The Panel: The reveal
There are all kinds of reasons why -- no matter how good our intentions or the products we buy are -- that every now and then you look in the mirror and someone utterly unloved looks back.
There are nights we are too tired, or too tired and emotional, to cleanse properly. There is a chronic lack of time for ourselves, which seems to afflict almost everyone. And, of course, there are times when we just can't be bothered to cleanse, polish, massage or nourish our often stressed skin.
It can be terrifying how quickly a bit of neglect shows in the face, and, on occasions such as these, it's a mercy to be able to reach for a trusted treatment. This week's top five represent the most soothing, calming and restorative masks we tried, most of them best employed at night, when they have time to properly set to work.
Further, if you are really allergic to the faffing around that is often part of the face-mask routine, then these are made for you.
Slap it on, shut your eyes and wake up looking like one of those people who enjoy that mythical "me time".
Decleor Harmonie Calm, €35, Clerys; selected department stores, pharmacies and salons nationwide
Brush applicators are quite the go at the moment and while they can seem gimmicky, this one makes sense: the creamy gel doesn't get warmed in your hands, but brushes on coolly, straight from the tube. Decleor's Lacto Calm Complex plant extracts boost moisture and reduce redness with minimal fuss. "Not icky, not fussy and you see a result," said one panellist. "If you look totally ravaged, it's light enough to use before a night out without looking greasy."
Best Gel Gem
Voya Maskerade, €35, House of Fraser, Dundrum Town Centre, D16, Dublin Airport and selected spas and salons nationwide
In a glass pump-action bottle, this is a very liquid mask that goes on almost like water but then takes its time to sink in, eventually leaving the skin looking like it just had a drink. Packed with Voya's signature seaweed, it boasts marine collagen, algae and all sorts of nourishing essential oils. "A very little of this goes a long way," said a panellist, "and partnered with a half-decent night's sleep I looked refreshed by morning."
Best Floral Fancy
Weleda Wild Rose Intensive Facial Masque, €17.25, selected health stores and pharmacies nationwide
The deep, old-rose fragrance of this is half the pleasure of using it -- it's a grown-up smell that is not at all girlie, but intensely soothing. The cream slips on nicely, feeling instantly moisturising and calming. One for bedtime, allowing you to properly remove its rich remnants during your morning shower. "My make-up went on very nicely the next day and I felt my skin was plumper and happier," said one panellist.
Best Deep Dream
Payot Masque Doux, €30, selected salons nationwide, for further information, tel: (01) 822-2711
Marketed as a treatment for stressed skin, with extracts of boswellia that promise to restore cells to fighting-fit condition. A deeply satisfying skin treatment, it's applied in a thick, fragrance-free layer, which doesn't sink in, but, after 10 minutes of looking like Vera Duckworth ready for bed, you remove the mask to reveal revived skin. "Industrial-strength in terms of what it does and how it looks on your face," one panellist said, "but lovely and gentle with it."
Best Creamy Cushion
Dr Hauschka Soothing Mask, €30.50, selected department stores, health stores and pharmacies nationwide
Without the intense, very German and nearly medicinal smell that some Dr Hauschka products carry, this is an impressive mask that falls nicely between the light-feeling and heavy-duty camps. "This turned out to be a good daytime pick-me-up as well as a hard-working overnighter," a panellist said, "like a really excellent moisturiser but with added boost. A treat without fuss."
Pictured, from left: Decleor Harmonie Calm; Payot Masque Doux; Voya Maskerade; Dr Hauschka Soothing Mask; Weleda Wild Rose Intensive Facial Masque
Sunday Indo Life Magazine