At last you’ve reached a point in your life when some things are certain: Listening to Beatles music will definitely lift your spirits; wearing the color blue will get you compliments; your husband will surely forget to pick up his dirty socks; and you will always feel prettier when you slick on your favorite poppy-red lipstick. Or so you thought. “As your facial features evolve, so should your makeup,” says makeup artist Laura Geller, founder of the Laura Geller Beauty Ingenuity cosmetics line. “Once you hit your 40s, moisture and collagen levels go down and skin tone can become uneven, sallow, or red.” As a result, the same colors and textures that were flattering at 35 may be aging you a decade later. And what works in your 40s may not in your 50s or 60s. What should you try instead? We asked beauty pros for their best no-fuss, turn-back-the-clock tricks and product picks.
1. Start Fresh
You notice: Your complexion looks duller, and the tone is uneven. The reason: Skin no longer sheds dead cells as quickly as it used to. “It’s like having 10 layers of paint under your makeup,” says New York City dermatologist Ellen Marmur, M.D., author ofSimple Skin Beauty.
Key moves: Makeup takes better to freshly scrubbed, moisturized skin. “The colors and textures will always look more flattering on a smooth canvas,” says makeup artist Jillian Dempsey, global creative director for Avon. To speed up cell turnover, keep a gentle exfoliator, such as Aveeno Positively Ageless Warming Scrub ($9, drugstores), in the shower. Or turn your favorite face cleanser into a scrub by mixing it with a teaspoon of baking soda, suggests celebrity makeup artist Brett Freedman. Follow moisturizer with a silicone-based foundation primer, which can smooth any surface unevenness so you’ll need less makeup. Primer also gives makeup more staying power. Try Pixi Flawless Beauty Primer ($29, target.com).
2. Ace Your Base
You notice: Foundations and powders pool in the crevices, highlighting the wrinkles and large pores you’re hoping to conceal.
Key moves: Look for a foundation with a touch of silicone (if you’re not applying primer first). Try Smashbox High Definition Healthy FX Foundation SPF 15 ($38, sephora.com). “The silicone helps it move with skin and sit on top of fine lines,” says Freedman. Apply foundation with a damp sponge, and press gently to keep it from sinking into creases, Dempsey advises. Use wrinkle-filling concealer on any still-bothersome lines. Try Avon Anew Wrinkle Zone Line Smoothing Duo ($12, avon.com), which pairs a lightweight concealer with a separate loose powder you dab on to hold the coverage in place.
3. Master Disguise You notice: When you use enough concealer to cover up dark circles and puffiness, you end up looking like an owl.
Key moves: Apply foundation before concealer to mute dark circles and puffiness. “Foundation is less opaque than concealer and gives more uniform coverage,” says Geller. Afterward, lightly dot a skin-matching concealer where you still see discoloration. It will blend in more easily over the base. Try E.L.F. Corrective Concealer ($3, eyeslipsface.com), a set of four mix-and-match colors that lets you create the exact shade you need.
4. Pencil It In
You notice: Due to looser skin, your once-flawless liner application now looks like an EKG tracing above your lashes.
Key moves: Line your top lids using a soft — but not too soft — pencil that won’t tug at skin. Try Benefit Automatic Eyeliner Duo Pencil in Downtown Brown ($20, sephora.com). Or, wet the bristles of a liner brush and dip it into shadow. Then give a little tautness to the lid by gently pulling the corners back toward the temples, says Carmindy, a makeup artist and the creator of Sally Hansen Natural Beauty. Apply the liner in little dashes across the upper lashes, then connect the line with a smudger, cotton swab, or brush. Avoid thick bands of liner; they close up the eye area. “The tighter the liner hugs your lashes, the more bright-eyed you will look,” says Geller.
5. Play with Shadow
You notice: Eye shadow disappears into your lid folds by midday, forming unflattering creases and exposing discoloration.
Key moves: Lid primer can even out the surface and lock in shadow. Consider one of the new two-in-one shadow-plus-base options, such as Too Faced Lock Down Ultimate Creaseless Cream Eye Shadow in Bedroom Eyes ($18.50, sephora.com ), or buy a separate primer that goes under your favorite formula. Your shadow color should relate to your skin tone: Beige, taupe, and ivory are all good options once you hit your 40s. Neutrals with subtle — repeat, subtle — luminescence, such as Mark Making Eyes Eyeshadow Duo in Down to Earth ($6, meetmark.com) will have the most eye-brightening effect. Sweep the color up to the crease; you can always add more depth by placing a deeper shade directly in the crease.
