Love your makeup? Me, too. It’s entertaining, it enhances our appearance, and for some of us it boosts self-esteem. But we need to “make over” our makeup as skin and hair change with age. That means updating our products, tools, techniques and more.
In addition to the natural effects of aging that show on our skin — lifestyle, health, hair color, what’s in vogue — all may nudge us to revisit the “usual suspects” in our arsenal of tubes, tints, brushes and blushes.
Not one for the Shrinking Violet Team (nor believing that any of us is required to become an Invisible Woman as we hit middle age), I’m all for adapting my makeup routines so I continue to feel good about how I present myself to the world. While that may sound like it’s all about other people, it’s at least as much about me. Makeup brightens my face, which in turn energizes my demeanor and amps up my confidence.
How Should Makeup Routines Change as We Age?
As we begin to grow older, we notice that our skin begins to lose its dewy quality We grab moisturizer instead of astringent. We see signs of sun damage and our “cute” crinkles are becoming wretched wrinkles. If we’re lightening or streaking our hair, which is often the case, the application of certain shades of foundation, cheek color and lipstick may no longer be quite right.
Some of us scowl at our reflections in the mirror — I certainly do — wondering how to put our “best face” forward.
Bobbi Brown, of the brand that bears her name, speaks to changing our makeup routines as we grow older.
In this Vogue Australia interview she advises:
As we get older, make-up has an even more powerful effect on our appearance and can actually make or break the way we look. Too much makeup can add years to your face, as well as look mask-like and unnatural. Make-up should always enhance your features, not over power them, so use an extra light hand. You can always add more if need be but it’s far more difficult to take it away if there is too much.
Good advice, don’t you think?
Makeup Tips For Your Forties, Fifties & Sixties
Sometime in our forties, we begin to notice signs of age in our faces. Bobbi Brown points out the need for concealer to brighten tired eyes, and generally speaking, adopting a classic makeup look.
For the woman in her fifties, what Ms. Brown refers to as “fading” may occur. I’m certainly no stranger to this one; skin tone along with hair and brows all seem increasingly washed out.
We’re told there is an easy fix for that:
… just add colour. But it’s important not to go overboard… Look at yourself in the mirror, and really appreciate what you see… If you don’t like your eyes, try to wear a bright lipstick, or learn to line your eyes to make them look more defined.
Reminding us of the critical quality of color, she says:
Remember that light colors lift, so use a bone eye shadow all over the lid and under your brows. Also, a brighter shade of blush will take attention away from fine lines around your eyes and give your whole face a lift.
MORE Magazine offers these makeup must-haves for the woman in her sixties: products that hydrate, tighten and lift; and going easy on the eyes. MORE recommends some of the same brands I just noted, including Nars, YSL, and Bobbi Brown.
The bottom line: Using a soft touch is essential. Less is definitely more. All recommended: products that seem to lift, moisturize, minimize pores and protect against the sun. Do be sure to look for adequate SPF.
Ms. Brown specifically mentions pink, peachy and apricot tones for our faces as we grow older, but let’s not forget about women of color.
While there are fewer choices on the market when it comes to base colors for darker complexions, this article from Refinery29 includes mention of products from Nars, Yves Saint Laurent, and Iman Cosmetics. All are sources for a range of colors suiting multi-ethnic and darker skin tones.
How Do We Find What Works for Us?
I reached out to a number of smart, savvy and very cool women — from their early 30s well into their 60s. I hoped that a few might be available for an experiment that would benefit so many of us!
Unfortunately, it’s a busy time of year — many are winding up summer vacation, getting kids back to school (and some back to college), or plunging back into fall projects. Several of my favorite fashion and lifestyle bloggers were unavailable, or don’t live close enough to a large department store to take advantage of a free cosmetic makeover.
