With the right tricks, turning back the clock can be as simple as opening your makeup bag.
This is so obvious we have trouble even telling you, but it bears repeating because all other steps are worthless if you don’t do this one. Before you even think of applying makeup—as in while your skin is still damp from cleansing—slather on a moisturizer. OK, you are now free to unzip your makeup bag.
CHOOSE LIQUID CONCEALER
It’s a cruel irony: As you age, you have more to conceal, but concealer can draw attention to lines and crepiness. You want a product that hides redness and circles without getting cakey, and that means you want a liquid cover-up in a click pen. “Anything that comes in a pan has a wax base and will look waxy on the skin,” says makeup artist Sue Devitt. “A click-pen formula covers just as well and doesn’t seep into lines.” The light reflectors in Yves Saint Laurent Touche Éclat blur imperfections and give skin a luminous look.
BUY A YELLOW(ISH) FOUNDATION
Not Big Bird yellow, just yellowish. “Yellow warms up the skin,” says makeup artist Sandy Linter. “And the warmer your skin looks, the younger it looks. End of story.” This goes for Asian and black skin as well.
USE A SPONGE
You may be tempted to cover up every imperfection with foundation. Don’t. According to makeup artist Brigitte Reiss-Andersen, a damp sponge is your new best friend (we swear by the BeautyBlender, but any wedge one will do). Quickly wet your sponge under the faucet, squeeze out the water, and put a dab of foundation on the back of your hand. Pick up the foundation you need with the tip and apply it in dabbing motions on your face. Between the sponge absorbing some of the foundation and the water thinning the rest, you will get the optimal sheer coverage. You may need to blend it with your fingers, but the point is that it won’t look cakey or opaque.
SKIP TINTED FACE POWDER
Covering your skin in powder can mean the difference between Miss America and Miss Havisham. In other words, skip it. If you feel naked without powder, “use translucent, light-diffusing powder, nothing tinted, to set your base,” says makeup artist Genevieve Herr, and apply it in sunlight so you know what it actually looks like. We’ve found Sonia Kashuk Barely There Loose Powder does the trick.
KEEP PILING ON THE MOISTURE
Says makeup artist Chrisanne Davis, “Nothing, nothing, nothing makes you look older than heavy powder formulas.” Makeup artists recommend stocking your bag with creams, gels, liquids, and products that generally don’t require the use of a brush. “The more hydrated your skin, the younger it looks,” says Reiss-Andersen
SHOW OFF YOUR BONE STRUCTURE
After years of smiling into a mirror to isolate the apples of your cheeks, you can now give it a rest. “Women lose fat in their face as they age,” says Linter. “Take advantage of that! Rub your blush in along the highest points of your cheekbones—it makes your bone structure stand out.”
TWEEZE, BUT ONLY IF YOU ABSOLUTELY MUST
“As you age, your face becomes more asymmetrical, but it’s a big mistake to try to correct it by reshaping your brows,” says Linter. “Tweezing a lot won’t reshape anything—it’ll just make your brows thinner.” If you tweeze at all, just clean up the most obvious errant hairs. If you need more shaping than that, go to a pro.
CHOOSE A LIGHT BROW PENCIL
When you’re filling in your brows, use a pencil that’s a shade lighter than your natural coloring (if you’re blonde, go one shade darker), and hold it at a 45-degree angle, as opposed to perpendicular to the skin. “The strokes will be softer, and the brows will look more natural,” says Linter. This is a good thing because it makes your—full! thick! lush!—brows also look totally real! We like Paul and Joe Eyebrow Pencil Duo.
CURL YOUR LASHES
Unearth your eyelash curler. It’s not that you don’t have one, and it’s not that you don’t know how it works. It’s that it sits unused in your makeup bag. “If you’re over 35, you need to be curling your lashes,” says Reiss-Andersen. “Eyelashes flatten as you age, and you need to keep everything going upward, against gravity. Even if you skip mascara, curling your lashes makes your eyes look bigger and brighter.”
APPLY EYE-SHADOW BASE
“Patting the tiniest dab of eye-shadow base or primer on the lids before your shadow will keep it in place,” says Linter. This is especially important if your lids have even the slightest wrinkles. Fine lines can exacerbate creasing, and creasing exacerbates the appearance of lines. Vicious cycle. “I see women put eye cream on their lids in the hopes of smoothing out their lines,” says Linter. “But all it does is make all the eye makeup bleed and turn into a hot mess.” A really good option to try: Smashbox Photo Finish Lid Primer.
WEAR BROWN EYELINER
You have been using black eyeliner since college, you wear it every day, and you could apply it with your eyes closed (and probably do). It’s time to end that relationship. “Deep brown has the impact of black, but looks less jarring,” says Reiss-Andersen. “It gives you all the intensity, but in a more sophisticated, subtle way.” Draw the pencil along the upper lashes only, and “lift the lines at the outer
corners with a cotton swab,” suggests Linter, who recommends flicking the liner up at the outer corners with the cotton swab to create the tiniest wings. “It’s an easy way of opening up the eyes,” she says. “Or retrace the lines with your pointed Q-tip to soften them up.”
DON’T SHY AWAY FROM SHIMMER
“A bit of soft shimmer is flattering as you get older because it brings light to the face,” says Devitt, who very gently points out that a woman’s skin starts to lose its inherent radiance when she hits her 30s. Davis recommends a creamy neutral shadow, like champagne, pewter, or rose gold. (Try Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Cream Shadows in Stone (shown here), Sandy Gold, Beach Honey, and Chrome Patina, which are beautiful and creaseproof.) “Dab it on the inner corners of the eyes to wake up the face,” she says.
CHOOSE A LENGTHENING MASCARA
Lashes get thinner as you age, so conventional wisdom says you need a thickening mascara to bulk them up, but common wisdom is wrong. “Your lashes can’t support the extra weight,” says Linter. “Heavy formulas flatten the lashes.” Instead, use a lengthening mascara, like Lancôme Définicils High Definition Mascara, which tends to be lighter on the lashes, and look for mascaras with thin wands so you can easily coat each lash.
SWITCH TO NUDE LIPS
“It’s a sad fact that as we age, our lips get smaller, especially the upper lip,” says Linter. The best approach is to stick to shades that enhance your natural lip tone, rather than bringing attention to the area. “Look for something between your natural lip color and a berry shade,” says makeup artist Makky P. “That will just boost your natural tone. And go for a stain instead of a creamy lipstick to prevent the color from bleeding.” Then top it off with a clear gloss or balm to keep lips looking full and hydrated—Revlon Just Bitten Lipstain + Balm is an ideal choice.
If that shiny-old-lady look creeps you out, you’re not alone—it creeps us out, too. But there is a way to use highlighter to your advantage. Dab a very sheer formula just on the cheekbones, not on the brow bones, the apples of the cheeks, or the lips. “It prevents the flat-face look,” says Reiss-Andersen. “It adds a very subtle, youthful, and pretty dimension to your features.” Try Giorgio Armani Fluid Sheers in 2 (shown here), a champagne shade perfect for light skin, or 10, a golden beige, for medium to dark tones.