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:
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.
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.