The Independent’s journalism is supported by our readers. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission.

Charlotte Tilbury advent calendar 2021 review: Has the luxury beauty brand sleighed the game this year?

We got a sneak peek at gloriously glitzy offering, which includes ‘pillow talk’ products and our favourite-ever setting spray

Ellie Fry
Friday 24 September 2021 10:08
<p>There’s 12 products packed inside, including the brand’s TikTok-famous magic serum</p>

There’s 12 products packed inside, including the brand’s TikTok-famous magic serum

Much to our dismay, the festive season is veering closer, and with it comes three things: an impossibly hectic calendar, Mariah Carey’s dulcet tones, and (yep, you guessed it) advent calendars.

Whether you prefer to discover gin, cheese or chocolate behind those Christmassy doors, here at IndyBest, we’ll be reviewing a whole host of calendars to help you find the perfect treat. Another major category in the world of advent gifting is beauty. The perfect pressie for anyone obsessed with all things skincare and make-up, these boxes are brimming with both full-size and mini products, from bestsellers to new launches.

Given the festivities were rather lacking last year, beauty brands have upped the ante in 2021, to make up for lost time. There’s a sparkling array of calendars to cast your eyes upon, from both big-name brands to smaller indie sellers, with the likes of Cult Beauty, Lush and Lookfantastic already revealing their festive treats.

When it comes to luxury beauty, one of the most highly awaited advent calendars comes from Charlotte Tilbury. Headed up by the queen of catwalk glamour, the brand is revered for its soft-focus complexion products, bestselling lipstick shades and efficacious skincare that takes years of research to perfect.

But all of this comes at a rather hefty price, which makes the brand’s advent calendar the ideal option for beauty lovers wanting to dip their toe into the luxury market, or existing fans of Charlotte Tilbury who are looking for some good-value top-ups of their favourites.

Read more:

The brand is back for 2021 with its bejewelled, 12-day advent calendar and we were lucky enough to take a peek inside. Here’s everything you need to know about Charlotte Tilbury’s merry treasure trove.

How we tested

Christmas came early for us as we opened every door (or drawer, in this case) to inspect the treats inside. We considered whether the calendar offers good value for money, the mini versus full-size product ratio, the packaging, and how this year’s offering differs from 2020’s.

Charlotte Tilbury beauty dreams and secrets beauty advent calendar: £150, Charlottetilbury.com

Rating: 7/10

  • On sale: Available now
  • Number of days: 12
  • Products: 3 full-size, 9 travel-size
  • Price: £150

Packaging

Charlotte Tilbury hasn’t strayed far from its signature style for Christmas 2021, with this golden box screaming old Hollywood glamour. In fact, it’s very similar to last year’s advent calendar design, but has had a slight revamp, with a new starry pattern embossed across the dark gold box and star-shaped jewelled door handles that feel wonderfully kitsch.

It’s in a print that the brand uses across its packaging, from eyeshadow palettes to lipstick bullets, but this level of consistency isn’t a surprise, as Charlotte Tilbury’s branding is instantly recognisable for a reason; the whimsical, starry prints uphold the aspirational feeling that every luxury brand wants to create. Most of the gifts come wrapped in tissue paper, in the brand’s staple burgundy shade.

We love how sturdy the box feels, and that it’s easy to reuse long after advent. It’s sparkly enough to feel festive without being overbearingly so, and would make a lovely jewellery box on your dresser. There’s a secret open-top lid for extra storage too, making it feel like a real treasure box.

There are no numbers on the handles, which makes it difficult to work out which order to open the drawers in (after opening, we reckon it’s left to right, top to bottom), but we were happy to compromise on this as it makes the box more evergreen when using it post-festivities.

What’s inside?

Sadly there’s not 25 days of advent to enjoy here, but the 12 drawers contain six decently sized minis and three full-sized products. There are a few newbies that have joined the festive roster, including a full-sized lipstick in the shade “pillow talk medium” (£35, Charlottetilbury.com), a slightly deeper hue than the original, and a “colour chameleon” eyeshadow stick in the classic pillow talk shade (£19, Charlottetilbury.com), but aside from that, the calendar’s contents is made up of existing favourites from the brand, with a big skincare focus.

