There's something about January that seems to work against almost all the New Year's resolutions we make.
The cold, the dark and the sense that winter might never end all conspire against any promises made that, once the party season was over, we'd get our act together and lose weight, take better care of ourselves or even just remove our make-up every night. In fact, in January, that last little resolution can be the most difficult to keep, given the unappealing nature of most icy Irish bathrooms at this time of year. Not to mention the lack of running water in many homes this month.
For all sorts of reasons, then, which range from environmental factors to simple indolence, one's complexion can descend into a grimy-looking dullness by this month's end. And, while loading on the moisturiser and lending it an undercoat of hard-working serum can help, there's that certain deep-clean feeling one can't help but crave. The danger in seeking a deep clean, however, is that your skin will be dried out further, and so it's important to distinguish between effective and aggressive, because January is tough enough without making it harder on yourself.
Bliss Steep Clean Pore Purifying Mask, €50, Brown Thomas Dublin and Limerick; Harvey Nichols, Dundrum Town Centre, D16
There's a sense that super-strength magic is afoot when you pump out the two gels into your palm and blend them together to a green goo -- one that works hard on oilier skins and that even delicate skins can tolerate without redness or tightening. "I struggle not to squeeze my spots and this leaves them so soft that you'd be tempted," one panellist said, "but I've used this weekly and it does have a cumulative effect of sorting blockages without me going at them."
Best Classic Clay
Trilogy Purifying Masque, €23.95, Arnotts; selected pharmacies and health stores nationwide
There's an old-school feel to this mask as it dries out completely, just like those sachets you used as a teenager. With witch hazel and kaolin clay, it absorbs oil and softens blocked pores, while rosehip oil means it won't shrivel your skin. "My skin was definitely that bit brighter after this," said a panellist. "My pores seemed smaller and I felt clean but not scrubbed."
Best Silky Softener
Chanel Purifying Cream Mask, €45.50, Chanel counters nationwide
This has a reassuringly fresh fragrance, hinting at the quite zingy effect of this mask. Sensitive souls found it was best to limit this to the T-zone, but those with combination or oily skins were impressed with it as a gentle giant. "Blocked pores were softened," a panellist said, "and if I used it before a night out there was definitely less of a shine off me."
Best Gentle Grime-Buster
Sisley Radiant Glow Express Mask, €66, Brown Thomas Dublin and Cork
The red clay this contains is gentler than the traditional white variety, and it boasts the ability to bestow radiance as well as doing a deep clean. Left on for only five minutes, it doesn't set hard and it leaves skin clean, but not squeakily so. "If you find masks faffy, or you need a fast overhaul, this is great," a panellist said. "It's dear, but it does what it says."
Best Shiny and New
Elemis Tri-Enzyme Resurfacing Gel Mask, €63, Harvey Nichols, Dundrum Town Centre, D16
Like a super-charged version of their Papaya Enzyme Peel Mask, the tube warns that a powerful tingling feeling will follow application, and it does, lending a reassuring sense that it's hard at work. That said, there's no sting involved and it wipes off to reveal what seems like brand-new skin. "I like the tingle," a panellist said, "and my skin was fantastically clean afterwards, particularly the pesky T-zone that gets so clogged-looking in winter."
Sunday Indo Life Magazine