The Panel: Zest test
Despite what we try to tell ourselves, the brighter mornings only make it marginally easier to get out of the bed. Many of us rely on revivers such as caffeine and a quick shower to shake the sleep off us.
And it's now the time of year when a zesty body wash brings an extra boost to the morning ritual.
There's something about citrus -- and, as we discovered, cucumber -- that speaks of summer and sunny days and says to your brain that it's time to look sharp.
When it comes to skincare, it's easy to associate citrus products with oily skin and drying, astringent properties, but this isn't necessarily the case when it comes to zesty body washes.
Those that we favoured tended to be those that had the most authentic fragrances -- think a lemon grove, rather than the old squeezy Jif Lemon -- and they tended to be light and fresh, with bubbles that didn't strip the skin.
Even as it's getting warmer, one still needs a little help in looking alive and these are the best of the zest we tried.
Dr Hauschka Lemon Body Wash, €11.50, selected department stores, health stores and pharmacies nationwide
This came out on top for the fact that the fragrance was so authentic and enlivening and, despite what the zingy scent suggests, because it's creamy and surprisingly softening. Soap-free, it contains shea butter and apricot-kernel oil to hydrate, and lemon-peel oil and witch hazel to tone the skin. "Reminds you of summer holidays and not washing-up liquid, as I feared in advance," said one panellist. "I couldn't get enough of this. It's eye-opening, but not eye-watering."
Best Creamy Citrus
Nivea Happy Time Shower Cream, €1.99, available nationwide
This came up trumps before we knew the price, but there's no denying that our opinion of it improved further when we found out. Nicely creamy, thanks to bamboo milk, with a scent slightly reminiscent of those Oatfield Orange-Chocolate sweets. "I liked the gentle feel and there's enough of a wake-up in the fragrance without it being overwhelming or hanging around too much on your skin," said a panellist.
Best Zesty Scrub
Origins Gloomaway Grapefruit Body-Buffing Cleanser, €25.50, Arnotts; Clerys; House of Fraser, Dundrum Town Centre, D16
A creamy wash full of exfoliating apricot seeds and jojoba beads to exfoliate, coconut-based cleansers to gently wash and a sweet grapefruit fragrance that's zingy, but not at all sour. We liked that the exfoliating aspect gave added value and got your skin going as well as your senses. "An easy-to-use tube, a nice wash with effective, gentle grit, and I like the grapefruit as an alternative to lemon or orange," said one panellist.
Best Crisply Clean
Yes to Cucumbers Shower Gel, €7.99, selected pharmacies nationwide
Officially, this is a calming shower gel, with a clean and cool cucumber fragrance. The cucumber content carries great quantities of skin-friendly vitamins C and A, while the added green tea is said to work as an antioxidant. "There's a lovely cooling but uplifting effect with this," said one citrus-averse panellist. "And I know it sounds odd, but I like that it's a sort of savoury smell, rather than a sweet one."
Best Tart Treat
Bliss Lemon + Sage Soapy Suds, €20, Brown Thomas Dublin and Limerick; Harvey Nichols, Dundrum Town Centre, D16
We're fond of the sweet-and-savoury fragrance combinations that Bliss champion across their body-wash range and this is no exception, with the back note of sage acting as a counterpoint to the zesty lemon. A simple product beyond the snazzy fragrance, with gentle suds, a little of which go a long way. "This is dear enough, but I could see it lasting a long time," a panellist said. "A good grown-up lemony hit, thanks to the sage."
Pictured, from left: Yes to Cucumbers Shower Gel; Origins Gloomaway Grapefruit Body Buffing Cleanser; Nivea Happy Time Shower Cream; Dr Hauschka Lemon Body Wash; Bliss Lemon + Sage Soapy Suds
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