Mine, All Mine


Lucy Mangan will buy you the loveliest, most thoughtful beauty gifts. Just don’t expect to ever receive them.


It’s my sister’s birthday soon. I’ve amassed some lovely stuff for her. A box of Aromatherapy Associates miniature bath oils and a bottle of their Rose Hydrating Mist. A palette of Bobbi Brown eyeshadows in browns, bronzes and golds. Some Black Chicken Love Your Face serum. A Chanel lipstick. I wish I could say that I bought them all for her, but what with never learning how to be a merchant banker or to crap money ‘n’ everything, I have to be honest and say that all but the lipstick and palette are freebies that have come my way since this time last year. Still, she’s not getting any of it. I can’t part with them. They’re so beautiful. I’m not ready to let go.


Books and (more recently) beauty products are the two things I give as gifts most frequently. And they are the two things most likely to trigger whatever synaptic misfire it is that leads me to bond disproportionately/inappropriately/wholly insanely (delete, please, according to taste) with inanimate objects.


But honestly – you’ve seen, I’m sure, a Chanel lipstick. Who can truly say she could part with one – even one that didn’t suit her, one that was purchased with the sole intention of passing it on to another to brighten her day and gladden her heart – and not feel at least a pang? Multiply that pang by a hundred and that’s how I feel about every single piece before me. And I don’t even use bath oil. And I’ve had a go of the hydrating mist already. And the serum. (What? She’s my sister. She’d let me share them if we didn’t live 200 miles away from each other. I’m just taking my turn first.) The Bobbi Brown palette – oh, you should see it! Three little discs of matte and sparkling wonderment! – would suit me but it’s from their limited edition Christmas selection and I only got one.


Yes, yes, I did buy it for my sister’s Christmas. But Christmas came too soon. I bent my head over the box and stroked it gently, murmuring “If you love something, let it go!” I sighed, placed it gently in the centre of the wrapping paper and then thought “Bollocks to that” and put it back in my drawer instead. It joined the Givenchy blusher (four prisms of different shades of pink I’ve been trying to give to my best friend for 18 months now), Estee Lauder eyeshadow quartet (a blood red, slate grey, midnight blue and impossibly potent deep turquoise perfect and destined – one day, I hope – for my lividly beautiful brunette of a cousin) and assorted nail varnishes, whose gorgeously bottled hues unfortunately remind me too much of Lucy-in-Narnia’s magic cordial in its diamond flask for me ever to part with them. They’re so beautiful.


Beauty products are designed, of course, to make us fall in love with them. But not, I suspect, this much. I must either get a grip, take a tablet or devise some kind of ritual that will make the parting easier. Convince myself, perhaps, that being hoarded, pored over, delighted in but unused is a denial of their beautifying destiny.


But until I manage to slap or bullshit my way to normality, the bath oils and mist are going back in the drawer. Did I tell you they each came wrapped in lilac tissue? No? Well, maybe now you’ll understand. You can’t fight that kind of thing, can you? You can’t fight that at all.



Lucy Mangan is an author and resident columnist on The Guardian, Stylist and salihughesbeauty.com.

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