Beauty gifts might seem like a no-brainer for Christmas but if the recipient has sensitive skin, think before you buy. Judy Johnson picks her top five

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You'd think beauty is a guaranteed crowd pleaser when it comes to Christmas gifts; whether you're panic-buying for Secret Santa or spoiling someone with what you think is a well-deserved pampering present, one of those Crimbo coffrets is a winner, right? Wrong, if anyone in said crowd happens to have sensitive skin...

A poll carried out earlier this year found that women throw away £676 million worth of Christmas and birthday beauty gifts a year, with the average woman binning two products; I'd bet my beloved beauty stash on a fair few of them being those with sensitive skin.

Smellies as they are so affectionately known are a great gift, designer skincare even better; but the fact is if the recipient's skin has a tendency to react then their face will be reacting to the overly fragranced surprise with a smile and the lie that it's just what they've always wanted.

So, to avoid any awkward unwrapping this year you have two choices: check what she already uses and loves and top her kit up (if she has a favourite perfume that's a sure winner) or try one of the below - my top picks from the brands I've found and loved this year. It's not risk-free, but it's better than that 3-for-2 set you had your eye on…

Pai Intensive Nourishing Facial Limited Edition Rosehip Collection


Regular readers will know it's no secret that I adore Pai's skincare products. Certified organic by the Soil Association and founded by Sarah Brown  in order to combat her own skin problems, I've come to rely on many of their products to keep my skin in check. This limited edition set is centred around one of their hero ingredients, rosehip, which is proven to be a great tonic for sensitive or allergy-prone skin. With a buttery Rosehip BioRegenerate Face Mask, Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil and Organic Muslin Cloth, it's a mini facial in a box - which, incidentally, was designed exclusively by the British artist William Watson West. Beautiful in every way.

Clinique Party Tips


Few people know that it's not only skincare that causes reactions in sensitive souls; nail enamel is a culprit too. The potent ingredients can irritate the eyes and skin (think how much you touch your eyes throughout the day - suddenly that itch could be explained) which is why Clinique's A Different Nail Enamel for Sensitive Skins is such a great idea. Allergy tested, fragrance free and formulated to create high shine with no streaks, the revolutionary range means sensitive types can fearlessly wear the latest trend colours. Treat the lady in your life to this mini gift set of three colours (Strappy Sandals, Black Honey, Limited Edition Polishes Amethyst) - ideal for party season.

REN Mini Gift Set


I've recently become a huge fan of REN's products simply because of their straightforward, no-nonsense philosophy of keeping skincare as clean as possible. As synthetic fragrance is the main ingredient my skin can't handle, their long list of what's not in their products is always reassuring and the plant-based formulas are fairly foolproof. This mini set makes a great stocking filler or gift with four travel-sized treats; Moroccan Rose Otto body wash and cream, and Neroli and Grapefruit body wash and cream.

Amala Facials Gift Voucher

from £45,

Content Beauty & Wellbeing in Marylebone is a haven for those with unhappy skin; owner Imelda Burke and her team are the experts in natural, organic and mineral brands  and their treatment rooms are a must-visit. If you'd rather give an experience gift this Christmas and can visit London, treat her to an Amala facial. With products tried and tested for the most delicate of skins, you'd definitely be in her good books.

Balance Me Smooth and Soothe Skincare Collection


You may remember I raved about the Balance Me Radiance Face Oil  not so long ago - it calms, brightens and evens out the skin in a way that's even more necessary now that it's winter. A natural brand with no nasties, Balance Me has created this new gift set containing the Cleanse and Smooth Balm - a lovely daily cleanser which was recently updated - plus Moisture Rich Face Cream and the Radiance Face Oil rollerball. A festive introduction to a brand worth investing in.