Helen Mirren. Susan Sarandon. Diane Lane. Andie MacDowell. Mary Steenburgen. These are all beautiful actresses over 50 (or very close to it), and although I can’t say for sure, it appears that none of them have had any major cosmetic surgery done. I think they all look amazing, not just for their age, but for any age. I personally don’t think “young” translates as “beautiful,” and I think there is a lot to be said for non-physical characteristics that make people beautiful. So this is not a Twelve Ways To Look Younger post (Subtext: 20 Year Olds Are The Prettiest, So Try To Look Like Them). This is about doing, or not doing, certain things that can make you look older than you are.
I have looked at many photos of the aforementioned actresses, and they seem to be avoiding some of the makeup mistakes I see a lot of women make. I’m talking about the mistakes that age a woman, especially one over 40. I’ll get into that below, but first I want to tell you my philosophy on aging as it relates to makeup.
I don’t think wrinkles are the biggest aging factor on a woman’s face. I think it has a lot more to do with an even skintone, flattering eyebrows, skin texture, lip fullness, undereye puffy-ness and dark circles, fullness of the cheeks and how “current” someone’s makeup is. Fortunately, there are a lot of fixes you can do to correct any of the issues that bother you (or those that you might not realize are making you look older!)
Re-Assess Your Foundation. Skin loses some of its natural oils as we age, meaning that the majority of women over 40 have skin in the dry or normal to dry range. (The good thing is, less oil in your skin means your makeup will stay on longer!) Fine lines and wrinkles also tend to creep up as the years pass. For those two reasons, I find that liquid foundations are more flattering on mature skin. Powder foundations don’t typically add moisture to the skin, and they tend to settle into lines, making them more obvious. A good liquid foundation–particularly one with luminizing properties which brighten the skin–will make the skin look its best. MAC Face & Body foundations are a good option, and I recently tried Stila Stay All Day 10-In-One Beauty Balm (Sephora) and thought it would be good for mature skin. I only tried a sample so I can’t totally vouch for it, and it strangely only seems to come in one shade, but swing by Sephora and get a sample if you’re interested.
Consider Cream Blush. I love cream blush for all skin types (I just layer powder blush over it on oily skin to make it last). There is something very youthful and glowing about the texture, which makes it perfect for mature skin. And if you are dealing with dry skin at any age, cream blush is definitely the way to go. The MAC Creme Blend blushes (MAC stores and MACcosmetics.com) and Sonia Kashuk cream blushes (Target) are my faves.
Think Twice About Contour. If your face has lost a lot of fullness–and especially if you already have a long or even oval face shape–I wouldn’t recommend contouring the cheekbones. Instead, focus on using blush on the apples of your cheeks, just blending slightly upward. This will make your cheeks look a little more full and youthful.
Line Those Lips. As we age, our lips lose collagen, making them thinner than they were in years past. Lipliner (in the same color as your lips or lipstick–darker than that can actually age you) is a good fix. It brings back definition to the lips and if you are confident with it, you can slightly overdraw your lips. And when I say slightly, I mean it! Don’t go all Pamela Anderson and think no one will notice. I love the Aqua Lip Liners by Make Up For Ever (Sephora) because they are waterproof (read: long lasting) but any lip liner will do. Lip liners are one of the products I don’t think you have to spend a lot on. Many of the drugstore ones are great.
Plump It Up. For the same reason, lip plumpers can be a good temporary fix for lips that are, let’s say, losing some weight. My favorite is Lip Venom by DuWop (Sephora). It’s a little tingly/stingy, but it does the job.
Highlight Above the Cupid’s Bow. A little bit of highlighter (like NARS The Multiple in Copacabana) above the Cupid’s Bow will give the illusion of a fuller top lip. Use a concealer brush or your pinky to apply it and lightly blend.
Apply Makeup with a Light Hand. Avoid applying too much foundation, concealer, or powder near fine lines. The product will sink into lines, highlighting those areas. Fine lines near the eyes, around the lips and on the forehead are common, and usually those are areas that don’t need much coverage or powder anyway (unless the forehead is oily). Using a primer (like Laura Mercier Face Primer, Sephora) first will help temporarily fill in the lines and keep your face makeup from settling. Having moisturized and hydrated skin will help diminish the lines too, so as always, a good skincare routine is key.
Pay Attention to Your Eyebrows. Brows that are too thin or overdrawn can easily age a face. Brow growth does slow as we age and especially if you over-tweezed in your teens or twenties, you may find yourself with thinner brows than you would like. A good brow pencil or powder can help fill your brows in. And if you have a few gray hairs in your eyebrows, a tinted brow gel (like MAC Brow Set) can temporarily change that. A brow gel also adds texture/fullness to thin brows.
Update Your Every Day Look. If you are still wearing the same type of makeup you wore 20 years ago, it’s time to re-evaluate. Styles have changed and your face has changed, so your makeup needs to evolve too. So please, toss that that forest green eyeliner from the 80s, or that matte brown lipstick from the 90s. Sure, those have come back as trends, but unless the rest of your makeup, your hair and your clothing are on trend too, it’s just going to make you look dated. It’s the cold, hard truth, but someday has to tell you!
Beware of Shimmery Eyeshadows. As we age, our eyelids lose their elasticity. The makeup term is “crepey eyelids,” but you can refer to them however you want. It’s okay to use an eyeshadow with a little shimmer in it, but something too shimmery or (please don’t) frosted is bad, bad, bad. It will sink into the small folds on your lids, making them considerably more noticeable. If this is a concern for you, try a cream eyeshadow (Laura Mercier makes good cream eyeshadows). Much like a cream blush, it is flattering on a mature face.
Try An Off-White Eyeliner. If your lower waterline is pink, which I often see in women 60+, a bit of off-white eyeliner there will cover the pinkness and make you look more awake. I like MAC Chromagraphic Pencil in Nc15/NW 20 for this.
Avoid The Number One Eye Ager. I see this A LOT, on women of all ages, but it especially detrimental to those concerned with aging–dark pencil liner at the lower lashline. Especially when it is thick or black…it makes me cringe. It instantly pulls the eyes downward and other than it’s very short shelf life as a makeup trend a few years back, it is dated. I know this is a hard one for many women to give up. I can just hear you saying “But I feel naked without eyeliner!” So, can we strike a deal? First, please switch to a dark brown or gray eyeshadow. Use an angled brush and make sure to apply it at the bottom and top lashline, so that it balances your eyes and keeps them from looking dragged down. Using a shadow with an angled brush gives a soft focus effect which is infinitely more flattering. You can still use a pencil–go easy with it!–on top of the shadow if you want more definition, but make sure to blend it with that angled brush.
Or, just do what you want. Seriously. If you aren’t concerned with how your looks have changed, then ignore all of my suggestions. I created this post for the hundreds of 40+ women who have said “Make me look 10/20/30 years younger, please!” But if you don’t care, then honestly, good for you. I know that I will still be rockin’ Biggie t-shirts and the occasional pink wig when I’m 60, so if you want to use navy blue eyeliner and a frosted pink lipstick everyday–or no makeup at all–then go for it. I’m not being sarcastic (for once). I’m all for people wearing whatever makeup makes them feel good, but I also know that this post might be helpful to those who may be looking to change things up. Again, I’m not trying to imply that looking younger is the ideal, but most women I know and have worked with don’t want to look older than they are.
So, hopefully this post has helped those who needed it. And for those of us born in the early 80s or earlier, let’s take a second to be thankful for everything we have learned since we were in our 20s 🙂
Have a beautiful day 🙂