Best Makeup for Mature Skin
When we're young we barely need makeup to look good, but when we get old and need the camouflage more than ever, it sometimes seems impossible to find foundation that's up to the job! But don't despair, it is possible to find makeup that works for mature skin. It's all about good preparation, choosing the right products, and applying them with subtlety.
Lose the Powder!
For most mature women, powder is public enemy #1.
Most of us grew up using powder cosmetics. Those born in the '40s may use pressed powder instead of foundation; baby boomers were taught to set their liquid foundation with translucent powder; and nearly all of us have used powder blush. The latest craze for mineral powder foundations has sucked in a few of us, too, with the promise of better skin.
Unfortunately, powder—even mineral powder—is unflattering to most mature women, for two reasons:
# 1 - Matte Means Flat
When we're young, our skin has a natural glow. In hot weather or if we have oily skin, that glow can get out of hand, so powder is useful. However most women find their skin dries out after 50, so there's less need to mattify.
The glow of youth diminishes, so now we need to enhance it, not hide it! Powder hides any remaining sheen we have, and can give a flat, lifeless look.
# 2 - Facial Hair
The other thing to watch for is the effect of powder on fine, downy facial hair. Powder clings to the hairs and makes them far more obvious, especially in bright light.
This problem is rarely mentioned by beauty writers, so I was gratified to see a recent Vogue review of a new mineral powder foundation. The writer raved about how great it was, then added, "however powder foundations are not recommended if you have facial down."
Light-Reflecting Foundations = Wrinkles!
If powder is too matte, then maybe the new "light-reflecting" foundations and highlighters are the answer? These products are often marketed to mature women, as a way of reclaiming a youthful glow. Unfortunately, they have their downside on lined skin, too.
Put a light-reflecting foundation or highlighter on a wrinkled area, and light will reflect off the peaks but not in the troughs—making your wrinkles stand out even more! The same applies to foundations or highlighters that are pearlised.
Many mineral powder foundations fall into this category as they often contain mica or other light-reflecting ingredients. The combination of powder and light reflection can be an unfortunate double whammy for some older faces.
The Problem With Full Coverage Foundation
Uneven skin tone is a giveaway sign of aging. The obvious reaction is to use a foundation that offers better coverage. It may camouflage pigmentation, but it comes at a price!
If a foundation promises to cover better or last longer, it's also going to be heavier or at least, stickier. That means it's almost certain to settle into lines more.
So, if you're trying a foundation or concealer, don't judge by how it looks when you put it on. Wait half an hour, then take a good look at your face in a good light (and, if your eyesight isn't what it was, use a magnifying mirror!).
I tried this recently with an expensive foundation which promised a "dewy, age-defying, long-wearing finish."
It looked great at first, but half an hour later when I looked in the mirror and smiled, I changed my mind. The foundation had settled into my eye wrinkles, so when I smiled I had a map of the Nile delta below each eye!
Use a Subtle Approach
The sad truth is that makeup's ability to camouflage wrinkles and pigmentation is far more limited than marketing suggests.
Remember that even the heavily made-up models in the ads have been photoshopped to hide their flaws! I wish I could offer a magic solution to transform an older face, but I haven't found one so far.
I've found the best approach is to turn the whole thing on its head. Instead of attacking with everything you've got, be subtle. It may not hide as much, but people will think you're not made up, so they'll think your bright eyes and rose cheeks are natural!
What Really Works
- Use primers under makeup—it will help even out skin tone and texture, and keep your makeup fresher longer. Primers are available for the face, lips and eyes.
- Use a BB cream, CC cream or even a tinted moisturizer instead of foundation, or mix your foundation with a drop of moisturizer for a soft finish.
- Use cream blusher (stick or compact), not powder, for a more dewy look.
- If you use concealer under your eyes, pat it from the inner corner of your eye to the mid-point. If you use it under the outer corner, it will highlight your wrinkles.
- Use a highlighter just under your browbone to open up your eyes
- As we age, our eyelids turn purple. A pale peach or gold shadow over the whole eyelid will counteract that and give a more youthful look.
- Use a nude or pale pink eyeliner along the inside edge of your lower lid (like kohl)—instant sparkle!
- Use a lipliner to sharpen the outline of your lips.
- Never put mascara on your lower lashes.
Fix the Fundamentals
You may be feeling frustrated that there isn't more you can do with cosmetics to improve your look. But there is something else you can do—tackle the underlying problems instead of trying to hide the result.
There are ways to work on improving your skin's condition, rather than trying to cover it up.
There are several non-surgical facelift systems which can bring back a youthful glow, and reduce wrinkles. My personal favourite is Omnilux Revive. Whether you have a monthly salon treatment or do it yourself at home, it's fantastic for evening out your skin tone and diminishing wrinkles.
Cosmetics photos courtesy of ooikikioo.
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© 2009 Kate Swanson