Listen to this story being read by Mia Freedman, here.
When I was younger, I had more time to spend putting on my makeup. There were also more reasons to wear makeup - on dates, going to parties and bars and clubs and job interviews.
As I’ve got older, I have less time to faff about but I’m no less vain than I was at 23. I love makeup so much. I love the soothing, almost meditative self-care aspect of just putting things on my face. And I love that it can boost my mood a little, in the most superficial but remarkably effective way.
The thing with makeup, though, is that you can get stuck. Often you get stuck wearing the same makeup you did at a time when you felt your most fun or attractive. Usually, this is the makeup you wore in your 20s, before life got in the way.
But as you get older, the makeup you wear and the way you wear it is worth a rethink.
I’m not an expert but I’m a fan of makeup. I listen to makeup artists and women my age who seem to have their makeup shit together. I also know myself. I know that I like wearing makeup but not as a job. Contouring, elaborate smokey eyes and false lashes are never going to be my jam.
Here’s what else I’ve learned about makeup in my 40s:
1. Wear less makeup.
Remember when you were little and you wanted to wear makeup to look older? Fast forward 40 years and the same thing applies.
It’s a common mistake to think you should wear more makeup to look younger; heavier foundation, more concealer, more eye makeup.
As the skin on your face gets more ‘movement’ - this is the word makeup artist Rae Morris taught me and it’s a lovely way of saying ‘baggier’ - makeup can easily cake into lines and folds after you’ve applied it. And nobody wants that.
2. Stop buying outdated products.
The first thing you need to do is to look at the makeup you own.
Are you in the rut of re-buying the same products and brands you’ve been using for years? Decades even?
I used to do this because makeup can be intimidating and expensive. Who wants to risk buying a new foundation or mascara when you feel safe with the one you’ve always used? I get it.
The thing is though, beauty companies spend millions of dollars developing new products - and sure, a lot of this is just marketing hype. I don’t think the world really needs 11 different J-Lo fragrances.
There have been significant changes in makeup formulas in the past few years though, particularly in the foundation space. The emphasis now is on makeup-skincare hybrid products that are like the love-child of the two categories.
Remember the old matt lipsticks we wore in the 90s that had us picking dried bits of skin off our lips? Matt formulas have improved too, as have long-wear products in almost every makeup category, so it’s worth considering a switch to some newer products when your current ones run out.
3. Prioritise even skin tone.
Every makeup artist says this and I’ve discovered it to be true: it’s not the lines on your face that make you look older, it’s the unevenness of your skin tone.
Pigmentation, sunspots, scarring from the zits you squeezed… the priority for older skin is evening out your skin tone. But not by slapping on a really thick foundation (see above).
4. Consider a tinted serum instead of a foundation.
I barely wear foundation anymore.
I’ve mostly switched to tinted moisturisers and serums that let my skin still show through and look like skin, not a mask.
They’re great for what’s called ‘buildable coverage’, which means you can vary how much you apply in different places on your face.