On the left is a woman with overtweezed eyebrows drawn on with dark pencil, blue eyeshadow and liner that's too dark. The right shows a woman whose brows are shaped, eyeliner is smudged and more natural, and her lip color is lighter and without dark lip liner.
In their teens and 20s, most women can't wait to experiment with the newest makeup trend — be it bright eyeshadow, bold blush or a dark lip liner.
But beauty needs change over time.
What worked for you in your younger years won't necessarily work in your 50s and beyond.
Skin texture changes. Lips lose their luster and the skin around them wrinkles. Brows and lashes can grow sparse.
And the wrong makeup (yes, even your longtime favorites) can instantly age you — something no woman wants.
We asked Sharon Drenner, 66, a professional makeup consultant at Clarity Medspa in Land O' Lakes (www.claritymedspa.com), to give us some tips on how women of a certain age can avoid the most frequent makeup mistakes and help turn back the hands of time.
1. Thin, dark, poorly shaped eyebrows
Your brows are the frame for your eyes, and they can completely change your entire appearance in either a good or unforgivably bad way.
As we age, brows tend to become thinner due to hormonal changes. (One of the indicators of thyroid deficiency is brows that lose their “tails.”) Don't make the mistake of using dark pencils and drawing harsh lines. Use a lighter brow pencil and light strokes where brows are missing and use brow powder to fill in for a softer, more natural look.
Brows should start parallel to the edge of your inner eye, arch at about the outside edge of the iris and end at a 45-degree angle from the outside of your eye.
2. Dark lip liner
Dark lip liner can work for some women — as long as it doesn't bleed into those deep lip wrinkles (called barcode lines or smoker's kiss). This generally happens when women try to enlarge the look of thinning lips by going outside the natural lip line. They often use light shades of lipstick inside the lip liner, believing it will make the lips look fuller. A big no-no.
Again, hormonal changes are the culprit. As teens, our lips became full and rosy with the first hormone surges. Depleting hormones act in the opposite way, causing lips to thin and loose color.
The best way to give lips a more youthful look is to keep lip liner and lipstick the same shade and finish with a lip gloss to create a moister, fuller look. Many lip stains and glosses contain plumping agents. Jane Iredale's Just Kissed Lip Stain and Gloss has all-natural plumping agents that last for hours and it comes in a variety of gorgeous colors.
It actually looks prettier to use a darker color of gloss on the inside of both top and bottom lips. This looks fresher and also can make teeth appear whiter. (Yellow teeth can make you look years older. Check with your dentist about teeth-whitening treatments or use whitening toothpaste at home for long-term results).
3. Caked-on foundation in the wrong shade
Chances are you haven't changed your makeup routine in years, or adapted to the changes in your skin's tone and texture. Heavy application of powders, blush and foundation only accentuates wrinkles. Using the wrong shade of blush with a heavy hand can easily create a clownish look rather than the glow it should.
If you had your “colors” or “season” identified years ago, make sure you aren't still using the same theory for wardrobe and cosmetics now. The chances are pretty good that even if you are coloring your gray hair, it isn't the exact same tone anymore. It's also pretty much a guarantee that skin tone and texture have changed with aging. Many women are using a foundation that is too dark, too drying for their fragile skin or has yellow overtones that cause a sallow look. Any of these situations makes the makeup hard to blend and create a natural look.
A good makeup consultant can be invaluable in advising you, and should be willing to offer a complimentary makeover or samples to try until you are satisfied with your choice. Ask a trusted friend whose style you admire to give her honest opinion of results.
4. Eye shadow that matches your eye color
The purpose of using eye shadow is to enhance the shape and color of your eyes and to create balance, interest, and a spark of vitality.
Eye shadow tones that match the color of your eyes are too overpowering for anyone, regardless of age. Instead of making blue eyes bluer, blue shadow robs the eye of color. A better choice is to use the color tone that is opposite your color of eye on the color wheel. Blue, for instance, is opposite orange, so a terra-cotta shadow would make blue eyes pop. There are variations to the rule, since you can use hues that are on either side of the primary and all of the tones from light to dark. In this case, that means a brown (terra-cotta with black added) that has red tones will work, since red-orange is the color on the other side of orange.
5. Black liquid eyeliner and clumpy mascara
Young and exotic runway models rock this couture look on stage, but almost no one truly looks alive and well close up, particularly a woman with aging skin around the eyelid. The hard line created by liquid liner rarely stays straight on crepe-like skin; heavy liner and mascara on the bottom lashes looks downright ghoulish when it travels. Women who seldom wear eye makeup often do this for special events. Don't!
A blended trio of shadows and soft dark-brown eye pencil can accomplish the dramatic eye for a glamorous evening out. The key words here are BLEND and SMUDGE. This can be done with brushes, Q-Tips, and little felt-tip tools on the end of specialty brushes made for this purpose.
Mascara is best applied in two or three light coats over a lash conditioner, brushing with a clean lash brush after each application to avoid clumps. One light coat on bottom lashes is enough. Instead of using dark liner on the bottom lashes, try a lighter pencil with shadow smudged over it to soften.