The beauty panel: Poetry in lotion
The Korean 10-step skincare routine might be pushing it, says Sarah Caden, but lotion is a step you can love
By this stage, most of you will know about Korean skincare. Maybe you've adopted this multi-step regime of cleansers, lotions, essences, serums and moisturisers. Maybe the mere mention of it makes you put your fingers in your ears and start humming. Maybe you think it's bonkers but in a good way, and don't even know where to start. If you are in the last camp, you're not alone, and lotions seem like an ideal place to start. In a nutshell, the Korean skincare regime can easily add up to 10 steps, morning and night.
Today's lotions are, for the most part, what could be known as treatment toners. They are nothing like the old-school alcohol-heavy, skin-stripping toners, though. They tend to contain lots of hydrating ingredients, and promise to prep skin for whatever products follow.
So instead of putting your serum on dried-out skin and expecting the serum to do all the work, you are pumping up the skin with lotion first. That's the theory, and panellists reported that they saw an improvement in dehydration lines by adding a lotion to their regime. Even better, though, they reported that this didn't add extra minutes, which is what really matters, right?
Trilogy Hydra-Tone Softening Lotion, €21.95, Debenhams; Arnotts; or selected pharmacies and health stores nationwide
Typically, you will find that these lotions are more gel-like than a toner, but more liquid than a serum. This Trilogy one is a case in point; it's a cooling, slightly blobby solution that is so gentle you can also use it as an eye-make-up remover. It has marshmallow extract, which contributes to the texture and is said to help with sensitivity and dryness; and ylang ylang, which claims to boost elasticity. "The soothing feeling of this is very nice," said a panellist, "and I found it gave a smoother, more dewy base for my moisturiser."
Best Floral Friend
Decleor Hydra Floral Anti-Pollution Hydrating Active Lotion, €54, Decleor spas, salons and selected pharmacies nationwide
For skin that doesn't require massive help, Decleor suggest that you could use this after cleansing and using their skin oil, and need nothing more. Or, as with our other featured lotion, you could use it as a pre-moisturiser boost to your usual serum-cream regime. This has neroli oil, a Decleor favourite, which makes it slightly more intense and less watery than our other suggestions. "A gorgeous smell, and very light-feeling," said a panellist. "But it seemed to have an effect on surface dehydration."
Best Moist Mist
Clarins Fix' Make-Up, €28, Clarins counters nationwide
This is a relaunch of a Clarins favourite, and while it's not a skincare step (it fixes your make-up in place), it has a lot of the hydrating and soothing benefits of a lotion. Also, it's a miracle at making make-up last longer - even if it's counterintuitive to spray water on your freshly made-up face. Ingredients include soothing aloe and white-tea extract. "The spray is a fine mist, so it settles gently on your make-up, rather than rinsing it off," said one panellist. "The effect is dewy but not wet!"
Best Natural Beauty
Body Shop Drops of Youth Essence Lotion, €23.95, The Body Shop nationwide; selected pharmacies
With three plant stem cells, plus rehydrating aloe, this is a lightly gloopy lotion that turns to a thin liquid on the skin. You put a few drops into the palms and pat it on, for a refreshing effect. Skincare sages would advise that you apply moisturiser while the skin still feels damp with lotion, though some serums specifically state that they go on dry skin. "A small amount makes a difference," said a panellist. "My skin felt less tight immediately after using it."
Best Water Works
Chanel Hydra Beauty Lotion Very Moist, €47.50, Chanel counters nationwide
Chanel's water-based lotion is all about adding extra hydration and soothing the skin, post-cleanser. The science is based on "magnetic water", which is water that is magnetised in such a way that its structure is altered and it is softer. There are claims made that magnetic water can help with a condition like dry eyes, and in skincare terms, it's claimed that it can penetrate the outer layer of skin better than regular water-based products. "A lovely thin-gel texture and it delivered on its drink-of-water-for-the-skin promise," said one panellist.