You are familiar with the scenario, I’m sure: the TV croons in the background of your day, a female voice whispers breathily about the latest elixir for the elimination of crow’s feet, and you just can’t help yourself – you spin round eagerly, hoping in your heart of hearts that this one is the REAL thing. Then on the screen, you see a 14 year-old model stroking her own face lovingly, while the camera focuses on the flawless, almost TOO smooth skin around her wide eyes, just above her jutting cheekbones, to prove to us that yes, this cream WORKS – because look, she has no wrinkles or fragile crepe paper-thin skin – and we know it’s true, because the disclaimer tells us there has been no retouching!
WOW. (OK, she may actually be 24, or even 34, but she sure as nuts ain’t 44 or anywhere NEAR the age where aging eyes are even a problem for her mother yet, let alone her!)
I admit that the above story may be slightly exaggerated for effect (could you tell?) but I really am constantly appalled by the dearth of relevant beauty product marketing to the over-40s; the skincare industry is inextricably linked to the ‘fight’ against aging – yet age-appropriate models are seldom to be seen, and celebrities have the benefit of professional makeup artists, and are sometimes even photo shopped and filtered, so the line between reality and fantasy are quite literally, ‘blurred’.
In the cosmetics arena, this age group is entirely ignored, and sadly this summer’s makeup palettes are a case in point: neon bright eye shadow, eyeliner and mascara (or leggings! Just saying…) do NOT imbue the more mature among us with a youthful glow (though the season’s pastels are definitely worth a second glance). The eye-boggling number of lash extending, enhancing, lengthening, thickening, false effect, natural effect, spiky, fringy, waterproof and 24/7 mascaras available are clearly all designed for young, resilient eyelids, and not for further weighing down (or streaking) the lids of the longer lived. Your lipstick actively seeks out vertical creases to sink into, bronzers just love to settle in our ironically named ‘laugh lines’ and powder cosmetics can’t wait for a hot flash to come along and make them patchy, damp and ‘cakey’.
Makeup application techniques are always demonstrated on plumply hydrated, tight-pored, line-free faces, while tips and tutorials for women in their 40s and beyond are few and far between – despite the fact that this demographic is both the LARGEST IN SCALE, and the sector with the BIGGEST SPEND available!
So, this blog is designed to help fill in the gaps created by short-sighted beauty institutions, by providing some useful guidelines on how to apply (and how NOT to!) cosmetics, to make the most of mature skin; we are not talking full tutorials here, as you KNOW your way around the basics by now – rather, we’ve compiled a list of MAKEUP MUSTS and MAKEUP MISSES (MESSES?) to bring out the beauty of the face you’ve grown into, over the years.
MAKEUP MUST PREPARATION IS PARAMOUNT
EXFOLIATE to get rid of any dead skin cells, rough patches or flakiness, and create a smooth ‘canvas’.
HYDRATE with a deeply nourishing moisturizer, to quench skin and plump out fine lines and wrinkles.
PRIME to extend and enhance the wear of your makeup. The jury is still out on foundation primers being absolutely necessary, but if you want to create a longer-lasting, almost airbrushed effect, you could consider investing in one, even if you just wear tinted moisturizer. Some foundations have a built-in primer, so look out for them too.
MAKEUP MISS SLOPPY SPREADING
LADIES, YOU HAVE A NECK – remember this when you apply foundation! There really is nothing worse than obviously ‘hand-blended’ foundation, which is streaky and splodgy, with missed spots, an uneven finish and obvious ‘borders’ at the hairline, jawbone or neckline, creating that odd striped effect we see so often on ‘OTHER’ people!!
MAKEUP MUST THE BUFFER BRUSH
For an evenly blended foundation finish, choose ‘daylight’ illumination at your makeup application area, and get yourself a SOFT BUFFER BRUSH, which enables you to smooth it over your skin, and reduce settling in fine lines.
MAKEUP MUST GIVE POWDER THE PUFF
As we age, our skin loses its natural elasticity and ability to absorb moisture; it gets drier and fine lines can appear gradually. Face and blusher powders tend to emphasize these, so perhaps it’s time to choose CREAM OR LIQUID FOUNDATIONS AND CREAM BLUSHERS, with built-in moisturizers. Many women find them easier to apply too, starting with a light dab, and building gradually to the perfect color and coverage.
Having said that, some professionals recommend keeping a TRANSLUCENT LOOSE POWDER on hand, as a light dusting can help to set your makeup, which could be useful on a hot day, or under harsh lights.
MAKEUP MISS PEACHY APPLES
You know the rule about applying blusher to the apples of your cheeks? WELL, IT’S TIME TO BREAK IT! Remember, the ‘apples’ is the lovely round bits of your cheek that ‘pop’ when you smile; sadly ladies, gravity is no longer your friend, and when you stop smiling, them apples is gonna fall!
Now, you need to apply your blush higher up on your cheekbones, gently blending upward towards the outer corners of your eyes in a soft, sweeping curve. This technique should lift your face and brighten your eyes at the same time.
MAKEUP MUST TIME TO RE-DRAW THE LINE
Young or old, when we find something we like, we tend to stick with it, whether it’s the kung pao chicken from our local Chinese takeout, the perfume we got for our graduation – OR BLACK WINGED EYELINER!
Don’t get me wrong, the Cleopatra/cat’s eye look will ALWAYS be fabulous, but like everything else, it needs to be adapted to suit the decades: in your 20s, the bolder and more clearly defined, the better; in your 30s, perhaps a gentler flick; in your 40s, start thinking softer, slimmer lines.
