Last week I wrote a piece on how to fix common makeup mistakes, which I think we can all agree was the finest piece of literature ever written, Are You There God It’s Me Margaret, notwithstanding. (Do they send you the Nobel prize? Or do you have to go in and pick it up? I’ll find out soon enough I guess.)
As promised I will now follow on with advice on makeup errors commonly made by those loveable rascals among us who have elegantly skated past 40. This, of course, is a wild assumption, based on nothing more than generalisations. You might have been gifted with superb genes and still look 35 at 50, or you could have fried that gorgeous face of yours in the sun your entire INXS-saturated youth, and now at 35, look 45, or you could have been part of a weird Romanian science experiment and been frozen for 20 years and have the skin of a teen. I DON’T KNOW.
1. Re-assess your foundation. Harshly.
It’s highly unlikely the foundation you were using at 30 is relevant for you at 45. Skin changes seasonally, hormonally and definitely with age. Also, let’s all stop using foundation as a mask over your entire face – it’s unrequired! Crazy! Doing that beautiful face no good! Just because you might have more things you want to hide, does not mean you slap on more product. Instead, get your skin hydrated and in top shape (skincare with ceramides, AHAs, peptides and retinoids are your friend) and always moisturise before applying your foundation.
For your new youthful, sheer look, use a liquid (or creamy compact) foundation that will boost radiance (like Dior Capture Totale or Max Factor Age Renew) but not make you look like you’ve applied it with a soup ladle. A sponge or foundation brush will help you get precise, even coverage and you’ll see how great the right base can for diminishing the bad – age/sun spots etc – and accentuating the good. (If your skin is excellent, you can use tinted moisturiser instead, but do wear something – it’s such an easy way to get glow.)
Finish with creamy concealer to brighten up and conceal the under eye area (and if you have dark circles, a yellow-based corrector under that) without making it dry or crepey. (Try Revlon Age Defy Concealer.) Pop on your blush and eye makeup, then set your finished face with a light, translucent powder if you feel you need to, although keep in mind that too much powder will only accentuate any dryness and wrinkles, so use very sparingly, if at all. The skin naturally becomes drier as we age, so there shouldn’t be as much need for powder anyway. (If you need or want more coverage, rather than pressed powder, opt for a semi-matte foundation.)
2. Soften up your eye makeup, why don’t you?
The older we get, the softer our eye makeup should be. Leave the severe and dark colours (try the gentler version of the colours you love… So, if you wear chocoloate, go more latte. Love violet? Go lilac. Mad for navy? Switch to soft blue) and unflattering textures (especially shimmer, which accentuates wrinkles and crepey skin) alone, and move into matte or satin powder eye shadows that will conceal and smooth out the skin.
BUT! Before you do that, brighten the whole eye area with a creamy liquid or crème eye shadow in a peach, buff or soft pink tone over the entire eyelid, and then apply your powder shadow. (Try Jane Iredale Eye Gloss in Pink Silk, Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place ShadowCreme in Golden Sands or Illamasqua cream eye shadow in Wail.)
It is SO much more flattering on the eyes to have a wash of flattering, satiny colour than harsh lines, a lots of dark and unforgiving colours, it makes your eyes look bigger and more awake, and therefore more youthful. Dark colours and harsh lines accentuate the lines around the eyes, add unnecessary shadows and draw the focus to creases, veins and capillaries, all combining to make you look older – and more tired – than you are. (This is why teenagers pile on the black eyeliner, to look older.) I feel arrogant enough to assume none of us are that interested in that, so, let’s soften things up. Switch your black liner to a brown or plum, or even a soft grey, and – this is a biggie – just once, try to not line or shadow in the bottom lash line. Keep the lower eye makeup free and watch how much fresher you look. Buy and use a lash curler before you apply your mascara, which will open up the lashes and your eyes, (Manicare do good ones cheaply, but my favourite is Utowa, available at Mecca) and if you’re hovering around the mid-50s and beyond, ditch your black mascara for brown mascara. I finally convinced my vivacious mother of this and it has made an enormous difference to her face. (I also convinced her to read labels properly after she realised she had been using a Schwarzkopf hair mask as night cream. Cute!)
3. Get a fancy new lip wardrobe.
Or rather, contents thereof. Take a long hard look at any lipsticks you own that are darker than a cup of coffee (ESPECIALLY port, wine and brown shades), and ask yourself if you think they are doing you any favours. (Dark-skinned dames aside, because you look tremendous in these shades.) I can’t see how they are, because solid, dark lip shades generally make the lips look small and thin (and draw attention to dryness, as well as wrinkles around the lips) and in order to get the best from our makeup as we age, we obviously want it to make us look as fresh and radiant as possible. So, consider a switch to nudey-pinky-almondy lipsticks, which like a pair of magnificent nude-coloured high heels, create an optical illusion, although in this case it’s not longer legs, it’s bigger lips, because there is no discernible line. Add a slick of lip plumping gloss (Sally Hansen Lip Inflation Extreme will blow your head off, but the juicy big kissers are worth it) and you’re done.
If you love colour, (and I hope you do because a bright red or pink lipstick is terribly youthful and extremely exciting to look at) there’s no need to give it up. However, do avoid matte textures, and instead choose glossier, shinier, creamier varieties. (Like L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Anti-Age Serum lipsticks… I love True Red.) You can always fill in lips with your beloved lip liner or lipstick colour of choice and then add a dab of gloss on top as a quick make-good. And if you really love darker lip shades, choose the shade you love but in a transparent version, such as Clinique Black Honey in the new glossy formula, or if gloss shits you, just use a tint, like Benefit Benetint as a stain, or a balm-tint, like Bobbi Brown Treatment LipShine in Brownie Nude.
Come back week when I illustrate how to look 25 if you’re competing in a toddler beauty pageant!
Lisa Wilkinson, 51
Zoe Foster is an author, columnist and porridge fan. She was beauty director of Cosmopolitan, Harper’s BAZAAR and PRIMPED and then collated all the best tips and tricks from her time in these roles for the beauty bible, Amazing Face. She is currently the dating columnist for Cosmopolitan magazine, although her best advice in this arena can probably be found in the dating and relationship guide, Textbook Romance , which she co-wrote with Hamish Blake. Zoe has published three novels, Air Kisses, Playing The Field and The Younger Man, and she rates them among the best novels ever written in the history of the written word. Find more info on her here, or supervise on her daily procrastination here and here.
Please understand that Zoë cannot respond to ALL your questions – but never fear, there are readers that are bound to know the answers, so don’t be afraid to ask.
What are your best anti-ageing make-up tips?