Happily, several were able to take up the charge. Here is what I asked of them:
- Take a picture with little or no makeup, or your usual
- Visit a department store you love, ask to be “made up”
- Opt for your usual brands or try something new
- Tell the makeup artist you want a freshened or updated look
- Take a picture or two after
- Tell us what you learned
My thanks to the lovely women who participated. In fact, they have so much to share that I am featuring two today, and will save more for the next in the makeover series. If anyone else would like to join in the fun, just let me know in a comment. I would love more women in their 40s, 60s, 70s and older. Darker complexions as well as brunettes, redheads, and grey hair are on my Wanted List, but whatever your age and coloring, if you would like to participate, I’d be delighted to host.
Barbara at Sixty Days in Paris
Many of you know and read Barbara, and I hope you will start to follow her newest blog, Sixty Days in Paris, which promises to be a delight.
I’ve been reading Barbara for a long time, and she is a delicious writer. This latest endeavor is for all of us who set ourselves goals in order to achieve a dream. Barbara plans to create herself a two-month stay in Paris timed with her 60th birthday.
Now, she has a few more years to go, but I’m going to live vicariously through her adventure!
Barbara’s “before” with no makeup is here (above left), and she provides two variations on her new look below. She is 50-something.
The before shot is outside… very little make-up… That’s how I usually go about my days when writing/photographing… I stopped in at Nordstrom because they sell my make-up of choice – Trish McEvoy. This is my go-to line because it’s dermatologist-designed and doesn’t irritate my sensitive eyes and skin.
I also love their portable makeup vanity (in a planner type case). Perfect for me because I travel so much.
Barbara asked for an “autumnal look” but explains:
… with my fair coloring, I think Kelly [the make-up artist] stayed with pretty neutral colors. She did use a golden highlighter on my eyes rather than the soft pink I use in summer.
She applied a pretty plum colored lipstick for fall, which I bought. I have been wearing pink or gloss all summer. I wouldn’t have chosen plum, left to my own devices.
What Barbara learned?
Most of the products used were Trish products I have but neglect like their serum, which is so nourishing for my dry skin. It’s out of sight at home so I don’t use it. Now it’s on my bathroom counter by the sink (her assignment to me).
And I have eyebrows now! At first I was shocked and uncomfortable with how heavy she did them – but after she finished my “face,” they fit and they really frame my eyes… That was the biggest change.
Barbara’s Makeover “After”
I think Barbara looks incredible. Take a look:
Barbara seems to have gotten exactly the sort of makeover result we would all like. I know I would! She explains:
My husband and I had a picnic dinner at the park that evening and sitting across from me, he said, “Something’s different with your eyes.” After a bit of observation, he realized it was the eyebrows. So it was subtle – but noticeable – which to me says it’s just right.
Here’s another “after” of Barbara. Beautiful!
Barbara adds this:
Kelly also layered a night jasmine scent with my Trish blackberry/vanilla perfume for a kiss of fall. It’s sensual and earthy. It’s nice to remember the power of fragrance.
Sue at High Heels in the Wilderness
If you love real world fashion, fitness and travel, you must meet Sue at High Heels in the Wilderness. I’m relatively new to her blog and I love it!
(Go look. Now. I’ll wait.)
A self-proclaimed “fashion-obsessed, naturally sedentary bookworm,” she recounts “her adventures with the hockey-playing, skiing, fishing-obsessed love of her life.” And her fashion posts offer up versatile, wearable, classic style — on Sue herself — that is always impeccable.
Sue is also 50-something. Here she is “before” (above, right).
And here’s what Sue has to say about her experience in getting an updated look.
I visited the lovely Katie, who manages the Laura Mercier counter at Nordstrom here in Ottawa. I have been looking for help/advice in handling eye liner… on my aging eyes. I have tried gel applied with a brush (too messy and hard to manage on crinkly lids), various kinds of pencils (too hard on sensitive lids… ouch… or too soft and melty resulting in a big, sloppy, messy, wobbly line) etc., etc.
Sue goes on to explain a Laura Mercier method called “tight lining.” She went for a demonstration and asked for pointers on freshening up her look. Katie graciously obliged and…
She redid all of my make-up from scratch, and gave me all kinds of pointers for minimizing my rosacea, using foundation (ditch it and use tinted moisturiser instead), where to place bronzers, and, my favourite aside from the tight lining, how to apply contour eye shadow on my brow bone (I’ve been doing it incorrectly all these many, many years.)
