Spring’s new balancing moisturisers fight free-radicals without the weight, says
I was delighted with this one just reading the back of the box. Not only is the fragrance and alcohol-free formula suited to all skin types but it is maxed-out with beneficial ingredients. It contains more Vitamin C than most products named for the brightening antioxidant, as well as five different ceramides, pure retinol and a host of free-radical-fighting plant extracts including pomegranate, grapeseed, and licorice. No space is wasted in its purple pump-bottle. Ceramides are a natural part of skin’s own moisture barrier and using such a high concentration here means dry-types need not double up with a mineral oil-heavy cream. You can also skip a second skincare step as the texture is closer to a rich, Estée Lauder-style serum than moisturiser. The dry-down is non-greasy and not sticky, perfect for pairing with makeup.
Attention all sensitive types! CeraVe, possibly the best Canadian drugstores have to comfort your skin, is now in Europe. Following its 2017 sale to L’Oréal from Quebec-based Valeant Pharmaceuticals, the brand launched six products at Boots and selected online retailers this month. They are all good face and body basics, including this lightweight lotion. The two-tone packaging resembles that of E45, Eucerin, and other anti-irritation brands your GP probably recommends. Those may strike you as vital-but-dull but CeraVe elevates their moisturisers with two great ingredients — ceramides and hyaluronic acid — that make them lighter, antioxidant-rich and slightly more sophisticated. This one has the added benefit of broad spectrum SPF25, so need not be layered with additional cream.
Kefir, kimchi, and other fermented foods make you feel good but how does supporting natural bacteria help skin? Gallinée’s face and body creams incorporate pre-, pro- and postbiotics in an effort to soothe and nourish it to a balanced state. Independent research showing the reparative effects of these ingredients (when applied topically) is not as substantial as that supporting Vitamins A, C, and E, but this is a newer field and they have so far been shown to have antioxidant benefits. This moisturiser is fragrance and alcohol-free and the star ingredients are boosted by coconut oil and Vitamin E, as well as texture-improving lactic acid. I was immediately impressed with how soft this left my skin while remaining residue-free. A generous application leaves no film, excess oil, or added shimmer and no trace of watery sheen. It seems an excellent option for combination types who do not wish to treat contrasting areas with different moisturisers. The prebiotics also smell naturally of gingerbread, which isn’t bad!
Clarins’ long-term lovers will be aware of the brand’s four decades of faith in flowers, particularly for face-tightening. This new addition to their Age Control range makes a centre-piece of kangaroo flower-extract, which the brand claims encourages cell-regeneration and safeguards natural fibroblasts (the tough-to-renew cells keeping skin elastic). It also contains collagen-supporting ingredients from previous Extra-Firming creams, including organic banana and lemon thyme. The texture is silk-light but comforting, with dollops of silicone and tapioca starch makign skin look instantly (if temporarily) smoother. As with all Clarins moisturisers but their Gentle Day Cream, €50, this contains a potentially irritating amount of floral perfume.
Olay’s seven-strong eye range makes overlapping claims but the tubed moisturisers are better (as jars do not keep antioxidants as stable) and this one offers the best antioxidant aid. If you’ve seen it in store you probably spotted the sign promising smoother skin in four weeks. You won’t even have to use it that long to see such results, not because lines are disappearing but because the base is mostly synthetic fatty alcohol and silicone. Both are mainstays of smoothing primer and improve texture almost instantly. However, the silicone is also excellent at dispersing active ingredients, with one of which this treatment is saturated. Weirdly, given the name, that active is not retinol.
Retinol (Vitamin A) is a skincare hero. Concentrations as low as 0.01% have been shown to improve multiple signs of ageing and diminish pore size. It can help defend the skin against UV damage (when worn with broad-spectrum protection) and amplify the benefits of Vitamin C, all while repairing cells previously corrupted by the sun.
It has also been around for yonks but the reason there is not buckets of it available via every anti-ageing line is our disparate tolerance levels. Redness and peeling result from applying more of the Vitamin A molecule than your skin can handle. Finding your level is experimental. If retinol features in mass-targeted products at all, it tends to be in mild forms like retinyl palmitate. This product does not actually contain retinol but the derivative retinyl propionate but I still recommend this because of the much higher concentration of niacinamide. This ingredient is widely well-tolerated and has serious anti-ageing chops, improving UV damage and supporting healthy collagen development. Olay has two other other gentle, niacinamide-rich eye formulas: Olay Eyes Firming Eye Serum and Olay Eyes Illuminating Eye Cream, both €30.99. This treatment contains more than its siblings, so if you like those you might consider upgrading. If you simply wish to add a retinol product to your regime, however, give this a miss.
Can you recommend a moisturising mask that won’t weigh down my fine hair?
Pre-shampoo treatments are excellent for light hydration as you can be certain of thorough removal.
Living Proof Timeless Pre-Shampoo Treatment, €35 at Marks and Spencer, has a restorative impact, the brand compares to retinol’s on skin. The antioxidant-rich formula provides shampoo-activated colour protection, seals in moisture and fortifies hair against styling damage.
I also like Redken All Soft Recovery Sheet Mask, €11.30. Inspired by South Korea’s beloved sheet treatments, this weekly treatment packs the smoothing, hydrating power of a deep condition into a mess-free mesh.
Exposing hair to its argan, aloe vera and camellia extracts reduces both dryness and blowdry-time. It looks like a gold-foil swimming cap on and is easily secured with an adhesive strip. You need to massage it to ensure even distribution but are otherwise free to get on with your nails. Masks are for nothing if not multi-tasking.