Secret to not ageing

When the sun comes out, I crave the sea. While everyone around me grabs any patch of grass they can to sit out on, I feel increasingly land-locked. Last summer I remember waiting for the green man to cross the road when my eyes fell on a scorned red back. I winced and diverted my look only to be met by other sunburned bodies. Everyone it seemed was happy to continually barbeque themselves until the sun disappeared. Sunblock was not an option. Oh gosh no! It is never hot enough in Britain to warrant sun block! Or so thinks one of my friends. She slaps on the suntan oil (yep that's still around) and bakes in her garden at very opportunity she can get. She's twenty-five, looks thirty-eight and recently added Botox to her ablutions. And she chastises me on my paleness!

There is no cure for ageing. Facelifts are the longest term treatment but even they only last ten years before you need to update your nip and tuck. People argue that youthfulness is down to good genes. True but anyone who knows anything about genetics will tell you that the interaction between genes and environment is very important. Take two siblings with the same set of genes and if one smokes, suntans and parties hard then s/he will age considerably more than the other who opts for a more healthy lifestyle. So what's the secret to not prematurely ageing?

SSH! (No) Smoking, Sunblock and Healthy lifestyle (i.e. lots of water, fruit and vegetables, exercise and don't drink too much). Sounds too simple? Yes it is. You don't need to splash out on expensive anti-ageing creams and invasive treatments. Taking care of yourself is the best way. Keeping your skin clean and using moisturiser is a good practice, although the real benefit of moisturiser isn't so much the ingredients but the fact that it produces a barrier that enables your own skin to renew itself. So forget the 100 pound creams, cheap creams are just as good.

Smoking is the worst offender for prematurely ageing but I don't really need to tell you that! The dangers of smoking are pretty well known so if you haven't given up yet, start today. (Do you really want leathered skin and a raspy voice?) I will remind you that even though it may be Northern Europe and you may be skeptical about the strength of the sun's rays, you should take care in the sun. The sun is at its hottest between 12pm and 3pm so if you can't stay in the shade, then slap on your sunblock and your sunglasses and if you're especially fair, wear a hat. If you're pregnant, be extra careful as your hormones have made your skin more sensitive and you could end up more freckled than you like. Apply your sunblock 30 minutes before you leave the house. Make sure it has a SPF of 15 or higher and protects against UVA and UVB rays (both are linked to skin cancer but UVB causes sunburns and cannot pass through glass). Put your sunblock on even if it is cloudy as you can still burn. And if you happen to forget your SPF and get a little red in the sun, slap on the after-sun, moisturiser or vaseline immediately afterwards. Oh, don't forget to stay hydrated and I'm not including the alcoholic kind here. Up to two litres a day of fluid is necessary in hot weather. You never know, you may find that cute cocktail waiter is asking you for ID the next time you're buying a drink. That's the way to be when you're over thirty!