Whether you’re simply ready for a change, want to freshen up your look or your favorite lipstick has been discontinued – and doesn’t that happen way too often? – finding just the right lip and blush color can be a game-changer.

Just two weeks ago I saw this striking transformation when I was working with Gail. She wanted a makeup ‘update,’ but was just fine with the lipstick she’d been wearing for quite some time. I asked her if – just for the fun of it – we might try a new color.

After I applied the peach colored lipstick, she didn’t say a word, but kept looking in the mirror. Then, as she continued to look in the mirror, she said in a voice I could barely hear: “Wow. What did you say the name of this lipstick was?”

This is not to say that finding the right lipstick and blush colors is easy. In all honesty, it’s not. In fact, it’s about as easy as saying “no” to mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving.

Nevertheless, it’s absolutely worth scouring a few different makeup counters in search of the colors that will make your skin look radiant.

How to Determine Your Skin Undertone Color

Before the scouring begins though, the first step is to determine the undertone of your skin. Is it warm or cool, or somewhere in between (neutral)?

And even if you know your skin undertone, it’s important to be aware that though our overall undertone does not change as the years fly by – since it’s based on the color of the fat cells beneath our skin – the skin’s upper layer does get thinner which subtly alters its color.

Just as our eyes become less bright and our hair gets lighter, we also become paler.

In short, we lose contrast. So even though you still have the same skin undertone, you may need to go with lighter or brighter colors than you did when you were younger and some of us will need to go darker or deeper.

For those with darker skin tones, the skin changes a little later and can develop dark discoloration areas (hyperpigmentation) or lighter areas (hypopigmentation) which may also require going lighter or brighter, or darker and deeper in shade selection.

Here are some clues to help you solve the undertone mystery.

Look at the veins on the underside of your wrist

Are they blue or green – or somewhere in between? Blue means a cool undertone, green means warm and “somewhere in between” usually means neutral.

Cover up your hair and hold silver, then gold jewelry next to your face

Is there one color which looks better against your skin? Silver jewelry works better with cool skin tones and gold with warm tones. Those with neutral skin tones can wear both well.

Do you tan or burn?

Usually women with warm undertones will tan and cool will burn.

Bend your ear forward

Does it look more pink (cool undertone), yellow (warm undertone) or neutral?

Close your eyes and visualize a bright fuchsia lipstick and a bright orange lipstick

You may dislike both, but chances are you’ll like one at least a little more than the other. If you prefer fuchsia, you are more drawn to cool tones and most likely have a cool undertone. If you chose orange, you gravitate toward warm colors and, chances are, you have a warm undertone.

Drape pink and yellow fabric near your face

If you have some bright pink and bright yellow clothing or fabric, cover your hair and drape it around your shoulders so you just see your face and neck. Which color makes your skin look brighter and more alive?

You can also do this test using silver and gold fabric. If silver or fuchsia perks up your skin tone, you have a cool undertone. If bright yellow and gold look best, you have a warm undertone.

Which neutral tones are most flattering to your skin? Bright white, black and grey? Your undertone is cool. Ivory or tan? You’re a warm undertone.

What color top, blouse or scarf always draws compliments?

If the color falls on the warm side of the color wheel (reds, corals, yellows, etc.), you most likely have a warm undertone, and if the color is on the cool side of the color wheel (blues, blue-purples, etc.), you most likely have a cool undertone.

If you’re still unsure – and this can certainly be the case for many of us – invite over several friends and go through the process together. Objective opinions can be helpful… and the process is sure to be punctuated with laughter and fun.

Now That You Know the Undertone, What Colors Do You Choose?

If your skin has a cool undertone, the following makeup colors will work best for you: blue-based pinks, raspberry, wine and berry shades, ruby and blue-reds. Best colors for warm undertones are: peach, tangerine, orange, coral, orange-reds.

And if you fall into the “neutral” category, you can go in either direction with your color choice. However, you probably want to stay somewhere in the “middle” of the warm and cool color spectrums rather than at the extreme ends.

Now that you know your best colors, you’re ready for “the hunt.” In my next article, I’ll share some tips that I hope will be helpful as you search for just the right lipstick and blush colors to give your face that beautiful glow.

261 views0 comments
  • Elise Marquam-Jahns

Sixty-one year old Janet arrived at the makeup counter wearing full makeup. As she gradually felt more comfortable talking with me, she shared that her 9th grade best friend had taught her how to use makeup. They’d arrive at school early and sneak into the bathroom to put on their makeup together. Since I knew the minute I saw her that she was using the makeup techniques she’d learned as a young woman, this revelation didn’t surprise me. But unfortunately, the makeup she was wearing did exactly the opposite of what Janet wanted: it aged her by at least 10 - 15 years.

Janet’s Story is Not Unusual

Janet’s story is one I hear often. Whether we learned how to put on our makeup from our moms, a stylish aunt or Seventeen Magazine, most of us baby boomers are still using the same makeup techniques that we learned when listening to Dion or Bobby Vee. And what worked for us in our teens, 20s and 30s just doesn’t work for as we hit our 40s and beyond. But it’s totally understandable that we don’t know what to do differently, because where do we learn the makeup techniques that will work best for us now? Only one of the major cosmetic company websites has even one online makeup tutorial featuring an older woman—and that lasts for about 10 seconds. So many of us, understandably, just keep doing what we’ve been doing.

