Midlife Makeup Tips for Ageless Beauty
Most likely you started wearing makeup (or at least experimenting with it) in your teens. By your late teens or college years, you had probably adopted a “look” (which you may have updated over time), but most people get used to wearing certain types of cosmetics and rarely change.
Do you always wear foundation? Is powdering your face your thing? Have you worn the same color eyeshadow for a long time? That’s great – we are big supporters of finding and playing up your own unique style. But if the products you have loved aren’t working as well anymore, it could be time to change. As creatures of habit, we sometimes forget to think about how our skin, eyes, lips or even hair color change over time, and how our makeup should adjust along with it.
If you have reached midlife, it may be time to adjust your look. You can do that while keeping your own style by experimenting with new techniques and products until you find what works.
Here are some best practices, ideas and tips to factor into your look.
Caring for Your Skin Health
- Skin - This has been true since you were a teenager, but a great makeup look starts by taking care of your skin. The better condition that your skin is in, the less makeup you will need, and you will create the right “canvas” for the makeup you do use. As you age, it is important to keep skin moisturized (so it’s not flaky), protect your skin by wearing SPF every day (the number one aging factor is the sun), treat it with a serum (to work on wrinkles, texture and tone) and periodically exfoliate (because skin turns over slower as you get older). And ALWAYS wash your makeup off at the end of the day. For more on skincare as you age, see our article “Skin Deep Beauty for Every Age.”
- Beauty Sleep - Skin focuses on repairing and restoring itself overnight. A good night’s sleep not only aides that process, but you will wake up with fewer bags and circles under your eyes. Experts say to aim for at least 7 hours of sleep a night.
- Magnifying Mirror - This is a must. It will allow you to see your skin close-up and examine it for any new dark spots, blemishes, or changes so you can address them in your skincare routine. This mirror will also help you get a closer look to identify and remove any unwanted stray hairs (a key to well-maintained skin), and for applying eye makeup correctly. You can find magnifying mirrors that can attach to your bath mirror or stand on your counter, or go fancy with a hard-wired lit magnified mirror on the wall (this is a “must-have” in a well-appointed master bath!).
Midlife Makeup Tips
Before we get into the specific types of makeup, here are a few overarching tips.
- Natural - Creating a natural look is best to achieve a more youthful look. Keep your makeup simple, soft (not too dark or bright) and pick one feature to “play up,” like eyes or lips, but don’t enhance every feature. Remember, “Less can be More."
- Quality Makeup Brushes - Invest in a good set of brushes; they are so important in many techniques. Most importantly, you need to blend, blend, blend for a natural look; and good brushes help you do just that.
- Let Your Products Work – As you go through your skincare routine and then your makeup routine, you could be layering a few products over one another. Serum, moisturizer, primer, foundation… you get the idea. After applying each, let the product absorb for a minute or two before going on to the next. You will get better results if you let them absorb first.
- Expiration Dates – Watch your expiration dates on all your products; especially makeup. Makeup that starts to get a shiny build-up should be thrown away too. Putting old makeup on your skin or eyes is just asking for infections and breakouts.
- Magnifying Mirror – Did we mention the importance of this?
Now onto the makeup tips.
Foundation – Consider using a lighter foundation or a tinted moisturizer instead of heavy liquid foundation. Thick foundation can create a “caked on” look which doesn’t look natural, and can “sit” in wrinkles and creases, which can age you. And if you are still using the same foundation from 10 years ago, it’s time to change! Adding a wrinkle-filling primer prior to applying your foundation can help to create a smooth canvas for foundation, and keep a lighter foundation in place. Many of these primers have blurring technology that not only smooth’s skin but gives it enough of a finish that it can be used alone (BB creams can also be used alone and have similar benefits). Look for a primer with SPF if your moisturizer doesn’t have it, so you protect your skin too. When selecting a foundation shade, look for one that is slightly deeper and matches the skin on your decolletage. Many women use a foundation that is too light, which can create a washed out look. Blend, blend, blend for a seamless look.
