Makeup for a lady of a certain age
December 16, 2017 9:56 AM   Subscribe

So I am approaching my 67th birthday (just two weeks away!), and I have decided that it's time to start wearing makeup -- but very minimally. I could use some guidance!

I rarely use makeup, except for very festive occasions, like weddings. There are various reasons for this, dating from my hippie days in the 60s.

But now, I find that without makeup, I just look -- pasty. So maybe it's time to try to get some color on my face. This would be for everyday, not just dress-up occasions.

I would like it to be minimal, mostly because I am a bit lazy, and am always striving to simplify my life!

So I am ISO advice on what is the minimal amount I can get away with. I am thinking eyebrow gel (my brows seem to be disappearing!), mascara, lipstick, and probably blush.

Do I really need anything else, like foundation or powder? (I am such a neophyte at this that I don't even know basic things, like if I use powder, does the blush go on over that? I am assuming "yes," but I don't really know!)

Any advice re what would be a good minimal routine, how to apply, specific brands of makeup (maybe Burt's Bees?), etc.) will be so welcome. Also, if you can point me to any resources (books, websites, videos on makeup for older ladies), that would be a lovely bonus!
posted by merejane to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (18 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
foundation is mostly for even skin tone. if you notice that your skin tone is patchy, red or darker in some places it helps, otherwise skip it. rather than foundation, I use concealer on my dark circles around my eyes and let the rest of my skin breathe. if you would like to hide pores or wrinkles but your skin tone is fine, there are many lightly tinted or colorless primers (similar products are also called BB/CC creams) that do this while mostly maintaining your same skin tone. they are usually light feeling and forgiving to apply - just fingers will do, no special application technique needed. a lightly golden/bronze tinted one might help with the "pasty" look without looking heavy like full bronzer or fake tan. powder is usually to give a matte appearance and control oil/sweat, and help foundation stay put. you probably don't need it unless your skin is oily but if you do it goes on last after everything else.

There are also plenty of 2 in 1 lip and cheek stain products that will keep your routine simpler and makeup bag lighter - they can be cream or liquid stain. Pixi has one that's cheap enough to experiment with and carried at Target, Benefit benetint is the classic liquid one, and rms may appeal if you want a high end natural formula.
posted by slow graffiti at 10:34 AM on December 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

Have a look here. The lovely Lisa Eldridge has got this covered. There are also a few other videos with looks for more mature ladies on the site but they are more occasion. I would suggest to just pick and choose what you feel would work most for you if you don't want to do the full routine.
posted by koahiatamadl at 10:38 AM on December 16, 2017 [6 favorites]

I read some advice a long time ago that advised against rubbing preparations onto the skin, especially around the eyes, as it loosens the skin, from the tiny muscles that keep it in pace. If you feel pale, then make sure your iron is where it should be, and get some sun. Take some exercise that gets you blood going. Once you start rubbing it on then you have to start taking it off, and that is double the rub. They make makeup remover cloths that maybe have an oil content enough to soften the pressure on your skin. Your skin gets thinner and thinner as you age. So, use what you feel you need, but don't over do it, go with the minimum it takes to give you a lift. I am just a little older than you are, we all have different skin for sure. I wear eyeliner, and I have had to start dealing with run amok eyebrows, otherwise I wash my face, sometimes exfoliate with slippery soap and gloves, in the shower. I use a mix of grapeseed oil and coconut oil with a little water and jasmine oil for lotion. I will make my next batch of "lotion" with grapefruit oil instead, I like the smell better. The other thing is do one hundred smiles a day in a mirror, it is fast, a minute and a half at the most. Watch your facial balance, lift that smile all the way up, and that will help you to remember to hold your face in that position mostly. It helps with wrinkling on the upper lip, and it helps to keep from making unhappy wrinkles in your brain. The memory of smiling remains with you, even if it is goofy, looking in a mirror. Always check in a mirror before you go out, but be kind to yourself, if you can avoid glasses, give yourself the benefit of a quick glance that anyone else would give. I have to follow the quick look formula, because once just for no reason, other than I was meeting a family member at a bank where they worked, I took that look, and had a half inch splat of marinara in my left eyebrow.
posted by Oyéah at 10:46 AM on December 16, 2017 [8 favorites]

I'm used to work in the cosmetics industry, not an artist just someone who really loved makeup.

Lately I've been using IT Cosmetics. Warning - if you buy from their site it sets you up for a replenishment service but you can adjust when and what you get.

