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Before we begin, let’s be clear. This is a story about embracing not erasing signs of ageing. As Coco Chanel famously said, “After 40, nobody is young but one can be irresistible at any age”. So, let’s talk about how to look like the radiant, relevant and irresistible woman that you are on the inside. The curious, cognitive, creative you. Not the chronological you.
Thankfully, the twenty-first century has seen the arrival of a new attitude to ageing. Fashion and beauty brands are hiring legendary faces, including Faye Dunaway, Joan Didion, Lauren Hutton and Andie MacDowell to front campaigns, acknowledging their power to both attract the “silver spenders” and inspire millennial customers who appreciate inclusion.
Older faces are also being celebrated on social media accounts such as The Silver Women, Goodbye Crop Top, Advanced Style, That’s Not My Age, Accidental Icon and Senior Style Bible. Their message? Style is timeless, and old is an attitude not a number. The current mood is not concerned as much with anti-ageing as pro-ageing. Ageing is inevitable. So, let’s embrace being here by enhancing our best features and focusing on our potential.
Makeup artist and founder of The Beauty Dept Nadine Monley says the most common mistake she sees on post-40 women is too much of everything from fillers to foundation. “Less is more,” Monley says. “Piling on makeup can make you look older.” Instead, she recommends investing in a good foundation with a luminous finish. For extra glow, mix in a drop or two of facial oil, such as Rodin Olio Lusso, Sunday Riley Juno or Elemis Superfood Facial Oil.
Or you could skip foundation entirely and prep your skin with an oil instead. Follow with a BB cream infused with a sunscreen. “Skin looks best when it reflects light,” says Sally Axford, MECCA’s lead makeup artist. “Loading it with mattifying foundation and powder takes that away.” Axford prescribes thinner, dewier and hydrating formulas with buildable coverage. Standout options include NARS Tinted Moisturiser, Hourglass Illusion Hyaluronic Skin Tint and Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue. “The thinner the formula, the less it will settle into fine lines,” she says. For pigmentation or blemishes, apply a high coverage concealer with a small pinpoint brush. “Just don’t put it everywhere,” she adds.
Brows get sparser and lighter with age, and can benefit from attention. Full arches help to frame the face. Use a brow gel powder a shade lighter than your natural colour and not too warm. “Keep it ashy,” says Monley. Apply to brows and then follow through with a clean brush to remove any excess.
Axford is a fan of Stila brow pens for finessing brows impacted by ageing or hormonal changes. “They’re ideal for filling in when you don’t have a lot of hair to ‘grab’ a powder product,” she says. “They’re water-resistant and undetectable. You can sketch in individual hairs, almost like microblading without the pain or downtime.” Brush upwards to give the face a lift. “My favourite gel is the Surratt brow pomade,” she adds. “The matte texture holds brows in place while adding dimension and texture to thin hairs.”
The skin around your eyes can be the first place to show your age. Skip overtly glittery or shimmery products that draw attention to fine lines suggests Monley. Cream or even liquid to powder shadows are flattering textures. Taupe-y colours are reliable, but if you’re feeling playful try roughly drawing a creamy bronze-hued eyeliner along your upper lash line and blend towards the outer corner of your eye.
Women are often told to ditch black eyeliner, but Axford believes it can give structure and create thicker looking lashes when used on the top waterline. “Similarly, black mascara brightens the whites of the eyes more than any brown can do,” she says. Axford likes to mix creamy matte shadows, which soften crepiness on the lid, and even shimmer shadows sparingly. “Just make sure you keep the shimmer above the pupil on the lash line, or on the inner corner of the eye,” she says. Brushes from Rae Morris fit perfectly. “My favourite is the Jishaku #6.5 Angle Eye Blender for hooded eyes as it does the work for you.”
If you do choose to conceal around the eyes, use a peachy concealer with good coverage in the inner corner and against the bridge of the nose. “This spot is usually the darkest, but also the smoothest, so you can really load up on your coverage,” says Axford. A little bit of concealer on the outer corner of the eye also disguises the natural darkness often found there, giving you an instant lift. “Soften the look of puffiness with a concealer the same colour as the rest of the face, and use an illuminating concealer to camouflage undereye bags on the lowest point. This helps flatten the under eye—it takes a little longer to do, but it’s worth it.”
Try blending a little gel bronzer into your favourite foundation for a healthy glow. “I like things that soak into the skin rather than sit on top,” says Monley. “I also love a bit of cream blush and rarely use powder,” she adds. Leave contouring to the Kardashians and co. “The aim is to add volume and lift to the face, achieved using strategically-placed blush and highlight,” says Axford. “Blush should sit two fingers away from the nose, and shouldn’t fall any lower than the nostrils—if it sits low on the face it drags everything down.”
A light application of cream or liquid highlighter does wonders too. “Choose a tone that suits you: pearl for paler skins, gold champagne for tanned skins and bronze for dark skins,” says Axford. “Apply right on the orbital bone at the high point of the cheek, on the cupid’s bow and at the top of the bridge of the nose. As we age our foreheads tend to flatten, so applying a small amount above the arch of the brow helps to add structure to the face.”
For a pop of colour on your lips, Monley recommends starting with a stain and using your fingers to pat it on. When wearing lipstick, choose a hydrating formula, apply with a brush and begin with a lip liner the same shade as your lips. “Be strategic with your lip liner,” offers Axford. “Rounding out the top outer lip line gives a fuller appearance, while softening the look of marionette lines.” Gloss finishes in neutral tones are ideal: shine creates volume and plumps the lip with moisture. “Lips lose pigment as we age, so try RMS Beauty Lip2Cheek in Illusive, or any other similar rosy-brown tones to add a natural flush,” adds Axford.
Words by Jody ScottOctober 2018
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