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Big softies: The panelists get in a lather

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About this time of year, the skin on one's body is more neglected and desiccated than at any other time. In the early months of winter, Christmas gives us some motivation to pamper and preen, but, come the dreary first months of the New Year, we tend to let things slide. And, around now, everything gets a bit irritable.

The modern daily shower habit is all well and good, but it doesn't half play havoc with skin that is shrouded in layers of clothes, and tends to be more or less ignored until it starts to itch.

Of course, it would help to get into the habit of applying a bit of post-shower moisturiser to our bodies, but not everyone has the time, or a sufficiently warm bathroom, for that.

It is advisable, then, to reach for a milder shower gel or a cream wash that won't add to the drying effect of a daily deluge of hot water.

While proffering five favourite shower mates, however, here's another tip: the areas that get very dry – such as your elbows, shoulders and legs – don't need a sudsing and scrubbing every day.

So stand under the shower as often as you want, but remember that you should only lather up in moderation.

BEST OVERALL

No7 Luxurious Foaming Shower Oil, €9, Boots nationwide

This shower oil is not just good value for money – it also performs like a far, far more expensive product. The amber-coloured gel foams up surprisingly well, given its oil content, and it also lends a nice layer of post-shower softness, in addition to being brilliant for in-shower shaving. "I'll take anything that allows me to dry off fast and then throw on my clothes without the fear that I'll be itching like billy-o an hour later," said one panellist. "And I'll definitely take it at this price."

BEST SOOTHING SCENT

Cowshed Gorgeous Cow Blissful Bath & Shower Gel, €19.95, from selected pharmacies and health stores nationwide

This quirkily named range includes various lines, including Lazy Cow, Knackered Cow and Grumpy Cow, as well as this one, Gorgeous Cow, the fragrance of which is supposed to make you feel all blissed-out and beautiful. If you're expecting a massive perfume punch, however, think again. Instead of this, it's gently redolent of lavender, ylang-ylang and various rose essential oils. "I like the slightly silly name, and I just love the gentleness of the light lather," a panellist said.

BEST HEALTHY HALO

Trilogy Botanical Body Wash, €24.95, Arnotts; selected pharmacies and health stores nationwide

With jojoba, camomile flower and rosehip seed oils, this gel has plenty of moisturising properties, while feeling fresh and clean on the skin, too, thanks to the cucumber and lavender. We love the matte packaging, which looks like classy glass, but is actually plastic. "This smells nicely natural, and it doesn't lather up too madly, which is always a skin-friendly sign, and it does what it says on the bottle," a panellist said.

BEST HINT OF HOLIDAY

Radox Coconut Kiss Shower Cream, €2.59, available nationwide

There's value to be had in shower products, but it can be difficult to distinguish the good from the bad in this flooded market. If your skin tends to the dry, seek out the creamy variations, rather than the gels. And maybe skip anything called "invigorating". This shower cream is satisfyingly creamy, while the coconut smell speaks of holidays. "Feels and smells dearer than it is. It's not too tropical and not at all skin-stripping," said a panellist.

Best Vanilla Veil

Kiehl's Vanilla & Cedarwood Skin-Softening Body Cleanser, €21.50, 35 Wicklow St, D2; Dundrum Town Centre, D16; Arnotts

A lot of people find vanilla fragrance a bit hard to take, and even a bit headache-inducing, but, scent-wise, this is a nicely balanced product, with the vanilla bestowing a warm welcome in winter. The cedarwood brings a sharpness to the mix, and the result is a gentle and lively wash. "My skin took kindly to this, and the fragrance lingered more effectively than some others I've

tried," said one panellist.

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Pictured, from left: No7 Luxurious Foaming Shower Oil; Cowshed Gorgeous Cow Blissful Bath & Shower Gel; Trilogy Botanical Body Wash; Radox Coconut Kiss Shower Cream; Kiehl's Vanilla & Cedarwood Skin-Softening Body Cleanser

Email thepanel@independent.ie

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