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The Panel: Best products for holidays


It's one thing having clothes that we insist on packing for every holiday -- the ones we never wear at home, swear we'll wear in the sun, but then bring home again, unworn. Year after year. But the unused toiletries are another matter altogether.

If you don't use that face mask at home, then you're unlikely to use it on holiday, and if, as a rule, you can't be bothered exfoliating, this is not the time to force a new habit. Give yourself a break, for God's sake -- if there are items that have been on many holidays, and returned home unused, then maybe it's time to consider losing them altogether.

This will leave you free to go lighter with the toiletry-bag packing this summer, as you ruthlessly whittle down the items to those that are essential, but excellent. The combination of the fresh air and the dose of unaccustomed sunlight do half the work in making you look better, anyway, so leave the excess unguents at home.

These are five of the best products we found for your holidays, which take care of the basics, but do that little bit more, too.

Best Overall

Alfaparf S4U Ocean, €12.50, salons nationwide; for stockists, tel: (045) 856-490

We all like the idea of been-to-the-beach hair but, with Irish hair, that tends to mean messy frizz. So we haul products and hairdryers from home and end up with smooth, office-friendly hair that jars in the beach bar. This product could be the answer, adding volume and texture to even the thinnest hair, with no matting. "I'm never bringing a hairdryer on holiday again," said a panellist. "I washed my hair, sprayed it on, and left it to dry. Lovely volume, no stickiness, no frizz."

Best Shower and More

Clarins Eau Dynamisante Shower Mousse, €18.50, Clarins counters nationwide

Well, you might wonder what's so special about a body wash, but this delivers on several levels. A nice, gentle wash with a thick-mousse texture that's great for leg shaving, this has a wonderfully summery fragrance. It's an unexpected multi-tasker and a little goes a long way. "It's been on three holidays and shows no sign of running out," said a panellist. "The can is also pretty indestructible, so you don't risk suitcase spillage."

Best Pick-Me-Up

St Tropez Aftersun Lotion With a hint of Self Tan, €19.95, selected department stores, pharmacies and salons nationwide

Aside from straightforward self-tans, St Tropez have branched out into complementary products that display an understanding that people want a bit of colour, but in a safe, skin-friendly way. This is a nice body moisturiser, with cooling ingredients and a little less self-tan than a gradual tanner. "I got just a bit more golden using this," said a panellist. "Not so much that you look fake, though, and it's very soothing, too."

Best Face Friend

Lancome Genifique Soleil Skin Youth UV Protector, €28.50, Lancome counters nationwide

A wonderful holiday double-jobber, this includes the much-loved Genifique serum, along with powerful-but-gentle sun protection. "The lotion texture is what I liked best," a panellist said. "Some high-factor creams are very heavy and feel horrible on your face, but this is like a moisturiser you'd use at home. With SPF benefits; good combo."

Best Petite Protector

Nivea Sun 30 Pocket Size, €5.79, available nationwide

Great value and really knacky, with high protection from both UVA and UVB rays. Good for those who still think that anything over SPF6 is a spoilsport and resent spending on what will save you from sizzling; also good for the more diligent, who can throw this handy size into any bag or pocket for conscientious top-ups. "Those big bottles weigh an awful lot," said one panellist, "so this was great for a day trip on holiday, when you don't want to carry much. It's good for kids' schoolbags at home, too."

Pictured, from left: Clarins Eau Dynamisante Shower Mousse; Nivea Sun 30 Pocket Size; Alfaparf S4U Ocean; Lancome Genifique Soleil Skin Youth UV Protector; St Tropez Aftersun Lotion With a hint of Self Tan

Email thepanel@independent.ie

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