There is one thing my daughter loves to do with me – shop. Even though her enjoyment of me stems primarily from the credit cards I offer readily in order to see that loving look appear on her face, it does give us a bonding experience. We giggle (mostly at my incomprehensible total lack of style), try new clothing trends (usually in the juniors department, and my job is to nod approval) and have makeovers at the MAC store. And this is what I want to talk about. Makeup.
I have always noticed women who wear makeup well or horribly. I know when someone wears too much, or should at least try just a touch of color on their cheeks, for goodness sake! But having a fourteen year old daughter has given me a post-graduate-level course in make-up application. And, frankly, I am not Dean’s List material.
My daughter and I walk into the MAC store and are greeted by consultants who have wings sweeping upward from the corners of their eyes, and lips that appear to be coated with polyurethane. I want to look like them. I want the layers of Mink Pink, Plum Dressing and Overgrown chartreuse eye shadow that make them look like works of art, rather than human females. I sit in the makeup chair next to my daughter and tell them to begin. Within minutes we'll be walking, talking Monets.
As promised, in just 23 minutes we are handed mirrors to view the results. My daughter indeed looks like an impressionist painting. I look like a has-been hooker in an old Western after a very busy shopping day for the cowboys.
At 14, or even 18 or 26, you can say, “I want to look like HER!” And because your face is a fresh, clean canvas, stretched tightly across a sturdy new frame, it actually works. At 57 a face is more like a painted-over canvas, dried out from years of exposure, a little loose in the frame. The same things just don’t work on the two.
Which brings me to my 50+ makeup tip MUSTS:
Don’t wear eyeliner wings. They don’t fly at our age. Eyeliner should be subtle and smudged a little for a soft look. I use Bobbi Brown’s gel liner very close to the lashes, then I smudge a little eyeshadow over it.
Don’t try to make your eyebrows reappear if they have mostly disappeared (like mine). A small eyebrow brush dipped in an eyeshadow a shade lighter than your natural hair color works best for fading eyebrows. Pencils are too harsh. The liquid eyebrow color from Lancome is really convenient, but can look stiff if you don’t brush it with a clean eyebrow brush after application.
If you’ve always worn blue eyeshadow and can’t fathom giving it up, make sure the blue is a soft, muted blue – not iridescent sea blue. Eye shadow colors make you look outdated and hard very easily. A pretty everyday look is a smoky brown in the crease and on the outer part of the lid, highlighted with a creamy yellow on the brow bone, on the inside corner, and in the center of the lid just above the pupil. It looks natural while opening up the eye and giving it definition.
Lip liner is more important now, since the outline of our lips has a tendency to become a blur with age, like everything else on our faces with the exception of our noses – which invariably get larger and develop adorable hooks. Use a natural color to line the lips, then fill in with the liner. Gloss with something less theatrical than the MAC girls’ polyurethane, but slick enough to make your lips shine a little. I love LipFusion products. Their LipFusion XL actually contains collagen to plump your lips as well as glossing them. While my hopes of going from lipless to an Angelina Jolie were dashed after a week of constant applications, I have noticed a slight plumping after each application. It’s enough for me.
I’ve switched from powder blush to cheek stains. I think they look more natural and they don’t rub off. Sephora carries Tarte Cheek Stains, along with every other conceivable skin care and cosmetic product known to man – and 14 year old girls.
Never ever give up mascara, even if you can barely see your eyelashes. One coat of mascara gives eyes of every age the dimension they need to really pop. Just make sure to use a waterproof variety if your eyes water more now, as mine do. I have used Lancome’s Definicils for years and will never give it up. I can literally sob my way through movies like King Kong without a trace of mascara residue.
Finally, get a good makeup mirror. If you can’t read the soup can label, what makes you think you’re actually hitting your lip line? You’ve seen Nora Desmond with her garish application of lip liner in Sunset Boulevard. She obviously didn’t have a lighted makeup mirror with adequate magnification.
More than ever before, we have to start believing that natural beauty is the best kind. While our daughters’ makeup can make our daughters look glamorous, it may do just the opposite for us. Remember what William Holden said about Nora Desmond in Sunset Boulevard, “There’s nothing tragic about being 50. Not unless you’re trying to be 25.”