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  • Writer's pictureElise Marquam-Jahns

Have you ever walked into a fabric warehouse store—or other warehouse store—and felt overwhelmed by the dizzying array of choices?

Well, the quest for eyeglass frames that look smashing can sometimes feel just as daunting. Not only is there every conceivable frame shape to consider, but there’s also the challenge of finding the right frame color. Choosing a pair of frames that complements your face shape is key (e.g. it’s recommended that those with a round face look for frames that are square or rectangular to contrast with their face shape; those with a square face might wish to consider oval or round frames, etc.). And choosing a frame color that complements your skin undertone is also important. (For help in discovering your skin undertone, scroll down to check out the article below: “7 Tips for Finding Your Skin Undertone Color and Makeup Shades to Look Your Radiant Best”).

But What About Wearing Makeup If You Wear Glasses?

Is it even worth it to wear makeup if you wear glasses? For many of us, our eyes are our best feature, so yes, it’s definitely worth it. And even if your eyes aren’t your best feature, you definitely can make your eyes look bigger and more beautiful behind those frames. It’s just a matter of using a few basic makeup techniques and avoiding a few pitfalls.

In today’s Part 1 of this two-part series, we’ll cover the first group of makeup tips and in an upcoming Part 2 we’ll cover the remaining tips as well as some information on tools that can help you apply makeup. After all, how the heck can you confidently apply makeup if you have to take your glasses off to do it?

Choose a Few Makeup Techniques That Can Make All the Difference

Here are a few makeup techniques to choose from that can help you look your best when wearing glasses:

Are you Near-Sighted or Far-Sighted?

Remember—if you’re near sighted, your lens prescription can have a shrinking effect on your eyes, so you want to do as much as possible to open up your eyes and make them look larger. If you’re far-sighted, your prescription can often magnify your eyes—pulling focus from the rest of your face—so it’s important to “balance” your face makeup. One way to do this is to consider wearing a slightly brighter or bolder lip color.

Use an Eye Shadow Primer

Sometimes your eyes can get warmer when you wear glasses, so it’s important to wear an eye primer to keep your eye makeup from smudging or creasing. Apply it over the entire eye area before using eye shadow. And if you’ll be using a powder eye shadow and you’ve applied a cream or liquid eye primer, very lightly dust a translucent powder onto your lids before applying eye shadow. That way, your shadow will glide on easily and evenly. You may also want to put a thin layer of eye primer under your eyes where your glasses rest to keep that area from getting oily and your glasses from sliding down your nose.

Choosing the Best Eye Shadow Color

Choose an eye shadow color for the lid area that is light and neutral. Dark shades on the lids will magnify dark undertones around the eyes making you look tired. Also use a light, matte color just under the arch of each eyebrow to both lift the eye and make it look more open. Since wearing glasses changes how others perceive the depth and dimension of your eyes, use a darker color in your crease (and slightly above your crease if you have hooded eyes) to add more dimension. (Note: a key to many makeup techniques for women 60+ is to work against gravity by applying eye shadow, liner and blush in an upward sweep).

Makeup is about wearing what makes you feel your best, so you can choose whatever eyeshadow shades you love. But, if you really want to make your eyes stand out—or “pop”—choose an eyeshadow shade for the crease area that is a complementary color (on the color wheel) to your eye color or frame color.

For instance, beige, brown and copper shades can look fabulous on blue eyes; violet or purple can work well for those with green or hazel eyes and brown eyes can rock just about any color!

However, if you have redness around your eyes, you may wish to stay away from shadows with red or purple undertones which can emphasize any redness around your eyes.

Determining the Best Eye Liner Shade

Pick an eyeliner that is a shade or two lighter than your frames so the liner stands out from the frames. Black can sometimes look a little harsh, so consider colors like charcoal grey, navy or burgundy. And if your frames are thicker, consider applying your eyeliner slightly thicker so your glasses don’t overpower your eyes. To make your eyes look larger, think about applying a nude colored liner to your under eye water line. This is especially helpful for those who are near-sighted since the eyeglass prescription for near-sighted people makes the eyes look smaller. Tip: Running a q-tip along your water line to dry off the water line before applying the nude colored liner will help the liner stay on longer.

