If you're unsure what someone likes (and to buy them any part of a scented range, you really have to be quite, quite sure) then a good "hedge your bets" present is Jo Malone's Bath Oil Collection which consists of 12 different scented bath oils for pounds 49.95. I know I go on about Jo Malone, and I'm not a fan of every product she does, but this would be just such a smashing gift to get. It brings back that childlike "Oh my, I don't know what to have today" excitement you felt when presented with a Kelloggs Variety pack (which your mother never let you have because it was too expensive). Malone's products are very much in demand at Christmas anyway, because any one of her luscious bath oils, shower gels or body lotions (spicy Nutmeg and Ginger, Amber and Lavender or zingy Lime, Basil and Mandarin are just a few yummy examples) are a treat and a half. If you can't get to her London shop she does mail order (last ordering date for Christmas is 21 December).
Mitsouko by Guerlain is one of the oldest perfumes in the world (it was created in 1919 to celebrate the Ballet Russe coming to Paris) and its perfumed Body Lotion, pounds 29.50, is wonderful: it's creamy, luxurious and leaves your skin soft and eatable. It may sound obvious that posh body lotions should also fulfil the usual body cream criteria (ie easy to apply, leave skin feeling nice) but you'd be surprised. I wrote about my one- time fave, Dolce e Gabbana's body cream, last week and although it smelt fabulously rich, it was a bugger to apply: far too thick. Thankfully, you don't get this with Chanel. Their No 5 Emulsion Pour le Corps at pounds 27 is, if anything, a little too runny, but the classic smell lingers exotically for ages. Fans of the divinely named Coco (instant thoughts of hot chocolate and marshmallows come to mind, never mind some chic bird in a Parisian apartment) will love the Coco Creme pour le Corps, which is a suitably expensive pounds 50 (well, if you're not paying). It comes in a black and gold box and you can dip your fingers in the thick, delicious scented cream. Mmm.
Lancaster's Body Milk is one of the best-kept secrets of the beauty industry - it smells divine and you'd be hard pushed to find anyone else that smells of it. It is also a joy to use. It costs pounds 19.50, comes in a very dark brown bottle and is part of a range that also includes a perfume, shower/bath gel and exfoliating body thingy. You will need to be quite firm with the counter staff that it does exist because they almost seem to not want to sell it (even Lancaster's PR had to be heavily prompted before she worked out what I was talking about). If you fancy something a little fresher in your stocking, then ask for anything from the Clarins Eau Dynamisante range, but their body lotion, pounds 18.50 is especially fine and makes you tingle after you apply it.
Now then, on to stuff for the bath. Origins do some wondeful scented bath oils that promise to do all sorts, with names such as Stress Buffer, Muscle Easing and Sleep Time (pounds 16.50 each). They may not be as romantic as the above, but they would be good presents for stressed-out, gym-going execs. I loved the cheeky graphics on Bloom's Essential Oils but aside from that they smell really lovely. You can get Energy (which I tried and it's certainly good), Romance, Chill Out or Relaxing blends and I want all of them. The oils cost pounds 11.50 and Blooms also do other bits and bobs (candles, lip balms). They make good presents for teenagers and are available from the Beauty Quest catalogue (but warning! last orders deadline for Christmas is tomorrow! See number below). While you're in the Beauty Quest catalogue, a little off-the-wall idea for a really original pressie appears on page 17: paint glorious henna patterns on yourself with the Temptu Ceremonial Body Art Kit, pounds 8.65.
E'spa do some excellent bath oils that all came back with glowing reports from the testers: Restorative Bath Oil, pounds 18.50, for when you need a pick- me-up; Energising Bath Oil, pounds 18.50, for when you need a boost; or Detoxifying Seaweed Bath, pounds 18.50, which will probably not be given as a present but would make a jolly useful one for post Christmas. If bath salts are your thing then opt for the newer salts or crystals: Aveda do some lovely powdery salts called Soothing Aqua Therapy Bath Salts, pounds 21, Molton Brown's Seamoss Stress Relieving Soak Therapy, pounds 14.50, makes the water turn green, and Crabtree & Evelyn Mineral Muscle Soak, pounds 12.50, makes the water turn blue, which I personally find quite exciting. Merry Christmas and don't forget to be too busy having a good time to remember to bloody well Cleanse, Tone and Moisturise.
For stockist information call the following numbers: Aveda, 0171 410 1600; Beauty Quest, 0800 7315703 or 0541 505000; E'spa, 01252 741600; Jo Malone, 0171 720 0202; Molton Brown, 0171 625 6550; Origins, 0800 731 4039: All others are easily available from major department stores. Congratulations to Judy Skelton of Ilford who correctly answered last week's quiz. Water is the most important component of a good cleansing schedule, according to me. She wins an Aveda voucher worth pounds 70 for a facial at the the Aveda salon. Well done Judy!Reuse content