I never wore much makeup until my thirties, when I started to need a little extra help. Once I reached my forties, I became aware of the need to walk that fine line that so many women cross of not keeping makeup age-appropriate. Just as with clothing, wearing cosmetics in colors and styles intended for teenagers is far more aging than learning to accommodate the changes in your skin and facial structure. We mature ladies would look just as silly in cheek glitter and wacky metallic eye shadow as we would wearing belly shirts and cheerleader skirts.
I normally wear glasses, so eyeliner is a must, and the one thing I will put on even for a short grocery store run. I always wore a kohl-type black liner and thought I looked fine. Then I saw an episode of What Not To Wear that changed my life – Carmindy was doing a makeover on a middle-aged woman who always wore black eyeliner, and she used dark brown on her instead. The difference was so amazing that I went out and bought one. Lo and behold, it looked much more natural, and I looked well rested and five years younger! Needless to say I have been using it since, with occasional forays into L’Oreal HIP liner in the eggplant shade – its fabulous too. My favorite brown liner is Jane Gliding Liner in Velvet Brown, soft enough to smudge but never greasy or runny. Whatever brand you end up with should fit that description so it won’t be draggy and dry on your lids.
I also try to make sure my eye shadow is not too shiny, which is hard sometimes; many shades look matte in the package but once on the eye they are glittery or shiny. Try to get yours at a store where you can sample it first. A little highlighter is fine, especially for evening, but glittery shadow can look really garish if your lids are not what they used to be.
I made the switch to using mineral powder makeup a couple of years ago. At first I could not figure out what I was doing wrong, as I never got good coverage, and then a light bulb went on – it needs something to stick to! In colder weather, I use an oil-free tinted moisturizer as a base (Jane again) and then mineral foundation over that once it has set. I just use a foundation primer most days now that winter is over. My current favorite is Sally Hansen Natural Beauty Inspired by Carmindy Luminizing Face Primer – whew! It has a slight sparkle that makes me look awake, and which is subtle enough to look good under the minerals. Oddly, I tried Smashbox Photo Finish with mineral foundation and it rolls off in layers when I apply the powder – the Carmindy stuff is a third of the price of that and it works much better.
I have tried several brands of mineral foundation and Bare Minerals is very good, as are Milani Minerals, Almay Pure Blends and L’Oreal Bare Naturale. (Yes, I would like to try more of the high-end brands, but mine is a drugstore budget.) I apply it with a large powder brush and/or a velour puff. The main trick is to find a mineral formula that does not get shiny when you buff it, and to not over-buff it. I like a finishing veil – the gold standard is Bare Minerals Mineral Veil, but I also like the Milani finishing powder and the L’Oreal. The finer the milling of the powder the more natural the results will be. I finish it off with powder blusher applied sparingly with a large Kabuki brush and swept up to the hairline at the temple; another Carmindy tip is to use a pink shade with some coral in it to lift the skin tone – if you are older and you still use a darker plum or deep rose blush like you used in the Eighties, it’s probably making you look older, unless your skin tone is very dark. Even women of color can benefit from a coral-toned blusher, however; it’s amazing how much fresher it looks than shades that veer toward the blue end of the spectrum.
As for lip color, I always loved dark tones when I was younger, including those purple-browns made famous by Urban Decay, lacquer reds, and deep berry tones. I can still get away with a darker color if it’s a sheer or a gloss, but I am really careful now and I stick mostly with shades that are fairly close in tone to my natural lip color. My lips are not all that full, and dark shades just make lips look thinner, especially when they are matte, so the rule is the opposite of the eye shadow rule: shine is good! Too much frost looks bad on everyone, but a glassy shine or subtle glaze is great for softening the appearance of a mature face. Just remember, too light is just as bad as too dark, beware of nudes, beiges and overly pale pinks that can make you look washed out and tired. And the biggest rule of all: No lip liner for you! Not unless it’s the invisible kind that just keeps your lipstick from bleeding. I have one of those but I don’t need it very often, since I am rarely found wearing a standard full-pigment lipstick these days. I like Ulta’s house brand of sheer lipstick shades, and glosses and balms of every kind, whether stick, wand or pot. Even a colorless gloss can work if you prefer to play up your eyes instead – pick either eyes or lips when you want to do an all-out glamour look, but not both. Only Joan Collins can get away with that.
Image credits: Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis in Some Like it Hot, one of the funniest movies of all time, imdb.com; Sally Hansen Natural Beauty Inspired by Carmindy Luminizing Face Primer, ulta.com