Saturday 3 December 2016

The Panel: Brighten up

Published 16/01/2011 | 05:00

Pictured, from left, back row: Yes To Carrots Exfoliating and Soothing Mud Mask; Elemis Tri-Enzyme Resurfacing Gel Mask; Clinique Clarifying Lotion; Estee Lauder Idealist Dual-Action Refinishing Treatment; Front: Aveda Enbrightenment Brightening Intensive Massage Masque
Pictured, from left, back row: Yes To Carrots Exfoliating and Soothing Mud Mask; Elemis Tri-Enzyme Resurfacing Gel Mask; Clinique Clarifying Lotion; Estee Lauder Idealist Dual-Action Refinishing Treatment; Front: Aveda Enbrightenment Brightening Intensive Massage Masque

There's nothing bright about January, but that doesn't mean you have to give in to the dullness.

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Perhaps you're a little jaded after the party season, a bit defeated by the weather, and roughed up by air conditioning; without some specific care and attention your skin will seriously lack life and radiance. While it might seem that stripping away dead-skin cells is the last thing your skin needs, as if they're some sort of layer of protection from the elements -- they're not -- that is exactly what you need to do. But this process goes beyond simple exfoliation, however, and into brightening treatments that buffer while buffing.

Look for products that nourish and moisturise as well as gobble up dull, dead cells. Salicylic acid and fruit enzymes will exfoliate without aggression, while vitamin E, hyaluronic acid and other intensely moisturising ingredients will immediately soothe. Taking the time for a mask is a good idea any time of day, but when it comes to roughness-eradicating products, don't leave them on longer than advised. After all, it's a glow you're after, not red, raw skin. Here's the best of the brightening, balancing products we tried.

Best Overall

Clinique Clarifying Lotion, €23, Clinique counters nationwide

A new reformulation of the second step in Clinique's classic three-step skincare programme. Often criticised for its overenthusiastic stripping of the skin, it now includes hyaluronic acid and gylcerine for softening, and, depending on which one of the four lotions you're using for your skin type, gentle-but-effective salicylic or glycolic acids eat away at dead-skin cells. This blasts roughness, but without rendering skin oversensitive. "I was sceptical, having stripped the face off myself with it in my early 20s," said a panellist. "This really is a different product, though. No stinging or drying, but it sort of prepped my skin for my other products."

Best At-Home Spa

Elemis Tri-Enzyme Resurfacing Gel Mask, €63, Harvey Nichols, Dundrum Town Centre, D16

Like a pumped-up version of this line's wonderfully smoothing Papaya Enzyme Peel mask, the tingle on application tells you this refreshing gel is working even harder on your dull-looking complexion. Acerola cherry, white burdock and amino acids combine to leave skin singing. "If you don't believe in masks, this will convert you," a panellist said. "A radical difference in my skin after one use. Brilliant before a night out, if you look worn out by the winter."

Best Soothing

Yes To Carrots Exfoliating and Soothing Mud Mask, €12.99, selected pharmacies nationwide

A light, muddy mask from this impressive range, the Dead Sea mud content has the dual effect of exfoliating and soothing, which is exactly what ravaged skin needs this time of year. "I really rate these products," said a sensitive panellist. "My cheeks can flare up, but my T-zone gets very grimy-looking in winter and this mask did a good job on both and it had a pepped-up effect."

Best Fresh Face

Aveda Enbrightenment Brightening Intensive Massage Masque, €60.50, Brown Thomas; House of Fraser, Dundrum Town Centre, D16

Designed to be used as part of the Enbrightenment range for skin prone to dullness or dark spots, this is a good stand-alone product for all skin types. Vitamins C and E, mulberry root and grape extract work to refine and nourish. "It just feels like a bland lotion, but afterwards your skin is fresh and clean feeling," one panellist said. "Used twice weekly, as advised, you wouldn't need more exfoliation."

Best Smoothing

Estee Lauder Idealist Dual-Action Refinishing Treatment, €50, Estee Lauder counters nationwide

This contains a little grit that you're instructed to massage gently into the skin, before waiting five minutes for the thermo-active ingredients to open pores and the 30 per cent glycolic acid to gently exfoliate and boost hydration. Results are real, and really fast. "I like to feel I'm doing something, so the massage bit worked for me," said a panellist, "but there's so much more to it than just a scrub, and it shows on your skin."

L

Email thepanel@independent.ie

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