There's something about the mere mention of night creams that conjures up images of biddies from comics and TV shows of old, settling down to sleep in a bed jacket and hair curlers, with a face concealed by a thick, opaque layer of beauty cream.
The fact that these characters tended to be more battleaxes than beauties did nothing to help the image of night-time skincare, but there's little that's grannyish about modern after-dark unguents.
Along with tending to be richer and heavier than a daycream, night-time moisturisers contain a bumper dose of healing, soothing and potentially anti-ageing ingredients.
What you do with the night cream is just as important as what it includes, however. As you're likely to rush less through your skincare at bedtime, take the time to use your fingertips to massage in the moisturiser, letting the skin absorb it before adding another, lighter layer.
You won't end up looking like Hilda Ogden this way, or with a greasy pillowcase, but moisture, massage and a half-decent night's sleep will work wonders, almost overnight.
Lancome Hydra Zen Nuit Neurocalm, €50.50, Lancome counters nationwide
While we sleep, the skin attempts to repair itself, and anything that boosts de-stressing after the daily grind is to be welcomed. This gel-like cream has an immediately soothing feel, thanks to the Neurocalm plant extracts, while hyaluronic acid and ceramides boost hydration. "I like this very much. It soaks in fast, so there were no streaks on the pillow and, best of all, it works," said a particularly sleep-deprived panellist parent of a newborn. "My skin is less dry and even has a bit of a glow. Remarkable on so little sleep."
Best Sleepy Scent
Weleda Wild Rose Night Cream, €13.95, Nourish, 16 Wicklow St, D2; or see www.nourish.ie
Part of a whole range of wild-rose products from the German natural-ingredient brand, packed with organic rosehip seed, olive and evening primrose oils, the latter of which is claimed to help skin rejuvenate. The fragrance is wonderfully deep, and not at all sickly. "This feels very light and applies very easily, but then the oils sort of melt and it becomes very rich-feeling," a panellist said. "I had lovely soft skin the next morning."
Best Evening Edition
Elemis Pro-Collagen Oxygenating Night Cream, €126, Harvey Nichols, Dundrum Town Centre, D16
The night-time version of the daytime cream that has proved very popular on The Panel. As you'd expect, it's a richer edition of the regular moisturiser, which is rich in sea nutrients. It's remarkable for how a little goes a long way, and how well it sinks in while managing to feel like a really big drink of water for the face. "I don't normally go along with the idea that day and night creams complement each other," said one panellist, "but I did see the point of this heavyweight companion. It really made a difference to my tired skin."
Best Quiet Night
Eucerin Anti-Redness Night, €18.99, pharmacies nationwide
Without the green tinge of the daytime version, this night cream contains a heavier dose of licorice-root extract -- a proven skin soother. It's great for those who find that weather, make-up and air-conditioning take a terrible toll on their skin, as this really helps to calm down the complexion. "Nicely bland and inoffensive, but I could see by morning that this stuff had been hard at work," one panellist said. "Definitely soothed irritation while I slept."
Best Luxury Night In
Chanel Precision Ultra Correction Anti-Wrinkle Night Cream, €101.50, Chanel counters nationwide
High-tech ingredients, some exclusive to Chanel, claim to boost collagen and elastin production, while the delicate fragrance screams luxury. As does the finish and feel, which stay the right side of heavy. "This sinks in beautifully, but not so fast that you don't get the chance to smooth it in for a few minutes, which is part of the bedtime ritual for me," said a panellist. "A real treat."
Pictured, from left: Eucerin Anti-Redness Night; Weleda Wild Rose Night Cream; Lancome Hydra Zen Nuit Neurocalm; Elemis Pro-Collagen Oxygenating Night Cream; Chanel Precision Ultra Correction Line Repair Anti-Wrinkle Night Cream
Sunday Indo Life Magazine