Honesty is the Panel policy. Every week, five products win praise, but there are many more that fail the testing process, which is usually a blind testing, whereby the panellists don't know if they're sampling something from the chemist or the finest beauty houses, or whether it costs €9.99 or €99.99.
So, the winners are real, not just based on reputation or cost, and we only tell you about the good stuff, and don't bother trashing the rest.
With this week's eye creams, the blind testing definitely allowed panellists to honestly assess the products, without anyone being biased towards brands they already enjoy or trust. Eye creams are something that everyone seems exercised by, all of us eager to discover the holy-grail product to keep wrinkles at bay. At the same time, however, no one really expected miracles, particularly those with years of products under their belts -- or their eye bags. Everyone gave the products a month-long trial and, while some creams left that delicate skin softer and more hydrated, none gave any true wrinkle reduction, while some simply did nothing. These are the best of what we blind tested.
Darphin Wrinkle Corrective Eye Contour Cream, €43, for stockists, tel: (OO44870) 034-2566, or see www.darphin.co.uk
As ever, this Darphin cream combines natural and science-led ingredients for an effective eye cream, containing, among other things, magnolia extract, hyaluronic acid and shea butter. Promising to soften lines and leave the skin softer, it lived up to its realistic claims. "I liked this a lot," said a panellist. "The texture was heavy, but silky and creamy, and it soaked in quite quickly. While I can't say that there is a monumental change, the skin around my eyes is definitely in better condition and a lot less dry."
Best for Morning TIME Under Make-Up
Ren Lipovector Smoothing Eye Contour Cream, €38, Arnotts, D1; or tel: (01) 461-0645
With plant collagen, natural peptides and vitamin A, this gel-like product goes on with a cool, light feeling. It's nicely moisturising without feeling greasy. "I found this cream lightly hydrating and it soaks in fast, which makes it good for under make-up," a panellist said. "At night I prefer something a bit richer, though, and a sense that it's working harder, even if that's only in my head!"
Best for Younger Skin
Origins GinZing, €30, Arnotts; Clerys; House of Fraser, Dundrum Town Centre, D16
Selling itself as a "refreshing" eye cream, this does exactly that, with the bonus of a zingy sensation. With caffeine, ginseng and magnolia, this promises to reduce puffiness and it certainly left the skin softer. "I loved that this was creamy without being too rich and I liked the refreshing feeling of it," one panellist said. "The skin is nicer, but if I'm honest there are not any major differences."
Best Intriguing Applicator
L'Oreal Collagen Micro-Vibration Eye, €19.99, available nationwide
With a vibrating tip to massage in the cream -- which contains collagen biospheres and peptides -- this promises to increase drainage from the eye-bag area, thus reducing puffiness. "The routine involved forces you to pay attention to the eye area, which is a good thing," said a panellist. "I have a fear of developing a full set of luggage under my eyes, so I applied it studiously and felt some improvement, but no major miracle."
Best with AN SPF
Guinot Age Sun Eye, €64.55, for stockists nationwide, tel: (0818) 719-303
One of the few eye-care products with a significant SPF. An inbuilt sunscreen is particularly useful around the eyes, where the skin is thinner and more prone to the effects of sun damage. Plus it has all Guinot's anti-ageing-technology know-how. "I think this had an effect," one panellist said. "I detect a slight softening of lines, and maybe more plumpness, but it makes my eyes water. I persevered, though, because
the effects seemed worth it, but nothing really dramatic."