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Keeping your skin in top condition

IT's the first thing people see when they meet us, not to mention the first thing we see in the mirror each morning, so it pays to have our skin looking its best. Yet our skin needs different kinds of attention as we age to keep it in tip-top condition.

In your 20s

Skin is settling down now after those fretful teenage years, yet if you have an oily complexion you may still be experiencing spots and blackheads.

You should still be line free, although fair skin which hasn't been protected from the sun may be showing the beginning of sun spots and crow's feet.

This is the time to get into the habit of cleansing, toning and moisturising, and regularly drinking water to hydrate your skin.

"What I would say to women in their twenties is don't use any anti-ageing products, as products with glycolic or vitamin A will strip young skin and thin it out," says beauty therapist Marissa Carter, owner of Carter Beauty in Blackrock.

"This is because they work by rejuvenating the skin and by activating a renewal of the skin. Yet on young skin they over-stimulate the skin, and strip it and cause it to dry out prematurely.

"Also, Irish skin is not suitable for a lot of moisturisers on the market, which are just too heavy for our skin type. I strongly recommend oil-free moisturisers for women in their twenties -- and even for women who don't have oily skin --because at this age you are likely to be prone to breakouts.

"Women in their twenties are also prone to skin congestion and an oil-free moisturiser will help with this, hydrating the skin but not causing blocked pores," Marissa says.

In your 30s

You are coming into yourself as a woman, yet at the same time you are beginning to look less fresh, and repeated muscle activity such as frowning is beginning to show on your skin. There is a build-up of dead cells, so regular exfoliating is now essential.

"At 29 and 30, a woman is seeing signs of ageing for the first time and it can be quite shocking for her," says skincare expert Anne McDevitt, whose skincare clinic is based on Wicklow Street.

"Her skin may look duller and make-up might not go on as smoothly as it used to. It's because cell reproduction is beginning to slow down.

"So I would be recommending a course of glycolic peels to get the process moving again, and which will result in pores becoming tighter, skin fresher, and giving an overall firmer and brighter appearance.

"Women are usually both pleased and relieved by the results, and I always recommend maintenance after a course of treatments.

"Get your skin analysed by a good therapist, and find out what exactly it needs so you are definitely using products prescribed for your skin," Anne says.

A glycolic peel starts at €79.

In your 40s

Cell turnover is now slowing, and you may notice your complexion is less bright. A big change is likely to be the breakdown of collagen which brings a loss of elasticity.

"When we do professional microdermabrasion on clients, we usually recommend that they bring home an Agera Microdermabrasion RX System to maintain the skin's new clear and brighter look," says skincare therapist Neelu White of Neelu's Beauty and Remedial Salon in Arnotts.

"Microdermabrasion is a skincare technique which works by using tiny crystals to buff away the surface layer of skin.

"Agera Microdermabrasion RX System suits all skin types, and works by removing the dead cells and by tightening up the skin. It includes crystals and an activator, and when used once or twice a week, it melts away dead skin and makes the skin fresher and brighter.

"Regular microdermabrasion helps with fine lines, crow's feet around the eyes, and age spots and acne scars."

Agera Microdermabrasion RX System costs €48.

In your 50s

At this age, oil production is really slowing down and skin will feel drier. Skin is also likely to be thinner and more fragile due to the decrease in collagen. It's vital to support the skin barrier by applying oils.

"Later in life the skin's renewal process slows, creating a 'traffic jam' of dead cells resulting in fine lines, sallow complexion, dry skin and general loss of radiance," says facial surgeon Dr Kambiz Golchin of the newly opened Beacon Face & Dermatology Clinic in Sandyford.

"The ultimate treatment for turning back the clock and dramatic results is laser, however, this is a little invasive and there is some downtime. The closest non-invasive treatment is Pelleve, which uses radio frequency to achieve immediate and long-term results.

"The experience is a little like a facial, where magnetic radio frequencies are passed through a handpiece over the skin to modify the collagen bundles deep beneath, causing them to contract to give an immediate natural tightening effect. Over six months, the collagen begins to re-knit, continuously tightening to give ongoing results. After two or three treatments patients require a 45-minute session every six months to maintain results."

Pelleve is priced at €650 for the full face.