Stylish calendars

It’s the fault of the beauty advent calendars, but all the brands are getting small

When John Lewis released its annual trend report late last year, there was a big surprise for beauty-watchers – or rather a tiny one. Because sales of beauty miniatures have increased by 35%.

Usually, of course, we associate minis with summer vacation trips, but last year we were picking them up by the load all year round.

It’s not just about crummy deodorants and minute mouthwashes: you can also buy miniature versions of the fanciest skincare products, with luxury brands lining up to take advantage of demand.

In the beauty salons of 12 of its stores, including the flagship Oxford Street branch, John Lewis has introduced floor-to-ceiling “miniature walls”, offering everything from hair treatments and highlighters to eye creams and to proofreaders. This is called “beauty in the bite”.

A 4ml tube of her popular Pillow Talk push-up lashes costs £12, while the full size (10ml) version costs £23

A 4ml tube of her popular Pillow Talk push-up lashes costs £12, while the full size (10ml) version costs £23

The first attraction is to be able to “try before you buy”. Who wants to spend £40 on a large 200ml Eve Lom cleanser, only to find out it’s too rich for your skin or you don’t like the smell?

But a mini 20ml for £18? Just use it over a weekend and if it doesn’t suit your skin, you won’t feel like you wasted your money.

Another reason is that it allows people to experience a luxury band at an affordable price. Take the iconic skin brand La Mer, the favorite of celebrities such as Elizabeth Hurley and Beyonce.

At £70, a 15ml jar of her moisturizer doesn’t sound like a bargain (you can even pay for it in installments on Space NK), but compared to £245 for a full-size 60ml, it’s the case.

Expensive brands are all rushing to produce scaled-down versions of their bestsellers as we spend more on skincare than ever.

Nars' popular Climax Extreme mascara costs £22, but a mini mascara (left) costs just £10 and is small enough to fit in your jeans pocket.

Nars’ popular Climax Extreme mascara costs £22, but a mini mascara (left) costs just £10 and is small enough to fit in your jeans pocket.

Looking at their own tired faces on Zoom has convinced many women that they need to improve their daily skincare routine. British brand Oskia specializes in biocellular skincare and one of their bestselling products is the Super 16 Anti-Aging Serum. A regular size (30ml) costs £92, but a doll-size version of 5.5ml costs £23.

Even Victoria Beckham took advantage of the mini being fashionable. A full-size bottle (50ml) of its Cell Rejuvenating Primer Moisturizer costs £140, while the 15ml version (left) costs £58.

The minis are still decadent, but not enough to make you feel guilty – the beauty equivalent of those little chocolate bars you get in a jar at Celebrations. A Martian bar? Oh I shouldn’t. . . but it’s only very small, so go ahead!

The miniature boom owes much to the success of beauty advent calendars. Everyone from Liberty and Harrods to The Body Shop and Asos produce a calendar, most of which sell out instantly.

The £199 version of Space NK ended up being waitlisted the day it became available. Opening a window and finding a little beauty surprise clearly left people wanting more.

La Mer's Cool Gel Cream Moisturizer, priced at £70, a 15ml jar doesn't look like a bargain (you can even buy it in installments on Space NK), compared to £245 for a full 60ml greatness

La Mer’s Cool Gel Cream Moisturizer, priced at £70, a 15ml jar doesn’t look like a bargain (you can even buy it in installments on Space NK), compared to £245 for a full 60ml greatness

Along with toiletries and skincare, there are dozens of makeup miniatures to choose from, all neatly tucked away in a minimalist evening clutch.

Travel size gift bags have always been available from major cosmetic brands. They invariably feature a product you love and a bunch of other monstrosities, which always include a coral lipstick or peach blush.

No more! Nars’ popular Climax Extreme mascara costs £22, but a mini mascara costs just £10 and is small enough to fit in your jeans pocket.

A miniature Radiant creamy concealer is available for £13 (as opposed to the full size at £24.50).

Queen of cosmetics Charlotte Tilbury produces minis 12 months of the year. A 4ml tube of her popular Pillow Talk push-up lashes costs £12, while the full size (10ml) version costs £23.

Or you can splash on a scaled-down Flawless Finish Powder for £20 rather than the traditional £35 size.

Even Victoria Beckham has taken advantage of the mini being fashionable - a full-size (50ml) bottle of her cell-rejuvenating priming moisturizer costs £140, while the 15ml version costs £58

Even Victoria Beckham has taken advantage of the mini being fashionable – a full-size (50ml) bottle of her cell-rejuvenating priming moisturizer costs £140, while the 15ml version costs £58

But while we’ve all fallen in love with miniatures, there’s no denying that many of them are a big old rip-off, with a quarter of the size rarely equating to a quarter of the price.

However, their lack of value does not prove to be a deterrent to consumers.

The Cult Beauty online store currently offers over 300 mini product releases.

Meanwhile, top-selling bite-sized beauties at John Lewis include Bobbi Brown Face Base (£15); Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant (£14); Caudalie Beauty Elixir Face Mist (£12); and Dr Jart+ Tiger Grass Color Correcting Treatment (£15).

I keep reading that 2022 is set to be the year of “great pressure” and a time of painful financial calculations.

Well, it’s a pressure that I don’t mind kissing. And if it limits my annual beauty spending by preventing me from splashing out on ultra-expensive products that I end up not using, all the better.