Saturday, December 26, 2009

Makeup Essentials for Over 50

Isn’t it supposed to be the ‘season to be jolly’? On Monday, I was driving through town and noticed the local movie theater marquee advertising four movies, none of which sounded the least bit jolly. The current movie offerings: Transylmania, New Moon, Ninja Assassins and Armored. ‘Tis the season to be bitten or pummeled to death, it would seem. The usual questions crossed my mind—Who’s in charge? And—Is it time to build an ark? Fortunately, I’m too busy at this time of year for movies or for dwelling on society’s cultural breakdown. I did, however, find time in December to update my makeup at Sephora. It seemed like a good idea, since I probably do more socializing in December than in any other month of the year--which isn’t saying a whole lot. Sad, but true.

I needed to go to Sephora for holiday gifts for work colleagues and my two nieces. When I mentioned it to a girlfriend, she suggested we go together and have dinner afterwards. My girlfriend is gorgeous and wears makeup expertly. By expertly, I’m mean I'm never conscious of her actual makeup, but I’m always aware that she has a bright, even glow about her aging complexion. I had mentioned to her that I wanted to get a makeup consultation for my “over 50” face. “Why don’t we shop and get you a holiday makeover?” she asked.

We met at Sephora at Columbus Circle in Manhattan. A pleasant ‘store greeter’ was at the entrance, ready to assist us. We told her I wanted a makeup consultation and she escorted us to the far corner of the store, where Tony was waiting. Tony, a ‘color expert,’ invited me to climb into his director’s chair and tell him my aging troubles and what I hoped to achieve with makeup.

“I’m not looking for miracles,” I said straight away. “But I would like to find products that can cover up the dark circles under my eyes, those nasty age spots, and my blotchy skin.”

Tony listened attentively and, I might add, compassionately. “So what I’m hearing,” he said and then repeated what I had said. The fact that he didn’t burst out laughing was a good sign.

Tony introduced me to Tarte products. Apparently, the Tarte makeup line isn’t loaded with a lot of strange chemicals and is well suited to the aging complexion. I was excited about the line because it had a reasonably priced ($54) starter kit for different skin tones. At home, I had a coffin-size (perhaps, a slight exaggeration) plastic bin of old makeup, the majority of which department store cosmetic consultants had recommended. Over the years, these consultants had encouraged me to buy expensive creams, gels, powders, roll-ons, liners and more. Afterwards, when I returned to natural lighting, to reality, I would find I’d been sold the wrong colors for my skin tone and enough makeup to paint a barn. I could never admit I’d wasted money, so I’d throw the makeup in the plastic bin and tell myself I might wear it someday—when ridiculous shades for a person’s skin tone became vogue. And then, I’d returned to the makeup regimen I’d used in high school: blush, mascara, eyeliner and lipstick.

It was time to break this cycle, however. My 50+ face needed serious help. According to Tony, the Tarte starter kit includes the “correcting essentials” my 50+ face needs. Specifically, the kit comes with…

Face Primer—which is supposed to help makeup stay in place longer and prevents creases from forming in fine lines and wrinkles. (I’m not sure it does, but I’m giving it a try.)

Foundation—with SPF 15. Sunscreen is a must-have for me. These days, the slightest sun exposure burns my nose. Tip: Makeup artist say the biggest mistake older women make is putting their makeup on too thick. If you’re worried about being too heavy-handed with your foundation, mix a little foundation with a fingertip of moisturizer and then apply it. I like Korres Wild Rose 24-hour moisturizer ($32.50) because it’s so light, not greasy and smells great.

Concealer—to help erase those dark circles, age spots and red creases. There’s some controversy among makeup artists about when concealer should be applied. Some say that after age 40, concealer should be applied before the foundation, others say afterwards. Personally, I find it easier to blend it, if I apply moisturizer, then the concealer, and then the foundation (mixed with a little more moisturizer). Tip: Concealer is tricky around the eye’s fine lines. Tony says apply it in a couple of thin layers to avoid getting a look that exaggerates your wrinkles. In addition to dark circles and age spots, dab concealer along the side of your nose, corners of your mouth and just above your mouth in the center. It’s supposed to give your face a little lift.

Pressed Powder—is designed to even out your complexion after you’ve applied the other products. The Tarte product has a SPF 8.

Bronzer—gives your face a boost of color. I’m amazed how it brightens the older, faded complexion.

Tony began my makeup lesson by cleaning my face and putting on moisturizer. Using various brushes, Tony applied the makeup in the Tarte starter kit with little strokes, dabbing here and there like he was filling in tiny ‘paint by number’ shapes. My girlfriend said impatiently, “Are all those tiny brush strokes really necessary?”

“I’m a color artist,” he replied. “With little strokes, I will make her color perfect.”

My friend rolled her eyes behind Tony’s back. I gave her a warning look that said, “I like Tony. Be nice.”

