Less Really Can Be More
Remember the good old days at the drugstore makeup counter? When you and your friends bought up bright orange lipstick, green mascara and frosted eye shadow in four shades of pastel, not to mention sparkly blush, black nail polish and little stars to stick on your face and ears?
Ouch. Did we really do that?
Yeah. But not anymore.
To look young and fresh and full of life--instead of like a worn-out neon sign--use makeup to your advantage. Here's how, starting at the beginning with your foundation.
Darker may be better. One of the first signs that time is marching on are the fine lines that show up on our faces. To soften them, try a slightly darker foundation than the one you've been using, says Marina Valmy, a cosmetician at the Christine Valmy Skin Care School in New York City.
"If your hair is graying or you love to wear black, choose a foundation with a slightly pink cast or dust a small amount of pink blush over your cheeks, forehead, nose and chin," says Carole Walderman, a cosmetologist and esthetician and president of Von Lee International School of Aesthetics and Makeup in Baltimore.
The right foundation will also even up your skin tone.
Do a clean sweep. Instead of your fingers, use a wooden tongue depressor or orange stick, available at the pharmacy, to scoop foundation from the bottle, says Leila Cohoon, a cosmetologist and esthetician and owner of Leila's Skin Care in Independence, Missouri. This will prevent bacteria from getting into your makeup and either destroying its potency or causing breakouts on your skin.
"Dab foundation with a clean applicator onto a makeup sponge that has been dampened with clean water," says Walderman.
Use a light touch. "Apply foundation very lightly, without scrubbing it in," Walderman says. Rubbing hard can tear the delicate tissues under the skin. Near your eyes, use just your ring finger, which exerts less pressure than a sponge, and apply from the outer corner of the eye in toward the nose with very light strokes, she says.
Conceal and highlight. Bring out your best features, like those great cheekbones, and mask little flaws, like those little bags under your eyes, with a touch of concealer blended well, says Walderman. Concealer is available in a wide range of shades, and one slightly lighter than your foundation is best for you, she adds.
To conceal under-eye circles, apply concealer with a small brush into the dark crease only. If you cover the area entirely, in daylight it can make the circles look puffy, says Walderman.
If you have a large problem area to conceal, such as a dark patch of pigmentation, try special makeup, suggests Cohoon. "It's pure pigment, not made with heavy oils or a wax base, and covers very naturally," she says.
Powder only if you need to. Use translucent powder as a finisher "very lightly, just to take off shine in oily areas like the nose, forehead and chin, but don't pack it into the face," says Walderman. "That will just accentuate any lines and wrinkles."
And avoid powder colors labeled "pearlized" or "frosted." Why? These contain light-reflecting particles that act as highlighter. If you highlight the hills (your skin surface), the valleys (wrinkles or large pores) look deeper, Walderman says.
Blend well. It should not be noticeable where your face ends and your neck begins, so make sure your foundation doesn't end in a line across your jaw.
Finish with a spritz. If you like a dewy look, follow your foundation and powder with a light spritz of toner or distilled water, says Walderman. It moistens and sets your makeup without a chalky, pasty look.
Bring a Blush to Your Cheeks
You may not blush as often as when you were a kid, but it's still nice to add warmth to your complexion with a touch of cheek color.
Apply it subtly. Aim for a barely showing, natural blush and don't apply it too close to the nose, which will make your nose look wider, says Walderman. Apply just a trace of blush at a 45-degree angle on the cheek to "lift" the face for a younger look, she says. Never apply blush any lower than the bottom of your nose or any higher up than the outside corner of the eye.
Do the fade. Blend cheek color thoroughly with a soft makeup brush, fading it out lightly just past the outer corner of your eyes toward the temple, Walderman says.
Consult a pro. If you can't figure out which blush shade is flattering, ask for help at the makeup counter. The makeup specialists can usually tell you which blush colors suit you, says Valmy. Professional color consultants are another option--but you'll have to pay for their service.
Seven Gimmicks to Avoid
Some makeup techniques you've been using for years may make you appear older than you are. To keep your look young and natural, beware of these habits.
Blaring blue shadows. Turquoise eye shadow, or any bright blue, has gone the way of the patent-leather liner look, says Leila Cohoon, a cosmetologist and esthetician and owner of Leila's Skin Care in Independence, Missouri.
Waxy foundations. Old-fashioned, wax-based pancake makeup belongs on TV anchors, not anchoring down your skin, says Cohoon.
Cavernous contouring. Dark contouring powder along cheeks to create fake hollows is way too obvious, says Carole Walderman, a cosmetologist and esthetician and president of Von Lee International School of Aesthetics and Makeup in Baltimore.
Clown cheeks. You'll still see women now and then with hectic little rouge spots on their cheeks. It's neither subtle nor flattering, says Cohoon.
Red jaws. Blush belongs high along cheekbones, not down along the jawline, which weighs down the face, says Cohoon.
Dark, bushy brows. You don't want to overemphasize eyebrows when you're older, says Walderman. It can be harsh and hard-looking.
