Recent paparazzi shots of celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe on the Caribbean island of St Barts brought the size-zero debate back into sharp focus.
The most striking thing about Zoe's chest was her protruding clavicle and visible rib cage, while her face looked exhausted, with skin sagging and hanging from its contours. Observers estimate her current weight at just over five stone, and she's a sorry reminder of the current obsession with extreme dieting.
But beauty is all about curves, specifically facial plumpness. The truth is, after a certain age it's not possible to naturally maintain a super-svelte figure along with a youthful, plump-looking face. Just look at Madonna, whose recent scarf-swathed appearance is very likely hiding some recent facial work that's yet to settle. Her secret? I've an inkling she goes for volume and plumping options. It's a smart move and, if you aim to maintain volume and cushion-like firmness in your skin from your 30s onwards, you'll likely look younger for longer, too.
As we age, we naturally lose fat from our faces and that results in jowls, hollow cheeks and eye contours, adding up to a tired-looking appearance. Paula Cuddihy, owner of Wicklow Street's Urbana Beauty and Med-Spa, says that a lot of it is down to hormones. "After 30, oestrogen decreases and that leads to lack-lustre skin," she reveals, adding, "oestrogen is really an enhancement for skin -- it keeps it plump and elastic-looking."
Collagen and elastin production and cell turnover all decrease as we add years, and while there's only so much you can do with topical products once the damage is done, the mantra with skincare is always going to be this: start young and maintain what you have, rather than take drastic measures later.
So, here are 10 products and treatments you can check out now to keep skin in all its smooth, plump glory for the future.
One of the best benefits of any plumping skincare product is that, by its very nature, it will deliver bounce back to the skin, adding extra volume and suppleness which in turn helps to lift and smooth out fine lines and wrinkles as it goes. A result, or what?
1 Containing all the goodness of, um, snake venom, Planet Skincare Anti-ageing Daily Moisturiser with Syn-ake, €65, contains synthesised snake venom which is packed full of collagen-boosting peptides. Find it at Queen Beauty Emporium.
2 Pro-Collagen Marine Cream, €124, from Elemis at spas, is a beauty-editors' favourite that helps to shore up the skin's collagen stores, delivering you a fresher, more lifted appearance. Pricey, but packed full of nourishing ingredients, it also feels great on the skin. www.timetospa.co.uk
3 We've seen silicone-packed line plumpers before, which deliver a temporary de-creasing effect, so no news there, but Estée Lauder Perfectionist [CP+] Targeted Deep Wrinkle Filler, €46.50, at department stores, is a harder worker. It will instantly blur the appearance of lines but, over time, volumising spheres and a peptide mix help to nourish skin deep down, helping to re-densify collagen, which pushes lines up from beneath.
4 New from Lancôme is Renergie Lift Volumetry, €83. Designed to plump, smooth and firm skin, it'll tackle all your anti-ageing concerns in one. Plumping the skin on the cheeks as well as firming that on the jawline -- a big issue for many women -- it delivers a fresher, more youthful appearance. You'll find it on counter now at pharmacies and department stores.
5 Peepers need attention too and Bobbi Brown's new Extra Eye Repair, €45, is a creamy, dense balm that contains peptides. Pat a little around the eye area and immediately it moisturises and nourishes the skin, diminishing fine dehydration lines. At House of Fraser, Dundrum, and Brown Thomas.
6 It's deeply fancy and you'll find it at Harvey Nichols, Dundrum. But Omorovicza Instant Plumping Cream, €135, is more than just a posh purchase in a stylish pot. Peptides, ceramides and hyalauronic acid make up a potion that delivers instant plumping benefits as well as long-term ones.
Gadgets and Gizmos
Not convinced skincare is going to do the trick but too scared to succumb to the surgeon? Facial contouring and plumping gadgets are go for 2010.
7 The Tua-Viso, €179 won Grazia magazine's 'Best Anti-Ageing Gadget of the Year' award in 2008 and is a hand-held facial massager that works to exercise the muscles of the face, lifting, firming and toning as it does so. Available from www.tinarichards.com
8 Slightly torture device-esque, the Focus-CIT, €36, from Environ, is a little hand-held doofer that helps to stimulate collagen production. How? The head features 15 tiny needles which penetrate the skin -- pain free, the brand says -- and this not only prompts the skin to boost collagen production, but also allows vitamins and active ingredients in products to penetrate more deeply into the skin. At salons, call 0044 208 450 2020 for your nearest location.
Treatments and Therapies
Can't be bothered to do it yourself? No problem -- look for a facial treatment that involves massage, hydrating masques and intensive skincare products containing good quantities of active ingredients, vitamins and antioxidants.
9 Get an instantly fresher appearance with the Resurgence Renewal Facial, from €125, at Urbana. Using excellent Murad products, the treatment tackles hormonal ageing and features dual-masques as well as a glycolic peel. The glycolic component helps to lift off a layer of dead skin, and that aids the penetration of the products used. Urbana Beauty and Med-Spa, 9 Wicklow Street, Dublin 2, 01 635 1616; www.urbana.ie
10 Massage can help with lost volume and lack-lustre complexions because it brings fresh blood up to the surface of the skin, stimulating and helping to rejuvenate your appearance. Elaine Butler-Doolin at Bespoke Beauty has magic hands and her excellent massage treatments are a boon no matter what your age. Check out the Academie Lifting and Firming Facial with Vitamin C, €100. This 70-minute treatment will leave you utterly relaxed as well as glowing. Bespoke Beauty, 12, Morehampton Road, Donnybrook, Dublin 4, 087 770 1999; www.bespokebeauty.ie