While walking down the cosmetic counter aisles at Macy’s recently, I decided to check out the foundation options available at some of the high end cosmetics counters. One brand offered six different foundations, another boasted twelve and a third had a mind boggling choice of 20 different foundations! Thinking there might not be such an overwhelming number of choices with drugstore brands, I checked out several brands on-line and was amazed to find 23 different foundation options with one brand and 15 with another. Who knew? And more importantly, how can we possibly make the right choice?

Well, though the choices may feel overwhelming, it’s actually beneficial for those of us with seemingly ever changing skin landscapes, to have options. And we can also breathe a sigh of relief that the days of the heavy, only-one-choice thick, pancake makeup have gone the way of carbon paper and exaggerated shoulder pads.

The Four Questions to Ask

So, here are the four questions to ask yourself that will help you narrow your field of options:

1. What is your skin type: dry, combination (dry, but some shine in the “T” zone) or oily? Yes, there are different foundations in most makeup lines for different types of skin. You can definitely cross off your list the foundation that works for oily skin if your skin leans toward dry . . . and vice versa.

2. How much coverage do you want? Opt for “sheer” or “light” coverage if you have no major discoloration or issues such as age spots. “Moderate” coverage is for those of us whose skin has experienced a few more changes over the years. And “heavy” can provide the optimum amount of coverage. And though the term “heavy” coverage may make us feel a bit queasy about how the foundation will actually feel on our skin, “heavy coverage” does not necessarily equal “heavy feel.”

And here’s a quick way to test how much coverage a foundation really has: dab a small amount on one of the veins on the underside of your wrist. You’ll see a definite difference in how well the sheer, medium and heavy coverage foundations camouflage your vein.

3. What kind of “finish” do you want the makeup to provide on your skin? Matte? Semi-matte? Or dewy? A matte finish is evenly smooth with no shine. Semi-matte has a slight sheen and dewy foundation has the most sheen or radiant glow or can even be quite high shine. Needless to say, if your skin is oily, a dewy finish might look too “greasy.” However, even people with oily skin can sometimes wear a dewy finish foundation provided they use a mattifying primer first. (If the concept of primers is new to you or you’d like to learn more, we’ll discuss both eye and face primers in an upcoming blog). For those of us with dry skin, a dewy finish can bring a welcomed look of moisture and radiance to our face. And what about those of us with combination skin? Well, some of us have been known to put a matte finish foundation in our T-Zone area and then mix in a small amount of a dewy finish foundation with the matte foundation to add a bit of radiance to the rest of our face. (I won’t mention any names here, however :).

4. Do you want a foundation that has an SPF in it or do your moisturizer and/or sunscreen provide enough sun protection for you?

Some Additional Helpful Hints

And here are a few other helpful hints to get the best results from your foundation:

  • Exfoliate your skin twice a week to get rid of dead skin cells which can make our skin look dull. Just about every makeup line has an exfoliating product and you can even make your own exfoliating scrub out of ingredients you most likely already have in your pantry. (More on this in an upcoming blog).

  • For most of us as we get older, our skin has a harder time retaining moisture. Thus, it’s absolutely essential to cleanse and moisturize our face before putting on foundation. However, if you have an oily nose and T-zone area, you may want to forego moisturizer in those areas.

  • Some foundations also provide skin care benefits with ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, Vitamin C, green tea or peptides.

  • If you do have dry skin, you’ll want to stick with liquid and cream foundations rather than powder. Powder foundation can look flaky and accentuate fine lines on dry skin.

  • For areas that are harder to cover due to oiliness (such as your nose) or discoloration, you may want to skip the foundation and just use concealer.

  • And if you have a great deal of redness, there are foundations that specifically address this issue.

Now that you know the answers to the four most important questions to ask when searching for a foundation and have some other helpful hints, we’ll cover the all important topic of how to find the right foundation in Part 2 of this blog.

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  • Elise Marquam-Jahns

Updated: May 19, 2018

The Case of the Missing Brow may not be a top priority among Sherlock’s cases, but it’s near the top of the list for most of us who are 50+.

Who knew that one morning we’d wake up and discover that the tails of our eyebrows had gone the way of the VHS tape? Or that our once gloriously full and dark brows could now only be described (at best) as gray and “sparse.” And how about those white, wiry hairs that pop out over night? I’m rather glad my mother never shared some of these “benefits” of hitting retirement age. But hey, let’s look at the bright side; we rarely have to hunt for those tweezers anymore!

Since brows after 50 are made, not born, let’s take a deep breath and take back our brows. Now, you may ask, why go to all this extra effort to bring our brows back to life? The fact is that beautiful brows not only emphasize and frame our eyes, give our face a lift, and impart instant sophistication, BUT (dare we say it) they can also make us look years younger. And I mean years. So, let’s get to it.

One caution—before heading to the makeup counter, do head to your doctor to get your thyroid checked. Sparse and thinning brows can signal a thyroid issue. And supplements and diet and exercise have also been known to help. A good multivitamin that includes biotin and zinc can also make a difference.

