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Makeup for the over-40s

If you've never worn makeup at all, your 40s and 50s is a good time to start.

Graftobian colour palette

Recently I had to make up someone for a film role and that was an interesting experience. 

M doesn't usually wear much makeup other than mascara and I had to make her look unflatteringly older, so basically did the opposite of what you'd do normally. But that led to some discussion about how to do her makeup in everyday life - she liked mine but didn't know what to do for herself - and it made me realise that there must be many women out there who aren't au fait with makeup. 

Makeup can be a good friend to you as you get older. At 50, I'm now at the stage where I think I look a bit ill without it. Days that I don't wear it - and I don't wear it every day, on principle - if I catch sight of myself in the mirror I often feel I look a bit tired and grey. At this age, makeup isn't about looking sexy any more, it's about looking healthy.

Given that M was also astounded by some of my kit, such as the length of my makeup brushes (she was using the tiny ones supplied with products), I thought I'd write a quick guide to making up in your 40s and older, and the key equipment you might find useful.

Here are my key makeup items, though you don't by any means need all of them and I don't use all of them every day. Some of the multiples of an item are products I bought to test, or for my 'professional' kit. 

Elf Studio colour corrector palette


* BB cream: currently Diadermine Lift+ BB Mousse in Nude.
* Primer: Smashbox Photofinish original (black tube); Monistat Chafing Gel (a dupe for Smashbox); Bourjois colour-correcting cream; Boots colour correcting cream.  
* Foundation: Clinique Superfit (discontinued) in Neutral (used as a concealer); Clinique Redness Solutions in Calming Ivory; Graftobian HD cream foundation neutral colour palette 1; Beauty UK cheapie foundation from a discount store.
* Concealer/corrector: YSL Touche Eclat in 01 and 02, Maybelline Dream Lumi Highlighting Concealer in nude, Diadermine + Retouche Jeuness BB Crème Pinceau; Shamy six-colour concealer palette (part of box set).
* Blusher: Maybelline Dream Touch Blush in Apricot, Peach and Prune; Shamy six-colour powder blush palette (part of box set). 
* Powder: Yves Rocher loose translucent powder; Corn Silk loose translucent powder; ELF Studio High Definition Powder in Shimmer; Dior pressed translucent powder; Rimmel Stay Matte pressed powder; ELF Studio Tone Correcting Powder; Ben Nye Luxury Powder in Banana.
* Makeup fixative: ELF Studio Makeup Mist n Set. 

ELF 144-colour palette in neutrals

* Mascara: La Roche-Posay Respectissime Ultra Doux, black; La Roche-Posay Respectissime Densificateur, black; Ben Nye mascaras in plum and clear; L'Oréal Voluminous x 5, carbon black.
* Eyeshadow: Maybelline 4-colour Smokey Eyes palette; Terre d'Oc mineral eyeshadow; various cheapies; ELF 144-colour neutrals palette; ELF 100-colour brights palette; Shamy 112 colours in four palettes (part of box set). 
* Eyeliner: Revlon Dipped End Pencil in Underwood.
* Kohl eye pencils: Revlon Crayon Eye Liner Suede Brown; Revlon Wet n Dry in brown; several cheapies from a discount store in black. 
* Eyebrow colour: Ultima eyebrow pencil with built-in brush (discontinued) in Dark Blonde; HB pencil.

Chanel Rouge Allure 14 Passion

* Lipsalve: Klorane raspberry flavour; Carmex; Elevation 3196 Mallow Soothing Balm; Vaseline. 
* Lip liner: Yves Rocher and Terre d'Oc - half a dozen different colours; eye liners by Arcancil in pink and orange. 
* Lipstick: various, by Chanel, Maybelline, Revlon, Serge Lutens, Yves Rocher, Cien etc, mostly in shades of red and pink, decanted into a colour palette. 
* Lip gloss: 16-colour palette in Shamy box set; flavoured lip glosses.  

The tools I use to apply these are:

ELF studio flat topped powder brushFACE
* Sponge wedges: Alcone and ELF
* Beauty blender: Camera Ready Cosmetics
* Foundation brush: ELF, Nocibé, Yves Rocher and cheapie TomTop from Ebay
* Stipple brush: ELF
* Fan brushes: Tomtop 
* Flat topped powder brush: ELF 
* Powder puff: ELF, Boots' own
* Concealer brush: ELF Studio line 
* Blusher brush: Nocibé  

* Eyelash curlers: Boots own-brand, ELF own brand
* Eyeshadow brushes: Nocibé, ELF Professional and Studio lines and TomTop 
* Eyeliner brushes: Nocibé and TomTop 
* Eyebrow brush: Ultima, TomTop, spoolies (disposable mascara wands) from Camera Ready Cosmetics. 

* Lip brush: retractable from Nocibé, TomTop 24-piece and 22-piece sets.

In Part Two, I'll look at how to apply a daily makeup.  


Chucking and splurging

I'm honing down my makeup kit to the things that give me the best value for money.

One problem with only buying your makeup every so often is the phenomenon of running out of everything at once. It's happening to me at the moment - I'm down to my last couple of squirts of Smashbox skin primer - the adult woman's spackle -; have  just finished my Christian Dior Airflash foundation and am now running out of Touche Eclat. 

What's a girl to do? Clearly one can't go out and face the public without the primer (well, I jest, as I only wear it about once a week, which is why the same bottle's lasted me about six years), so I've splurged to buy a new one. But the foundation - meh. I've decided that it's a bit chalky for my taste, so am currently working my way through some free magazine samples - one by Clinique is the lead so far.

