Once upon a time, a, shall we say, mature woman was expected to get a bob, spray it into a helmet, and reach for some Dowager Pink lipstick. But now age is truly just a number, says Sonia Kashuk, the creator of Sonia Kashuk Beauty and a celebrity makeup artist, who has worked with such 40-something beauties as Cindy Crawford. “Today women are taking better care of themselves, and makeup has evolved so much,” she says. “It’s really about mind—and manufacturing—over matter.” If you feel young at heart, there’s no reason why your outside can’t match your inside. Here, experts tell how you can (and why you should) hang on to the looks you love.
You Can Ease Up on the Hair Color
Just because you’re sprouting an increasing number of silver strands doesn’t mean you need an allover dye job. In fact, if your hair is 50 percent gray or less, it’s better to get highlights. First of all, they add dimension to your hair color, which can brighten your complexion, says Ted Gibson, a celebrity stylist and salon owner in Fort Lauderdale and New York City. Allover color, which doesn’t always reflect light the way streaks do, can make your skin appear flat and dull. Then there’s the convenience. “You can stretch the time between appointments longer than you can with a single-process—12 weeks as opposed to eight,” since roots will be less obvious, says Thierry Brunet, a stylist at the Pierre Michel Salon, in New York City. For the most natural look, Gibson suggests “hidden” highlights, which are woven in under your hair’s top layer or natural part, instead of the kind that start at the roots and are instantly noticeable along the part. And stick to streaks within two shades of your base color.
Fashion styling on this page by Mimi Lombardo.
2 of 8Lucas Allen
Ponytails Can Be Sophisticated
Pulling your hair back—whether into a ponytail, a bun, or a twist—needn’t be your default move for errands and exercise. Wearing your hair off your face gives light a chance to reflect off your skin, which can be very flattering, says Brunet. Of course, how you style an updo is key. Aim for soft and polished rather than schoolmarm severe. When creating a ponytail, for example, instead of brushing hair tightly into an elastic, first add texture with a volumizer (such as Glo Essentials Boost Hair Volumizer, $24, gloprofessional.com). Then gather your hair into a low ponytail (using your fingers, not a brush) at your nape. Accessories can add a youthful touch. Try sliding a thin tortoiseshell headband an inch back from your hairline before winding your hair into a loose chignon. Or slip a jeweled comb into the side of a French twist.
3 of 8Peter Ash Lee
Your Lips Are Better Off Red
Lips can get thinner with age (thank you, diminishing collagen), which may leave you less inclined to sport a bold color. “But the matadors have the right idea: Red can distract,” says Morgen Schick, a makeup artist in New York City and the author of Your Makeover. Pick the right shade and people notice a beautiful color, not a puny pair of lips. To choose your best red, consider the following.
Formula: Instead of a heavy cream or matte, opt for a lightweight (or sheer) version or a lipstick-and-gloss hybrid, like a tinted balm or a stain. You’ll get a softer, dewier—and thus fuller—effect.
Shade: If your complexion is medium or dark, select a brightening cherry red, such as Dior Rouge Dior Lipcolor in Favori Red ($35, dior.com). If you’re fair, choose an orange red, like Laura Mercier Crème Lip Color in Truly Red ($24, nordstrom.com). If you’re slightly ruddy (which can happen after years of sun exposure), you can neutralize red or pink patches with concealer before applying color.
Application: To prevent lip color from bleeding without employing the outdated technique of lining the perimeter with a pencil, Schick suggests lining lips with the edge of your lipstick or balm or with your stain’s applicator wand. Trace your lip lines, working from the outer corners in for maximum control, then fill in. This also gives you a natural dose of definition and keeps color on longer.
Fashion styling on this page by Mimi Lombardo.
4 of 8RealSimple.com
Long Hair Isn’t Hippie—It’s Hip
Say bye-bye to the Golden Girls puff. If you feel good about the shine and texture of your hair, flaunt it with a long, tailored style, à la Nicole Kidman or Jennifer Aniston. The trick is to have graduated layers that frame your face and neck, “not just a mass of grown-out hair,” says celebrity stylist and Beverly Hills salon owner Chris McMillan. And keep it above the clasp of your bra, especially if your face is thinning (another common sign of collagen loss from aging); longer hair may drag your features down. You’ll need three or four haircuts a year to avoid split ends, which can make hair look fuzzy and unhealthy. Also, since hair tends to become dryer and more brittle as you age, you’ll need a conditioning routine. At the salon, ask for a deep-conditioning treatment after each cut, then deep-condition at home once a week. Look for products that contain omega-6 fatty acids (found in argan oil, for example) or ceramides (moisturizing fats) to nourish and strengthen hair, as well as antioxidants to protect against shine-dulling ultraviolet rays. Try Organix Moroccan Argan Oil Renewing Treatment ($7.50, walgreens.com).