The mini offerings include a dinky magic cream (£25, Charlottetilbury.com) to revitalise dry skin, the wonder glow primer (£15, Charlottetilbury.com), goddess clay face mask (£10, Charlottetilbury.com) and the brand’s magic serum (£25, Charlottetilbury.com) that you’ve undoubtedly seen all over TikTok. Other standouts include a full-sized beauty light wand in the shade spotlight (£29, Charlottetilbury.com), a rose-gold liquid highlight that gives a healthy glow, and a travel-sized version of our favourite make-up setter of all time, the Charlotte Tilbury airbrush flawless setting spray.

Beauty light wand

The brand claims that the calendar offers everything you need to create a full face of make-up, but we feel it misses the mark on this, as it’s lacking complexion products for a complete look. We would have loved to see a mini version of the brand’s airbrush setting powder (£20, Charlottetilbury.com), or the natural-looking bronzer (£20, Charlottetilbury.com), and having a bottle of its Hollywood filter primer (£13, Charlottetilbury.com) would really be the cherry on top.

It also feels like an oversight not to include any of the brand’s new brow range, as it was arguably Charlotte Tilbury’s biggest launch of the year. We’d have happily given up one of the skincare products for an eyebrow gel, as it’s one of our favourite products from the brand (having tried nearly everything).

The magic serum

Value for money

Charlotte Tilbury doesn’t disclose how much the advent calendar’s contents are worth, but given the fact that the full three-sized products would cost £73 on their own, having six other generously sized minis included for £150 feels like a fair price point. For context, the brand’s magic serum costs £60 for 30ml, and the mini included in the calendar is 8ml, so you’re getting enough product to really give them a go. There’s no arguing that Charlotte Tilbury is a luxury brand, so being able to try such an array of products without committing to full-sized buys is a real treat.

The verdict: Charlotte Tilbury beauty dreams and secrets beauty advent calendar

The brand has gone even more maximalist this year with its gloriously glitzy advent calendar. We love the little details, from the bejewelled drawers to the secret storage, and appreciate that this box is truly reusable. As much as we enjoyed the items inside, we do think that this year’s contents lacked variety overall, given that most of the same products were also featured in the brand’s 2020 advent calendar. If you’re already a firm fan of the brand, you might be left wanting, as there are hardly any recently launched Charlotte Tilbury products in this calendar. But if you’re new to the brand and want to tap into the luxury market by trying some bestsellers, or want to top up on some travel-size versions of your existing faves, you’ll love this offering.

Charlotte Tilbury beauty dreams and secrets beauty advent calendar

Voucher codes

For the latest offers on skincare and beauty products, try our discount code pages:

Read more about the best beauty advent calendars for 2021

Beauty advent calendars 2021 – our ultimate guide to this year’s Christmas treats from M&S, Cult Beauty and more

Fortnum & Mason advent calendar – from traditional to 3D pop-ups versions, food fit for a feast and of course, the beauty advent calendar, you’re spoilt for choice

The Body Shop advent calendar – this year’s calendar features a selection of the ethically conscious brand’s cult classics

Cult Beauty advent calendar – it’s overflowing with skincare and make-up from Charlotte Tilbury, Sunday Riley and more

Benefit advent calendar – calling all Bene-babes, the gift you’ve been waiting for all year is here

Lookfantastic advent calendar – brimming with skincare, haircare, make-up and bath treats from all your favourite brands

The White Company advent calendar – sink into 25 days of utter indulgence with the brand’s seasonal offering

Clarins advent calendar – there are festive options for men and women this year and both are busting with cult products

Lush advent calendar – the eco-conscious brand has revealed its joyous gift set with a sustainable focus

Asos advent calendar – we got our hands on the fashion retailer’s festive box and there’s plenty to shout about

Next advent calendar – this year’s offering is packed with treats from big names such as Clarins and Mac

Liberty advent calendar – with treats from Augustinus Bader and Olaplex, this year’s calendar lives up to the hype

Jo Malone advent calendar – it’s stuffed with bestselling candles and bougie bathroom treats

Diptyque advent calendar – the French perfume house has unveiled a cabinet of curiosities

John Lewis advent calendar – with £600 worth of beauty products, is it worth the hype?

Mac advent calendar – packed with bestsellers, this one will sell out fast

Net-A-Porter advent calendar – with £1,300 worth of products for just £255, this is worth considering

Selfridges advent calendar– this one comes with a 45-minute beauty concierge appointment

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.