Saturday, November 13, 2010

The magic of make up

How old are you? How old is your make up? If you are over 40, you need to read this. If you are under 40, keep reading…one day you will be over 40 and you will need to know this stuff. And if you’re a guy…well, who knows when this sort of thing might come in handy?

Most of us already know that makeup is a perishable. With the exception, perhaps, of powdered eye shadows, time (and contaminants from your fingers) will cause makeup to go “off.” Cosmetics are chemical cocktails and age can literally affect them: foundations will go orange, mascara will get clumpy and smell funny, blushes will get streaky or change colour. Mascara should be replaced every 3-6 months, foundation should be no more than a year old, for example.

But chemical changes and contamination of your cosmetics are not the only reason to regularly replace them: not only do fashions change, but you do, too. As you age, your skin changes both in colour and tone and even if you indulge in cosmetic surgery to stave off aging, it can only do so much. The rest you must do with your make up brush and the first thing you can do is to update your look.

We tend to get stuck in ruts, knowingly or not. We buy the same things because we have always used the same things…they work for us and we see no reason to change. Unfortunately, when it comes to such things as make up, the reason to change is staring right at us from the mirror, we just don’t see the tiny, daily build up of change. As our faces and skins age, we need to change our make up choices to soften those changes. Failure to do so actually makes us look older.

The first thing we have to do is reassess our moisturizer and foundation. If you haven’t changed your make up base or your moisturizer in the past five years, it is past time to reassess. The best place to do that is at the make up counter of a large department store. In my forties I changed from Clinique, which is formulated more for young skin, to Estee Lauder, which carries an excellent line for maturing skin, and am still using it. Be sure to arrive at the make up counter with bare skin so proper moisturizer and correct foundation type and colour can be accurately assessed.

If you are over 40 and are using anything in your make up that is black, shiny, or sparkly, chuck them in the bin right now!! Liquid eyeliner? Toss it! Blue, green, gold or any other colour of eye shadow, liner, or mascara that isn’t a colour that skin comes in? Trash! And, unless you are dark skinned (Latina, Indian, African, etc.), get rid of those deeply coloured blushes and rouges and red or other dark-hued lipsticks. The effect you will be going for is called “subtle” and colours that leap off your face are anything but!

Be forewarned that your post-update face is going to look a little pale and washed out by comparison to your old look (assuming your old look embraced vibrant colour and lots of it), but give it a few weeks to grow on you. Gracefully easing into maturity is a much better choice than desperately clinging to the trappings of a bygone youth, and spares you the pitying looks of those who mutter, sotto voce, “mutton dressed as lamb,” as you pass by.

Once you have your moisturizer and foundation sorted out (and any other accoutrements you might need like an under-eye cream or a skin tightener for under your chin), the next step is to buy brushes. If you have make up brushes now, when was the last time they were cleaned and/or replaced? If you’ve never used them before, now is the time you need to…make up applied by brush is much softer looking, much less harsh, and much less aging. At minimum you will need two fluffy brushes, one for blusher, one for loose powder (and no, those stubby little things that come with the blusher and eye shadow will not suffice), a spiral brush, similar to the one inside your mascara tube, and a stiff brush with the end cut at a 45 degree angle. You may also add a soft eye shadow brush and a lipstick brush, but these are optional. Oh, and you really should buy an eyelash curler.

Now that you have your brushes, it is time to choose you new cosmetics. Let’s start with the eyebrows. Select an eyebrow pencil that is slightly lighter than the colour of your natural eyebrow colour. While you are at it, get a sharpener, as the pencil needs a bit of a point to it to work well. Do not draw on your brows with hard lines, rather gently stroke the pencil so as to fill in bare spots and provide shape and contour to your brows. When done, take the spiral brush and brush your brows upward, softening and smudging the pencil lines to make them look more natural.

Eye shadow is called “shadow” for a reason. It was designed to give the eye depth and contour where little existed, or to accentuate it where it did exist. What colours naturally occur around the eye? All shades of brown, some smoky grey colours, even muted purples. If the skin around your eyes naturally shows red, bright pink, green, purple, sparkling metals, yellow or orange, you desperately need a visit to a dermatologist! Yes, those colours can be cute, but not on crinkly 40-year-old eyelids!

