Makeup is meant to enhance our natural beauty, but as we age if we continue with all the same application techniques we used in our younger days, it can have the opposite effect — drying out our skin, dragging our features down, or highlighting fine lines. In short: making us look older, instead of more vibrant.
With just a few tweaks here and there — like wearing less makeup, surprisingly — you can accentuate your best features and minimize any bothersome areas. And remember, no matter our age, makeup should be a fun way to express ourselves — and hopefully never feel like a chore. Catching a glimpse of yourself in the mirror with your favorite lipstick on should be an instant mood booster!
With this in mind, we reached out to two top celebrity makeup artists to get age-defying makeup tips for women who are 45 and beyond.
Less is More
It may seem counterintuitive, but with maturing skin, using less makeup is better — especially when it comes to foundation, concealer, and powder. Celebrity makeup artist Vincent Oquendo suggests starting with concealer — under the eyes, around the nose, and any other trouble areas — then adding foundation sparingly only where needed. He loves Shiseido Synchro Skin Self-Refreshing foundation because it’s lightweight, breathable, and won’t cake your face. “It keeps skin looking fresh and luminous,” he says.
Keep powdering to a minimum by sweeping a loose translucent powder with minimal coverage — something sheer just to take away shine — only in the t-zone.
Hydration is Key
Celebrity makeup artist Mai Quynh suggests ditching the powder all together. “When most people get older, their skin loses moisture, hydration, and elasticity,” she explains. “So cream makeup will look better on the skin." If you find a cream or liquid foundation that has a semi-matte formula, you can eliminate powder which can settle into and accentuate wrinkles and lines.
Quynh loves Jane Iredale Beyond Matte foundation. “It contains hyaluronic acid which everyone needs to keep skin hydrated while offering buildable luminous coverage.” She also suggests applying a primer before foundation to help smooth out areas and make your makeup stay on longer.
Use the Right Tools
“With maturing skin it’s easy to get a smoother application with foundation and concealer using the Beauty Blender sponge,” says Oquendo. “Its egg-like shape allows you to get into all the nooks and fine lines and creates a smooth airbrush like effect on the skin.” Tip: Always dampen the sponge before you use it, so it only absorbs a small amount of the product.
Say Yes to a Flush
Both Quynh and Oquendo go for a cream blush on women of all ages, but especially for those over 45. “It adds a healthy flush to the skin which helps beat dullness and dryness,” says Quynh, who loves Chantecaille Aqua Blush for its bright but blendable color and cooling dewy texture.
“Blush really brings a youthful glow to any face,” says Oquendo, who recommends Shiseido Minimalist Whipped Powder in Sonoya, an air whipped cream blush that turns into a powder when applied. “I apply blush to the outer edge of the apple of the cheek and sweep it up to blend into the contour," he explains. "Naturally you will blush on the apple so you don't need extra there — this looks more like a youthful natural flush.”
Skip the Bronzer
Bronzer is another product Quynh suggests passing on because it can create extra shadows on the face (think contouring). “When you get older, certain areas on the face may lose their fullness and look more gaunt,” she says. “Bronzers can accentuate that, so I’d avoid it.”
But his doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice that extra glow. Try adding some warmth to the skin by using foundation a half-shade darker or a luminizing liquid bronze highlighter. Quynh’s favorite is Becca Skin Perfector Liquid Highlighter In Warm Gold.
Get the Red Out
Before you even think about eye makeup, you want your eyes to be as bright and clear as possible. “Red eyes can make you look dull and tired, no matter how much makeup you apply to hide it,” says Oquendo. “I always recommend starting with LUMIFY redness reliever eye drops before moving onto makeup… [they will] significantly reduces redness to help eyes appear whiter, brighter, and more radiant.”
Create a Base
Oquendo likes to start by using a cream eyeshadow, then adding a powder shadow on top. “The cream shadow acts as a base or primer and gives the powder shadow something to hold onto,” he explains.
Quynh also suggests using a base, but prefers using an eyeshadow primer, like the ones from Laura Mercier. “They have soft color-correcting ones that correct any discolorations before applying shadow, while making your shadow stay on longer,” she says.
You may have already realized, but the days of sparkle and shimmer are probably best left behind us. “Stay away from super shimmery shadows because they can emphasize crepiness and wrinkles,” says Quynh. She advises sticking to satin or matte powder shadows in neutral colors that aren’t too dark.
To apply, Oquendo says to create a soft wash by using a fluffy brush and starting at the base of your lashes blending softly up and out until the shadow is diffused.
“Eyeliner and mascara are key!” says Quynh. “It’s important to define those eyes and lashes.”
Oquendo suggests using a gel pencil like the Maybelline TattooStudio Sharpenable Gel Pencil. “This gel formula is gentle on eyes, allowing it to glide on smoothly against the lash line without tugging and pulling,” he says. He also likes to use a volumizing mascara. "I make sure to dig in at the root of the lashes to create a strong base for a voluminous lash that will last all day.”
Don’t Forget Those Brows
They say the eyes are the windows to the soul, but they aren’t giving the brow enough credit. Your arches structure your face and make your eyes pop! So you want your brow technique be in top form — especially if you’re over 50.
“When filling in brows, start at the highpoint of the brow and fill in any gaps or holes with hairlike strokes going against the hair,” instructs Oquendo. “If you have any grey hairs in your eyebrows, simply brush over them with a brow gel that is one shade darker than your hair color.”
Be Sure to Prep
To ensure your lips are smooth and full, it’s important to prep them before applying lipstick, and in your day-to-day in general. Regular exfoliation and hydration are a must. You can exfoliate with a lip scrub or even just a dry toothbrush. Ideally, you’re already drinking a ton of water, but keep sipping. Our lips are like sponges, they absorb water and plump up when we drink, and dry out and shrink when dehydrated. Also, use a balm with hydrating ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil, and Vitamin E. If you can find one with SPF, that is great too!
Ditch the Matte
Lips are the finishing touch on any makeup look, so you want them as smooth as possible. When you’re over 45, it’s probably time to ditch any intense matte formulas, especially liquid ones, which are extremely dry and can settle into the crevices of your lip and accentuate fine lines.
Instead, Oquendo suggests opting for a satin or gloss texture. If you don’t like the shine, make sure to go for a creamy matte. “A creamy matte has more of a velvet texture which feels better and is more forgiving,” he says. “Especially paired with a lip balm."
Line or Not
It's highly recommended to use liner to define your lips and make the lipstick last longer. But Oquendo swears by Maybelline Superstay Ink Crayon Lipstick, a product that lets you skip this step. “It has a sharpenable precision tip that allows you to forego your traditional lip liner making touch-ups easy,” he says. “The matte crayon glides on smoothly and lasts up to eight hours.”
“A classic red lip is absolutely ageless and never goes out of style,” says Oquendo. “Fair and light skin tones really pop with a blue toned red, while medium skin tones are complemented by a warm orange red lipstick. Dark skin tones work great with a neutral red that has both warm and cool tones in it.”
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