Initially you will think they aren't going to be very good at exfoliating as the fabric is smoothish. But they do the job excellently. For tough areas such as backs of arms and thighs, make your hand into a fist in the mitt as you scrub with soapy foam. After, slap on some good body moisturiser and see how much better your body feels. Who needs diets and exercises? Anyway, one must stockpile fat cells to see the winter through safely.
Superdrug's All Over Body Cream with Vitamin E and Wheatgerm Oil, pounds 1.89, is a superb cream to soak into winter skin. I particularly love it because it comes in a pot which I find so much easier to use after a bath than a bottle, which just slides out of greasy hands. Clinique's Smooth Delivery Body Treatment, pounds 18.50, is also good although initially I thought it was a body scrub exfoliating cream! This was because it has an exfoliating effect that is trumpeted on the back, but no, you put it on after the bath.
Crabtree & Evelyn have bought out a great new range called "Cooks" aimed at people who cook. Of particular note in this range is the really fabulous Handwash, pounds 6.50. Although it also contains liquorice and extract of sage it is the wonderfully fresh-smelling cucumber part of the recipe that hits the nostrils, making for an unusually lovely handwash that is destined to become a classic.
For those who care about these things it's also antibacterial and neutralises whiffy food -smells your mitts might have picked up. I do wish everything would stop being antibacterial. We managed fine without it. Leave it out!
Faces. Some top creams to tell you about. First is Neal's Yard's Frankincense Nourishing Cream, pounds 7.95, which is billed as a "revitalising cream for mature skin" but is first rate for anyone over 30. It smells gorgeous - I first put it on when I went to see the Aubrey Beardsley exhibition at the V&A, and subsequent applications transport me back there which I guess is a bit like an OAP's version of a LSD trip. And it goes on matt, leaving your skin dewy and well plumped up. Really a first-rate cream.
While you're in Neal's Yard, also buy their Vitamin E and Avocado Night Cream, pounds 5.95. (Creams with food stuff in their title are always a good idea, especially when it's comfort food.) A good thick - but non-greasy - night cream. It does annoy me when bed time creams leave your face all shiny. We might still want to look good in our pyjamas (for ourselves, of course).
If you're rich then try Sisley's Botanical Intensive Day Cream, pounds 100, and the sister Botanical Intensive Night Cream, pounds 125. Of all the Sisley products I've tested so far, these are the two that stand out as really exceptional and a joy to use. Both smell divine, go on thick and thirst quenching but instantly sink in to leave your skin looking fab. But both are expensive. If you can afford them, great, you won't be disappointed. If you can't, don't fret and get yourself to Neal's Yard.
Efamol, those people that brought you evening primrose oil, launched their own range of products a few months ago and jolly good they are too. Very nourishing and therefore good for winter. The bad news is that they need to work on the scent of the products because as it is they smell, well, yuk. All my testers reported back the same thing "great product, don't like the smell" - and smell matters. If they can sort that out they have a real winner on their hands.
The Body Lotion, pounds 5.95, containing 5 per cent evening primrose oil, is the least offensive of the lot, strange considering you put it on all over. It leaves the skin feeling wonderfully "basted". The worse offender is the Hand and Nail Cream, pounds 3.50, with 7 per cent EPO which makes your hands stink. The best product by far, though, is the Dermatological Cream for Dry Skin, pounds 6.50 which has 20 per cent EPO in it. You use this just once a day and it leaves skin unbelievably soft. Really, try it and see. It's meant for "rough" areas of the body but before I found that out I had plastered it all over my boy's face to no ill effect - in fact his skin was a delight. Anyway, this cream is just the business for poor neglected feet. Put it on before bed and wake up with someone else's feet. Well that's what it will feel like.
Finally, if your New Year's resolutions involve nasty words like "dieting" then the cream for you is O-LYS Vitamin C Creme, pounds 28.75, which you put on under your day or night cream, like you would a serum, as an extra dose of hydration. It contains all sorts of stuff to smooth and diminish fine lines, plump up etc and that's all well and good. But its unique selling point is that it smells like cheesecake and it's all you can do, as you raise a loaded finger to smear it onto cheeks, not to pop it in your mouth instead. But you mustn't, naturally.
Stockist information: Clinique: 0171-409 6953; Crabtree & Evelyn: 0171- 603 1611; Efamol: 0870 606 0128; Neal's Yard: 0171-627 1949; O-LYS: 0800 7313048; Screen Face: 0171-221 8289; Sisley: 0171-730 1234; Superdrug: branches nationwide