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Women's beauty and skincare needs change over time. But aging happens gradually and many women won't know when to make a switch. They'll fall in love with a particular product or routine that works for them, and still be using it 15 years later. In the meantime, their looks and beauty needs have evolved.
We all dream of a miracle in a bottle, but our obsession with being flawless is absurd. Wrinkles happen -- adding depth and character to the face. Aging is a natural and beautiful process that happens to all of us, and acceptance, not denial, looks better on everyone. But you can still embrace and enhance what you have, while downplaying some of the natural effects of aging.
Below, I have identified some of the most common beauty problems women over 40 face, and offer advice on how to make the most of your looks -- at any age.Dry Facial Skin
As you age, skin gradually grows thinner, produces less natural oil, and renews itself less often. These factors all contribute to the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, as the body's lack of oil makes creases more noticeable. The key lies with good skincare and hydration. First, drink lots of water -- all day, every day. Then, look for cleansers and other skincare products (toners, exfoliators, etc.) with moisturizing ingredients that will not dry the skin. I always moisturize the skin with a mini facial massage before applying any makeup.
Once you hit your 40s, a makeup routine should become less about color and more about the skin, and whether you need foundation and concealer. You've probably noticed that a little goes a long way! Experimenting is fine, as long as you remember to BLEND.
For women over 40, I recommend the old adage "less is more." Too much can end up calling attention to your makeup -- not your features -- and that defeats the purpose. With good skincare and maintenance, a beautiful, youthful look can be obtained with less product. The trick is in the application.
Start with concealer, keeping it sheer to hide dark spots, such as undereye circles, age spots, broken capillaries, etc. Then, use foundation to hide uneven skin, especially on the eyelids, neck area, and around the nostrils. An oil-based liquid foundation will move easily over dry and mature skin. Once your skin is evened out, decide how much makeup you really need. Many older women look beautiful with just a pinch of blush on the apples of the cheeks, and defined lips and brows.
For blush, look for soft shades such as pinks, mauves, and peach, and be sure to blend well. Keep eye shadows fairly light and neutral with shades of brown or taupe. Grays, soft purples, and blues also work well with gray hair. Strong colors such as charcoal or black can be used subtly to get more intensity from the eyes. It used to be a no-no to wear shimmer shadows (which may accentuate lines) but most shimmer formulas are refined now, so anyone can wear them. Above all, apply all color with a good makeup brush. Brushes are essential for precise application. Each time you dab the brush into a compact of color, tap it a few times to release any excess product before it goes on the face. This will help control the application no matter what color you use.
Many older women prefer cream blushes to powders as they don't settle in fine lines. I say experiment, and see what works best for you.
You can use pencils to line the eyes. Use a brush to blend pencil outward to keep the line from looking too severe. Opt for brown or gray liners, which are less intense than black. Finally, give your eyes the most natural lift with an eyelash curler, a favorite tool of mine. This will make a huge difference in opening up the eyes, whether or not you wear mascara. Curl the top lashes, using little pumping motions, moving from the lash line to the end of the lashes in an upward sweep. Black mascara works on everyone, and black/brown gives a slightly softer look.
Full, well-shaped eyebrows complete the look. Women often make the mistake of going too dark with their brow pencil. If you have brown eyebrows, you don't need a dark brown pencil -- try a gray/brown instead. Blondes can use taupe. On the gray side? Try a taupe-gray tone.
One of the most frequent complaints I hear about is lipstick bleeding into the creases of the mouth. This problem, which can be caused by dry, cracked skin around the lips, isn't confined to just women over 40, but, again, older women tend to have drier skin.
To start, make it a point to apply a hydrating lip balm every day. I use lip balm before every lipstick application, but at the very least you should put it on in the morning when you apply your daily moisturizer and sunscreen. I always use lip balm before going to bed.
Next, dab a small bit of foundation over the edge of your lips, and blend out. This gives you a clean surface to work with, and fills in the tiny creases around the mouth where lipstick is likely to seep. Line the lips with lip pencil, and then, fill in the entire mouth with the same pencil. Use a lip brush to blend the color and ensure even coverage. The pencil will stain the lips and last longer than ordinary lipstick.
For real staying power, set the layer of lip pencil with a dusting of powder, and apply your favorite lipstick or gloss over that. Note that lipsticks are typically drier than glosses and will therefore last longer.
Mature women should stay away from overly dark lip colors, as they can be too severe. Shimmery, iridescent colors are better left to teenagers. Seek out bright, warm colors within your natural color family. Since lips tend to get smaller with age, look for a light-reflecting formula that will naturally enhance the appearance of your lips.
In general, exercise is the No. 1 source of energy for women over 40. Drink lots of water. Get plenty of sleep. And most important, don't smoke. If you feel beautiful on the inside, it will show on the outside.
Sonia Kashuk's book, Real Beauty, is available at bookstores nationwide.