Pretty prepared: Five holiday favourites
Head off on holiday all prepped and ready, says Sarah Caden, with a little bit of help from these five favourites
In an ideal world, we'd head off on our holidays as the very best versions of ourselves - all scrubbed, waxed, manicured, pedicured and improved-upon by whatever other vanities tickle your fancy. Life tends to get in the way of these beautiful intentions, however.
There's the extra work to complete to ensure that the office doesn't fall apart in your absence. There's those pesky kids, who unhelpfully won't sit in the car outside a salon for three hours. There's that recession-born conscience that won't let you spend money on treatments like it's 2005 all over again. None of which should mean that you can't primp and preen pre-holiday, just that you need to pick the right products to do it yourself.
Getting your skin in tip-top condition is always a good starting point. Scrub, moisturise and use a little fake tan, if you want rid of the milk-bottle look. Go easy on the tan though, because fake can look very fake.
Take 20 minutes to do your toenails, even if you can't make it to a nail bar, or you'll feel vaguely neglected. And speaking of feet, tackle hard skin and general desiccation before you go, or they'll stare up accusingly at you for the duration of your break.
Elemis Tan Accelerator, €27.50, Debenhams; Harvey Nichols, Dundrum Town Centre, D16
Opinion is divided on whether tyrosine - the active ingredient in this pre-tan product - does what it claims. The claim is that it boosts precursors to the production of melanin, the pigment that is activated by the skin's exposure to the sun. With jojoba and macadamia-nut oils, there's no denying that it's a good moisturiser, but two panellists also found that their skin was more golden, and tanned easily after use. "I can't prove if it was an illusion," said one panellist, "but my skin seemed to burn less easily and take on a light tan quickly. I've become a repeat buyer."
Best Starter Tan
He-Shi Rapid 1-Hour Liquid Tan, €27.23, selected department stores nationwide, or see www.he-shi.eu
This is a new tanning product from the award-winning Northern Irish company, and we like it. The liquid is dark brown, so it's easy to see where you've put it - but wear a tanning mitt, unless you want dyed palms - and it dries fast and develops quickly. The idea is that you leave it on for an hour and then shower off the guide colour, but if you want a deeper colour, you can sleep in it. "The guide colour is very dark, but the ultimate tan is natural-looking and very even" said one panellist. "It took the glow-in-the-dark look off me."
Best Neat Nails
Chanel Le Vernis in Eastern Light, €22.50, Chanel counters nationwide
White looks great with even the faintest of tans, but getting white right on your nails is tricky. Most white nail polishes are streaky or not sufficiently opaque. Worse, the very opaque varieties can make it look like you Tippex-ed your talons. This is a great white: shiny, opaque, and with enough shimmer to flatter most skintones. "I liked the look of this with my pre-holiday skin colour and then it only got better as the holiday went by and I went a little bit browner," said a panellist.
Best Prepped Face
Lancome Exfoliance Clarte, €33, Lancome counters nationwide
Exfoliation is key before sun exposure, unless you want a patchy, dried-out effect. Be warned, though, we are talking about exfoliation followed by proper sun protection, because the new cells you reveal by scrubbing will be extra sensitive to the sun. What's nice about this scrub is its triple-whammy of exfoliating ingredients. Wax beads and fine grains gently scrub, while extracts of papaya and pineapple gobble up dead cells. "This felt very gentle to use, but it was very effective," said one panellist. "It's also handily 100ml, so it works as a carry-on."
Best Fine Feet
Scholl Velvet Smooth Express Pedi, €49.99, Dunnes Stores; Tesco; pharmacies nationwide
There's no need to despair if you haven't adopted a foot-prep programme weeks in advance. After using for just a few days, this battery-operated hard-skin remover will do wonders for gnarly hooves, particularly if followed by a nightly application of foot cream. This is a new and improved version of an existing product, with a more effective 'foot-sandpaper' barrel. "It worked brilliantly on my hideous heels," said one panellist. "Left me sandal-ready in no time. No mean feat, so to speak."