The Panel: Glow for it
On The Panel, we like everything in its place, and now is no time for a tan. A natural tan earned on a winter-sun holiday can look a little odd, but a fake one is just wrong. Which is not to say there's no room for glow.
In fact, glow is the way to go, and it's not just for young ones. A well-chosen highlighter can bestow upon older skin the lost luminosity that bother some even more than lines and wrinkles do. But, as with self-tan, any heavy-handed tendencies must be kept in check. You want to catch the light, not compete with it.
For most people, highlighter applied across the top of the cheekbones is the best and most satisfying way to wear it. Cream highlighters, such as those featured this week, should be dabbed on to the upper part of the apple of the cheek, over your blush, and then blended out towards the hairline. But applying a highlighter to the decolletage is good, too, if you dread looking mutton-ish, and a dab on the inner eye or browbone can also look pretty and subtle. These are the best of the highlighters we tested.
Benefit Girl Meets Pearl, €34.50, available from Brown Thomas; BT2; and Arnotts
A thin cream that you twist up in the tube and then dab on with your fingers, this is described as "liquid pearl" and it is exactly that. Not too pink, and not too opalescent, it has loads of luminosity without making you look like you've been sprinkled with fairy dust. A little also goes a long way. "This is quite intensely glowy, but it strikes a perfect balance between sheer and shimmery," said one panellist. "It also blends nicely with your foundation, and it doesn't look like a streak of sparkle."
Best Golden Glow
Clinique Up-Lighting Liquid Illuminator in Natural, €26, Clinique counters nationwide
A pump-up bottle of shimmering lotion, this is available in four shades. "Natural" lends a warm gleam and, because it's so liquid, it blends nicely across the collarbones and chest. Just a tiny bit is required on cheekbones, browbones and temples for an overall, light-catching warmth. "I really liked the colour of this," a panellist said. "It's the one that would tempt me to skip the self-tan and put a bit of life in my winter complexion with this instead."
Best cool gleam
St Tropez Skin Illuminator, €19.99, selected department stores and pharmacies nationwide
Don't be put off by the blue hue of this illuminator, which is from the people who keep half the country looking tanned all summer, and some all year. And, surprisingly for self-tan people, this highlighter is ideal for pale skins, tending towards a cool gleam rather than a warm one. "The blue tinge is scary-sounding," one panellist said, "but it's subtle and it works with the kind of porcelain-skin look I aim for in winter."
Best Gentle Gleam
Soap & Glory Hocus Focus, €18, Harvey Nichols; larger Boots stores nationwide
With a lighter dose of the signature Soap and Glory fragrance, this is a fresh-smelling, milky lotion. It's packed with shimmer and easily blended in wherever you choose to wear it. A little more sparkly than some of the other winners, it might be best suited to younger, flawless complexions. "A good night-out product," said one panellist. "I used it in various spots and I also added it to my body lotion, and it gave a great oomph of glow."
Best Subtle Shimmer
Bobbi Brown Highlighter Pen, €32, Brown Thomas; House of Fraser, Dundrum Town Centre, D16
A bit like an oversized YSL Touche Eclat in packaging terms, this is a pen-like product that you click to push up the yellow-based highlighter, which strikes a balance between smoothing out the appearance of the skin and providing shimmer. Extremely easy to apply and to wear. "One for the sparkle-wary," said a panellist. "It's a doddle to use, and you get really nice highlights without worrying that you'll overdo it."
Pictured, clockwise from left: Soap & Glory Hocus Focus; Clinique Up-Lighting Liquid Illuminator in Natural; Benefit Girl Meets Pearl; Bobbi Brown Highlighter Pen;
St Tropez Skin Illuminator