It may not be quite summer yet, and you may not have dared to bare the legs and arms, but it is high time you checked out their condition. After the coldest winter in recent memory, the skin buried under our layers of clothes will have gone sorely neglected by most, and, without some care and attention, it won't be fit to bare once the sun does deign to shine. Given that it's unlikely to shine for long, it's best to be prepared.
There's no point in slathering on the moisturiser over layers of rough, dead skin, however, and the best way to shed that skin is with a good body scrub. It needs to be a body scrub you will use, though. If the hassle is going to put you off, there's no point investing in salt or sugar scrubs that can't just be lashed on in the shower and rinsed off, and there's also no point in a lot of the more liquid scrubs, which wash away before you've had the chance to put them to work.
As the first step towards skin you'll be happy to show off when summer comes -- all 10 minutes of it -- it's all about finding the best scrub consistency for you. Here are the best scrubs we tried.
Clinique Sparkle Skin Body Exfoliating Cream, €27, Clinique counters nationwide
A tub of minty-smelling paste, this won out for how it works and how it lasts. The texture means it really sticks -- even with the shower pounding down on you -- giving you a chance to work in the fine, gritty cream. "The tub lasts forever because you only need a small amount to get a great effect," said a panellist. "My skin was really soft, and the minty smell added to the fresh feeling."
Vichy Lipidiose Nutritive Bi-Exfoliating Body Scrub, €15, selected pharmacies nationwide
Handy to throw in the holiday travel bag, but also good for those who find unscrewing a tub and then dipping into it far too much palaver in the shower. Despite the liquid consistency, it goes on well and stays put. "I liked that this got soapy as well as scrubby, so you feel you're getting a wash, too," a panellist said. "And it does the job well."
Best Salt Option
Bliss Hot Salt Scrub, €32, Harvey Nichols, Dundrum Town Centre, D16
Out of all the soap and sugar scrubs -- which you apply to dry skin, rub in and then rinse off, leaving behind a moisturising layer of the oils in which the grains are suspended -- this proved the most popular. It heats up a bit with the friction, but not alarmingly so. "This was nice and spa-like," said one panellist. "It smells a little bit medicinal, but it does serious work and leaves your skin very smooth and soft."
Best High Impact
Origins Modern Friction for the Body, €40, Arnotts; Clerys; House of Fraser, Dundrum Town Centre, D16
Based on the same principle as Modern Friction for the Face, this is a thick, white, "buffing paste" that combines exfoliating grains and acids. It goes on to dry skin, you rub in the grit and then leave it for a few minutes to allow the rice starch to eat away some more of the dead skin cells, before rinsing it off. "Serious stuff," one panellist said. "Great on upper arms and thighs that haven't seen the light of day in a long while."
Best Gentle Grains
Guinot Smoothing Body Scrub, €46.95, for stockists nationwide tel: (0818) 719-303
This pink lotion looks like it will slip off the skin before you can do any scrubbing work, but the fact that it is jam-packed with loofah grains means it does a lot, but very gently. A really nice regular option. "It was great for my sensitive skin," said one panellist. "My arms and legs were much smoother, but without feeling like I'd rubbed them raw."
Pictured, from left: Origins Modern Friction for the Body; Guinot Smoothing Body Scrub; Vichy Lipidiose Nutritive Bi-Exfoliating Body Scrub; Bliss Hot Salt Scrub; Clinique Sparkle Skin Body Exfoliating Cream