You can likely think of a couple makeup mistakes that older women make, but not all of them are so obvious. The fact is: Your body, as it ages, goes through a whole lot. Your skin will have different needs in your 50s than it had when you were a teen. It becomes less oily and more prone to looking flat. Facial features tend to thin and lose fullness. Fine lines and wrinkles develop.
Plus, personal style changes throughout the seasons and stages of our lives. What we wear in high school is much different from what we wear later on in life (goodbye, low-rise jeans). The same can be said for our makeup. All of these changes mean that your makeup needs to adapt as well.
However, without the right beauty knowledge, many older women will continue to make a litany of mistakes when applying their makeup. Elise Marquam Jahns, a makeup artist who works with women over 40, told Byrdie that “information on makeup for women over 40 is definitely needed.” That’s where we come in. Here are the most common beauty blunders by mature women and how to fix them.
Poorly matched foundation is a common makeup mistake among older women
According to Today, older women usually stick with just one shade of foundation. Seems straightforward, right? It’s not really that simple. Using foundation straight out of the bottle often leads to a poor match. However, there’s an easy fix. The publication recommends mixing two shades for a customized shade.
Makeup artist Sandy Linter advised choosing a base that’s a shade or two darker than your skin tone. Start there and mix in lighter or darker shades as you need. “Even if you have ivory skin, you need to go a little bit warmer as you get older,” she told Allure. She explained that warmer tones make skin look younger. The key is to avoid making the skin look ashy, especially since older skin gets dehydrated more easily.
When testing foundation shades, you’ll want to use your jawline, not your arm or hand, for the most accurate color match, according to Women’s Health. Kyriaki Savrani, makeup artist, told the publication, “The less obvious it is, the younger the result will be.” She suggested buying a foundation that reflects light to give you a fresh glow. The goal is to look natural and healthy, rather than like you’re wearing a mask.
Thick foundation is a makeup no-no for older women
Famous makeup artist Bobbi Brown believes thick foundation is the number one makeup mistake made by older women. “It makes the skin look drier, and I think it makes them look even older,” she explained to Yahoo.
Foundation that’s applied to thickly will settle into wrinkles and can make your skin look flat. Makeup artist Frances Hathaway told Oprah, “Only use foundation where you need it to even out discoloration.” You don’t have to apply it to your whole face. The publication further suggested using a sheer formula to avoid a cakey look. Alternatively, you can use a tinted moisturizer for a natural look.
When speaking with Allure, makeup artist Sandy Linter advised mature women to use a buildable foundation. That way, it’s easier to control how much you’re wearing. Chrisanne Davis provided Allure with another trick to keep foundation out of fine lines: She dampens a makeup sponge and presses it over wrinkles to catch any extra foundation that might settle there. Brilliant.
Skipping lip liner is a mistake a lot of older women make
Today noted that omitting lip liner is a common mistake for women over 40. Lip liner can be really flattering, though. It makes your lips look fuller and defines your lip shape, Health explained. In addition, it “works as primer to prevent feathering.” You don’t want your lipstick smudging and wandering outside the line of your mouth, right? Lip liner prevents that by helping your lipstick stay in place.
If you’re still scarred by the dramatic dark lip liner of the ’90s, you can reach for a clear formula. Makeup artist Kari Bauce told HuffPost, “If you don’t like the look or idea of liner, but still want your lipstick/gloss to stay in place, opt for a clear, mattifying pencil that will keep your makeup in place without adding extra color.”
Now that you’re convinced that lip liner is a must-have, what kind should you be looking for? HuffPost recommends using a creamy lip liner to make application easily. Plus, a creamy formula will prevent the makeup from highlighting dry patches on your lips.
For older women, there is such a thing as too much powder
Our skin is less oily as we age, so we don’t really need powder anymore. Teenage you would be rejoicing to know that she won’t always be shiny by lunchtime. Young skin reflects light (thanks to all that oil), according to Oprah, which powder prevents. Putting powder on skin that isn’t oily just looks too matte and unnatural. It can also dry your skin out further.
“Look for one that’s silky — not drying…,” Makeup artist Nick Barose suggested in an interview with Allure. In addition to being drying, makeup artist Stephanie Koutikas told Byrdie, “Most face powders tend to magnify lines in the skin, aging us.” Not good. If you’re set on using setting powder, though, Koutikas advised “switching to a sheer translucent powder or a mineral-based one.” But, only use it on your chin and nose.
