Make up is all about enhancing individual assets - it can lift your spirits, inject a bit of glamour and transform a ‘certain age’ into an uncertain one. It will even out a troubled skin and applied properly it can give an almost flawless finish.
To get the most out of your make up you need to review it every few years, especially as you get older, when skin loses its dewy look, it's tone and texture changes, and your usual routine suddenly doesn’t seem to work as well. Here we give you some tried and tested ideas.
As you age less is definitely more - a 60 year old face needs little more than a 20 year old face, just different products and a new approach. A make up lesson (see below) is the perfect solution to persuade you to ditch outdated make up and maximize value for money on what you do buy.
- Shadows and dark circles mean eye concealers and brighteners are a must. They are highly effective when dabbed onto the inner corner of the eye and nose to remove the shadows, below the eye to camouflage dark circles, and around the nostrils to streamline the nose and reduce redness. Apply with your ring finger as it is a gentle applicator. If you find YSL's Touche Eclat a bit heavy or too shiny try:
Bobby Brown's Creamy Concealer Kit is a two in one compact option with a corrector to brighten and neutralise the dark areas and a concealer to lighten and blend them
Laura Mercier’s Secret Camouflage Concealer or
Estee Lauder Ideal Light Brush on Illuminator, a colour correcting cream that you apply all around the eye area to brighten and freshen dull skin.
As a base for shadow applied very lightly over the lid, or to brighten the eye lid if you are not using shadow try an eye brightener such as:
Laura Mercier’s Secret Brightener and Brightening Powder or
Bobbie Brown’s Eye Brightener is lighter and a regular favourite as you can use it just to smooth out dark lid shades, even if you don’t use foundation.
For a budget option try Nivea’s Aqua Sensation Anti-Shadow Eye Cream. It works under make up to remove dark circles and costs about £4.
Guerlain Precious Light Rejuvenating Illuminator is also a brilliant concealer that hides imperfections, lightens dark areas and tones down the appearance of wrinkles.
Puffiness A lot of the products on the market seem to have a cooling and soothing effect, but with limited success on actual puffiness. One of the best is Clarins Eye Revive Beauty Flash which immediately makes the skin round your eyes feel tighter and less puffy. Other effective creams are Skyn Iceland's Hydro Cool Firming Eye gels from M&S, Benefit’s Depuffing Action Eye Gel which has a light and refreshing feel and soothes that puffy feeling. If you are feeling extravagant then Guerlain’s “Super Acqua Eye Patches’ are a great pick me up to ease puffiness and hydrate around the eyes. Otherwise Eve Lom Eye Serum will sooth away puffiness too. If you are a Clinique fan, their All About Eye Serum is a new cooling roller ball massager for the under eye area to help get rid of dark circles and puffiness. Estee Lauder’s Cooling Eye Illuminator is a de-puffing balm that works instantly to give tired eyes a lift.
Eyebrows. Shaped professionally, eyebrows will give a lift to your eye area and make your face look well groomed. You can get them threaded & beautifully shaped into perfectly even arched brows at one of the eyebrow bars now found in many large stores. Blink Bar or Shavata Brow Studio will tell you where to find one. It takes 10-15 minutes and they usually offer a walk-in service in major department stores. Its a little uncomfortable and can make your eyes water, but it gives a much neater and more defined look than plucking, and is less harsh on the skin than waxing. Apply Savlon Advanced Healing Gel if you skin is a bit red afterwards. They also remove lip and chin hair, which sadly sprouts with age!
If you want to pluck you need a good pair of tweezers. Shavata Pointy Precision Tweezers are good, or try Tweezerman or Cowshed.
If your brows need definition use an eyebrow pencil in a toning colour, and brush your eyebrows upwards for a fashionable more open eyed look.
Eye shadow needs a base on eyelids to camouflage imperfections and maximize the shadow’s staying power. Laura Mercier Eye Basics is a nice smooth one, as is Bobbie Brown’s Tinted Eye Brightener. Even if you don’t want to wear eye shadow, using one of these bases will lighten your eyelid area. With shadow aim for a hint of shadow washed over the lid. Soft mauve/purple works well for blue eyes, and soft blue/lilac for brown/green eyes. Again experiment by getting a make up assistant to apply them for you.