The first colour you will need is a rich, dark brown, but something without sparkly bits in it. Why cosmetic manufacturers overlook the vast (and growing) market of 40+ women in favour of barely post-pubescent girls is beyond me, but the fact is, most make up lines create their colour palette to appeal to teenyboppers, not their mothers and grandmothers! But I just found a nice chestnut brown (sans sparklies) from Yardley, so I knew they are out there! Depending on your skin colour, this brown may be all you need. If you are fair skinned, however, see if you can find a lighter brown shade (also sans sparklies) as well.

Using the angled brush, load it with the dark brown shadow and, in a magnifying mirror, gently dot the colour at the base of your lower lashes, starting at the outside corner of the eye. This is what you will use instead of liquid eyeliner. It is softer, the line won’t go wonky when you release the tension on your skin and the wrinkles snap back into position, and it won’t scream “old lady” to people who have to look you in the eye. How far to the inside corner of the eye you go is up to you, but accentuating the outside corners and using a bare minimum past the mid point will make the eyes look larger and wider set. Re-load the brush and put the shadow at the base of the top lashes, starting in the middle of the lash line and working towards the outside. This line can be a bit thicker than the line under the lower lashes. If you choose to put shadow on the upper lid, do this afterward.

Shadow on the upper lid is not such a great idea. The more lines around your eyes, especially above them, the more creases for the shadow to creep into and accentuate. Whatever you do, do not put shadow (and avoid cream shadows like the plague) in the inner corner of the upper lid as this is where the skin shows creases the most noticeably.

After shadow comes mascara…the first coat. Avoid black mascara unless you are dark skinned, and even then, brown-black is a better choice. Dark brown or brown-black is a softer colour and will not appear so harsh on more mature skin. First, curl the lashes. This opens up the eyes, making them appear larger. Next, coat the underside of the top lashes. Do not pump the wand in and out of the container, wipe off any clumpy stuff on the brush, and apply one coat to all lashes (the tip of the wand works well to colour lashes at the end of the lid). Avoid the tiny lashes on the inner corner of the eye. Next, coat the top of the lashes, then, using the tip of the wand, do the lower lashes.

Now, blusher. Using a fluffy brush, collect some blusher on the tip of the brush. Dab the brush briefly on a tissue or the back of your hand to get rid of excess. Now, smile and dab the blusher on the apple of your cheek, stroking back along the top of the cheekbone to the top of the ear. Dust off the brush on a tissue and fluff the blusher on the cheek to diffuse it.

A lip pencil is the best way to start your lipstick but whatever you do, do NOT outline your lips in a dark colour and fill in with a lighter hue or not at all. That look, which was dodgy to begin with, went out of style with leggings and crimped hair! Line and fill your lips with the same colour, which should be muted and only slightly darker than your natural lip shade. Avoid frosted colours, pale colours, or anything that does not look like it could actually be a natural lip colour for you. Same with blushers…if it doesn’t look like your own skin colour when you are flushed, it’s the wrong shade for you.

Blot the lipstick well on a tissue, then get out the other fluffy brush. Gently dip it in a translucent loose powder and tap the brush to dislodge the excess. Gently dust your face, including cheeks, eyes (and lashes) and even your lips. This will 1) set the colour and 2) remove shine. Because of the concern for powder settling in fine facial lines, you must now take a small cosmetic sponge, dampened slightly, and blot the excess powder from your face.

The last steps are to apply a second coat of mascara and lipstick and, if necessary, touch up the blush a wee bit.

You’re going to look like you don’t have any make up on, which is exactly the goal…to accentuate your best features and make you look naturally beautiful. Past a certain age, dramatic face paint just looks sad, like you are trying too hard to be something you are not…25. We had our days in the sun, now it is time to gracefully step aside and let the younger women shine while we bask in the glory of our maturity and wisdom…looking years younger than we really are, of course, through the magic of carefully chosen and artfully applied make up.

1 comment:

  1. This is the funniest article ever!(and very helpful), Thank you :)


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