6. Get Fringe Benefits
You notice: Putting thickening mascara on thinning lashes makes you look a little too Tammy Faye — not the effect you’re after.
Key moves: Once you hit your 40s, you want your mascara to be more lengthening than volumizing, says makeup artist Sandy Linter, Lancôme’s Beauty at Every Age expert; heavy, clumpy lashes are not youthful. Choose a formula that’s also water-resistant to keep mascara from smudging and flaking. One splurge that delivers a flawless fringe: Lancôme Ôscillation Water-Resistant Mascara ($34, department stores). Mimic its battery-powered lash-lengthening and defining tricks by pressing your own mascara wand against the base of your lashes for a few extra seconds, then jiggling the brush back and forth as you draw it out to the tips. And always curl lashes first. “I’m shocked how many women don’t take advantage of this eye-opening, younger-in-a-snap tool,” says Freedman.
7. Support Your Arches
You notice: Your brow hairs are getting more sparse. “If you’ve been waxing your brows for years, the hairs may have simply stopped growing back,” says Dr. Marmur.
Key moves: Counter thinning brows by shading them with a powder or sheer pencil one notch lighter than the hair (note: light blond or white arches should be made a touch darker instead). Try Mally Brow Beauty Brow Fix in Taupe ($25, qvc.com), a self-sharpening pencil infused with polymers that create volume and tame brows. But use pencils and powders sparingly: “You want to add definition to your features, but not that aging ‘filled-in’ look,” notes Freedman.
8. Blush Easily You notice: You brush on blush, as usual, to put natural-looking color in your cheeks — and end up with clownish streaks instead.
Key moves: Switch from a powder to a translucent cream blush to give you that lit-from-within effect. Opt for fresh pinks and peaches that restore your natural glow. They’re often more sheer going on than they look in the package. Try CoverGirl & Olay Simply Ageless Sculpting Blush in Lush Berry ($11, drugstores). “Anything see-through that blends into your skin is more youthful,” says Carmindy. To avoid streaks, Dempsey suggests placing a dot of creamy color in the center of the apple of each cheek, then moving it in a circular motion with your fingers until it looks like a healthy flush.
9. Learn Your Lines
You notice: The etchings on and around your mouth grab your lipstick color, turning your smile into an aging hot spot.
Key moves: Matching your liner to your lipstick is the old-school approach — and it can age you. Colored pencils sometimes leave a telltale ring of liner after your lipstick is long gone. A more youthful approach: Define your lips with a clear or nude liner that’s the same shade as your lips. Apply it around the perimeter, or over the entire mouth to fill lines. You’ll get a slightly fuller effect by carefully placing the liner along the outermost border of your lips. Try Rimmel London Exaggerate Full Colour Lip Liner Definer in Natural ($6, drugstores).
10. Cue in to Color
You notice: Dark lipstick looks too severe because it emphasizes less-than-full lips.
Key moves: If you still crave color, bright lipsticks are a better option than dark ones, which can spotlight thinning lips. “A rose-colored lipstick is flattering for women over 40,” says Dempsey. Dab shimmer on top for a fuller look. You also can’t go wrong with natural pinks and berries; they mimic the color of your lips when you were younger. Choose shiny or satiny finishes instead of mattes, which sink into lines. Try Clinique Vitamin C Lip Smoothie Antioxidant Lip Colour in Pink Me Up, Mango-thon, or Raisin the Bar ($17.50, department stores).
Makeup in Your 40s
Beauty icon: Brooke Shields Toss: Anything with chunky glitter Keep: Lengthening mascara Try: Boots Soothing & Calming Eye Base ($9, Target)
Makeup in Your 50s
Beauty icon: Kim Cattrall Toss: Harsh eye and lip liners Keep: Rosy blush Try: Victoria’s Secret VS Makeup Soft Focus Liquid Foundation SPF 20 ($16, Victoria’s Secret)
Makeup in Your 60s (and Up)
Beauty icon: Lauren Hutton Toss: Chalky, drying face powder Keep: Shimmery eye shadow Try: L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Anti-Aging Serum Lipcolour in Spicy Pink ($10, drugstores)
Originally published on November 13, 2009 in Good Housekeeping