ageing.jpgIt's happened - I looked in the mirror the other day and the lines that appear around my eyes when I smile were there - and I wasn't smiling. This is heart-breaking to say the least and I'm extremely sad that I apparently now need aids to keep me looking young because I'm... sob... not any more. Well that isn't strictly true. I'm 24, so I'm far from over the hill, but there's a lot of conflicting information about anti-ageing around, so I decided to find out once and for all when, where and how you're supposed to start battling away the cold hands of time when you first notice them attacking your face.

So what are the first signs that your skin is ageing? This is basically when you start to notice fine lines like I have, and that your skin is becoming a bit dull looking and lacking in radiance - typically this will happen from the age of 25 to 30. "Cell renewal slows down and skin is less resistant to external aggressions [at this age]," Marie McKeever, Head of Treatment Development for Clarins UK told me. "There are two types of skin ageing: physiological ageing which is inevitable and genetically determined and accelerated ageing which is due to external factors and can be slowed down by a healthy lifestyle and appropriate cosmetic products from the age of 20. The area around the eyes tends to be the first to notice fine lines as skin is thinner in this area."

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Eyes, check, almost 25, check. Looks like I am a textbook case. Thanks body.

So depending on your skin, between the ages of 20 to 25 is when you should start investing in some products to slow down the damage - although as we all know the biggest ager is the sun, so making sure you're wearing a good sunscreen is crucial if you want to ward off ageing for as long as you can.

Product-wise, you should be looking for ingredients like Ambiaty, which smooths skin and corrects the appearance of early lines and wrinkles, Hesperidin (extracted from orange peel) which gives continuous anti-oxidant protection against the harmful effects of free radicals, Carob, which corrects early wrinkles by boosting the natural skin repair process and stimulating the production of new collagen fibres, and Kiwi, which encourages cellular renewal for a brighter and more radiant complexion.

The theory that if you start anti-ageing early as a preventative method is rubbish too, Marie confirms. "Using products for concerns most ladies notice in their late 40's/50's, and not those they're seeing at the time (say in their 30's), and thinking that the stronger products will prevent them from getting those concerns in the future is a mistake a lot of women make," she said.

Our eyes are where we start ageing first and most obviously - but is there anywhere else we might be missing out? Yes says Marie - watch your lips, neck and hands. "All of these come under the category of fragile areas as they start to show the signs of ageing first so they are not be ignored : in fact they often need specific products for those areas."

As for when to start stepping up the strength or your products, wait until you start to notice changes in the skin, when lines become deeper and you start to lose firmness and attain wrinkles. Like me, I bet you can't wait for that. But at least you know when to start now instead of doing this:

To help, we've selected the perfect products to make up your anti-ageing starter pack (above picture) - shop them below!

Day: Clarins Multi-Active Day Early Wrinkle Correction Cream, £40
(and another for luck) DNA Cellular Youth Extension, £95
Night: Clinique Youth Surge Night Age Decelerating Moisturiser, £42
Eyes: Line Smoothing Complex S8 Eye Recovery Complex, £41
Neck: Sisley Botanical firming throat cream, £94
Lips: Olay Regenerist Anti-Ageing Lip Treatment, £16.99