look of the eyes, there is the HUDA Beauty Legit Lashes Double-Ended Mascara in full size (2 x 8.5ml) which is worth £24. This comes with two formulas – one end is designed for volume, while the other is designed for curl and length. These are recommended to be used together, in two coats. This seems like a fun and innovative product to have in an advent calendar.
There is one item for the eyebrows as well. This is the Benefit 24-HR Brow Setter Clear Brow Gel in a mini size worth £12.50. This is a popular product amongst beauty lovers. The fact that it comes in a clear shade allows it to be suitable for anyone, regardless of the brow colour. This is an inclusive decision. This product is also available in the Next beauty advent calendar for 2021.
For the complexion there is only one product. The Fenty Beauty Match Stix Shimmer Skin Stick comes in full size and is worth £21. Fenty is a celebrity brand, owned by Rihanna. It is a very popular high end brand, so it is nice that it is included in an advent calendar. However, the shade is one that could be tricky to wear. Beach bum is a dark peachy colour. This product is supposed to highlight, blush and enhance. For fair skin tones this would work as a blush, while for darker skin tones this would look gorgeous as a highlighter too. This is a cruelty free product.
Lastly, there is one item for the lips. The Laura Mercier Rouge Essentiel Lipstick in Rouge Ultime is worth £9.50. It is advertised by Elle as coming in full size, but the actual full size of the lipstick costs £26. This means that the Elle calendar gives a mini version of the product. This is supposed to offer a high pigmented, long lasting colour in a satin finish. The shade is a beautiful red leaning towards berry, very appropriate for the festive season.
Skincare: 11 items
Unsurprisingly, the skincare section is the most generous one in the Elle calendar as well. Starting with the cleansing routine, this calendar offers a cleansing device, a cleansing balm and a toner. The cleansing balm is the Aurelia Probiotic Skincare Miracle Cleanser, which comes in 50ml and is worth £22. This is supposed to be a gentle cleanser that protects the skin barrier, which helps to remove makeup and sunscreen. It also comes with a bamboo muslin cloth which will help to exfoliate the skin. Despite containing several beneficial ingredients for the skin such as shea butter and probiotics, this cleanser also has some potential irritants, such as bergamot and eucalyptus oil, as well as lactose, which is a milk protein that could be an issue for people allergic to milk. From the EU’s list of potential skin allergens it contains benzyl alcohol, limonene and linalool. This cleanser broke me out, as I have very sensitive skin. However, this is a rinse off product so unless your skin is sensitive, this could be good for some as it does not sit on the skin for long. The Aurelia cleanser was also in last year’s Elle calendar. For this year, it is also present in the Next beauty advent calendar.
To use with the cleanser there is the popular cleansing device Foreo Luna Play Plus 2, coming in full size (it would be funny otherwise) which is worth £49. This device has subtle vibrations which are claimed to help in cleansing your skin of makeup and impurities. It also claims that the vibrations prepare the skin for a faster absorption of skincare. The vibrations could also offer some mild mechanical exfoliation of the skin. This is not a necessary product in someone’s routine, but it could be nice to have and enjoy.
To finish up the cleansing routine there is also a toner. This is from Darphin and it is their Intral Toner which comes in 50ml worth £8. This toner is supposed to soothe sensitive and inflamed skin. It contains calming chamomile and polysaccharides. It is alcohol free but it does contain fragrance, which is a potential skin sensitiser.
Moving on to serums, there are three to choose from. There is the very expensive Barbara Sturm Super Anti-Aging Serum which comes in full size (10ml) costing £100. This is an anti ageing product, claimed to hydrate and reduce the depth of fine lines and wrinkles. This serum contains lactobacillus/ portulaca oleracea ferment extract, which has skin soothing and antioxidant benefits. It contains a high amount of vitamins A (which is anti ageing), C and E, the last two being antioxidants. This sounds like a fantastic skincare product and I have to congratulate Elle for managing to include this in their advent calendar.
The second serum is from 111Skin Y Theorem Repair Serum which comes in 10ml worth £63. This is another very expensive luxury skincare item. It is anti ageing and it also promises to reduce redness and calm irritated skin. It contains aloe vera and calendula officinalis extract which has redness reducing properties. It also has sodium ascorbyl phosphate and niacinamide, both being skin soothing and having antioxidant properties. The first one is a stable, water soluble form of vitamin C. Unfortunately though, this serum does contain fragrance, which is a potential skin irritant and sensitiser.
The third serum is Shani Darden Skin Care Retinol Reform in 10ml, worth £27. This is an anti ageing serum but it is also recommended for acne prone skin. It contains retinol which is skin restoring and an antioxidant. Retinol is a form of vitamin A and requires certain skincare changes, as it cannot be combined with some ingredients. It is one of the only proven and thoroughly researched anti ageing ingredients. The Shani Darden Retinol Reform also contains lactic acid, which will help to exfoliate the skin. It also has aloe vera and niacinamide. This product has an impressive list of ingredients. It is also vegan and cruelty free.