In case your skin does get oily, reach for some blotting tissues to soak it up. The same idea applies to blush. Opt for a cream formula to avoid having powder blush settle into fine lines and highlight dry skin.
Older women often make this eyeliner mistake
Many of us applied liner on our lower lids in our high school years and it became a habit. However, this is actually a mistake among older women, according to Today. The darkness of the liner can point out fine lines. Instead, the publication recommended lining your top lids a lighter-than-black eyeliner shade, like a soft navy or brown.
Oprah warned that using eyeliner on your lower eyelid is like an arrow pointing to your dark circles. In addition, putting eyeliner on your lower lid makes your eyes look smaller, according to Huda Beauty. As if you needed that many reasons to convince you not to use liner on your lower lid.
But, if you still want to use eyeliner on your lower eyelid, use a white eyeliner on your waterline. This will make your eyes look bigger instead of narrower. Be sure to curl your eyelashes and apply mascara to make your eyes look bright.
Unblended eye shadow is a big makeup mistake among older women
Youtube is full of vloggers who love to blend some eye shadow. Not everyone is watching makeup tutorials online, however. Mature women aren’t featured in many makeup tutorials, Elise Marquam Jahns, a makeup artist who specializes in makeup for older women, revealed to Byrdie. And it’s likely they aren’t watching them either. As such, they may not share the same passion for blending, or have the knowledge to do it.
According to Byrdie, “you can never blend too much.” For powder eye shadow, Huda Beauty suggests using a windshield wiper motion to blend. Makeup artist Giselle Ali told Allure to reserve an eye shadow brush that’s just for blending. Don’t use this brush for applying eye shadow — use a different brush to put color on first. Then, use your blending brush to soften the color.
For cream shadows, just use your fingertips, advised Byrdie. Tap your finger in the eye shadow and then tap the color onto your lids. Don’t pull on your skin as you blend, though, since this is a delicate area.
This makeup mistake older women make draws attentions to fine lines
Lip liner can be aging if it isn’t applied well. HuffPost noted that lip liner can draw attention to fine lines around the mouth. To avoid this makeup mistake, it’s critical that it’s done in a way that looks natural.
Oprah revealed that it’s best to choose a lip liner that is the same color as your lips, rather than matching it to the color of your lipstick. This will give you the most natural effect. If you can’t find a good match to your natural lip color, choose a lip liner that has the same general undertones as your lipstick, advised Huda Beauty.
Makeup artist Melanie Inglessis told HuffPost to use a pencil that’s slightly dull; a lip liner that’s too pointy will create a more harsh line. MAC Cosmetics senior artist Keri Blair further recommended, “Wrap the tip of the pencil in a tissue and squeeze the pencil into a flat tip, turning your lip liner into a carpenter’s pencil.” You’ll get an accurate line that’s still soft.
Older women often make this mistake with blush
Blush can make you look younger if applied correctly, which is why mature women gravitate to it, despite sometimes overdoing it. When it’s done incorrectly, blush can look severe. To avoid this common mistake, HuffPost recommends using a sheer blush in a hue that is flattering for your skin tone. The publication continued, “Women with fair and medium skin tones should look for rosy pinks and peaches, and darker skin tones look best with coral and berry shades.”
Scott Barnes, makeup artist for Jennifer Lopez, suggested what he calls the “blush sandwich.” He explained, telling Huda Beauty, “One of the best ways to appear as if you have a really natural color is to apply strong blush and color over your initial layer of foundation, then go back over it again with the same foundation and brush you used earlier.” As far as placement, he advises putting blush on the apples of the cheeks under the eyes. He told the brand, “Applying blush on the sides, or stretching it out really far like it’s some sort of blush contour, will make you look older or outdated.”
Cakey concealer is a regrettable mistake for older women
In an effort to cover up dark under-eye circles, older women often turn to heavy, pale concealer. This isn’t a good idea since concealer has a tendency to settle into fine lines. Instead, makeup artist Nick Barose, gave Allure his recommendation: a thin liquid concealer that reflects light.
It’s also a good idea to use concealer on the inner half of your under-eye only. This way, you’ll keep the concealer away from any fine lines or wrinkles, makeup artist Sandy Linter explained to Good Housekeeping. Alternatively, you could use a highlighter pen on the area to brighten it. Jennifer Lopez’s makeup artist, Scott Barnes, revealed a similar recommendation when speaking to Huda Beauty. He explained, “… All you need is a lighter shade of foundation that you may not instinctually pick. It’s all about brightness, not about coverage.”