After Tony worked on my complexion’s imperfections, he moved to my eyes, which, unfortunately, are very deep-set. Here are the eye basics…
Eye cream—very important for aging eyes to keep the eye shadow from caking.
Eye shadow in a light shade (Sephora brand, Colorful Duo, $16)—all over. Eye shadow in a darker shade (included in Colorful Duo)—to the eyelid crease or across the whole lid.
Eyeliner pencil (EmphasEYES, $18)—along the lash line—top and bottom.
Mascara (Tarte, Lights, Camera, Lashes, $18)
Tip: When you’ve finished applying your eye makeup, brighten your eyes by dabbing a little more of the light eye shadow in the inner corner of the eye, between the eye and the nose.

Tony began my eye makeup by working on my brows, filling them in. Makeup experts say the well-defined eyebrow acts as a facelift. I probably will eventually add a brow pencil or powder to my makeup regimen, to see if there is any truth to that. But I decided to hold off for now. I was already adding a lot of new products.

Lipstick (Sephora Brand, $12)—Makeup experts recommend adding a little lip color, but not too much color when you’re over 50. Years ago, common sense alerted me to the fact that ruby red and other bright lip colors are not appropriate for older women. Tony did not use a lip liner to add lip dimension, but I’ve seen that recommend by some makeup experts. Again, I might look into that at a later time—perhaps, for special occasions.

Though my girlfriend had grumbled about Tony’s technique, she now declared, “You look 10 years younger!” She claimed that Tony had made my deep-set eyes “really pop.” Of course, both comments were utter lies. But I had to admit Tony had achieved what I was looking for—he’d concealed my dark circles, age spots, and blotchy skin, especially the red gullies that appear from the corners of my nose to the sides of my mouth. And it all looked natural, subtle, not caked on.

After we said good-bye to Tony, my girlfriend and I went to look for makeup brushes. The brushes were necessary to achieve a light, even appearance, my girlfriend said. (However, she assured me that I could achieve my new look in a fraction of the 40 minutes or so it took Tony.)

The brush display was near the entrance to Sephora. While my friend was choosing brushes for me, I noticed two makeup consultations happening by the store entrance. Both women having their makeup done were young, twenty-something. I nudged my girlfriend and laughed. “The store greeter must have seen me—an old lady—coming and whisked me to the back of the store where I wouldn’t scare the younger shoppers,” I said. For once, I didn’t mind the age discrimination. I’ve never enjoyed the limelight and would have been uncomfortable getting my makeover in front of everyone entering the store or passing by. And besides, the store greeter hadn’t made me feel like I was being whisked away. In fact, whenever I’m in Sephora, I find the sales help to be very nice. They treat me like a respected female customer and not like a sad, unfortunate old woman on her last legs. And while the majority of their products seem directed at young women, they do have lots of great, reasonably priced choices, like the Tarte line, for older women.

If it isn’t obvious by now, I’ll tell you plainly: I spent a small fortune at Sephora to get my new 50+ look. While no individual product was outrageously priced, they added up. The good news is, only one product is going into the plastic bin of useless makeup: the EmphasEYES. While the pencil creates a fine line, I found it difficult to use. The pencil tip is hard and prone to breakage. I plan to go back and get the Sephora brand eyeliner, which I’m told is softer and easier to apply. As for the rest of my expenditure, I figure I paid for the makeup consult plus a lot of stuff (especially the brushes) that will last. And now that I know a little more about what I should be applying to my 50+ face, I’ll try to replace a few of the products with cheaper, drugstore versions.

In addition to the Tarte starter kit, I bought Tarte cheek stain ($30). Although Tony said the blush was unnecessary when the bronzer is used, I was a little nervous about applying the bronzer too heavily and looking like one of those ridiculous, kumquat-colored makeup consultants at the department stores. (Or worse than those twenty-something gals—like a moldy old kumquat.) I plan to ease into bronzer use by applying a little blush and then a little bronzer. I bought the cheek stain even though I have powder blush at home because I’ve read that the 50+ woman should dump her powders and use cream products. I really love the way the cheek stain goes on—really subtle.

My girlfriend was right, by the way. I’ve been using my new makeup everyday and it only takes about 10 minutes to apply.

Has my new look made a huge difference in my appearance? Apparently not. In the two weeks since my Sephora trip, I’ve attended a bunch of holiday get-togethers wearing my new makeup and no one has said, “You look 10 years younger.” Still, I feel a little less washed out and when I look in a mirror, I don’t see the dark circles or red blotches. That’s good enough for me because I do believe: If you feel better about yourself, you look a little better to others.

Lastly, I’m happy to report I finally dumped that coffin-size bin of old, ridiculous makeup.

Here’s a few useful websites…


Best Anti-aging Solutions

Everyday Health

More Magazine
Younger Looking In 3 Minutes

Mini-Makeup Lesson