Stop the clock with good skincare habits. Lisa Haynes reveals some surprising ways to slow down the ageing process.
Anti-ageing isn't just down to gene pools and preventative potions. Everyday skincare sins could be interfering with your war against wrinkles without you even knowing.
Just 16% of women embrace ageing, according to a recent UK Confidence Index by L'Oreal.
After grey hair, wrinkles and dark under-eye circles came top in a list of the physical factors that make women feel less confident.
"Doing the wrong things can speed up your skin's ageing process, and you might be surprised at what some of those no-nos are," says American dermatologist Dr Tess Mauricio.
Side-step skin pitfalls by avoiding these surprising ageing antagonists.
:: Avoid straws and cigarettes
Your dentist may be all for straws to protect your teeth from dark and fizzy drinks but dermatologists aren't.
"Sipping from a straw can cause fine lines around your mouth," Mauricio warns.
"Over the long-term, pursing your lips to sip out of a straw causes extra wrinkles around this area."
The same process applies to cigarettes, which also compromise your skin's production of collagen and elastin, making smoking bad news for your looks as well as your health.
Too late? Reduce the appearance of deep and vertical wrinkles with Vichy LiftActiv Advance Filler, £31 (Boots).
:: Sleep on your back
More than half of British adults sleep in the foetal position, curled up on their side with knees tucked in. That's the stuff of nightmares for your skin, according to Mauricio.
"Women who tend to sleep on their sides are most likely to see sleep lines appear on their chin and cheeks - these are wrinkles etched on the surface of the skin that don't disappear when you lift your head off the pillow."
Train yourself to sleep on your back so that your skin doesn't lie crumpled against the pillow.
Too late? Encourage a restful night on your back with Aromatherapy Associates Relax Eye Mask, £46 (www.aromatherapyassociates.com).
:: Beware of face infectors
Many of us are permanently attached to mobile phones but chatterboxes can be blighted by regular outbreaks.
"Mobiles get left around on various surfaces and pick up bacteria that can cause pimples around the cheeks and jawline. It's best to use your phone in hands-free mode," advises Mauricio.
The same principles apply to glasses and sunglasses, which can harbour sweat and germs.
"Bacteria can grow on the frame that will sit directly on your facial skin for an extended period of time. Aim to use anti-bacterial wipes before putting them on each day."
Too late? Deep clean and prevent outbreaks with Bioderma Sebium H20 micellar, £10 (www.garden.co.uk).
:: Seek shade on aeroplanes
Ah, sunbeams! Cloud gazing is good for the soul but not so uplifting for the face.
"You're much closer to the sun in a plane than on land, so it stands to reason that solar rays, which can penetrate windows, are more intense at higher altitudes," Mauricio reveals.
"Plus, the air up there is notoriously dry and without moisture, so skin simply shrivels."
If you're sitting next to a window, pull down the shade, drink plenty of water to hydrate, and avoid salty foods and alcohol.
Mauricio recommends applying a rich moisturiser with minimum SPF15 half an hour before boarding, as sunscreen needs time to absorb before it's effective.
Too late? Even out age spots and stubborn pigmentation with SkinCeuticals Advanced Pigment Corrector, £83.50 (www.effortlessskin.com).
:: Maintain a healthy weight
Yo-yo dieters, beware. Repeatedly losing and gaining weight can take its toll on your face's elasticity, leaving behind jowls and sagging.
Mauricio says: "Packing on pounds can make your skin look plumper on the surface, but carrying excess weight can cause your body's levels of insulin and cortisol to rise, which can break down collagen.
"You'll see increased sagging from putting on and keeping on as little as 10-15 extra pounds, and loss of facial fat can cause sagging and a gaunt, aged appearance."
Maintain a healthy weight with proper diet and exercise, aiming to keep your weight in the 'normal' range, with a body mass index (BMI) between 18.5 and 24.9.
Too late? Perk up sagging and loose skin with Origins Plantscription Powerful Lifting Cream, £50 (www.origins.co.uk).
Tried & tested
Repair the ravages of winter with a multipurpose balm. Our testers try three soothing all-rounders:
:: Lush Ultrabalm All Purpose Balm, £8.50 for 45g (www.lush.co.uk)
This generously-sized tin houses a non-petroleum balm with organic jojoba oil and rose wax. It feels quite 'thin' on application and doesn't taste amazing, so I preferred using this on areas of tough skin, my cuticles and for taming eyebrows.
:: Crabtree & Evelyn English Honey And Peach Blossom All Purpose Balm, £9 for 15g (www.crabtree-evelyn.co.uk)
Dinky tin with a buttery-soft moisturising balm. A little goes a long way and it felt soothing on both lips and body niggles with a subtle honey fragrance.
:: Lanolips 101 Ointment Multipurpose Balm, £11 for 15g (Boots)
A handy little tube that's ideal for bags. The ultra-pure medical grade lanolin makes for a luxuriously thick formulation. There's a natural gloss too, making it perfect for chapped lips.
Buy it now
Travel in style on spring breaks with Orla Kiely's new wash bag range. The print designer has created a Sixties stem pattern on durable coated canvas with gold zips and leather trims, from £20-£32 (John Lewis).
:: Just brows-ing
Women in the UK spend a whopping £2.3 billion a year perfecting their eyebrows. Almost a fifth of British women (19%) are spending more than £10 a month on brow maintenance, according to a recent survey by QVC to mark the exclusive launch of Benefit Gimme Brow Gel. One in eight (13%) spend upwards of 30 minutes a week perfecting their arches, amounting to over one whole day (26 hours) per year. For brow inspiration, almost half of women (42%) look to the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton and her dark, defined arches.
:: Recessionista alert
Treat a loved one (or yourself) with the Swarovski Aura fragrance set. The gift includes pink 3D-floral pouch with Aura eau de parfum 30ml and free Swarovski Crystal Touch Make-up Jewel and Aura 100ml Body Lotion, all for £44 with a retail value of £113.50, saving £69.50. Available while stocks last in selected House of Fraser and Selfridges stores nationwide.