Lancome Le Crayon Khol Natural in Rose Ballerine, a pale pink which, applied sparingly on the lower lid brightens up your eyes and face.
Eyeliner is a great look for evenings at any age to add definition to your eyes. It can be difficult to apply, but new products have made it much easier. To find out what suits you ask for a demo at a make up counter, and then practise as it takes a while to master. Make sure you get it into the lash line - you don't want a gap between lashes and liner.
Try YSL The Black Eyeliner or Mac Penultimate Eyeliner which are both easy to apply to get a precise line. To help keep your hand steady, rest the heel of your hand against your cheek.
For a softer look, and one that can be more forgiving to apply, try Bobby Brown Gel Eyeliner in black/mauve shimmer and apply it with an eyeliner brush. Finally a lovely gold eyeliner, which is easy to apply and looks great for parties, is T LeClerc's 'Or Gold Eyeliner'.
Charcoal, green and aubergine are more flattering with age Armani Smooth Silk Eye Pencils come in a range of subtle colours. Blend over a litle eye shadow to soften the line.
- Mascara. To me, even more than lipstick, mascara is my essential item of make up. If I had to choose only one item , mascara would be it. Unfortunately hormonal changes as menopause approaches not only change hair texture but can also thin eyebrows and eyelashes, so a mascara that gives you longer and thicker lashes becomes increasingly useful. Today’s sophisticated mascaras and lengthening serums with their new technologies now make this much easier to achieve.
Brown is a softer colour if your hair is grey or fair, though I must admit to me brown is pointless - if you want impact it has to be black. As a general rule when looking at a tester, a fat brush will add thickness, and a thin one will add length.
You don’t need to spend a lot to get excellent results from mascara - Maybelline for example comes from the same lab as Lancome. So for fabulous lashes on a budget go for Maybelline Great Lash or Falsies Volume Express. Max Factor's Eye Brightening Tonal Black Volumising, Bourjois Volume Max, or Boots No7 Extreme Length Waterproof Mascara are also firm favourites.
The following also give impressive results:
Benefit's They're Real is the UK's bestseller
Clinique Lash Power Mascara
Eyeko Black Magic Mascara
An eyelash curler is great for opening up your eyes – you can get a battery powered brush which heats and curls, or a much cheaper manual one that clamps your lashes and curls them – though be careful not to pinch your eye-lids. Bobby Brown does one for £10.
Eyes with hayfever can be soothed by
Espa’s Soothing Eye Lotion, or
Jurlique’s Herbal Recovery Eye Gel or
Origins Ginzeng Eye Cream from Boots
Body Shop’s Camomile Eye Make up Remover is gentle and calming.
False eyelashes? If you want a different look for a special occasion (and we aren’t talking Katie Price here) why not try some false eyelashes? MAC’s are easy to apply (their staff will show you how) and they really do look quite natural.
Get Lashed's Get Natural lashes from www.getlashed.com are cheap and re-useable.
For the ultimate in professional application go to Daxita at Atherton Cox in London ( 020-7487-4048). She is brilliant and very efficient at applying them and, whilst at about £90 for a half set they are by no means cheap, they will last up to 3 weeks so justifiable if you’ve got a lot of social events coming up. For the first 24 hours you can’t get them wet or apply eye shadow, but you will only need minimal eye make up anyway as they look so fabulous.
Primer is the secret weapon for making tired skin look fresh, and it stabilises your make-up. To get an idea of its importance, think of primer as the bra and pants to your foundation, which will glide on more easily and last longer if you apply a primer first to prep your skin, to smooth fine lines and to even out skin texture. Aim for a subtle light diffusing coverage, applying it only where your skin tone needs it, rather than applying a thick veil of makeup all over your face, which can make your skin look old, and can even highlight flaws.
Laura Mercier’s Foundation Primer- Hydrating and Tone Perfecting Cream will give you a good base and will make your foundation or tinted moisturizer much more effective in covering up pigmentation and blotches. Dab concealer ( see below) where necessary and then you will probably find you can use a lighter foundation, and avoid the risk of looking too heavily made up
Foundation research has progressed enormously in the past few years. Stylist magazine reckons it takes 10 years for a woman to find the perfect foundation for her skin, and the majority of us are wearing the wrong shade, or we wear too much. But all is not lost as beauty houses are now bringing out a much wider range of foundations, offering improved formulations to suit both your skin tone and skin type.
