Willow Song Bath and Shower gel <p>British willow-bark extract soothes skin</p> <p>£20, nobleisle.com</p>


There are some things in your wash bag you resent paying for. They are the items you use day in, day out, essential but boring, from toothpaste to black mascara (yep, in the beauty maven's world, those two belong to the same order of necessity).

You can't do without shower gel, but it holds none of the "this product will change your life" sparkle of a new face cream, for example.

And so while we periodically splurge on the latter, we often scrimp on the everyday essentials. This is a strange logic. Few body washes claim transformative powers, but if anything has the potential to improve your life it's  the daily basics rather than those big-ticket products.

In a toss-up between a quality shower product and, say, a limited-edition designer nail polish, I'd sink my cash into the mundane every time.