Don’t forget to blend. Carol Shaw, makeup artist, gave HuffPost this tip: “I like to use my finger to melt the concealer into the skin.” This will be even easier if you choose a lightweight concealer.
Older women may want to avoid this bold makeup mistake
Ladies from the ’80s might have a hard time with this one. As fun as it can be to wear colorful eyeshadow, the reality is that it draws attention to eyelid creases. In addition to highlighting wrinkles, bright eyeshadow was in style decades ago. Wearing it years later can make you seem out of touch with the latest makeup trends.
For a more flattering and on-trend alternative, choose a neutral, matte shadow. Carol Shaw, celebrity makeup artist, explained to HuffPost that “matte eye shadows are very wearable without accentuating any fine lines or wrinkles.”
Elise Marquam Jahns, a makeup artist who works with women over 40, is a big believer of nude shadows. She told Byrdie, “Our eyelid area changes [as we age], but we can open up our eyes by using lighter, nude shade on the lid and under the arch of the brow. This will lift the eye area.”
Lower-lash mascara may not sound like a mistake, but it is for older women
Bella Hadid is not a fan of wearing mascara on her lower lashes, the model’s makeup artist, Vincent Oquendo, admitted to Allure. It turns out that she may have good reason for being against it.
Allure warned that wearing mascara on your lower lashes draws attention to dark under-eye circles and crow’s-feet wrinkles. Instead, you’ll want to use black mascara on just your upper lashes. The publication also noted that our eyelashes naturally become drier as we age, just like our skin, so a thick formula isn’t a good choice. You don’t want heavy mascara weighing down your lashes, as that could make your eyes appear saggy.
Makeup artist Chrisanne Davis told Allure, “Curling your lashes is the easiest thing you can do to make your eyes look bigger — and therefore younger.” Focus on your top lashes instead of applying mascara on the bottom lashes.
Never trying anything new is a common mistake among older women
Wearing the same look that you wore in high school can quickly age you because, chances are, that trend is out. It’s tempting to stick with what you know, but you run the risk of missing out on great products. Who What Wear noted that older women commonly fall into this trap.
“We don’t keep the same clothes or wear the same thing every day. The same thing goes for skincare and makeup,” celebrity makeup artist Jamie Greenberg told the publication. “If it’s old, throw it out,” she said of expired makeup. The expert continued, “Not only is that unsanitary, but it also looks bad on the skin.”
It can be intimidating to use new products when you’re not sure if something different would work for you, but you don’t need to make major changes. Who What Wear advises making little tweaks. Use liquid liner instead of a pencil eyeliner, for instance, or try lipstick that’s a little pinker than your current shade.
"Severe" lipstick may end up being a mistake for older women
Everyone loves a little black dress because it creates the illusion of being thinner, but it’s not as flattering when it comes to lipstick. Lips tend to thin as we get older and dark lipstick can accentuate that change, noted Oprah. Instead, the publication recommended pink and red tones. These lighter shades will make you look more youthful and give you a more natural look.
Sandy Linter, makeup artist, put it this way: “Anything that’s severe — a lipstick or hairdo — will age you.” According to the expert, sheer lip colors are more flattering. Beauty blogger and makeup artist Jenny Duvall is a fan of using creamy, glossy lip products to make lips appear fuller. She explained that matte formulas can be aging. Plus, dark lipstick has a way of gathering in the lines of the lips, which is aging in and of itself.
Many older women are familiar with these eyebrow mistakes
Eyebrow mistakes are so common and, unfortunately, they can make or break your look. Dark, overly drawn eyebrows can make you look like a cartoon. Ignoring them all together is a mistake as well, especially because eyebrows can become thinner with age.
Celebrity makeup artist Rachel Wood told Bustle that it’s most flattering to use an eyebrow pencil that is slightly lighter than your natural brow color. “Using a brow pencil that’s as dark as your natural brow will make it look too heavy or intense,” she explained. Redbook suggested using an eyebrow pencil to make short strokes at the bottom of your brows and then blending upward with an eyebrow brush. This way, you avoid using too much product and it’s easier to blend.
Makeup artist JoAnn Solomon agrees. The expert told Reader’s Digest the best way to get a natural eyebrow look is to build the product up slowly and then use a spooley to blend. Finish with a clear brow gel to keep it in place.
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