In terms of creams, there is the Murad Intense Recovery Cream in full size (50ml) which costs £68. This is a cream intended for combination, normal, dry or very dry skin. It is supposed to calm visible signs of stress, such as dryness and redness. It has some beneficial ingredients like shea butter, jojoba oil and aloe vera, but it also contains several potential irritant ingredients such as citrus oils. It also contains the potential skin allergens limonene and linalool.
There are also two products intended for the eyes. There is the Elizabeth Arden Retinol Ceramide Line Erasing Eye Cream worth £17, meaning it probably comes in around 5ml. This is not a lot, but considering it is for the eye area, you will still get a few uses out of it. It contains retinol, which as mentioned above is an amazing anti ageing ingredient. It also has peptides, niacinamide and ceramides, amongst other beneficial ingredients. This product, besides being anti ageing, also promises to help with puffiness. This looks like a gorgeous product!
The other skincare item intended for the eyes is the Clé De Peau Beauté Vitality-Enhancing Eye Mask Supreme which comes in one sachet (16ml) worth £22. This is another anti ageing product that promises to make fine lines less noticeable, as well as to help with dark circles and puffiness. This contains squalane, several plant extracts and it also contains fragrance which is a potential skin sensitiser.
To lock it all in there is a facial oil as well. The Sisley Paris Black Rose Precious Face Oil comes in 3ml and is worth £20. This is more of a sample than a mini. This oil is targeted more towards mature, dry skin. It promises to diminish fine lines and give a radiant complexion. Despite a few skin beneficial ingredients, such as squalane, avocado oil, vitamin E, soybean and jojoba oils, it also contains some essential oils which due to their fragrant components can be skin irritants. Amongst the potential skin allergens there is linalool, citronellol, geraniol, citral, limonene and eugenol.
Lasly, there is something for the lips as well, which is the Eve Lom Kiss Mix Lip Balm that comes in full size (7ml) and costs £16. It is supposed to nourish the lips, protect them from environmental damage and leave a shine. It has a pretty packaging, coming in a chic white pot. However, this lip balm has menthol in. If you enjoy a tingling sensation on your lips then you might enjoy this. For me, this irritates my lips quite a bit.
Hair: 3 items
Starting with washing your hair, there is a shampoo. This comes from FEKKAI and is their Full Blown Volume Shampoo. It comes in 60ml and it is worth £8. It is supposed to help lift the hair, detangle it and hydrate it. It promises volume and to protect your hair colour, especially from brassiness. Because this goes on the skin as you wash your scalp I will analyse the ingredients a bit – unfortunately this does contain fragrance and the potential skin allergens benzyl alcohol, limonene, linalool and geraniol. However, this is a wash off product so it would not sit on your skin for long. It is silicone and sulfate free. This shampoo is also vegan and cruelty free.
There is no conditioner to pair the shampoo with, but there is a leave in treatment. This is from Aveda and is their Botanical Repair Hair Strengthening Leave-In Treatment. It comes in 25ml and is worth £9. It is supposed to detangle hair, prevent breakage and be a heat protectant. It also protects the hair from UV (sun) damage. This is a vegan and cruelty free product. It is also present in this year’s Look Fantastic advent calendar.
The last hair product is the Percy & Reed Time to Shine Eau My! which comes in 50ml and is worth £12. This is a shine and fragrance spray. The fragrance is described as being spring like, so it is not exactly the most Christmas appropriate product. On top of the fragrance it would add to your hair (which can be a really nice thing!) it also promises to add shine and protection from sun damage. It is sulphate free and vegan friendly.
Body, Bath & Other: 6 items
Unfortunately, the Elle advent calendar 2021 does not contain any shower gel or bath items, other than the shampoo previously mentioned. However, it does have two items that can be used to hydrate and nourish the body. One of them is the Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Bum Bum Cream which comes in 75ml and costs £18. This is supposed to hydrate your body, tighten the skin and leave it looking luminous. This is a popular body cream which is supposed to smell absolutely delicious. I did not find a certain description of the smell other than it has a sweet nutty fragrance. This product is vegan and cruelty free.
Another hydrating product is the NUXE Replenishing Nourishing Body Oil which comes in 35ml which is worth £11. It is supposed to nourish the skin and make it feel more elastic. Both the Janeiro cream and the Nuxe oil contain fragrance and some potential skin allergens. However, these are meant to be used on the body where our skin tends to be less sensitive and reactive than on our face and scalp.
