It’s news to precisely no one that the last twelve months have been universally terrible. With that in mind, we decided that gifting for Valentine’s Day 2021, whether to self or others, needed a fresh spin. We’ve eschewed the traditional his ‘n’ hers guides (which, frankly, seem more than a little outdated) and instead put together our edit of products designed to enhance one’s life regardless of gender, age, or expertise with beauty products. Now more than ever, we all deserve a little something special, and you’re bound to find something here to tickle your fancy.

Enhance the face

Let’s start with the basic tenet of skincare and makeup: everyone looks healthier and happier with a lit-from-within complexion. Chanel’s Hydra Beauty Camellia Water Cream is a lightweight yet nourishing lotion that leaves any skin type feeling comfortable and imparts a gentle glow. If you like the results so much you’d like to take it to the next level, their transparent Baume Essential is as easy to use as a child’s crayon and contains zero scary glitter or sparkle. Simply wind it up and glide it over the top of your cheekbones, or above or underneath your eyebrows to add a subtle glossy upgrade to any visage. Finally, we can all agree that Zoom is making us all more aware than ever of every little imperfection. If you’re not quite ready for under eye filler (or an anti-breakout regime), Dior’s Forever Skin Correct Creamy Concealer is your secret weapon. One dot is enough to cover the most exhausted of under eye areas, or the reddest of spots. Apply a tiny amount using the applicator and pat pat pat gently into place, from which it won’t budge all day.

Enhance the body

Even those with the most fastidious skincare routine often neglect their bodies entirely, so make it a joy instead of a chore with D.S. & Durga’s Rose Atlantic body lotion. Think crisp ocean air softened with a whisper of green leaves and petals; pleasingly, the scent lingers long enough to be enjoyed as it is applied, but not so long that it interferes with fragrance applied later. It comes in particularly smart black and white packaging and, oh holy grail of body creams, in a pump bottle, making it a no mess, no fuss proposition.

It’s hard to believe, but we are coming to the end of summer and an upgrade to last year’s lockdown winter classics will be welcomed. Proudly gender-neutral brand Les GirlsLes Boys has introduced their classic crew neck jumper, reimagined in 100% cotton instead of the cheap poly blends of your childhood that left you constantly vulnerable to electric shocks. Whoever the lucky recipient is, surely the vibrant raspberry is the pick of the bunch.

After 2020 we are, let’s just say, overly familiar with anything we own resembling lounge or sleepwear, and it’s high time for a pyjama freshen up. Enter Jasmine & Will‘s full-length, button down offerings in crisp navy cotton with bright white piping (you can even have your initials monogrammed on the breast pocket, for that extra touch). Select the men’s version for a looser fit, or the women’s if you prefer a more tailored shape. Regardless, these are the epitome of put-together elegance that’s also ever so comfortable… and machine washable. I have to admit, few other items quite make me want to haul the iron out to get my collar and cuffs looking just so. PS – don’t forget DJs is a stockist if you’ve left it a little late for online ordering or prefer to pick out gifts in person.

Enhance the surroundings

It’s a piece of fundamental interior design lore that the quickest way to refresh any room is to change out the pillows. May we suggest Basil Bangs’ Daydream cushion, which can be used to brighten up indoor or outdoor space. The colours are saturated and the fabric is durable and good quality. If the room in need of refresh is the kitchen, you can’t go past Maison Balzac’s candy pink glass Volute Platter, a true statement piece. The chic Australian candle brand has branched out into covetable glassware and this particular piece is the stand out of their limited edition Valentine’s Day collection. French fragrance house Diptyque has released some of its most iconic candle scents in stylishly graphic black and white packaging this year, and Baies is a sure-fire winner, with its notes of blackcurrant leaves becoming more pronounced as you continue to burn your treasure over time. The Good Plant Co. offers happy little home additions which, with the right care, are bound to outlast traditional Valentine’s botanical offerings. Pick and choose the plant and pot pairing as you see fit, but if you’re unsure, the neon robusta is an easy-to-care for choice and comes with thematically appropriate pink (and green) leaves. A white stone pot will fit unassumingly into most decors and makes the whole affair a very cheerful upgrade to any WFH situation. Their top-notch customer service and careful eco packaging don’t go astray, either. And for those simply too sick for words of their own four walls, escape to a space that is likely tinier but will make you feel there are no walls at all. Such is the joy of an Unyoked voucher to one of their tiny, well-designed cabins, which will give you the feel of being in the middle of nowhere and yet are conveniently dotted around the country within two hours of most capital cities.

