Beauty panel: Spring into action with these skincare saviours
The dark days of winter are well behind us, says our beauty expert, so it's about time to spring clean your face. Here, our panel tries out 10 skincare saviours that are sure to wake up your complexion for the brighter days ahead
There is a school of thought that the best time for 'new you' fervour is not the new year. The argument goes that it's too hard to motivate yourself to do anything much in those cold, dark days of January, and that, instead, late spring is a better time for such endeavours. Then, you're revving up to summer and imagining yourself in swimwear, so there is an incentive to adhere to fitness and healthy-eating regimes. When it comes to the rest of your appearance, this is the time when you most feel the need of a makeover. A spring clean, if you will.
Maybe it's that the sunlight seems a little brighter, or maybe it's a sense of emerging from hibernation, but there is no denying that the complexion can look a little grim and grubby at this time of year. "Loss of radiance" comes to mind, and there is a temptation to use an industrial-strength scrub on the dull surface. Resist the temptation to indulge the latter, and instead add something to your skincare regime that will put some pep in your appearance. Here are 10 bona fide treats to make you feel like you're fighting back. Springing back, even, as February gives way to March and winter is truly past.
Best Rapid Repair
Bobbi Brown Instant Detox Mask, €43, Brown Thomas Dublin, Cork and Galway, or see brownthomas.com
The new year may be but a distant memory, but the word 'detox' still has some magic. Not to mention the word 'instant'. This mask says it suits all skin types, but if your skin is very dry, you may need to use a very good moisturiser after it. Which is not to say that it does not suit all skin types, because we could all do with the (temporary) pore-tightening and surface-refining benefits of this mask. Amazonian white clay does the work on your pores and promises to clear any clogging, while seawater and sea salt attend to the detox bit. "There's something old-school satisfying about a mask that is pitch-black in colour," said a panellist. "This is like a mini lift."
Best Calm Moment
Clinique CX Soothing Moisturiser, €80, Brown Thomas, or see brownthomas.com
If your face is red, raw and ravaged after winter, then you need more than moisturising: you need rescuing. We know that you look all lined and parched as well, and that the temptation is to go anti-ageing overboard, but maybe your skin just needs a drink. And we don't mean the alcoholic kind: more like the skincare version of water. This is a gentle cream full of antioxidants. Your skin will feel nurtured by it. "Inoffensively lovely," one panellist said. "It felt like I was being kind to myself. Months of overdue care and attention."
Best Sleep Treat
Charlotte Tilbury Magic Night Cream, €120, Brown Thomas, or see brownthomas.com
Moisturiser preferences have an awful lot to do with texture, so if you are a fan of potions that are imperceptible on the skin, this is not for you. However, if you like something that feels heavy-duty and hard-working, then give this a whirl. And anyway, it's a night cream; it's not like you have to go out in it. It contains time-release retinol for wrinkle-busting, and an algae gel for a moisture boost. "It's a bit like putting honey on your face," said a panellist. "But pleasantly so. And I looked so well rested each morning."
Best Smooth Finish
Creme de la Mer The Refining Facial, €95, Brown Thomas, or see brownthomas.com
This is a double-whammy of a smoothing treatment, in that it's a little bit scrubby, but a little bit mask-y, too. The famous Creme de la Mer 'miracle broth' is in the mix here, along with diamond powder, which gently sloughs in the style of a traditional face scrub. Then, it also has white clay, which eats up dead skin cells. You can use it as a wash, or leave it on as a mask, but, either way, it leaves you with polished skin. "It feels nothing like a scrub of old, even though that's what it's doing," said a panellist. "I used it twice a week. I was left utterly glowy."