To wrap up the body care, there is also the Vita Liberata Body Blur Instant HD Skin Finish in 50ml worth £10. This is a wash off body makeup that provides a temporary colour looking like a tan. The specific shade is not mentioned. While the shade might prove too light or too dark for some, this also promises to provide a blurring effect and some luminosity. Although it does not advertise this, this product does have some UVB filters in, meaning it provides some sun protection. However, it does not contain any strong UVA filters so I would not advise using this without a dedicated sunscreen if the skin is exposed to the sun. This product can also be used on the face. This is a vegan and cruelty free product. It was also present in last year’s Elle calendar.
The Elle advent calendar also contains one nail polish from INC Nail Polish. This comes in full size and is worth £15. This comes in the shade Blame it on the Glitter Ball and is a beautiful shade of red filled with sparkly glitter. A very appropriate festive shade!
For the mood and relaxation, there is the Aromatherapy Associates Forest Therapy Roller Ball in full size which costs £22. This is a product containing essential oils and smells of ho wood, cypress and pink pepper, being labeled as an energising fragrance. It is supposed to help you relax and you can use it on your pulse points on your body. This product is suitable for vegans.
Lastly, this calendar contains a year’s digital subscription to the Elle magazine, which comes in ten issues and is worth £40. This is a lovely gift for anyone who loves to read magazines and be up to date with trends and beauty releases.
The Elle beauty advent calendar comes in a beautiful polka dot box. It is black with white dots. The inside plays on this design as well. The doors consist of cardboard drawers, offering quality. Again, like for many other 2021 Christmas calendars, the design does not inspire me with Christmassy or winter vibes at all.
The calendar contains 25 items, having something for Christmas Day as well. The 26th gift is a year’s digital subscription to Elle magazine. This makes the calendar unique and it offers a full experience for the lovers of beauty magazines.
The Elle calendar offers a few luxury brands, such as Sisley, Barbara Sturm, Clé De Peau and Shani Darden. It contains some eye watering expensive items when it comes to skincare, which will offer a luxurious experience for people that enjoy using these types of brands. There are also many high end brands, such as Fenty, Laura Mercier, Bobbi Brown, Murad, Elizabeth Arden and Sol de Janeiro. All of these are pricey items associated with moderate to high prices.
IS IT WORTH IT?
Priced at £149 the Elle calendar is in between affordable and expensive when it comes to Christmas beauty calendars. There are certainly more affordable mixed brands calendars, as well as many others that are more expensive. Despite not being the most expensive one out there, it is filled with luxury and high end brands.
It is worth a total of £654, meaning that you get four times and a half your money’s worth. This is a good deal and one of the best when it comes to other 2021 beauty advent calendars.
The Elle calendar only has eight full size items, amongst which is an eyeliner, mascara, a cleansing device, lip balm, an aromatherapy roller ball and a nail polish.
The makeup section is worth a total of £97 and contains only six items. In my opinion, the makeup category is the weakest in this calendar. It has some high end brands, such as Laura Mericer, Huda Beauty, Benefit and Bobbi Brown, but it could have been a lot more generous. For this reason, I would not recommend the Elle one for people expecting lots of makeup in calendars.
The skincare section is yet again the most complex one, having cleansers, serums, masks, creams and lip care. It is worth a total of £412, which makes 63% of the value of this calendar. The focus is clear. The luxury brands are all in the skincare section as well, hoping to attract some skincare lovers. However, despite the numerous luxury and high end brands present, be aware that lots of these products come in tiny sizes. The luxury serums come in 10ml each, the Sisley oil comes in a sample size of 3ml, and the Elizabeth Arden eye cream comes in 5ml. Amongst the generous sizes there are the cleansers (50ml) and the Murad cream (50ml).
The skincare is aimed towards mature skin with signs of ageing. There are several items with retinol, which is something special, as it is the magic ingredient for ageing skin. However, it could also benefit acne prone skin.
Unfortunately, most items contain perfume and potential skin allergens, so if you have sensitive or problematic skin you might want to avoid these.
The calendar lacks much haircare. However, somehow the three hair items are well chosen and seem to encompass most needs. There is a shampoo, a treatment cream and a perfume spray that gives shine. They are worth a total of £29, so there was certainly space left for improvement.
The body, bath and miscellaneous section is worth £116 – more than the makeup one. It has six items excluding the three for the hair. Sadly, there are no shower or bath products. There are some well known hydrating creams and body oils though, such as Sol de Janeiro’s Bum Bum cream. The sparkly nail polish is a plus, together with the digital subscription to Elle magazine. In fact, the subscription is for a whole year and is one of the most original gifts in beauty advent calendars – one that I am sure many beauty lovers will enjoy. This is a major plus if you are a regular reader of glossy magazines.
In terms of vegan and cruelty free items, this calendar does not offer many options.
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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.