The matte mask. The experts say, keep it light, light, light! A light touch with makeup can give you a natural, young-looking complexion. Troweling it on layers on years.
Eye Shadow Secrets
Our eyes may still be the windows to our souls, but the shades may be getting a bit crinkly with wrinkles and lines. Makeup can help conceal the change.
A little dab'll do ya. Use less shadow than you've been accustomed to, says Valmy. Heavy doses of eye shadow call attention to folds and lines.
Correct with color. If your eyes seem too close together, too far apart, too deep or lacking depth, or you're beginning to notice hooded lids, shadow to the rescue, says Cohoon. "If your eyes are too close together, put darker shadows on the outer portion of the upper lid," she says. "If they are too far apart, apply the dark more toward the center."
Deep-set eyes will appear to come forward with lighter shades of shadow, and you can bring more depth to your eyes with darker eye makeup. Remember to use a light touch, though, she adds.
If hooded lids are a problem, the best solution is a soft blending of three related colors, with the palest just under the brow bone. This diminishes the look of excess skin, Cohoon says. But don't use shadow that's frosted, shiny or too dark.
Know what flatters. If you have dark eyes, use soft brown eye shadow with a red base, not a green base, says Valmy. If your eyes are light, use a brown or gray shade with a green base rather than blue. The greener base picks up highlights in light-colored eyes, she explains.
Don't echo dark circles. If you find that you often have dark circles under your eyes, avoid shadows with a plum or brown tint. They will accentuate the circles, says Walderman.
Lift corners for a youthful eye. Counter the tendency of your eyes to droop at the corners by applying shadow subtly in a 45-degree angle up toward the brow at the outside corner of the eye, Walderman says.
You don't have to give up eyeliner, but you do want a softer, subtler eye definition, says Cohoon.
Reconsider the color. Unless you are black, using black liner will look too harsh. Others should choose soft browns, taupes and grays instead, suggests Walderman.
Go lightly. Use eyeliner sparingly and as close as possible to your eyelashes to give sparse lashes more fullness, says Valmy.
Apply softly. Sharpen your eyeliner pencils freshly for each use, says Walderman. The reason? The sharp point makes it easier for you to stroke on liner without pulling the delicate skin of your lids. If you use liquid liner, never apply it in a straight, flat line. Always smudge your liner for a soft, smoky look, she says. Dip a clean cotton swab under running water and wring it out first before smudging.
Keep lines apart. Don't let upper- and lower-lid eyeliner meet at the corners of your eyes. Doing that will only make your eyes look smaller, explains Walderman.
Tending to Lashes and Brows
Your eyelashes and brows do get sparser with age, but there are several ways to enhance the illusion of silky fullness.
Use mascara carefully. Mascara is still an eyelash's best friend. To avoid those irritating blots and raccoon circles beneath your eyes, after you apply mascara, touch face powder very lightly just under the lower lashes with a small brush, says Valmy.
Flirt with fakes. These days, very natural looking artificial lashes are available in both strips and individual clusters, says Walderman. You apply the strips just at the base of your own lashes, sticking them into place on the lid. With practice, it will appear as though the lashes are growing out of your own lid, she says.
If you use false strip lashes, though, apply mascara only to your own lashes first and let it dry, or you'll lose lashes when you remove the strip, Valmy says.
A full set of individual lashes can take up to 45 minutes to put on, Walderman says. But they can stay with you up to six weeks until your own lashes complete their growth cycle. They'll stick right through showers and swimming because they're attached with a permanent glue. Individual lashes come in sets of about four lashes per root, and you attach each set onto one of your own lashes. Avoid oil-based cleansers around the eye while you're wearing them, as they will take off the lashes, Walderman says.
Groom your brows. A good color guide for brows is that one shade lighter than your hair color tends to look most natural, says Walderman. If your hair is light brown, gray or white, taupe is more flattering, she says.
If your brows are too light, you can use a #2 graphite writing pencil--they're no longer made from lead, so there's no health risk, says Valmy. "You can fill in sparse places, and it will look very nice and natural," she says.
Liven Your Lips
Your lips are part of your complexion, too, and as you get older, they can bring a lovely touch of color to your face.
Cruise for corals. Coral tones are best for older lips, says Walderman. If your skin tones are cool, look for a pinkish coral. If they are warm, an orange-touched tone is fine. But make sure you don't go too far with orange, as it can accentuate the natural yellowing of your teeth as you age.
Flatten your feathers. Feathering is the irritating creeping of lip color into fine lines on the upper lip. A lip liner pencil will stop it in its tracks, says Valmy. To make lip color adhere better and last longer, apply lip liner around the edges of your lips. Then apply lipstick, blot it and apply another coat, she says.
Avoid waxing. If lip wrinkles and feathering lipstick are a real problem, and you normally wax the downy hair on your upper lip, try bleaching instead, says Walderman. "Down on the lip absorbs moisture that would otherwise melt lipstick and encourage it to enter creases," she says.
Balance your mouth shape. Sometimes the upper lip thins a little as we age, says Cohoon. If this is the case, draw your lip line slightly outside the edge of your upper lip and fill in with lipstick.