In general, those with blonde hair will probably want to go one shade deeper than their hair color and those with darker brow hair should try to match their hair color or go slightly lighter. When in doubt, taupe can work well for many people. And at all costs, avoid a harsh, “drawn on line” look! And whether you end up using a brow powder, gel, pencil or pomade, always brush the brow with a brow “spoolie” (which is often at the other end of a brow pencil) to give your brows the most natural look.

And here are a few other general hints and thoughts:

  • You may want to go to a pro brow stylist once to get the perfect shape for your brows.

  • Some people find it helpful to “outline” the brow shape they want before filling it in. So, with short strokes to mimic the look of brow hairs, outline the top of the brow where you’d like it to be and do the same with the bottom of the brow. Then, fill it in.

  • You may want to give a second thought to eyebrow “tattooing” since when skin sags, the tattoo will perhaps go in a direction you’d prefer it not go!

  • Your brows are sisters, not twins. One will always be higher, fuller or arched differently, so don’t aim for perfect symmetry.

  • When you create a new brow with makeup, give yourself some time to adjust to the look of your face with more brow definition. And when you add other eye makeup, the tones will mesh.

  • Brow “gel” can be used to control wiry, unruly brow hairs, but most likely you will still need to fill in with a powder or pencil. And here’s an additional tip: if you have hairspray, you can put it on a disposable mascara wand or another spoolie to tame those unruly brows.

  • For a beautiful, polished look, use concealer to draw a line right above and below your brow line and blend out the concealer.

Since just about every major high end and drugstore makeup line has brow powders, gels, pencils and various brow kits, I highly recommend making an appointment or stopping in at any one of the department store makeup counters to ask if one of their associates can recommend the brow product that would work best, help you pick the right color, try it out on you and teach you how to use it. And you may want to try several different products at several different makeup counters to see which brand, product, color and technique looks the most natural and beautiful.

Yes, this will take a little time, but it’s far better to invest time upfront to “test drive” various products and techniques rather than trying them out on your own, experiencing the frustration of a product that doesn’t work well for you, returning it and then starting all over again.

And hey, why not take a friend along and go on an eyebrow adventure together? Time together checking out brow options and a little extra socializing, laughter and camaraderie can not only benefit your brows but also (and more importantly) your overall well-being!

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In a report titled “Older Women: The Forgotten Demographic,” women aged 54 -90 were interviewed to establish their views on cosmetics and toiletries: what they use, where they buy and what they think of packaging, advertising and product claims. The results were eye-opening. Not only do we feel ignored, but we feel that much of the advertising and marketing messages directed at us are demeaning and patronizing. Sheila, one of the women who was interviewed, said glamorous models didn’t do it for her: “I’m very cynical and don’t believe if I use this (product) I’ll have perfect looking skin. It has the opposite effect.” Annie, age 50, said: “I shout at the TV when I see ads with women with no wrinkles or who are too young to have them.” I can hear most of you thinking, right on, Annie

In addition, only one of the top 6 cosmetics lines is using older women most of us can relate to in their print and TV ads and on their website video tutorials.

So, what does work to help us look our best? Fortunately, research has concluded that there are three things we can do to look out absolute best. In fact, the research indicated that these three makeup techniques can help us look 5 – 20 years younger:

  • Fill in our eyebrows. All kinds of interesting things start happening to our eyebrows as we get older: sparseness, wiry hairs, gray and white hairs and many of us notice a “disappearing act” of those tails. So filling the eyebrows in with pencil, powder, pomade or gel can make a startling difference.

  • Create an even skin tone with the right tinted moisturizer, foundation and/or concealer. Who among us does not have some redness, discoloration, sunspots or all of the above? The research study found that an even skin tone can make the most dramatic improvement—literally erasing 5-20 years from our appearance.

  • Add some color with blush and lipstick. As we mature, we lose blood vessels in our cheeks which gives skin a more sallow appearance. So bringing back some color revives our skin tone. But, it’s also important to put the color in the right place. We’ve always heard that blush should be applied to the apples of our cheeks, but where have those apples gone, ladies? So apply blush along the upper part of your cheekbone and bring it up toward your hairline. Going up is an important technique since we’re trying to outsmart Mother Nature by giving more “lift” to our face.

And though the nude lip look may be the trend, it’s not our friend since it tends to wash us out. Go for a luminous lip color (rather than matte) one shade darker than your natural lip color. And if you have a golden skin undertone (greenish colored veins on your wrists as opposed to blue), stick with melon, peach, coral and orange-red lipsticks. For a cool skin undertone (blue veins), check out pink tones, berry shades and blue-red lipsticks. And adding a touch of gloss adds even more light and radiance.

As a makeup artist who specializes in helping women 50+ look their best, I have the pleasure of teaching women these techniques on a regular basis. Is it any wonder that I love what I do?

We’ll be talking about each of these makeup techniques in more detail in future blogs, so stay tuned.

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