Essential oil - body oils
We won't go ringing in the changing of the seasons just yet as we still hold out some hope for an Indian summer, but a little bit of pre-autumn pampering wouldn't go amiss, nevertheless.
Nice and all as it is to bare the skin a bit in the summer, the sun at home and abroad takes its toll, as does self-tan, which can be quite drying. There's nothing like a body oil to rapidly and perceptibly plump the skin back to life. In particular, bare legs blossom with the use of a body oil, which can banish the dull dryness immediately.
But there's a thin line between sheeny and slippery, and when it comes to body oils, you want something that sinks in fast and doesn't leave limbs looking like you could fry an egg on them.
One school of thought says to avoid mineral oils, along with suggestions that, long-term, they are detrimental and drying. The natural options came out best when we put body oils to the test. Applied to damp skin, ideally, they left us soft, sheeny and perked up. And maybe even a little bit summery. Maybe.
Dr Hauschka Lemongrass Body Oil, €19.95, Nourish, see www.nourish.ie
One of the few oils we tried that was redolent of citrus rather than woody or nutty, this contains sunflower and jojoba oils, as well as the pleasing pairing of lemon zest and lemongrass extract. It goes on lightly, sinks in fast and it doesn't leave skin slippy. "I love how it smells fresh and light, which I didn't expect from an oil," said a panellist. "The other surprise was how fast my skin improved, without feeling like I was covering myself in goose fat or something, which was what I had incorrectly anticipated."
Best Layer of Luxury
Jo Wood Usiku Organic Body Oil, €41, for stockists, see www.jowoodorganics.com
An award-winning product from the Rolling Stones' star's ex-wife, this includes echinacea and St John's wort extracts, which are claimed to act as antioxidants, while the blend of oils works to nourish the skin. Ideal after a relaxing bath, this oil worked best on dryer skin types. "Really moisturising and left your skin smelling sort of spicy and rich; I loved it," a panellist said. "But I was terrified of dropping the glass bottle from my oily hands."
Best Nicely Nutty
L'Occitane Supple Skin Oil, €38.95, L'Occitane shops nationwide
Starting with its pale-green colour, there's something light and fresh about this particular oil, including its unusual almond fragrance. It's an expensive option, but this oil proved a hit in terms of feeling fresh while moisturising intensely. "The smell was like a holiday in France, as one expects from this brand," one panellist said, "and I was impressed with how it wasn't greasy, but left my skin feeling sort of revived and refreshed."
Best Speedy Sink-In
Mama Mio OMega Body Oil, €27, Arnotts; for nationwide stockists, tel: (01) 461-0645
From a range that goes beyond pregnancy skincare, this body oil combines safflower, sweet almond and jojoba oils, as well as the acclaimed Moroccan miracle worker, argan oil. And it's true to its "un-oily oil" claims, sinking in the fastest of those we tried. "It leaves a light woody scent and definitely plumps skin up," said a panellist, "but it soaks in remarkably fast to leave a dry, but softer, skin."
Chanel No 5 Body Satin Spray, €48, Chanel counters nationwide
In terms of moisture, this worked a treat, but in terms of providing an alternative means of applying fragrance, this was an absolute star. The only spray that proved successful, it comes in a plastic bottle that you won't worry about dropping on the bathroom floor. It's also a great way to layer a favourite fragrance. "Because it's oil-based, the scent lasted amazingly," a panellist said. "And I loved how the spray just gave a light layer rather than an oil slick."