The much praised BB cream (BB stands for blemish balm) is a sort of half way house between tinted moisturiser and foundation, and acts as primer, concealer, blemish coverer and moisturiser, with UV protection, plus anti-ageing components too. The Daily Mail described it very aptly as “the Swiss Army knife of the beauty industry”. Reviews of Clinique's Age Defence BB Cream have generally been the most favourable so far.
The latest innovation is "the illuminating foundation". These are moisture rich, with clever light reflecting particles. All the advertising blurb goes on about radiant skin and illuminating particles, but actually i have tested some and they really do work well. They are very lightweight and feel more like a tinted moisturuser than a foundation. Coverage is excellent and they don't rub off on clothing and mobile phones. I would recommend Bobbi Brown's Luminous Moisturizing Foundation and Clarins Skin Illusion Natural Radiance Foundation.
Most make up houses now sell mineral foundations which last a long time without needing touching up. They are powder foundations, so they are applied with either a brush or sponge and you only need a light covering. They are low in additives and preservatives, and provide a sun screen, so they are also kind to your skin.
The best way to find out what will suit you is to try a few foundation make-overs at different beauty counters. Always test them on your jawline and examine the tone in daylight.
Tinted moisturiser is more forgiving to older skin than foundation and gives a lighter and younger look. Only after you have applied the base should you apply concealer – to ensure you only conceal what the moisturiser hasn’t.
Powder sets your make-up and keeps your face looking smooth and non shiny. Use a loose setting powder and dab it lightly onto the T zone to avoid a caked look, or apply it with a brush in downward strokes rather than a curved motion, to avoid lifting the downy hairs on your face and making your face look fluffy. Use sparingly to avoid dulling the skin.
Lancome Translucent Ageless Minerale Powder or Poudre Majeur Excellent is a good oil absorber.
Clinique Redness Solutions Mineral Powder is great for toning down redness, rosacea and broken veins.
Compacts are for your handbag to avoid oily disasters. If you need to mop up excess oil don’t apply more powder as it will make you look chalky and dusty .Instead freshen make up with “Japanese Blotting Paper” It is really effective - by Tatcha from Space NK or Paul & Joe Minature Blotting Paper from www.asos.com. At around £10 both are good value.
For an all over subtle highlighting powder MAC Marine Life Multicolour Pressed High Light Powder uses a mix of pigments to give a naturally healthy look.
- Blusher livens up your face and defines it, but get advice to choose the right shade for a healthy glow. Don’t apply too much and make sure you are putting it on in the right place – smile, apply to the roundest part of your cheek and blend it back and sweep upwards. The idea is to reinstate bloom rather than a streak of colour. A good tip is to apply it, turn away from the mirror for a moment, and then turn back to get a better idea of whether you need more or less.
Try one of the new compact powder/foundations which contain several tints in one to create an all over bloom or highlight features. Pink rosy tones are the most flattering.
For single colours, Bobby Brown Sheer Colour Cheek Tint blends easily and stays put, Origins Pinch Your Cheeks is a lovely sheer blusher gel, and Estee Lauder Signature Satin Creme Blush needs only a finger tips worth for a natural look.
Bobbi Brown's new Brightening Nudes Collection includes a Finishing Powder with lots of different shades in the same compact that you can gently brush over the whole face to give a fresh, healthy glow.
Clarins Instant Light Blushes in Pink and Coral are also light and easy to apply.
- Bronzer is not a blusher and should be applied sparingly on the areas that normally catch the sun, like tops of cheekbones, and temples, but not your nose.
Guerlain’s Four Seasons range works well
Bobbi Brown’s Shimmer Brick Nectar or Pink Quartz) is great on both eyes and cheeks.
Diorskin Nude Glow Healthy Glow Summer Powder has a palette of harmonised tones that effortlessly creates a lovely natural glow
And if you want to keep the sun kissed look going through the cold and cloudy days of summer and autumn then Clarins Liquid Bronze Self Tanning Lotion applied lightly every few days gives a natural and healthy glow. Just make sure you wash your hands afterwards as it will lightly tint any dry skin areas.
- Concealers. Remember that you notice your blemishes and broken veins far more than others because you examine them at close quarters in the mirror, whereas an observer will notice your smile, eyes and clothes way before any blemish or wrinkle.
