Growing old gracefully is not always a good thing. How you appear all too often determines how you are treated, and even may affect what jobs and promotions you get. Breaking through that glass ceiling can leave women looking a bit the worse for wear.
Normal aging can dramatically alter how people perceive you. If you are considered “old”, you may be stigmatized. Don’t let it happen—DON’T age gracefully! It is better to age defensively.
Hair color—the first “tell”
The first sign of stereotypical aging is hair color. That is a black or white issue—or, I should say, “grey or not grey”. When a blond woman is seen, even from a distance, it is assumed that she is good looking, even without seeing her face. The same is true for women with black, red, or brown hair—they are assumed to be young. Conversely, if a woman has grey or greying hair, it is assumed that she is “an old lady”, and stigmatized with all that implies. Color your hair! Don’t be stereotyped before you are even seen or heard. Once you eliminate that first-glance prejudice; the rest is easy.
Bangs hide the evidence
Even though the reason is difficult to identify, even energetic women seem to look more tired, and even droopy as they age. Wrinkles are an obvious “tell”; those prominent forehead wrinkles can usually be hidden with bangs. Bangs are a great way to look younger, appear to have more hair, and cover up a multitude of the signs of aging.
Prepare the Canvas
The Best Friend any face can have is a good primer. Usually a clear silicone liquid or gel, it fills in fine lines and pores, and makes all surfaces of your face imperfection-free. Make sure to apply it over and under the eyes, and around the mouth, as well as over your entire face. Sephora makes a good and inexpensive one.
Lips and Eyes
The two most misunderstood and most often ignored signs of aging are the lips and eyes. Thin lips are a dead give-away; and the answer doesn’t have to be “bee-stung” cosmetically filled lips. There are much subtler and easier ways to give the lips their former prominent place on your face. Lips “shrink” as we age. They get thinner and often lighter in pigment. The edges of the pigmented area may become more indistinct, and applying just lipstick may cause it to creep into the small lines forming around the lips. The decrease in the size of the lips changes the entire geography of your face. And, to make matters worse, the corners droop downwards, creating a sort of permanent frown when not actively smiling.
Correcting Lip Droop and Shrinkage
Not only does the vertical and horizontal shape of the lips diminish, but the fullness is reduced, as well—all the more emphasized by the gradual loss of facial fullness. There are very simple ways to counteract this impression:
- NEVER just put lipstick along your natural lip line all the way to the drooping corners. It makes you look older and tight-lipped. And, the lipstick is likely to creep into the pucker lines.
- ALWAYS apply a lipstick base, usually a clear lipstick type of applicator, around your entire lips, extending ABOVE and BEYOND the lip line. This discourages pucker lines, encourages fullness, and provides a new canvas for a new and natural looking lip line. Plus, it moisturizes.
- Next, use a skin-colored or lighter thin pencil (Cargo’s Reverse Lip Liner is great) to line your lips OUTSIDE of the natural lip line. Blend with your finger so that it isn’t an obvious line; but don’t erase it completely.
- Then, get a “lip-colored” thin lip definer pencil (Benfit makes a great one, Silk Lip Pencil, with a sponge tip blender on the other end, and Joey’s is great, as well).Begin lining OUTSIDE of the normal lip line at the center of the upper lip, at the “cupid’s bow”, and continue to follow the lip line towards the corners of the mouth.
- If your lips are very thin, you may want to make the line thicker as you approach the corners of the mouth. But absolutely DO NOT follow the lip line straight down at the corner. Rather, avoid the corner droop and either make the line straight or slightly upturned when you reach the corner of the mouth.
- Line the bottom lip much the same way, by starting in the middle and going outwards. The bottom center of the line can be lower and thicker than your natural line (to counterpoint the “cupid’s bow”), but generally line just outside the lip line for the rest of the lower lip, ending slightly up at the corner.
- You will NOT look like a clown if you use a natural-looking blush colored lip pencil! Especially after the next step.
- Next, use a thick filler pencil, also natural lip-colored, but preferably one with “plumping” or thickening properties. LipFusion makes an excellent wide plumper pencil micro-injected with collagen. Fill in your entire lips between the “new” lip lines, and blend into the outer line without going over or outside the line.
- At this point, you have fuller, but natural-looking lips.
- Choose a colored thin lip pencil just slightly darker than the shade of lipstick you will use. Apply this on top of your “new” lip line.
- Preferably follow with a wide lip color pencil approximately the shade of the desired lipstick.
- Then, apply the lipstick, NOT lip gloss, being careful to stay within the outer slightly darker lines. Blend slightly into the lines, and carefully blot. A long-lasting lipstick is best. Unless specifically formulated, most lip glosses will creep and smear. A liquid gloss-like compromise is Kat Von B Everlasting Love Liquid Lipstick. If put on VERY sparingly, it works great and really lasts.
