Liberty 2021 beauty advent calendar review: A luxury offering that lives up to the hype

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Now that Strictly and Bake Off are back on our screens, the countdown to Christmas is officially on – and what better way to celebrate than deciding which advent calendar you want to treat yourself to? Year after year, beauty brands manage to continually blow our minds with their incredible offerings. From LookFantastic to Lush, Jo Malone London, Asos and Cult Beauty, there’s no shortage of choice – but there’s one that never fails to be top of our most wanted list.

It’s the original, the one that started the worldwide obsession with beauty advent calendars and it always garners a super long waiting list. Of course we’re talking about the Liberty beauty advent calendar.

First launched in 2014, it’s since become a real talking point, because not only is it the brand’s most successful and fastest-selling product in its 145-year history, but year after year it gets bigger and better. There’s no better way to countdown to Christmas than with this beautiful treasure trove bursting with a carefully curated edit of products fresh from Liberty’s iconic beauty hall.

Available to buy from 6 October, the demand for Liberty’s advent calendar is predictably high – not just because of the breathtaking packaging, but because it’s jam packed with coveted brands including Le Labo, Augustinus Bader, Ren Clean Skincare, Hair by Sam McKnight and Olaplex. Plus one lucky winner will find a golden ticket hidden inside one advent calendar, giving them £5000 to spend at Liberty. You can sign up on the retailer’s website to be the first to find out when the Liberty calendar drops, to avoid disappointment.

It seems we already made Santa’s nice list this year as we managed to get our hands on one before its official launch – so if you need help deciding whether it’s one for you, here’s our thoughts.

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How we tested

As with all our beauty advent calendar reviews, we considered everything from the packaging design to the quality and size of the products inside. We also looked at the type of products to make sure there was a good variety of brands, and that there was a satisfying mix of skin, hair, body, fragrance and make-up. Considering the high price point, we wanted to make sure it felt like good value for money and that it was luxurious.

Liberty 2021 beauty advent calendar: £225, available from 6 October at Libertylondon.com

Rating: 8.5/10

Number of days: 25 Products: 25 Product sizes: 19 full size and 6 deluxe minis Value of products: £840 Price: £225

Design

True to form, Liberty’s advent calendar is stunning. On the front there’s a striking snow scene illustration of the famous department store, and once the doors are opened you’ll see that the inside is decorated with a trademark Liberty print – this design in particular is a heritage print, named Starburst, that was first created in 1989 and celebrates “botanical beauty with iris petals and intricate ornamental leaves”.

With 25 good-sized drawers, each labelled with a gold number, our first impressions are strong. We also appreciated the fact that, nestled alongside each gift, there is a “Liberty Loves” card that explains more about the product.

This year, the entire box is completely recyclable once the magnets in the doors have been removed – but given the choice, we’d keep it and refill next Christmas to create our own calendar.

What’s inside?

Phew, where to start? There is a seriously impressive amount of full size products from sought-after brands in this calendar, and once again, Liberty has outdone itself. There’s an excellent mix of skincare, haircare and make-up, along with a couple of perfumes – one of which you’ll find behind door 25. We won’t spoil the surprise, but just know it’s a much-loved fragrance from a cult brand. Plus, there’s a £15 Liberty voucher (valid until July 2022), and a cute Liberty print wash bag (which features the same design as the inside of the calendar) in the mix which we think make great additions.

If you’re a fiend for luxury beauty, you definitely won’t be disappointed by the brands that are included. Skincare wise, there’s products from Votary, Augustinus Bader, QMS MediCosmetics, Dermalogica, Omorovicza and Decree. On the hair and make-up front you’ll find Olaplex, Davines, Uoma Beauty, Trish McEvoy and Surratt. In terms of bodycare you’ll find brands including Aromatherapy Associates, Frank Body, Susanne Kaufmann and Olverum.

For us, the main standouts are the 100ml bottle of Ren Clean Skincare’s ready steady glow daily AHA tonic (£27 for 250ml, Libertylondon.com). It’s a firm favourite with beauty editors and skincare experts alike thanks to the gentle but hardworking blend of lactic and salicylic acid that work to slough away dead skin to leave a glowing complexion in its wake. Perfect to use on Christmas morning.

Another skincare highlight is Augustinus Bader’s the rich cream (£65, Libertylondon.com). Expensive, yes, but for good reason. It harnesses the power of a patented complex that works to rejuvenate skin, encourage cell renewal and reduce signs of damage caused by environmental stress. The moisturiser is a product loved by celebrities including Victoria Beckham, Gigi Hadid and Jennifer Anniston, but at £205 for a 50ml bottle, it’s definitely not the cheapest, so being able to try the smaller, 15ml bottle as part of this calendar is a win/win situation.

The hair product we were most excited about was the full size bottle of Olaplex’s no3 hair perfector (£26, Libertylondon.com), which has gained cult status in the last year because of its ability to breathe life into hair that’s been damaged by bleach or heat styling. We were also pleased to see Davines’ momo conditioner (£9.50, Libertylondon.com), another high-end treat.

One thing to note is that we were disappointed by the lack of colour cosmetics – Liberty stocks the likes of Laura Mercier, Nars, Westman Atelier and Hourglass so it would have been nice to see a lipstick, eyeshadow, blusher or highlighter suitable for all skin tones from one of those brands.

Value for money

If you combined the price of each of the 25 products, it would cost a whopping £840, so although the £225 retail price of the calendar is expensive, it does feel like good value for money – especially when you consider that 19 of the products inside are full size.

The quality of the overall packaging and design looks and feels luxe, too, and it’s an excellent way to be able to try premium brands without having to shell out for expensive, high-end products that there’s no guarantee you’d like.

The verdict: Liberty 2021 beauty advent calendar

There’s no denying that this year’s Liberty beauty advent calendar is an excellent way of expanding your stash of luxury hair, make-up, skincare and body products. It’s definitely been carefully curated and features the best of niche, must-have and award-winning brands that are dotted throughout the Liberty beauty hall.

Although there are 19 full size products, we did notice that they actually tended to be the smaller of two sizes available. For example, Augustinus Bader’s the rich cream comes in a 15ml bottle and a bigger 50ml bottle, and in the calendar you’ll find the 15ml size. Ditto the Davines conditioner, which comes in both 250ml and 100ml – and it’s the 100ml size you’ll find in here. While that’s not a problem, it’s definitely something to be aware of just to manage expectations if nothing else, but as mentioned previously, this calendar is absolutely one of the best ways to indulge in luxury brands without having to buy everything at full price.

Despite the lack of colour cosmetics, we do still think the Liberty advent calendar is worth the investment – you could even give the gift voucher or Liberty print gift bag away as presents if you wanted – and we have no doubt that anybody who’s lucky enough to get their hands on it this year will not be disappointed.

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IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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