Use an Eyelash Curler

Not only will using an eyelash curler to curl your lashes prevent them from brushing against your lenses, but lifting your lashes with an eyelash curler will allow more light to reach your eye and will make your eyes look larger. For the best curl, gently move the eyelash curler up your lashes several times and hold the curler on your lashes for 5 seconds each time. This will prevent a crimp in your lashes and give you the very best curl.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of these tips which will be coming soon. We’ll be covering tips on applying foundation and concealer as well as suggestions for brows and mascara. And did you know there are several kinds of specialized makeup glasses? We’ll be diving into that topic as well.

What do you find most difficult about wearing or applying makeup if you wear glasses? What tips do you have that work well for you that you could share?

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If you’ve ever been frustrated by products that don’t work for our more mature skin, you’re not alone. Andrea Q. Robinson, former cosmetic company executive and beauty editor, shares your frustrations.

In her book Toss the Gloss, Beauty Tips, Tricks and Truths for Women 50+ she “tells it like it is” about why the major makeup lines haven’t created products that flatter the color and texture of our mature skin. According to Andrea, most of the men running the major beauty corporations, believe we’ve “lost it at fifty and aged out of their makeup market. Even if there’s money to be made, the people running these corporations are afraid to address our specific needs with anything other than anti-aging creams because they are worried that they will alienate their younger consumer base, even though we—the 50+ ‘real women’—are the largest demographic, with more money to spend. They need to wake up and realize that we’re worth their investment. “

Well, “they” have yet to wake up to this fact, but thankfully Tricia Cusden--a vibrant, 70 year old English woman with smarts and moxie--has taken up the crusade. Tricia’s Story

A former teacher and management training consultant, she was more or less retired at the age of 65. When she found herself making an appointment on her calendar to watch a television show, she knew she was in trouble. That, combined with the fact that she’d spent $100 on two high end makeup products which didn’t work for her mature skin, and her frustration with a beauty industry that is so youth-obsessed they just don’t “get” older women and think that “showing Helen Mirren in a leather jacket is the answer” fueled her motivation.

So at the age of 65, she invested an amount from her savings she could afford to gamble with and took the plunge to launch a cosmetics line specifically for older women called Look Fabulous Forever. Tricia says: “I definitely think there is a link between taking care of your appearance and feeling good about how you look. In our ageist society, women become invisible after the menopause and it’s all too easy to think ‘who cares what I look like?’”

Her Passion and Determination Paid Off

She smiles when she recounts that she was so naïve when she started her business that she simply “googled” the words “cosmetics manufacturer” to find names of companies she might approach to produce her first products. Luckily, she found someone who thought her idea was brilliant—even though others had told her she was “crazy” to go up against major cosmetic lines. Thankfully for all of us, these negative reactions served onl­y to energize her and elicited Tricia’s “I’ll show them” response.

Tricia’s Philosophy

Tricia uses real women for her “pro age” makeup line and feels that the media needs to increase the presence of older women. But she cautions that even when the media does feature older women, they often get it wrong. She points to a beauty campaign that featured Helen Mirren looking sexy. The wording implied that it was to attract a younger man. But as Tricia says, “That’s ludicrous—on what planet does a 70 year old women wake up and say she wants to look attractive to considerably younger guys?”

She shares other thoughts on beauty, aging and looking fabulous in her recent book Living the Life More Fabulous. But overall, Tricia sums it up this way: “It seems to me that there are three possible approaches to aging. One is to go into denial and do everything possible to ‘stop the clock.’ The second is to throw in the towel in the belief that physical and mental enfeeblement is inevitable. Or my preferred option, which is to accept and embrace your aging self whilst doing all you can to have the healthiest and most fabulous “third act” that you can possibly achieve.”

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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.

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