Enhance the mood

Fragrance is an effortless way to feel transported, as beautifully evidenced by a single spritz of Creed’s Silver Mountain Water. Designed twenty-five years ago to be genderless, it doesn’t lean towards traditional male or female notes. As its name suggests, it is aqueous but without being oceanic; there’s a slight metallic element and some warmth to it, but it doesn’t contain any sweetness. Picture yourself having landed in a lush Nordic forest, with no one else around, at the exact spot where the sun has softened nearby snow into a sparkling creek. It doesn’t hurt that the elegant white and silver bottle would be a lovely addition to any dressing area.

Gin is experiencing a resurgence as drinks of choice for beginners and connoisseurs alike, and Gin Loot is making it easy to indulge and even to learn a thing or two with their subscription purpose. Presented beautifully in a white box with rose gold lettering, each delivery contains three 60ml bottles of different gins in clean, modern packaging complete with tasting notes. Not a gin-lover? Check out sister brand Whisky Loot.

2020 may have been the year of hand products, but the need for hands to be both clean and replenished isn’t a fading trend. Enter Leif’s reassuringly heavy, reusable LOVE – Two Hands box, containing two enormous 500ml bottles, one of hand soap and the other the matching hand lotion. The Budda Wood scent is a zingy orange blended with a soothing, warm undercurrent of sandalwood. This is uplifting in warmer weather and cosy as it gets cooler, just as well as the generous sizing means it will last more than one season. And a very cute touch? The outer packaging features a glow in the dark love heart, the ideal antidote to life getting far too adult and serious.

Enhance The Usual Suspects

“Flowers? For Valentine’s Day? Groundbreaking.” In the hands of the clever team at Floraly, though, they prove to be exactly that. Working closely with their growers, flowers are picked to order, delivered and packaged sustainably and are available as one off purchases or as part of monthly subscription packages (yes, please). They boast excellent eco and social commitment credentials and my own bouquet featured such high quality blooms I’ve been asked if they were fake. It seems we forget how lovely the real thing can be when treated with care.

You’ll also get nothing but the most real, fresh ingredients included in a Hey, Tiger chocolate bar. This year’s curated Valentine’s Day pack includes three chocolate bars, my personal favourite being ‘Sprinkles & Glitter’. Inside each candy-coloured cardboard pack is the chocolate itself in a Wonka-style shiny golden packet, as well as a special bonus. The HT team have collaborated with DJ, “professional opinion haver” and all around cool girl Lillian Ahenkan, aka Flex Mami, to deliver thought-provoking game cards inside each pack, turning these delightful treats into an indulgence for your mind as well as your mouth.

Finally, you’re likely to indulge all your senses if you’re lucky enough to be opening a Lenoir & Co gift box come Sunday. ‘Boxes o’ goodies’ were the It thing a few years ago, and, as so often happens, reached saturation tipping point and descended into sad cliche territory. Happily, Steph Lenoir and her team are turning that on its head and have created gift collections which are truly special and luxurious, without breaking the bank. There are options curated according to interest (design, kitchen skills) or experience (they would make a lovely ‘thank you for being in our wedding party’ choice), and, most unusually in this territory, there are no sad ‘filler’ items. Think instead a split of French champagne, rose-petal-packed bath bombs, sleek handmade candles and properly interesting pieces to up your decor game, like fluid porcelain vases and brass cheese knives. And it’s worth noting that the boxes themselves are huge, heavy and beautifully presented, so the joy of receiving one begins right when the mailman knocks.

Story by Zoe Briggs.

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