The Panel: Suds law
Once winter settles in, it suddenly becomes obvious why we Irish are so foolhardy in the summer sun. The short, cold and gloomy days take up so much of the year that it's almost understandable how we throw caution to the wind in the milder months and disregard the potential damage to our skins.
And then there's the different harm that is done during the winter months, when our unprotected faces, particularly, suffer the combined effects of the cold, the wind, and indoors, from central heating.
These are the dull, drying months for our poor skin, and layering on the moisture, just as you would layer on warm clothes, is exactly what your complexion craves.
This layering should start with a face wash that won't strip much-needed oils and moisture from the skin, but the issue that then arises is one of rinseability. There's nothing worse than a film of too-creamy wash left behind, like a prickly mask -- you want to feel softened and insulated, not like you're wearing an itchy Aran jumper. These were the best of the creamy washes we tested.
Clinique Rinse-Off Foaming Cleanser, €21.50, Clinique counters nationwide
A nice, fat tube of thick, snow-white cream, this feels cushiony soft under your fingers as you work it over your skin, and then it rinses away satisfyingly.
Fragrance-free and concentrated, so that very little goes a very long way, this wash does an impressive job of removing make-up, too. "It's amazingly thick and creamy, but it doesn't leave a horrible, unclean feeling," said a panellist. "I loved it, and I adored that you only need a tiny bit for lots of really luxurious suds."
Best Gentle Suds
Clarins Gentle Foaming Cleanser, €21, Clarins counters nationwide
The variation of this Clarins cleanser that we most liked was the one containing cottonseed, which is aimed at those with normal or combination skin. It worked well on those with moderately dry complexions, and also on those with more oily ones, who can tend to focus only on mattifying and overlook moisture. "This is simple, but it's better than basic, because it gives plenty of suds, but not the kind that have you scratching your face off afterwards," said a panellist.
Best With Bits
Olay Regenerist Daily Regenerating Cream Wash, €10.49, available nationwide
With exfoliating beads and salicylic acid, this face wash has a little bit of scrub in a very creamy base. It provides a clean-face feeling without being too aggressive. It proved popular with those who favour a gel, but find most of them too harsh in winter. "The scrubby bits aren't too aggressive, but they're a nice addition," one panellist said. "They add to the clean feeling, which I like in winter, when your skin can get very dull."
Best Clean Feeling
Shiseido Pureness Foaming Cleanser, €30, Brown Thomas; Arnotts; Clerys; selected salons nationwide or see www.shiseido.ie
In terms of being light but luxurious, this cleanser scored well with panellists, with its thin texture, low-key bubbles and fresh feeling. It was a hit with those who couldn't come to terms with the heavier, creamy textures, but who still wanted some sense of softness. "This is silky on the skin," said one panellist. "It's just creamy enough for combination skin."
Aveda Botanical Kinetics Purifying Creme Cleanser, €24.50, Brown Thomas; House of Fraser, Dundrum Town Centre, D16; selected spas and salons nationwide
Containing plant oils and soapwort, this wash creates no suds and, consequently, it worked well on sensitive skins. Less irritable sorts also appreciated how it left their skin clean and soft. "This goes on like a thick, creamy cleanser that you'd wipe off with cotton wool," said a panellist, "but I was surprised by how easily it rinsed off. My face felt clean, but not squeaky."
Pictured, from left: Clarins Gentle Foaming Cleanser; Aveda Botanical Kinetics Purifying Creme Cleanser; Clinique Rinse-Off Foaming Cleanser; Shiseido Pureness Foaming Cleanser; Olay Regenerist Daily Regenerating Cream Wash