- Voila! Full, natural-looking lips—only ones that fit your face like they once did!
Correcting Eye Droop
But, you can’t stop there with the process of bringing the correct proportions back to your face. Just as with your lips, your eyes tend to droop and appear to shrink, with thinning lashes adding insult to injury. Most people think that wearing eyeliner and mascara daily looks too “made up”. In fact, it simply brings your face back to its normal contours and proportions, when carefully applied.
- First, prepare your “canvas” with carefully blended and natural-looking shadow base on the lids (NEVER shiny or glittery—that emphasizes wrinkles and creases). I favor liquids, which can blend seamlessly, such as Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion in Eden color (beige).
- Apply a natural-looking, non-glittery powder eyeshadow to the lid.
- If desired, apply a slightly darker shade over the outer part of the lid near the outside corner and into the crease. Blend well with a brush or sponge.
- A liquid non-creasing concealer, SLIGHTLY lighter than your skin tone, should be applied under your eyes and blended into the surrounding skin or foundation. Clinique Line-Smoothing Concealer is a good choice, as it discourages wrinkles or creases.
- Follow the concealer with a light dusting of a light-toned (NOT white) powder or powder shadow. Clinique makes a good vanilla color, and Makeup Forever shadow in a pale shell color works well additionally as a brightener. This light shadow should also be used as a highlight color just below the eyebrow arch.
- Take a soft eyeliner pencil just slightly darker than your hair color and make a thin line, beginning where your lashes begin on the upper lid. Never go to the inside corner of the eye. Stay close to and even in between the lashes, wiggling the soft pencil so that it complies. As you near the outer corner of your eye, DO NOT follow your lash line down; rather, go more straight across, so that the liner does not curve downwards, even if your eye does.
- Do the same with the bottom lid. Try to work the liner PENCIL, not liquid liner, in between the lashes. It effectively makes the lashes look fuller, even without mascara. Then, with the soft rubber end some liner pencils come with, or a small, short-bristled cosmetic brush, BLEND and smudge the liner towards the lashes. Liquid liner is harsh, unblendable, and unforgiving.
- Follow this with the same color powder eyeshadow applied on top of the eyeliner pencil line with a fine flat or slanted narrow brush. Once applied, take a soft eye makeup brush, and lightly blend it all together. This makes for extremely long-lasting and very natural looking liner.
- I am a huge fan of inner-lining the top lid with the same color liner pencil, trying hard to stay in or near the lash line.
- Make sure to blend the “wing” of the line created by not following your lash line down in the corners. Blend up and towards your temples.
- I’m also a fan of eyelash curlers. As we age, not only do our lashes become sparser, but they become shorter and straighter, as well. Give each lash a quick squeeze as close to the lash line as possible.
- Lightly dust both top and bottom lashes with face powder on a powder puff. Dust the skin UNDER the bottom lashes, as well. Powdering the lashes will set the mascara when applied; and the powder under the bottom lashes will make mistakes easier to wipe off.
- Apply a precision control-type of mascara (such as Definicils) carefully, sometimes vertically, to each lash, all the way down to the lash line. Make sure the mascara is not too wet, as that will undo the curl.
- When the mascara is dry, lightly press the eyelash curler again close to the lash line, if desired, then apply a thicker, fuller mascara to all the lashes and lash tips. The precision mascara should have provided a good base for the fuller mascara to build on without clumping. Carefully use a metal-tooth eyelash comb to remove clumping and separate lashes.
Brows Turn Down, Too
Aging has a nasty effect on eyebrows, as well. In men, brows often turn bushier. In women, however, they become thinner. Just as the mouth and eyes begin turning down in the corners, so do the brows. In order to avoid looking tired and drawn, you need to draw or fill in new brows. The best way to begin is to pluck some of the straggly end hairs.
- Since the brows are likely thinner, as well; the way to “thicken” them is to use short strokes to “draw” new hairs with a thin eyebrow pencil, the same color as your hair, within the shape of your brows. At the tail of the brows, draw a few extra strokes out in a straight or less curved line, to counteract the look of down turning brows.
- Brush the brows in an upward direction with a spiral brow brush.
- Apply brow wax with a slanted brow brush.
- Apply powder brow color over the waxed brows. Brush off excess powder with the spiral brow brush.
- Use a brow gel to seal the “new” brows. Use a Q-Tip to dab off excess gel.
Now all the major elements that make up the geography of your face are no longer tilting downwards, and appear much less droopy. When used sparingly, none of the above techniques look “made up”, nor do they have to take a lot of time.
Although it may seem like a lot of maintenance, when you have the tools and get the technique down, it can take less than ten minutes each morning; a small price to pay to look younger, brighter, happier and more alert!