Touch Eclat used to come in just the one pale pinky-beige shade, but now apparently comes in six varieties. This can only be good as the original is a little pink for my freckly complexion. So I'm on the hunt for shade no 2 from some reseller, as I'm obviously not going to walk into Nocibé and pay a whopping 32.50 euros for it.

There are only a few things in my kit that have really done me great duty over the years, and as you get older and have no need for glitter, colours and jazzy effects, it's pretty much down to your daily drivers.  

My decluttering phase therefore has spread to my makeup kit and the other day when I sat down to do my slap, I placed each thing I used in a nice old Victorian sewing box, as part of my 'daily' toolkit. At the finish, there isn't much in there: eyebrow, eyeshadow and lip brushes; a big fluffy powder brush; foundation sachets, oil-free wipes, cream blush, lip balm, nude lip liner, a pink lipstick (Yves Rocher) and a red lipstick (Maybelline); a beige lipstick I use as an eyeshadow; pressed powder, loose powder, Touche Eclat, Smashbox, an eyeshadow palette in four shades of brown, a pale pink kohl pencil for the eyebrow area, a dark brown Revlon Wet n Dry eyeliner, beige under-eye liner, eyelash curlers, and brown mascara.

That's pretty much my daily kit, from the days when I wear no slap at all (maybe five days a week), to the days that I do the full monty. 

The rest of my kit, I carefully edited, chucking a lot of it out (unsatisfactory pale blue eyeliner, three lip glosses that were all identical, too-dark lipsticks etc), and the rump I've placed in a tiny drawer in the bathroom for 'special occasions' when I might wear a different shade of lipstick, or black mascara, for instance. I have no need, btw, for anything to do with nails as my hands are a disaster zone...

Honing down my daily makeup kit has freed up a lot of space on my landing windowsill, which is where I sit to do my slap in the only bright north light available. When I'm done, I now put it all back in the box, push the box into the window recess, and leave everything clear - more light to come in, less mess to clean up. 

Going through your makeup kit is something you should do every six months or so, as your makeup isn't designed to be used for very long. It's constantly picking up bacteria from your skin, so make sure that you renew it on a regular basis (unless, like the Smashbox, it's in an airless dispenser).  


Makeup overhaul

New year is a good time to assess your makeup bag.

Somewhat like my sister chucking out all of her out-of-date spices, New Year is the time that I like to overhaul my makeup bag. 

I say 'bag', but it's actually a series of trays arranged on my landing windowsill - just about the only place in the house where I can sit in good light and do my makeup.

Once you're over 40, your makeup should just be about looking brighter, healthier and better, so the key tools are primer, concealer and blush, to create a healthy glow, and foundation - if you need it - to even out the complexion. An uneven complexion is a far greater sign of ageing than are wrinkles, if looking younger is something that bothers you.

Anyway, most of us don't wear half of our makeup, so get out everything you own and have a look at it. The average life of a makeup item is six months - if any of your items are older than this, it's time to think about chucking them out. The mascara tube, in particular, is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria, so don't take any risks with mascaras. 

Pressed powders and pressed eyeshadows that are getting an oily or grubby surface should also be thrown away, along with any makeup items that use a built-in brush and are more than six months old - this includes things like Touche Eclat. If you have a favourite colour that you just can't bear to get rid off, try sandpapering off the surface of the powder until you get to fresh powder underneath. 

If you have glittery eyeshadows that you don't wear (most of us have bought eye makeup that has proved way-too-glittery on a softening eyeline) and they are in pale shades, crush them up and recycle them as loose body powders: you can even mix them into your body lotion. 

Clean out your makeup bag/box/drawer/shelf and disinfect it, and wipe over all your brushes with an alcohol wipe (you should be washing these out once a week anyway, to avoid infection).

Then take a look at what you have. IMHO, an over-40s babe's makeup bag should can usefully contain the following:

* Smashbox skin primer for a perfect satin finish, with or without makeup.

* Foundation of choice (mine's Dior Airflash).

* Loose powder (I use Yve Rocher).

* Pressed powder (I use Dior).

* Bronzer if you wear it.

* Blusher in the form of gel or cream (for no-makeup days), and powder (for last-minute application) - two shades, one with an apricot tint and one with a rose tint.

* A good quality eyeshadow palette containing brown, flesh colour, cream or gold and one or two in-between shades. I'm currently using Gemey-Maybelline. 

* Dark brown eyeliner pencil (black if you're dark). I use Revlon. 

* White or pale pink eyeliner pencil to open out the eye (also use the pink one below your browline). I use Eyecare. 

* Mascara in black, brown or browny-black and a waterproof version for swimming/weddings etc.  Also clear mascara if you wear it. (I favour Maybelline and La Roche Posay).

* Eyebrow pencil (mine's an Ultima).

* Lipliner in the same colour as your lips when you bite them - also use for infill (I use Yves Rocher). 

* Lip balm, red lipstick, pink lipstick, clear lipgloss (I use various makes, but favour Revlon and Chanel for their colour density).  


When it comes to tools, I couldn't get by without:

Microfoam sponges for applying powder and foundation (Boots' own).

Big fluffy powder brush for loose powder (Yves Rocher).  

Blusher brush (Yves Rocher).

Lip brush (Yves Rocher).

Clean mascara wand for recombing lashes.

Eyebrow brush (mine's on the end of an Ultima pencil).

Eyelash curlers (Boots).

Eyeshadow brush (Yves Rocher).

Eyeliner brush (Yves Rocher).  


Everything else can really be discarded. If things are still in their clingwrap, give them to charity, but if they're used, bin them, and go stock up on decent replacements. Like a capsule fashion wardrobe, a capsule makeup wardrobe needs to be slim and efficient, not stuffed to the gills with things you don't wear.  


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