Most hormonal changes should have taken place by now, so this is the perfect era to establish good skin habits.
Skin should be settling down by now and behaving reasonably normally. However, those with relatively high oil production may still have spots and/or shiny skin, likewise blackheads and whiteheads (particularly if you live in a polluted environment). Line-wise, your face should still be silky-smooth, although fair skin which hasn't been protected from the sun may show the beginnings of sun spots and crows' feet. Those who drink too much or smoke may see the beginnings of broken blood vessels, early sags and bags, and a dull, unhealthy-looking, spotty complexion: remember - your skin is often a barometer of the way you live. Bodywise, you may still experience spotty breakouts on your back, or skin pimpling and rough patches on the backs of arms and legs.
TLC for your skin
The core products that are suggested for your face are a cleanser, which you remove with a soft muslin cloth or flannel to exfoliate gently, an alcohol-free skin tonic, light daily moisturizer, slightly richer night cream, facial oil and mask. Look after your body with a scrub (to use every few days) and body lotion (for daily use), plus suncare for both face and body.
Whichever your skin type, start exfoliating very gently, just enough to remove the top, dead layer of skin cells on your face (and body, see below). In the mornings, buff it with a soft muslin cloth (or fine towelling flannel) wrung out in warm water. This is also a good way to remove any cleanser at night (in fact, the Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser was specifically formulated to use this way).
In the morning, follow with a sweep of alcohol-free skin tonic (or pure aloe vera gel) and a light dab of daily moisturizer. Useful ingredients in both skin tonics and moisturizers include antioxidants to protect against free-radical damage and essential fatty acids to help keep skin smooth. Some beauty experts also like echinacea for its skin-toning properties and calendula or chamomile for their mildly anti-inflammatory, skin calming benefits.
Those with combination skin are often given complicated advice. Experts treat all skin types in the same way for cleansing and toning; then for combination (and oily) skin it is suggested to use light day moisturizers and night products, plus specific mattifiers that will blot excess sebum, such as clay-based treatment masks and blemish treatments on the oily areas.
Oily and combination skins can use the same daytime moisturizer at night, to nurture all skin types. However, normal or dry skins may lap up a slightly richer, more hydrating night cream with ingredients such as avocado, borage seed or evening primrose seed oils. Avoid creams containing mineral oil (paraffinum liquidum) as it can clog pores, encouraging acne.
Another skin secret is to massage in a facial oil last thing at night, to cherish all skin types, as plant oils help balance and regulate the skin. Dry or normal skin responds well to avocado, argan and rosehip oils. Lightweight plants oils such as peach, apricot kernel and rosehip suit oily or combination skin. Because such oils are similar to sebum, they help 'persuade' the skin not to produce an excess.
Avoid products that dry the skin (they often contain benzoyl peroxide) because they also strip it of oils: the skin's immediate response is to produce more oil so people then use more aggressive products. It's a vicious circle. Look for ranges with gentle purifiers such as witch hazel, rosemary and eucalyptus.
Anyone still suffering with acne on their face and/or body should see their doctor and request a referral to a dermatologist. If you have breakouts round the time of your period, consider herbs such as chasteberry (Agnus castus). For skin scarred from acne, chicken pox or surgery, a daily massage with rosehip seed oil really helps, but the older the scar, the longer it will take to fade. You should see some improvement after three to four weeks' regular use, though. Add a few drops to your usual moisturizer or blend your own facial oil, using one tablespoonful of base oil, such as apricot kernel, to a teaspoonful of rosehip seed oil.
Nourish your face and neck with a weekly mask and select one according to your skin type: intensive moisturizing for drier and normal skins, deep-cleansing for oily/combination.
Use body scrubs to gently buff away patches of dingy skin. Dry skin body brushing is useful too. Please don't forget to use suncare on your face and body - and hands! Imagine your face as a shrivelled-up old prune in a few decades and take protective action now. If you are on the contraceptive pill, you may find you get brown stains on your upper face, cheeks or upper lip. These pigmented patches occur because the hormones in the pill, as with pregnancy, increase the production of melanin, the tanning pigment. If you sunbathe too, you get a double effect, according to some dermatologists. You can't completely prevent this condition, known medically as melasma or chloasma, but you can lessen the effect by using a sunscreen at all times (look for four-to-five-star SPF15-20) - even on cloudy days - and staying out of the sun whenever possible. UVA can pass through glass, so apply sunscreen even when you are in the car, or behind a window.
If you smoke, stop now for your skin's sake, if nothing else: apart from the mustardy-colored teeth, facial lines, bags and saggy skin, you'll get a yellowish skin tinge.
For shiny faces, use a water-based foundation and carry shine-absorbing facial blotters. Translucent powder blots shine and also sets foundation, giving it more staying power. Some like Laura Mercier's Translucent Powder, which isn't cheap but lasts for ages.
*Some London-based make-up artists swear by Guerlain's Teint de Matte foundation. MAC also makes excellent oil-free bases, including Studio Fix Fluid SPF15 and Select SPF15, plus a water-based tinted moisturizer, Select Tint SPF15.
*If you have spots, leave your face bare of make-up for a couple of days so it can heal: draw attention to your eyes and lips instead, with mascara and a little shimmer on the eye lids, plus a gorgeous lip gloss.
*When you really must conceal spots or other blemishes - including dark circles - remember the aim is to make the concealer look like a second skin, NOT a mask. Bobbi Brown Foundation Sticks may do everything you need, or try mixing a tiny amount of Yves St Laurent Radiant Touch (Touche Eclat) in your palm - to warm it - with the same quantity of a liquid/cream foundation: Chanel Teint Innocence is a wonderful light fluid base for any skin. Ruby and Millie's Concealer Duo, which you apply after a base, is brilliant too. Whatever you choose, dot it on very lightly with your ring finger, building up thin layers to cover.
*A 'pop' or dot of pure color, blended well into the fleshiest part of cheeks gives an instant lift and glow when you smile. NARS blusher in Desire - a super-bright fuchsia which tones down on the skin - looks amazing.
*MAC Face and Body Make-up is an excellent, lightweight liquid foundation. It comes in an array of shades: use shade C2 on your face and upper chest, and on bare legs for summer evenings out as it gives a healthy, lightly tanned gleam and subtly hides thread veins and patchy bits.
*Breathe out when you apply powder to avoid particles going up the nose!
*A good vitamin and mineral formula is a daily skincare insurance policy and tops you up with skin-saving nutrients, especially at times when you eat less well. Some started taking Advanced Antioxidant Formula or VM75 by Solgar Vitamins in their twenties and have never stopped. If you're not already taking a product with GLA (gamma linolenic acid) and Omega-3 essential fatty acids, add one now to encourage skin smoothness. Keep in the fridge to ensure freshness.
*If you have spots, consider Vitamin A (this has also helped PCOS sufferers with intractable acne).