December 8, 2022

It’s October, and that means we’re firmly in the leadup to Christmas and the Holiday beauty releases. To be fair, I have not been as inundated with releases as I have been in the past, mainly due to the fact that I’m less active than I used to be.

In my case, I’m happy about it. Being bombarded with new releases and new Christmas releases day after day, with the not-so-subtle suggestion to get people to buy-buy-buy was off-putting.

It is with a bit of disconcert however, that I notice that the trend of beauty advent calendars isn’t dying out. If anything, it seems to be growing in popularity, with more brands (and even stores!) jumping on the bandwagon.

Well, call me a grinch, but I’d tell you to save your money, and spend it on some proper beauty products and fragrances instead

An advent calendar, as most of us know by now, is a kit filled with 24 little treats, to be opened in the lead-up to Christmas. It originally was filled with sweets and chocolate, which I think is a great way to go about this. Who doesn’t look forward to a little sweet treat at the end of the day?

About 5-6 years or so ago, the beauty industry decided to make beauty advent calendars – 24 little beauty treats to be opened each day in the lead up to Christmas. A cute little idea, but then it started becoming quite outrageous as the luxury brands got in the game.

Why pay good money for samples?

The thing that bugs me most about beauty advent calendars is that they’re primarily filled with samples or sample-sized products. In theory, it’s a good way to try what the brand has to offer.

In practice, what you get is 24 little bottles/jars of products that clutter up the place, and do not leave lasting impressions.

What I’ve also noticed is that many brands like to make their sample bottles/jars mini sizes of their full-sized counterparts. What this sometimes translates to is the lack of usability. A large bottle housing a shower gel works. A mini 5ml bottle with a tiny little hole, filled with thick gel doesn’t.

You really are paying a lot of good money for product samples that you could otherwise receive as gifts with purchase, or as a complimentary trial product.

For the brands, very often, it’s product samples that already exist or are manufactured, and simply repackaged. It’s not as if they make new or unique products for the advent calendars. It’s almost akin to someone just looking around them, picking out whatever excess product they have lying around, and putting it into a nice box, and selling it at a premium.

That’s pretty much a beauty advent calendar, in a nutshell

Essentially, you are paying good money for the privilege to try a selection of 24 product samples, to decide what suits you best or what you like, so you can then spend even more money on the full-sized version.

You may end up with products that don’t suit you or are ‘junk’

Samples in advent calendars are one-size-fits-all. I’ve noticed that they’re often filled with a smattering of a brands’ popular product, coupled with other less popular products. Granted, it’s a way for the brand to introduce a less popular product to the masses.

On the flipside, it’s also a way to get rid of excess products that are less popular. It depends how cynical you are

As beauty advent calendars are tailored for the masses, they usually are made to be enjoyed by most people. If it was a perfume, I can understand how it works. With scent, a sample is perfect for you to decide if you like or hate it.

With skincare, it’s harder, and it’s worth noting that most beauty advent calendars center around skincare. Depending on the type of skin you have, or your age for that matter, you may find that you are only able to use a selection of the samples in your advent calendar.

I posit that a beauty advent calendar for perfumes and perhaps bath and body products make the most sense, for they are products that almost everyone can use, and it’s easy to figure out whether or not you’d want to buy a full sized version.

However I’d draw the line at a fragrance-based advent calendar like the one Jo Malone or Diptyque makes, for it is often filled with other ‘cheaper’ items like mini candles, body lotions and body washes, that bring the value down. The real value in those brands are in their fragrances, and you don’t usually get very many fragrances in an advent calendar that costs 3-4 times more than buying a full-sized bottle of perfume.

If anyone remembers the brouhaha in 2021 over the Chanel Advent Calendar (that supposedly wasn’t), you’d remember just how much ‘junk’ it contained, from tiny little notepads, to paper clips and stickers. The official line was that it was filled with memorabilia targeted at fans of No. 5 perfume, as they were celebrating 100 years of No. 5. But the messaging was terribly poor and lost everyone at its US$1000 price tag, so it was roundly panned by most, except for those who received it gratis

When I saw the contents, I recognised some of the items from press gifts from past collections, so it did feel like they saw some leftover items lying around, and decided to package it into a fancy box and sell it for a lot of money. If that isn’t capitalism at its best, I don’t know what is

But that’s the ‘beauty’ of a beauty advent calendar, even from a luxury brand. You may end up with things that have little to no value, and you’ve already paid lots of good money for it.

The waste generated is incredible

Aside from encouraging over-consumption, what bugs me about beauty advent calendars is the waste generated. Little sample bottles, tubes and tubs that are quickly thrown away, and the amount of packaging to ensure that each item is held securely in its little window. Not to mention also the cost of packing and transportation, because some of these items are large and heavy. This more so with the luxury brands, because perceived value lies in the heft and size of the box.

I don’t claim to be the greenest person in the room, and even I am appalled at how much cardboard and throwaway plastic is in each beauty advent calendar. While it’s easy to say it can be recycled, I’m not sure how much of it is truly recyclable, and how much of it just ends up in landfills, because it’s too expensive or complicated to recycle.

There’s no more surprise in a beauty advent calendar

In the early days, when the advent calendars were released closer to December, there was a fun little element of surprise as to what to expect behind each window. A friend used to share a daily ‘unboxing’ of her advent calendar throughout December, and it was good fun.

These days, you know exactly what is in the calendar, and they’re released so early (as early as September sometimes) that the whole meaning behind the calendar is lost. Who will buy an advent calendar in October and keep it for 2 months, to be ‘surprised’ in December? No one, I’d warrant.

You also have so many people doing ‘unboxing’ of their advent calendars, or who are given it gratis to share on their social media platforms, that there is no more element of surprise. Just head to YouTube, pop in advent calendar in the search, and you’ll be bombarded by videos of people telling you “The best Advent Calendar of 2022” or “Which advent calendar should you buy?”

As much as I think this trend should die out, I don’t think it will. If anything, it’s a huge money spinner for beauty brands, and everyone will try to outdo the other each year. In the last 2 years, a number of luxury brands have gotten on the bandwagon, with very expensive advent calendars, that are quickly snapped up for the novelty factor.

For some people, they perceive a luxury beauty advent calendar to be a ‘treat’ because it allows them to try samples from a brand they’d otherwise not try. I don’t think this is the right mindset however, as my survey shows that the prices of these luxury calendars (locally at least) are too high to be a ‘treat’. You’d be better off going to the store, asking to try the various products you’re interested in, and buying the full sizes to truly enjoy and derive the most benefit.

Money is hard to come by, and if the economists are right, it will only get harder in the coming year or two. Put your money to work harder by buying some full-sized, high quality products this Holidays, and don’t get sucked into the commercial hype of throwaway advent calendars.

Except maybe the chocolate ones.

(You can get them on sale on Boxing Day )

Have you ever bought a beauty advent calendar?

I haven’t and I know I will never buy one. I was gifted one one year, and I’m still finding random samples from it today, that I know I won’t use, but don’t know what to do with them LOL I might however, be more inclined to get an edible advent calendar with say 24 luxury chocolates. A little edible treat for 24 days in the lead up to Christmas sounds like fun

Paris B