6 Makeup Mistakes That Can Make You Look Older
The Mistake: Skipping Foundation
Foundation is the one thing you should never skip in the name of streamlining your makeup routine. When you find the right one, it can even your skin tone, erase discoloration, and give you a youthful glow. "No foundation is better than bad foundation—but good foundation is best," says Maybelline New York makeup artist Melissa Silver.
The Solution: Wearing the Right Foundation
Finding the right foundation for your unique skin type and complexion will be a trial and error process—and completely worth it. "When trying out a new foundation in a department store, wear it for a few hours and check it out in natural daylight to see how it settles," Silver says. "Cakey? Try again. Looks natural? It’s a winner." A powder foundation, like Laura Mercier Mineral Pressed Powder SPF 15 ($42, sephora.com), is best for oily skin; sweep it on with a fluffy brush for a soft finish. For dry skin, apply liquid foundation or a tinted moisturizer with a slightly damp sponge (try Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20, ($46, sephora.com). If you have normal or combination skin, "use the formulation you feel most comfortable in," says Silver.
A trick she likes, especially for women who shy away from foundation altogether for fear that it will settle into (and highlight) fine lines: "To sheer out a foundation that feels too opaque, mix it on the back of your hand with a drop of moisturizer to create your own customized tinted moisturizer."
The Mistake: Choosing the Wrong Blush Color
Just the slightest pop of the right color can help enhance your natural glow and cheekbones—but when blush isn't harmonious with your lip color or skin tone, it can look harsh. A subtle swap can make all the difference.
The Solution: Finding the Right Shade for Your Skin Tone
Choose a blush shade that's closer to your skin tone. Women with fair skin look best in rosy pinks and peaches—"nothing too brown," Silver says. Pinks and peaches work well on medium skin tones, too—even something slightly mauve will flatter those with cooler skin tones. Corals, oranges, berries, and rich bronzes complement darker complexions; avoid anything too blue or too light, which will look ashy. For a color that flatters all skin tones, try NARS Orgasm Blush (39; sephora.com).
The Mistake: Overdoing Lip Liner
Dark, heavily-lined lips will instantly date your look. Lip liner is meant to define your lips and lip color, not double as your lip color. If you like using lip liner to fill in your lips, always follow the natural curvature of your mouth, to keep the look modern and de-emphasize any feathery lines around the mouth.
The Solution: Softening the Look
Lip liner is really meant to hold your lipstick in check, preventing it from bleeding. To keep lip liner from looking severe, match it to the color of your lipstick or to your natural lip color. After lining your lips, use the pencil to fill them in, then apply lipstick on top. Use a creamy pencil for best results; our favorite is the Lancôme Le Lipstique, $26, sephora.com).
The Mistake: Lining Just the Lower Eyelid
There’s something to be said for sticking with an approach that works—unless that approach is one you adopted all the way back in high school. Severe liner on only the lower lid makes your eyes look smaller and bottom heavy, which can make you look tired and older.
The Solution: Applying Liner to Both Lids
For wide, bright, attention-grabbing eyes, use a soft pencil on both the upper and lower lids. Apply it close to the lash lines, then gently smudge it to soften and lighten the line. The look can be as bold or subtle as you want: "A soft gray or bronze eyeliner will make any eye color sparkle,” Silver says. “Apply it lightly and blend it out with a small, firm brush for a subtly beautiful look."
The Mistake: Wearing Super-Bright Eyeshadow Colors
When it comes to your lids, allover bold color can backfire. Bright colors—though fun—can enhance creases and look jarring. Plus, when the color steps too far out of the ordinary (like blues, lilac, and green) it can set you back a few decades to when those colors were truly trendy.
The Solution: Wearing Deeper, Neutral Shades
Understated, more neutral shades—like brown, maroon, or violet—are not only far more flattering, but help your eye color pop. But you don't have to abandon your dreams of bold color: Apply your usual shadow to your top lid, then dip an eyeliner brush into the statement color and trace over the shadow at your lash line, for a cool but sophisticated look.
The Mistake: Neglecting Your Brows
When it comes to framing your face, brows are your most important feature. As we age, it's common for hair to thin and become paler, which can cause your eyes to visually recede. So the mistake you might be making here has to do with what you're not doing: paying attention to your brows.
The Solution: Filling Your Brows In
To give eyebrows some natural-looking emphasis, fill them in with a pencil or gel that's close to your natural hair color, using quick, short strokes. We love Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz pencil ($21, sephora.com) and Diorshow Bold Brow Instant Volumizing Mascara gel ($27, saksfifthavenue.com) for full, flawless brows.