The Four Makeup Tips

Over the coming months, I’ll share a variety of makeup tips and techniques specifically for those of us who are 60+ that can help us look our best now. Below are four of these tips which can make a big difference:

1. Eyeliner

I think we can all picture a magazine ad featuring a woman in her 20s with thick black eyeliner above and below her eyes. Yes, eyeliner can definitely define and draw attention to our eyes (all good), but the key to beautiful eyeliner in our 60s and beyond is to lighten the look and make it more natural. A dark brown or gray eyeliner pencil is far more flattering. And to create the most natural look, smudge the eyeliner with a Q-tip. Not only does smudging the eyeliner soften the look, but it also means that those of us who can’t draw a perfect line along our lashes anymore (and let’s face it, who among us can) are able to smudge that line so it looks absolutely flawless.

As for eyeliner below the eye, it’s an absolute yes, with two major caveats. Consider using a lighter color than you used for the eyeliner above your eye and—unless you have huge, to-die for eyes—only draw that line along the outer third of your bottom lashes. And to create an even softer look, use eyeshadow instead of eyeliner.

2. Blush

Do you worry about blush going terribly wrong? Both the color and the placement of blush become very important as more birthday candles appear on our cake. Our skin tone can definitely change over the years, so those of us who read Carol Jackson’s book Color Me Beautiful back in the 80’s and figured out we were an “autumn” or a “winter” may no longer find those same color swatches to be as flattering. But it’s still important to gauge whether your skin has a warm or cool undertone. If your undertone is warm, stick with coral or peach toned blush and if your undertone is cool, go with pink and berry tones. (We’ll talk about how to determine your skin undertone in a future article).

Haven’t we always been told to put blush on the apples of our cheeks? But where have those apples gone, ladies? Let’s work against Mother Nature and gravity by

placing the blush slightly below the tops of our cheekbones at least two finger widths from our nose and bringing it up toward the outer corner of our eye. If you have dry skin, opt for cream blush over powder and add a touch of moisturizer on top of the blush to create a beautiful glow.

3. The Right Lip Color

Though the “nude” lip look might be the trend, it can wash us out. So think about adding a touch more color to the lips (one to two shades darker than your natural lip color). And since very dark (and matte) lipstick can age us, consider choosing a slightly brighter color with shine or luminosity. And a touch of gloss in the middle of the lower lip can create a light-enhancing glow.

It’s amazing, but just the right lipstick color can brighten the entire face and create a truly radiant look. So it’s worth “trying out” some new lipstick shades at the makeup counter and even going outside your comfort zone to test some new shades. And research has shown that the right lip and blush color—along with two other techniques—can help us look 5-20 years younger

4. Eye Shadow Placement

A swath of color across the eyelids has been a typical “go to” look for most of us. But to make our eyes look bigger (always a plus), try patting a vanilla colored shadow on your eyelids from your eyelashes to the crease. Use a medium tone shade in the crease (and slightly above the crease if you have hooded eyes). To create the medium tone for the crease area, consider mixing two or three “cool” and “warm” tones together such as a light orange tone with a medium cool brown. It can make your eyes “pop” without looking garish--trust me on this one! Then use a touch of the vanilla colored shadow just beneath the arch of your eyebrow (to lift the eye) as well as at the inner corner of the eye. And, as always, the secret to a flawless eyeshadow look is blending, blending and then more blending with a clean brush.

You’ll find that just a few small changes—with these tips in mind—can make a world of difference.

218 views0 comments

If you’ve read Part 1 of this Blog, you have now answered the four important questions to narrow down your choice of the hundreds of different foundations that are available in department stores, drug stores, specialty beauty stores and on-line sites. So you’re now ready to move on to the equally important question: How do I go about finding this perfect foundation?

With the number of options available to you, it may feel like you’re searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack. But fear not. Now that you know what kind of foundation and finish you want, here are some suggestions about how to go about locating that gold standard product that’s just right for you:

  • Do you have a friend whose skin type is similar to yours and whose skin looks flawless? She’ll love to tell you what foundation she uses and, most likely, what she’s tried that hasn’t worked for her (which, by the way, doesn’t mean it won’t work for you, but you may want to move this choice down to your “B” list of options).

  • Go to a makeup counter at a department store and talk to an Associate who is roughly your age. This Associate will most likely have experienced your concerns and issues and can guide you to the foundation that will be right for you.

  • Ask the Associate to do a “color match” for you and be sure to check out the options in a magnifying mirror. Foundations have a warm, cool or neutral base and it’s crucial to find the base that doesn’t make your skin look too pink or too ashy. The right color should make your skin look radiant rather than dull or lifeless.

  • Ask for samples of several different foundations or different colors so you can try them out at your leisure at home. This way you’ll be able to check them out in daylight with a magnifying mirror to make sure the color match is spot on and the texture is right for you.

  • Go to You Tube and enter “best foundations for older women” in the search bar. There are also some YouTube videos about this topic that you may find helpful.

  • Google “Rank and Style.” This site has a multitude of “top 10 lists” for just about every makeup and beauty product known to woman. You may want to search for “top 10 drugstore foundations” or “top 10 department store foundations.” Rank and Style’s “Top 10” lists are compiled from data from magazines, blogs, department stores and social media to rank the 10 best based on popularity, quality and buzz. Be aware, though, that popularity and buzz is often generated through advertising, so take the rankings with a grain of salt. However, these lists will give you a “starting point” for checking out various products. And it’s been my experience that many of the products included on these lists deserve to be there.

  • Check out reviews of products on the brand’s website and on sites like Sephora and Ulta. Since the age of the reviewer is often available, you may want to look at what women close to your age say about the product.

The right foundation for you will not cake into lines or leave you with a mask-like complexion. What it will do is seamlessly blend into your skin, even out your skin tone and disguise fine lines. Since foundation can do the most to help us look out best, the search for just the right foundation may well be worth the investment of time it takes to find that personal gold standard of a flawless foundation.

422 views0 comments