In Sue’s “no makeup” shot above, she’s wearing a bit of foundation. And here is Sue when she does her makeup herself.
Sue “After” and What She Learned
In keeping with Bobbi Brown’s recommendations to all of us who are 40+, note that Sue explains:
… The “tight lining” resulted in a fine line really close to my lashes, applied with a special brush. It looks great, really makes my eyes pop… We went with a very natural look on cheeks and eyes, and a more vivid lip colour than I am used to…
This observation is a keen one, and ought to be true for all of us at any age.
I spent over two hours with Katie. I loved her comment that no one wants people to say…”Oh, I love your make-up.” Much better to have someone say…”Don’t you look great,” and never notice the makeup.
What Sue purchased:
I went home with the eye liner application brush, the eye liner powder, and a creamy eye shadow primer that can double as very pale eye shadow if you want a really natural look. This will be great for me for travel.
Here is Sue after Katie at Laura Mercier worked her magic. Stunning! And very subtle. I love the pop of color on the lip, don’t you?
Incidentally, if you haven’t read it already, I highly recommend Sue’s post on Aging Gracefully… Or Disgracefully, which is a marvelous celebration of her mother and grandmother, and the splendid way in which they both approach the aging process. I love everything about this wonderful piece of writing, and I think you will, too.
Before and After Side-by-Side
Look how amazing Barbara and Sue look with their makeup updates! I think the side-by-side views offer the best comparison.
Is it my imagination or do they both look more confident and possibly more mischievous?
I know that I feel better when I look better, or rather, when I feel that I look better. I also feel better when I smile — genuinely smile. And we all know that smiling is good for our health as well as working our facial muscles in positive (uplifting) ways!
We want to stay vibrant, healthy, engaged, visible, relevant. This is true for those of us in the workforce, getting back into the workforce, in the dating pool, getting back into the dating pool, or perhaps looking for some new venture into which we can pour our smarts, our time and ourselves — politics, public speaking, teaching, community.
Statistics tell us that women who wear makeup earn more than women who don’t. That’s just one interesting tidbit for those who think looks don’t pay!
Whatever we choose to pursue, looking the part matters. In my opinion, it matters even more as we move into our middle years because it’s just too easy for people to make foolish and inaccurate assumptions about our capabilities and our contributions.
Most of us prefer not to shout when it comes to getting noticed, because that is and always has been our style. Some of us are more exuberant in personality, wardrobe and self that we project — because that is who we are. What we look for as grow older is what we have always looked for — to feel at home in our skin, confident, and accorded the respect that every person deserves.
Using makeup is something I’ve done for 30 years. It’s no bother. And it was fun at 20-something and it’s still fun at 50-something. Why wouldn’t I do it for 30 more years?
Don’t Miss Barbara and Sue
Be sure to stop by and read Barbara! Her bio:
Barbara Albright is a proponent of soulful travel, who lives a simple, unencumbered lifestyle, which in turn affords her the luxury of visiting beautiful places. Her work has been published in the Los Angeles Times, Seattle Magazine, Quilty Magazine, Purple Clover, and Spirituality and Health. Her newest project is making the dream of spending 60 days in Paris for her 60th birthday a reality; Sixty Days in Paris. Follow Barbara on Facebook at Barbara Albright writer, on Twitter at @balbrightnow, and on Instagram at @b_albrightwrites.
And be sure to stop by and read Sue! Her bio:
Susan Burpee is an English teacher, bookworm, and lover of fashion and travel. Her blog, High Heels in the Wilderness, is about fashion, fitness, books, travel and how she and the love of her life learn to navigate the rapids and pools of their life together, post retirement. Follow her on Twitter @SueBurpee, on Instagram at @HighHeelsInTheWilderness, and on Pinterest.
My heartfelt thanks to Barbara and Sue for their good-natured participation in this post. I could not have illustrated these points without such amenable subjects. And as I said — more to come!
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