My daily wear is is their ByeBye Foundation/Moisturizer. I've found that as I go along (I'm 53), I hate the feel of foundation on my face but this stuff settles nicely and I forget I'm wearing it. I like that it add a bit of color of color to my face, evens out my skintone, and just plain makes my face look better. Occasionally I will use their ByeBye Pores powder. Now the shade I have in powder is "fair" but it is much darker than I expected. I noticed they only have "translucent" on their website so they might have discontinued shades.

I also use their their eyebrow pencil to fill in and cover a bit of grey.

I did not like their mascara. It just didn't seem to do anything. I stick to my tried-and-true Estee Lauder Sumptous as I like the build up of product and the lasting factor. I'm an old goth-festival chick and love me some dramatic lashes.

I'll often wear liner and I've been digging the Youngique liquid liner. It stays in place! The warning for this brand is that it's sold similar to Avon and through representatives. I bought some stuff just to help out a friend and wasn't disappointed in the quality.
posted by porkygrrl at 10:48 AM on December 16, 2017

If you're just concerned about your colour, have you considered just going for a light bronzer. My mum uses bronzing pearls as an every day light makeup look. There are also tinted moisturizers you could try for a no-makeup look.
I use bare minerals powder foundation for a light look just to even skintone but it does give me more of a vibrant glow
posted by missmagenta at 10:59 AM on December 16, 2017

The site you linked to for an eyebrow gel offers a starter kit with mascara and gel blush. A blush-type product (you could also use it on your lips, under lip balm) you might remember from the '70s (as I do) is still available: Original Indian Earth Makeup Powder. (Pressed compact version; regardless, you'd apply sparingly to skin with puff or large brush.) The modern version is called mineral makeup, and here are a few examples of blushers/face brighteners.

You can also tint your eyelashes and brows at home, or a local salon might offer the service.
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:09 AM on December 16, 2017

I sometimes feel I look old (I'm 62) when my skin seems dull. Using a buffpuff and moisturizer helps a lot.
posted by theora55 at 2:07 PM on December 16, 2017

Try a BB cream for moisturizing and a bit of coverage (go to Sephora and get several samples to try before buying). Add a bit of blush on the apples of your cheeks (not a heavy stripe along the cheekbone area) and mascara. Glossier "boy brow" is a great brush in brow enhancer, but also consider brow tint (semi-permanent dye) as it can make the brows you have stand out much more.

Stay away from glittery things on your skin and eyes as it can accentuate wrinkles.

Happy birthday!
posted by quince at 2:33 PM on December 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

Never worn makeup is quite a starting place. The Lisa Eldridge video above is a priceless starting place but maybe more pieces than you want to start with. If you are near a Sephora or similar, call and ask for an appointment with someone who is used to your age of client. Really grill them on what is the most important as in you aren't buying 25 things. Get samples for a few things. Try them at home for a few days before purchasing. Pasty - may be a color thing but also may be helped with an oil added to a tinted moisturizer / primer / bb cream type product.
posted by RoadScholar at 3:12 PM on December 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

This might seem like overkill but since you are starting from scratch...I would call a local hair salon and ask for the name of the makeup person who does wedding parties. This will be an independent makeup artist. This person can guide you to brands, colors, and application and will save you a lot of time and money.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 3:54 PM on December 16, 2017

I second making an appointment at Sephora. The people that work there are really nice and helpful; you can tell them that you're looking for a minimal everyday look and you want someone experienced in dealing with mature skin and they'll hook you up with products and show you how to use them. (Try to go during non-peak hours cuz they'll spend more time with you.) The products are ridiculously expensive, imo, but they have an excellent return policy if you don't like something or it doesn't agree with your skin, so I think they're a perfect first stop until you know your way around makeup a bit. Eventually, you'll be able to wean yourself off of the expensive makeup brands and find cheaper drugstore equivalents, but for your first foray: go to Sephora.