5 of 8Craig Cutler
A (Very) Little Shimmer Goes a Long Way
Shimmery shadow catches light and can make your eyes appear brighter. However, it can also cling to and emphasize crepey lids, so pick a formula that looks almost iridescent in the package and doesn’t have visible glittery particles—this is a good sign that the formula is finely milled and will blend into your skin, giving you a fresh, subtle glow. To further ensure that you don’t look like a time traveler from the last days of disco, choose a soft shade, such as beige or lavender, and apply it to one part of your eye only. Try a light sweep right under your brow bone, a dab on the inside corner of each eye, near the tear duct, or a stroke on the center of each lid from lash line to crease, says New York City makeup artist Carmindy, of TLC’s What Not to Wear. The colors found in Lancôme Color Design Eye Brightening All-in-One 5 Shadow & Liner Palette in Lavender Grace ($50, lancome-usa.com) are universally flattering options.
6 of 8Elinor Carucci
Bangs Can Work Magic
They not only cover forehead lines but also give you a playful (read: young) vibe, says Gibson. (Cases in point: Heidi Klum and Halle Berry.) Plus, “they bring angles to your face, which makes it appear more defined if your skin is starting to slacken,” says Gibson. Steer clear of blunt bangs, which are too grade school. Instead, opt for “wispy, sideswept pieces that end at your brows,” he says. Also, take into consideration the shape of your face. If it’s narrow, go with wider bangs that extend from temple to temple, says Gibson. If your face is wide or full, ask for bangs that are narrower, spanning from the outer tip of one brow to the other. Bangs need to be trimmed about every four weeks, so you may need to take a quick trip to your stylist between cuts (many won’t even charge you). Alternatively, you can ask her to show you how to trim them yourself. A few tips: “Cut them dry, since wet hair gets shorter as it dries,” says Gibson. “Hold the scissors vertically, pull the bangs slightly away from the forehead, and snip off the ends.” This way, you’ll avoid the cropped-straight-across bowl-cut effect.
7 of 8Peter Ash Lee
Smoky Eyes Rock
Afraid of revisiting the Joan Jett years? Don’t be. Lining the inner rims of your lower lids (referred to as the “water line” in makeup artist–speak) and the upper lids can create a sultry, surprisingly modern effect, says Matin Maulawizada, a New York City–based celebrity makeup artist and the global artistry director at Laura Mercier. In place of black, Maulawizada recommends choosing a pencil with a touch of color, which looks less harsh. “Try purple on green eyes, gold for blue eyes, and turquoise for brown and darker eyes,” he says. Careful application is a must. Give the pencil a fresh sharpening, then gently pull your lid up with your ring finger before lining the top rim, says Maulawizada. If you don’t have time, skip lining the bottom rims; once you blink, the color from the top rims can naturally transfer there. Go light on the rest of your face: Avoid dark eye shadow, which can create too much depth at the lid creases and emphasize age-related hollowing, warns Kashuk, and keep lip and cheek colors neutral.
Fashion styling on this page by Mimi Lombardo.
8 of 8Chayo Mata
Foundation Is Your Friend
If you’ve been sticking to tinted moisturizer because you’re leery of heavy foundation, it’s time to reassess. “The technology has changed so much,” says Carmindy. “The latest foundations are lightweight and can mimic the skin’s natural texture, but they still cover redness, lines, broken capillaries, and other imperfections the way tinted moisturizer can’t. Plus, they last longer.” These newer, sheerer formulas blend into the skin—unlike their matte, masklike ancestors—giving it a radiant finish that can “honestly take years off your face,” says Kashuk. Pick a hydrating cream, mousse, or liquid formula with light-diffusing pigments, such as YBF Hands-Free Light Diffusing Foundation ($25.50, hsn.com). One with antioxidants, such as Neutrogena Healthy Skin Liquid Makeup Broad Spectrum SPF 20 ($12.50, neutrogena.com), helps shield skin from free-radical damage that can lead to wrinkles. Instead of matching the shade to your face, match it to the skin on your breastbone. This way, when you spread the formula to the base of your neck (which makeup artists agree is a must for avoiding ring-around-the-jaw), you won’t appear two-toned. Be sure to apply sunscreen and moisturizer first, says Schick. Poorly hydrated skin can drink up the moisture and the pigments in the foundation, leaving you with blotchy coverage.