Mineral make up is ideal for concealing flaws, as it is light refractive, and is very good news for anyone wanting to cover up broken veins, rosacea etc. It is easy to use and gives a radiant finish. The key is to get a good match to your complexion so do buy in person rather than on line.
The golden rule is to apply concealers after foundation, so you know where it is needed.
For skins prone to redness, broken veins and rosacea Clinique's Redness Solutions range is excellent. The 'Makeup' covers without looking heavy, the 'Corrector' works really well, and the 'Instant Relief Mineral Pressed Powder sets the makeup.
- To disguise birthmarks and vitiligo try:
Estee Lauder Maximum Cover Camouflage Make Up
Dermablend's Cover Cream, Corrective Foundation and Setting Powder
Benefit's Confessions of a Concealaholic funky name, functional product
- Spots can sadly still be a problem in your 50’s as hormones go awry, and you need to be careful as a squeezed spot in your 50’s will scar more easily than when you were in your teens. If you get the odd really horrible one then put a hot flannel on it, give it a gentle fingertip massage and apply a clay mask to draw it out:
Eve Lom Rescue Mask or Skinceuticals Clarifying Clay Masque are both good.
Then apply a spot treatment, and it should reduce considerably overnight try
Origins Spot Remover
Dermalogica’s Clean Start Bedtime for Breakouts
Angel Balm www.alexandrasoveral.com developed by skin therapist Alexandra Soveral is effective at managing sebum production and reducing spot break outs. It is rich in anti-ageing oils, and also contains geranium essential oils to keep your skin supple.
Priori Advanced AHA Facial Gel www.prioriskincare.com/aha/pfg.html is designed to deal with spots, acne and clogged pores in mature skin.
Lips are rarely a woman’s best feature as she ages, as they tend to lose moisture and become drier, so the secret is to regularly moisturise to keep them soft and plump. The key routine is to moisturise, prime, line and then add colour. Dark hairs on your upper lip? Keep a pot of Jolen Creme Bleach handy. It is easy to use, fast acting and available in Boots.
- Lip balm is an essential, and will vastly improve the look of your lipstick, so always keep one handy. If you haven’t discovered Elizabeth Arden’s brilliant untinted Eight Hour Cream Lipstick then do get one – essentially it is an expensive lip salve but it does wonders for dry lips, and also comes in a tinted range that is perfect for daytime wear. Try Blush for a nearly nude look. If you can get it duty free it is much cheaper. Other excellent lip balms are:
Balm Balm Rose Geranium Lip Balm,
L'Occitane Shea Butter Lip Balm with tiny exfoliating beads,
Lanolips 101 Ointment is colour free, 100% natura, and fast becoming a cult product
Nivea Milk and Honey is enriched with Vitamin E
Burts Bees Natural Lip Balm has natural ingredients, moisturises well and is great value.
- Lip plumpers Kaplan MD Lip 20 a new non-surgical lip plumper new to the UK from the States. It is very effective on ageing lips as it significantly boosts and moisturizes lip volume to give a seriously puckered-up pout, and the effects can last for up to six hours. It comes in original clear gloss and four colours, and lips do feel instantly fuller. Alternatives to help plump out fine lines and add volume are:
Soap & Glory’s “Extreme Plump”
Laura Mercier’s “Lip Plumper”
Dior Addict “Lip Maximiser”
Lipstick sales are now taking over from lip gloss again, with easy to wear soft pale glamorous shades. If your lips are really dry try one of the following, rubbing them in with your fingertips for a natural look:
For a lovely pale pink lipstick, try Bobbi Brown’s ‘Pale Pink’ or Becca's Sheer Tint Lip Colour
L’Oreal’s “Colour Rich Serum” lipstick
Estee Lauder’s “Hydra Lustre Lipstick
Lancome’s “Advanced Replenishing & Reshaping Lip Colour”
For a lipstick range with amazing staying power look no further than Boots No7 Stay Perfect Lipstick. It lasts all day, doesn't rub off on your teeth and moisturises too. My favourite of the moment is Clinique's Chubby Stick range, which is so easy to apply.
For a fresh light look in tune with staying power and the perfect pout go for Givenchy’s “ Printed Lip” Pens in two pink shades - Rose or Pink Impression.