Concealer – Don’t be too heavy handed with concealer. It can end up emphasizing flaws in the skin or look too unnatural. Try doing your eyes, brows and lips first, and then applying concealer – you might find that you don’t need as much. Concealer should be used to hide blemishes, dark circles and spots but not wrinkles and lines. It will make the wrinkles and lines stand out more. When applying concealer for dark circles, apply it slightly below the dark circle too, so the light from the concealer reflects up to hide it. Choose a concealer a couple of shades lighter than your skin.
Contour – The practice of contouring (with a darker shade) and highlighting parts of the face to define or reshape it, has been the trend for a few years now. A contouring pallet or stick applied correctly can help to lift the jawline, cheek or eyes, or create a fuller look. There are many great how-to videos online for skin over 40. It’s important to adjust the how-to’s to older skin, so look for one that addresses midlife. Contouring like a 25-year-old will most likely not give you the results you are seeking.
Powder – If you are still using a heavy pigmented powder – it might be time to change. While powder can help eliminate that shiny, oily look and “set” your foundation, it can also “sit” in wrinkles and creases making them stand out more and add to dull/dry skin. Consider eliminating this step or using a light translucent powder sparingly on forehead and nose (the oily spots) but not the balance of your face.
Blush – A simple sweep of blush can take years off your look, by creating that healthy glow. Keep it soft (too much blush can have the opposite outcome). Consider using a peach, pink or coral tone, which tends to have a more youthful appearance.
Eyebrows – Well-groomed eyebrows are essential to a put together look. It helps shape your eyes and counteract heavy or drooping eyelids. It is worth the investment to go to a professional on a regular basis for an eyebrow wax. Eyebrows can thin over time, and over plucking them can give them a thin dated appearance. Applying too much eyebrow pencil can end up dating you even more. Apply eyebrow color in soft small stokes versus big long “arches,” and start in the middle first, then move to the ends (blending them well). That way you can assess if you need more and not end up with ends that are harshly drawn in.
Eyes – The eyes have it – so play them up! There are so many techniques for the eyes, but we’ll break down the basics for you.
Your eyelashes - they are one of the biggest ways you can brighten your eyes. Start by curling the lashes (yes, if you ditched your eyelash curler years ago, it is time to go out and invest in a new one). Curling the lashes opens the eye and gives mascara more impact. For an even more significant impact, use a volumizing mascara. Apply mascara from the roots to ends to avoid a spider look, and use a brush to separate out any clumps.
Apply eyeliner in small strokes, versus one long line. Use an eyeliner pencil, powder or gel vs. liquid; or switch to using a darker shadow applied with an eyeliner brush instead. Even if you apply liner to the outside of the eye, applying some liner to the inside root of your lashes can help them look fuller. To achieve this look use short dabbing strokes, not a line; dabbing in-between the base of lashes. Consider moving to a brown-black mascara and liner instead of black which can look too harsh.
Start using less eyeshadow, or a neutral color from the base of your lashes up to the brow bone; this will give a finished, not too dark look. Frosted eyeshadow can be fun at night, but only sparingly (it highlights wrinkles). Stop eyeshadow before the end of your eye to achieve a wide-eyed look. Continuing eyeshadow down the lid to the corner of the eye can drag the eye down.
Lips – Ditch the dark reds and plums; they make lips look smaller and thinner, which can age you. Select softer colors; two shades darker than your natural lips. Softer colors give lips a fuller look. Go with a sheer or creamy lipstick; a full matte lipstick can settle in lines, and shiny gloss tends to slip and slide, which can settle into any lines around the lip area. For more on lips, see our article “How You Can Have Full Healthy Lips.”
Nails – Just like eyebrows, nails on hands and feet are important to maintain. This is an area where you can play around with the latest color trends and have some fun! To keep your full look, make sure you maintain the skin on your hands which can age like your face. See our article “Five Tips for Beautiful Hands.”
Most importantly, experiment. Your look should adjust with your age, but you may need to try different techniques and products to find what works for you. Don’t forget to apply your own style at every age; you're an ageless beauty.