Best Day Break
Sisley Integral Anti-Age, €360, Brown Thomas Dublin and Cork, or see brownthomas.com
There are those who swear by Sisley, and counsel that it's worth every penny. Certainly, use of this moisturiser proved it to be far above average in terms of breathing new life into winter-weary skin. That said, it's wasted on the young and wrinkle-free. This is a formulation to tackle skin that is very obviously showing wrinkles, and loss of fine texture and glow. It's rich but not heavy, with ingredients such as peptides, soy and yeast to work as antioxidants and wrinkle-softeners. "I saw a difference with daily use," a panellist said. "And I was using a small bit, to make it last."
La Prairie Rapid Response Booster, €258, Brown Thomas Dublin, or see brownthomas.com
When you drip this serum onto your palm from the pipette, there is something undeniably satisfying about seeing little gold flecks through it. If nothing else, it seems to justify the price. But we're not that easily led. This needed to prove that it could do something to our skin, and how it did, from the first application. The brand promises improvement in radiance, texture and pore-size within two weeks. We're going to say it worked faster than that. Peptides, plankton and hyaluronic acid are the magic ingredients, apparently. "I looked less pillow-faced in the morning after two nights of use," said one panellist. "I'm saving up for this stuff."
Best Ace Base
Laura Mercier Candle Glow Foundation, €49, Brown Thomas, or see brownthomas.com
Just one of the notable things about this foundation is the selection of shades available. There are 24 colour options, so you really can't go wrong and get a mismatch - although it's always good advice to try a foundation shade at the counter, go away into daylight to see if it's a perfect fit, and then shell out for it. Foundation-buyer's remorse is the pits, because the wrong shade is useless to you, and you can't return it. The additional beauty of this Laura Mercier base is its velvety, light-diffusing finish. It's oh-so flattering. "I love a foundation that isn't just a mask, but instead makes it look like my skin is perfect," said one panellist. "I love the soft-focus effect of this."
Best Clean Machine
Clarisonic Sonic Radiance unit with Peel Cleanser, €249, Brown Thomas, or see brownthomas.com
If you don't yet own a Clarisonic, then now might be the time to invest in one. If you're looking to revitalise your skin and really deep clean it after the dead of winter, then you won't do better than the sonic boom of a Clarisonic. This new-launch version comes with an all-new radiance-boost head, as well as a Peel Cleanser, which employs lactic and glycolic acids to gobble up any gloomy dead skin cells and nibble away at any marks of sun damage and hyperpigmentation. "This is a supersonic superstar," said a panellist. "My skin felt so much smoother after using it, and, sucker that I am, I like the new pink unit, too."
Best Flaw fixer
YSL Touche Eclat Neutraliser in Apricot, €39, Brown Thomas, or see brownthomas.com
"Warmth and health" is what the makers say you will get from this product, and who wouldn't want that? This is one of three new-launch wands, all of which look temptingly similar to the YSL cult-favourite, Touche Eclat. While Touche Eclat is a single-shade light-catcher, however, these three liquids offer three different benefits. The Violet claims to eliminate sallowness, the Vert tackles redness, and this Apricot shade is for a boost of brightness. You paint it on wherever you'd put a bronzer, to get a lift of light without a seasonally inappropriate tanned look. "If bronzer puts summer on your skin, then this is a touch of spring," said one panellist. "I looked noticeably brighter, but not fake."
Best Wonder Oil
Tom Ford Purifying Cleansing Oil, €72, Brown Thomas Dublin and Cork, or see brownthomas.com
Oils, as you'll know, are very of the moment, and popular designer Tom Ford is the beauty master of the moment, too. Fans of his make-up and skincare will be thrilled with this new launch, particularly those who are partial to his excellent eye-make-up remover. This cleanser - which massages on as a rich oil and then turns to a thin milk on contact with water - does an excellent job on waterproof mascara. It also cleans the face thoroughly and gently, as well as smelling and looking divine. And, like a lot of oil products, you don't need to worry about it leaving your face oily. How they make it so rinsable, we'll never understand. "I find it hard to resist Tom Ford's products," said one panellist, "and this one doesn't disappoint. It gave me peachy skin."
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