They keep their colour for hours.
Clarins Instant Smooth Crystal Lip Balm offer three gorgeous subtle shades, and make lips feel fabulously smooth
Neal's Yard Lip Gloss comes in 6 shades. It smells lovely, moisturises very effectively, and is halfway between a lipstick and a gloss. Bobbi Brown Lipgloss in Citrus works well too.
If you want to use an evening occasion to experiment with darker shades (but remember that dark shades make lips look thinner) use a lip liner to stop the colour bleeding, a lip brush to apply it and, if your lips are a bit thin, a touch of lip gloss in the centre. The extra effort is worth it.
Lipstick Liners work well and keep their intensity for hours, and help stop lined lips from bleeding. To give your lips a fuller look draw over the bow of your top lip with a light coloured pencil to give a plumper look - Guerlain's lip pencil in Cupidon works well. For a lip liner that goes well with neutral colours try Bobbi Brown's lip liner in Sandwash Pink.
Less is definitely more after a certain age and it is easy to get stuck in a rut with make up. Plus there are so many products on the market now it is really difficult to know what to buy to update your look.
A beauty bag detox every few years is essential. Half finished lipsticks and blushers that you are not convinced suit you - everyone has them. It's time to ditch old staples and try something new.
Given what make up can cost a make up lesson is definitely a good investment. For a new day or evening look the simplest option is to book a session at a make-up counter at your local department store. Get advice on your lipstick too – the correct colour will lighten your face. Going with a friend makes the whole thing much more fun – and they will give you an honest opinion of what suits you.
It’s a bit trial and error as some make-up houses give better training to their staff than others, and sessions range from 30 minutes to an hour. Laura Mercier and Bobbie Brown both generally seem to have very well briefed staff, and know their ranges well. Also, perhaps because their founders are in the 50+ bracket, they offer informed and well tailored advice for those needing a bit of rejuvenating. They also have very natural ranges - so you won’t come away looking overly made up. And if you don’t like your new look you can always wipe it off and try another make-up counter.
For those in a rush, or who cannot be bothered to spend much more than five minutes putting make-up on, investigate the Bobbi Brown Make-up Facelift at one of their counters where they will show you how to use just a few products to do the whole job - tinted moisturizing balm and concealer to even out skin tone, tinted eye brightener, blusher, eye shadow, eye liner, black mascara and lip stick.
A personalised make-up lesson with a specialist ensures objective and independent beauty advice. Whilst relatively expensive, they give much added value, offering expert personal attention, and they easily cover their costs by preventing expensive mistakes on the overwhelming choices available. They are also the perfect gift for a landmark birthday or event.
Click here for advice from make up expert Jane Sinclair who works with Cosmetics a la Carte.
The following make-up artists specialise in middle-aged women:
- Netia Herbert is based in London. £85 buys you a 1 hour session at her house in Fulham where she will create a make up regime that will realistically fit into your daily routine. She will go through your make up bag, throw out the bad bits and suggest new products and colours, first giving you a day look and then enhancing it for a more dramatic evening look. She will also devise a shopping list tailored to your needs. Tel 020 7795 1604
- Angela Davis-Deacon at Style on Call is keen that make up should be individual and is very aware that the right make up choice becomes so much more important with age. Tel 07961 837235
- Louise Constad is based in Paddington . She is 50 and so has a personal appreciation of more mature skin issues too. She tries to work with make up that the client already has, and build on that, rather than suggest a whole new bag of make up and for £250 will devote 4-5 hours to you.
- Cosmetics a la Carte in London offers everything from a detox of your make up bag for £80 to a 2hr complete make up lesson at £180 in which they will even blend the exact shade of foundation to match the season and your skin tone. Advice is impartial, and the founder is 50+ so she is well in tune with older skin. Try their in house Super Fine Powder. Tel 020 7622 2318
- isabelle Haddo will work with your age and style and offer you some very useful tricks of the trade.
- Anna Paolozzi specialises in private make-up tuition for over 40’s and acknowledges that unlocking a look is key to enhancing beauty as we get older. Tel 07757 663936
- Lost in Beauty at 117 Regents Park offers bespoke make up tuition in a friendly and welcoming environment, and has a fascinating shop which entices you to try all its wonderful products.