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Skincare across the ages

There are some general skincare guidelines that are applicable to skin of any age. For example, regardless of whether you're in your 20s or your 50s, you should be using a suitable moisturiser (yes, even if you've oily skin.)

You should be wearing a broad spectrum facial sunscreen daily (nope, not just on the holliers) and staying away from sunbeds. You should be exfoliating. And you definitely shouldn't be sucking down on 40 fags a day.

However, skin changes dramatically with age and there is a need to tweak your skincare regime as these changes occur to ensure you're giving skin what it needs at every stage of life.

>In your 20s Your skin should begin to settle down as you get out of the hormonal teenage years, with fewer major breakouts to do battle with. This is when you should be developing a proper skincare routine to suit your skin type.

Handily for anyone who's not quite sure what that might be, Vichy are offering free drop-in skin health consultations at participating pharmacies throughout May. The Vichy Dermo-Analyzer tool uses futuristic sounding things such as biometric sensors to compare your skin with more than 7,000 skin profiles to give a truly accurate diagnosis of your skin type.

Once you've got your skin type figured out, it's time to build up your skincare essentials. The cornerstone of any good skincare routine is, of course, cleanser. Cleansing wipes, by the way, are not the same thing. I know, I know -- they're dead handy, and swiping one over your face before falling into bed is preferable to sleeping in a full face of slap after a night on the tiles, but you can't expect to get a complexion like Anne Hathaway using them.

Opt instead for something like Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser, €15 for 100ml. This is a creamy product that you apply to made-up skin, and is safe for use on the eye area. You then wring out the included muslin cloth in hand-hot water and use it to buff off the cleanser. Cleanse & Polish is all natural and packed with lovely things like soothing camomile, purifying eucalyptus oil and moisturising cocoa butter, while the muslin cloth gently exfoliates skin while lifting away make-up and impurities to leave it perfectly clean and smooth.

>In your 30s You'll likely find that your skin is crying out for more hydration than in your 20s as the ageing process kicks off in earnest.

Kill two skincare birds with one stone using Trilogy Organic Rosehip Oil, €19.95 for 20ml, which has been clinically proven in independent tests to improve skin moisture and smoothness as well as reducing the appearance of wrinkles. Don't let the fact that it's an oil scare you: it's easily absorbed and suitable for all skin types except the most acne prone. Use your fingertips to apply a few drops to the skin (all over the face and neck) before your regular moisturiser.

This stuff is also brilliant for use during pregnancy to help prevent the appearance of stretch marks, which is good news for expectant Trilogy fans like DANNII MINOGUE.

>In your 40s sandra bullock is proof that it's possible to have great skin well into your 40s. If you need help tackling established wrinkles, make a beeline for Vichy's LiftActiv Retinol Total Wrinkle Care HA range. It'll do the job on everything from the lines you think you might be imagining, through to wrinkles that have settled in for the long haul.

The night cream, €34, is especially potent, because in addition to the proven anti-aging ingredient Retinol, it contains three times more hyaluronic acid than the day cream. Hyaluronic acid is a dermatological filler and is used in plumping injections, so you can expect instant gratification without any pain as wrinkles look less pronounced from the very first use.

>In your late 40s and during menopause Whatever age you are when the menopause hits, you can be sure that its onset will be reflected in your skin. Decreasing levels of oestrogen impact on collagen and elastin production, which means that skin becomes thinner and more fragile, drier, slackens, and loses tone, while the occurrence of lines and wrinkles increases. Fight back with RoC's Complete Lift range of products, from €26.06, which promise to measurably firm skin and improve the appearance of facial contours while working against wrinkles, increasing elasticity, and providing much needed hydration.

>In your 50s+ Maintain your facial skincare routine, and bear in mind that all the fancy face creams in the world won't help disguise your age if your chest and decolletage (the tops of the boobs, to you and I) are giving the game away.

To keep your age under wraps without having to do the same for your cleavage -- think helen mirren on Oscar night rather than Peig on the Blaskets -- check out the Neck & Chest Beauty Serum, €7.45, from Dove's ProAge line. These products are formulated for women in their 50s and beyond, and contain active ingredients at levels that work. In the case of the Neck & Chest Beauty Serum, smoothing oils improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, glycerine nourishes and hydrates and improves skin renewal, while olive oil brings protective anti-oxidants to the mix to replenish skin.