Basically, the older you get, the less defined, more smudgy and even fuzzy your liner should be. Experiment with shades of navy, gray, brown, even taupe. Use a short-bristled brush to ‘stipple’ in the lash line (with less emphasis on the lower lid, maybe even a lighter color) and try a shorter, less pointy flick – but still sweep upwards. Use a fresh Q-tip to smudge.
BTW, one 2020 summer makeup technique is to apply a soft, dark eyeliner pencil ONLY to the outer corners of your eyes, blurring it up and out, towards the tail of your brows: it’s a great way to ‘age’ your eyeliner gracefully AND be right on trend!
MAKEUP MISS WINDSHIELD WIPER EYES
We all tend to apply eye shadow in sweeping strokes, from the inside outwards; way back when we had smooth, resilient skin, this WINDSCREEN WIPER approach worked perfectly, spreading color evenly across our eyelids.
Sadly though, eyelids tend to show the passing years in quite noticeable ways: they can start drooping, giving the eyes a hooded appearance, the skin becomes thin and crepey, and the dreaded crow’s feet lines creep into the outer corners. Sweeping motions with an eye shadow brush can pull the fragile skin quite roughly and as it doesn’t ‘bounce’ back, color can be uneven, patchy or streaky.
TRY USING A SOFTER-BRISTLED BRUSH IN SMALL, CIRCULAR MOTIONS, to make sure the color is applied evenly. First, apply a light ’nude’ shade under the arch of the eyebrow, and slightly down over the brow bone. Then, in light-of-touch, delicate circles, add a darker shade from the lash line up through the crease to the brow bone, high enough so it is visible above the ‘hooded’ eye area. This way, your color is smooth and even, while the darker shadow above the crease lifts and opens the eyes.
TIP: if you wear eye makeup frequently, a purpose-made EYE SHADOW PRIMER could help keep your eyes looking good for longer and prevent creasing.
MAKEUP MISS BLEEDING LIPS
We already mentioned those sneaky little vertical lines that form on our upper lips and lie in wait to ‘lure’ lipstick into them, creating a messy, ‘bleeding’ outline; now we look at how we might reduce the chances of this happening:
This is recommended by many beauty experts, and there are several on the market. However, you can easily create one at home, with readily available ingredients: try mixing a teaspoon of honey with 2 teaspoons of sugar and a few drops of olive oil, dip a child’s soft toothbrush into the mixture, and GENTLY scrub lips that have been lightly moistened with water, in small circular movements. Wipe off any excess mixture, then apply your favorite moisturizing lip balm. TIP: do NOT over-exfoliate, once a week should be enough to start
with, and maybe build up to twice weekly if you are prone to chapped lips.
Stretch your (previously exfoliated) lips wide, and use a soft, flat brush to smooth a light layer of foundation (or a concealer that matches your lip tone) over your lips and just around the mouth area, to give your lipstick a base to adhere to. Some makeup artists recommend a dusting of translucent powder at this stage, to seal the base.
Use a liner that matches your skin tone to define your lip shape (if you want to emphasize your cupid’s bow, draw an X on your upper lid, just below it).
Use an angled lipstick brush to apply your color, it gives you more control, especially in the inner corners. If you need to, you could apply a second layer – but today’s formulas usually don’t need one.
Now, If you think life is too short to go through all this, remember the saying “Give a woman the right lipstick and she can conquer the world,” and just practice – it won’t be long till you can produce pouty, bleed-free perfection in minutes!
For a quick touch-up, rub lipstick on to your ring finger, and run it along the natural line of your lips, to achieve precision without a liner, then fill in with a lip brush, or straight from the tube.
If you are prone to flaky or chapped lips, avoid matte lipstick as they tend to have a drying effect. Rather choose a lipstick with built-in moisturizers and apply 2 layers, blotting each with a tissue to create a near-matte effect.
Dark colors can make your lips appear thinner, while lighter colors can fill them out. A LIGHT layer of gloss can also make your lips look fuller.
NEVER use a lip liner that is darker than your lipstick – and if your line looks too hard, soften it slightly with a dry lip brush or a Q-tip.
I think that is enough ‘lip service’ for now, but I WOULD like to say one more word in this section: WATERMELON!
In case you were wondering – this is the hot lip color for summer 2020 – GO CRUSH IT!
MAKEUP MUST PICK ON SOMEONE YOUR OWN AGE
Today’s cosmetic counters are buckling under the weight of choice: there are so many different types of products with so many different purposes, innovations jostling with old favorites, seasonal specials and perennial classic, colors and palettes, variants, variants of variants: it’s a vibrant, fragrant, jewel-bright jungle, and it can be quite overwhelming, even intimidating – especially the exquisitely made-up, frighteningly perfect consultants…
Ladies, when you are faced with this cosmetic cornucopia and its fearsome custodians, do NOT back down. Remind yourself that NONE of this would actually be here without you: YOU are the customer and YOUR purchases pay their salaries. Then look for the consultant who is closest to you in age and grab her before anyone else does!!!
Seriously, it IS a good thing to talk about your makeup needs with someone who is more likely to have experienced the same age-related challenges as you; also, ask for samples, most of the cosmetic houses supply them to the retailers, to be given to customers.
The eternally fabulous Yves Saint Laurent said “The most beautiful make-up of a woman is passion. But cosmetics are easier to buy.” Well, perhaps with the help of these Makeup Musts and Makeup Misses, you can use the one to enjoy a bit more of the other!