Monday 26 September 2016

The beauty panel: Rapid Resolutions

A new-year overhaul doesn't need to be a major effort, says our expert, who has some speedy solutions

Sarah Caden

Published 04/01/2016 | 02:30

Pictured, from left, Olay Total Effects 7-in-one Multi-Action Night Cream-Mask; Burt's Bees Miracle Salve; La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Mains; Clinique Moisture Surge Melting Mask Balm; Chanel Le Lift Masque de Massage. Photo: Kip Carroll
Pictured, from left, Olay Total Effects 7-in-one Multi-Action Night Cream-Mask; Burt's Bees Miracle Salve; La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Mains; Clinique Moisture Surge Melting Mask Balm; Chanel Le Lift Masque de Massage. Photo: Kip Carroll

It's the first Sunday in January, only three days since New Year's Eve. You may be feeling a bit weary and worn-out. You know that you shouldn't be. All around is talk of new beginnings, clean slates and clean-living, and you might well feel the effects of the last two or three weeks of too much food, wine, central heating and sheer laziness. Overindulgence, indolence and possibly too much wearing (and not removing) of make-up can take their toll. The effect on your face is not pretty. But it doesn't need to be permanent.

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The problem with January talk of personal and physical overhauls is that they sound so dramatic and daunting. The dramatic gesture is more exciting, obviously, but also a bit off-putting. Small steps are a better approach and they can easily add up to something cumulatively impressive.

So we're starting with a few simple bits to breathe life back into your physical appearance. These are easy emergency measures that will banish dehydration, improve your complexion and generally bring your skin back to life. You'll look like you've been eating well and exercising more, even if those new-you changes are a bit further down the New Year to-do list.

Best Overall

Olay Total Effects 7-in-one Multi-Action Night Cream-Mask, €19.99, available nationwide

Masks to sleep in have become a little bit of a thing, and are well suited to the type who wants a complexion that looks cared for, albeit without spending any great time over it. A lot of nourishing masks demand that you exfoliate before use, in order that layers of dead skin aren't blocking the moisturisers from getting at the good skin. This one has dead-cell-gobbling ingredients built in, however, as well as a bumper dose of nourishing elements. "There's a lovely hint of the scent of the pink Oil of Ulay of old," said one panellist. "I wake up with refreshed, softer skin if I go to bed wearing a layer of it."

Best Face Healer

Burt's Bees Miracle Salve, €6.50, Boots; selected stores nationwide

A bit like an ointment in texture and fragrance, this multi-purpose thick balm can be used anywhere you need a little bit of extra unguent attention. With wheatgerm, olive and pumpkin-seed oils, it's full of good-health fats, and it's great on dry patches - or even, used minimally, as a smoothing serum for very dry and unruly hair. "If you go running or exercise outdoors, this is amazing for insulating your skin against the cold," said a panellist. "I like that it's fragrance-free."

Best Hands Up

La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Mains, €7.50, selected pharmacies nationwide

In this cold weather, your hands can look lined and old, no matter what age you are. The Cicaplast range is designed to soothe, comfort and repair sensitive skin, or skin that is sensitised by aggravators like hot or harsh weather. An ingredient called niacinamide, which is part of the vitamin-B group, is what they claim restores your skin's barrier layer, while glycerin acts as a gentle moisturiser. "This sinks in fast, but not too fast," one panellist said. "And for a spa-like effect, I put it on in the mornings under my gloves."

Best Intense Effort

Clinique Moisture Surge Melting Mask Balm, €32, Clinique counters nationwide

This is a limited-edition product that is a great winter skincare booster; it's a richer, thicker version of the existing Moisture Surge Mask. They say you can use it any time, say just before a night out, as a 10-minute, tissue-off moisture hit. We found it a bit too intense and even greasy for this, unless you have incredibly dry skin. Instead, we found it better as an overnight treatment, leaving skin supple by the morning. "At first, I wondered if this was a bit oily for me, but as a sleepover product, it works beautifully," said a panellist. "It's like an old-school night cream; heavy and rich."

Best Melting Moment

Chanel Le Lift Masque de Massage, €75, Chanel counters nationwide

For a product to call itself fit for massage purposes, it has to have slip, so you can rub it on the skin without pulling or tugging. But it also needs to be rich, so it doesn't soak in too fast. This product has the required qualities, and also has a lightly luxurious scent that makes you feel like you're doing an at-home, high-end facial. "Oh, this is gorgeous," one panellist said. "It's smoothing, and like an overnight drink of water for my face."

Email thepanel@independent.ie

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