It’s not the prettiest word in the world, but sluggish is the only word to describe January, the way one feels — and, often, looks — after the big blow-out.
Once upon a time, you’d have banished the bad feeling by rushing into an ill-judged gym membership, but those days are gone. That is no reason to wallow, though, and a mask that will leave you fresh of face is a good place to start sorting out your sluggishness. Central heating andair conditioning conspire to dehydrate the skin, but there’s no point in slathering on extra moisturiser if it’s only making contact with a layer of dead skin cells. Our top five masks will clear and brighten your complexion, but they’re gentle giants, far removed from old-school masks that dried to a face-shrinking crust and then had to be removed with a drill. Life’s tough enough, after all, without pampering turning into a further punishment.
Nuxe Unclogging Thermo-Active Mask, €17, Clerys; selected pharmacies nationwide This is a fantastic, fast-working mask that double jobs as a treatment for blocked pores and as a gentle exfoliant. The slight warming effect dilates blocked pores and helps to unclog them, while the recommended massage before you rinse off the mask means the rice and walnut powders give a little scrub to the skin. “I like any masks that heat up,” said one panellist, “because they feel like they’re doing something, and this had a good effect on my really jaded-looking skin. I was definitely less grey-faced after it.”
BEST CLEAR AND CALM
Clarins Pure and Radiant Mask, €25.50, Clarins counters nationwide Oddly, the cold and the artificial heat that our skin endures in winter can often cause it to over-produce oil. So, a gentle, mattifying mask like this — with pink clay and soothing linden extract — is ideal and, on dry skins, can be used solely on the T-zone area. “A nice one for use in the bath, when the 10-minute wait doesn’t agitate an impatient sort like me,” said a panellist. “My skin had a nice, refreshed pinkness after it.” BEST BLACKHEAD BUSTER Origins Clear Improvement, €25.50, Arnotts; Clerys; House of Fraser, Dundrum Town Centre, D16 With activated charcoal, which means it has been processed to make it extra porous, this thin, quite cool-feeling mask has an impressive effect on congested skin. Press a warm cloth on to the face before applying the mask to boost its effectiveness. “Thanks to wearing more make-up and a heavier moisturiser in winter, blackheads seem to breed on my nose and chin,” said one panellist. “This had the advertised clearing effect on them, but the bonus was the softness of my skin.”
Sanctuary 5 Minute Thermal Detox Mask, €14, Boots nationwide One of our two favourite charcoal-based masks, this one heats up on contact with damp skin and has a nice, tingly feeling, while the Origins mask is more cooling on the skin. Sensitive sorts should keep it away from any easily irritated areas, but even their T-zones will gleam after a go of this. “The sensation as the mask warms up is very pleasing, as is the slightly sticky texture, and I like that it doesn’t dry on, but washes off easily,” a panellist said.
BEST BRIGHT OUTLOOK
Elemis Papaya Enzyme Peel, €40, Harvey Nichols, Dundrum Town Centre, D16; selected salons nationwide If a scrub is just too hard on your wind-ravaged skin, then a fruit-acid exfoliator is a great alternative and this one is particularly effective. Papaya enzymes gently eat away those dead skin cells and, if you dare plan a night out this month, this creates a stunningly smooth surface for make-up. Or, given that it’s January, a great base for a nice layer of night cream. “Your skin looks like you’ve had a facial after this stuff,” one panellist said, “and you need only a thin layer, so it lasts and lasts.”