You can also watch some youtube makeup videos to get an idea of which looks you like best before you go to Sephora; maybe even take a list of brands to try. Some of these youtube women are geniuses with makeup and will having you applying it like a pro in no time. Good luck!
posted by LuckySeven~ at 5:08 PM on December 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

My minimal makeup bits:

- Drugstore makeup formulas all around are so much better than they were even ten years ago, and some stores have return policies. I found it less intimidating than dropping $20+ on a product.
- Try curling your eyelashes, this is enough for me that I don't own mascara anymore. Cheap mascara was fine, everyone seems to like a different brand.
- I also like the cheap $2 e.l.f eyebrow palette, applied with an angled brush
- I usually go for a tinted lip balm rather than full on lipstick to minimize getting lipstick on things. Unfortunately, I haven't found one that doesn't smell horribly fruity.
- I get good mileage out of the silicone-based primers in my sunscreen, it does a bit to even out skintone and make my skin look smoother. I add powder foundation as desired, but if your skin is dry something like a BB or CC cream will be better. Start with applying with your fingers, the egg-shaped reusable sponges are good if you want a tool.
- If you want to just go to Sephora or a counter, Laura Mercier has a reputation for good quality products for understated makeup looks. However the lighting in these places is typically terrible, and you should look at any products outside in natural light before you buy. Sephora will give you samples, and you should take advantage of them!
- Glossier is an online brand that is well-regarded and focuses on a few products for a "natural" makeup look, if you just want to order stuff and get a box in the mail.
posted by momus_window at 5:47 PM on December 16, 2017

Oh, and as another lady of a certain age who eventually wanted makeup to combat pallor: don't fear Sephora. The reps wear a lot of makeup because they enjoy trying on different, glamorous looks, they have those skills, and they're also advertising different products as part of the job; when you have your consult, you can specify minimalist and natural (both as a look, and as the kind of product line you'd like to use) as your objectives.

Even if you wind up buying only one thing, Sephora will give you samples of almost anything you'd like, and the rep will be really, really helpful with proper color matching. For example, before the Sephora assist I was wearing cool-toned, pinkish blush to try to offset my ghostliness, and whatever I used (whether powder, liquid, gel or cream) always looked a bit clownish, even when applied sparingly; turns out I need a warmer, peachier shade for any rouge to look "natural."

(It was daunting, initially, but the woman who helped me was very patient and knowledgeable.) (I still had ice cream after.)
posted by Iris Gambol at 6:48 PM on December 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

+1 to BB cream. It's basically tinted moisturizer. That plus a little loose powder, some mascara (much better with curled eyelashes), a little lip liner and some light gloss and you'll look very natural and minimal. I personally have never been able to make blush work with a natural/minimal makeup, it always seems garish to me. A little bronzer might do the trick, though.
posted by pazazygeek at 10:32 PM on December 16, 2017

Another total non-makeup wearer reporting in (though I'm only pushing 50). You are not alone in the practice of never having used make up and I totally understand the reluctance to acquire the habit of using it daily.

That said, I noticed that the first thing you specified related to eyebrows. Another option is to get a brow tint, which is, yes, hair dye for your eyebrows. Generally it's semipermanent and needs to be refreshed periodically. I'm the kind of person who'd rather, like, add on another half-hour service to my hair appointment every six weeks to get that taken care of, than be worried about putting something on my face every day that might smear off. If that resonates with you, might be something to consider. Some places do the same for eyelashes, too.
posted by Sublimity at 6:32 AM on December 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Darkening your brows will make a world of difference. If you still have brow hairs and they're just turning pale, get them tinted. If the hair itself is sparse, use makeup: brow powder or eyeshadow applied with a stiff brush will look softer and more natural than a gel or pencil. Get a lesson at a beauty counter.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 3:35 PM on December 17, 2017

Response by poster: Thank you all so much for the great advice. It will be a lot of fun for me to get into makeup, I do believe, even at this late date!
posted by merejane at 8:44 PM on December 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

BLUUUUUUUUUSH! If you're quite fair skinned blush can make an enormous difference. Cream blushes are very easy to use - I really like Glossier Cloud Paint, you really only need a dab - and you just need your fingers. A lot of people will tell you to smile when you apply it - don't, as you'll inadvertantly apply your blush too low on your cheeks, as your cheeks drop when you stop smiling. Just look at the mirror with a neutral face and kind of angle your head to the side so you can really see your cheekbones, then dab on the natural, neutral, apple of your cheek.

Powder blushes are also quite simple to use, but tend to stay blend a bit more easily on skin that's been powdered first, either with a powder foundation or a setting powder. This blush brush is perfect - exactly the right size, very soft, and the angle makes it easy to put the blush right where you need it. Clinique's Cheek Pop powder blushes are just glorious - a little sheer, so they're easy to apply without going overboard, but pigmented enough to make you look more perky and awake.
posted by nerdfish at 4:37 AM on December 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

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