As we age, our skin produces less of the collagen and elastin that give it its tone and suppleness, dead cells are replaced more slowly and blood vessels weaken.
For women, hormonal changes during the menopause exacerbate this process, resulting in the fine lines, wrinkles and sagging that make them look older.
But can we really do anything to get younger looking skin?
Home remedies for younger looking skin
Simply beginning to look after your skin by cleansing and moisturising regularly can make an enormous difference as people get older, according to Merri Mayers, who runs natural skincare company Comfort and Joy.
"The best thing you can do for your skin is to cleanse in a moisturising, gentle way then use a good lightweight moisturiser. Exfoliating is good, but it must be done gently. The older you get, the less resilient your skin is, so stay away from products containing AHAs (fruit acids) - they are just too harsh."
Bharti Vyas is an ayurvedic practitioner with her own health and therapy centre. She believes that the cosmetic-driven beauty industry may be leading us to lose sight of our own abilities to improve our appearance naturally.
"You don't have to buy expensive products to look after your skin. Your own hands are your best tools in caring for your skin," she says. Her book, Fabulous Face (Harper Collins, £12.99) advocates massage and accupressure to firm and invigorate the face. Read our guide to getting rid of wrinkles naturally to find out how you can reduce wrinkles on your face and neck.
Vyas agrees that cleansing is essential in maintaining healthy looks. "As we grow older, we shed dead skin cells more slowly. This build-up of cells can make our skin look thicker and make us look older," she explains.
The importance of cleansing
"Therefore, it's very important to cleanse. One recipe is to mix one tablespoon of oatmeal with two tablespoons of almond oil. Apply them all over your body before you have a bath or shower. This will cleanse and polish your skin by stimulating the circulation and give you radiance. It's gentle and cleansing and it gets you touching your own skin. Mature skin tends to be drier, so it's essential to moisturise."
However, Vyas recommends that you pay close attention to the condition of your own skin rather than using copious quantities of moisturiser automatically. "Using too much moisturiser is like using too much fabric conditioner on clothes - it makes them go limp," she says.
"Don't overload with moisturiser - your skin can't take it."
Read more on moisturising
Tips for preventing wrinkles and signs of ageing
Experts agree that many of the best ways of looking younger are more about your lifestyle than the creams you choose:
Protect yourself from the sun
Most of the damage done to our skin that produces signs of ageing, such as liver spots, wrinkles and broken blood vessels, is caused by ultraviolet light. The rest is probably genetic. While the sun can be beneficial, it makes sense to protect your skin from UVB rays, which cause sunburn, and UVA rays that penetrate the skin and cause damage.
Use a sunscreen and stay out of the sun during the hottest part of the day.
Read more about protecting yourself from the sun's rays
Not only is smoking bad for your health, there's also evidence that it makes you look older. Smoke dries the skin and smoking constricts blood vessels, depleting the skin of oxygen.
Smoking also causes wrinkling, because you pucker your mouth and squint when you smoke.
Want to give up smoking? Find out how with our guide
Keeping fit can help with your appearance by improving your posture and boosting your circulation, as well as helping with muscle tone, which will help you look younger.
Keeping your skin hydrated will help to keep it healthy. Aim for eight glasses of water a day.
Learn more strategies for staying hydrated
Foods for younger skin
Fruit and vegetables contain natural antioxidants that help to combat free radicals that damage cells. Bharti Vyas recommends including foods with a high alkaline content such as papaya, mango, apples and white cabbage in your diet.
Find out more about the health benefits of antioxidants
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