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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Makeup for Grownups

Yikes, you need to have a look at this art video. It's an artist applying a year's worth of makeup to a model. The outcome is predictably distressing - she looks covered in mud. It would be equally unseemly to view a year's worth of hair gel, deodorant or sunscreen, of course. A year's worth of cookies . . . let me ponder.

Lernert & Sander: Natural Beauty on Nowness.com

The video got me contemplating makeup as a general concept, and in particular for us over-40 women. Like most women, I've gone through countless stages of experimentation, from that first off-white frosted Yardley lipstick to the present.

Like most very young women, I used to think the Next Best Thing would transform me into the heart-stopping model I saw in Seventeen Magazine. Big eyelashes from a tube! Sculpted cheekbones! Velvety smooth skin! All these were available via cosmetics, in my young mind.

In my corporate years, mid 20's to late 30's, I followed the current makeup trends but generally with a clumsy hand. Yes, I did blue eyeshadow and bold brows. Big old circles of bright blush. Young faces can get away with a lot. I've never been a maestro with the makeup wand, though, and being oily-skinned, I usually looked faded by day's end.

But I still like makeup! I am much less gullible - yet another upside to aging - and the ads don't seduce me any more. I read reputable blogs to find out what's new in the cosmetics world, I read the reviews at Makeup Alley and Amazon, then I plunge in.

I still prefer my face with a scrap of makeup to my bare-faced look. (Do I have to turn in my good-feminist card, again?). But I like the way other women look without makeup just fine. (Fabulous Paula, I am looking at you.) More work for me to do in this area, I see.

Here's what I'd like my makeup collection to look like:

Neat and sweet
I crave organization. I crave it; I haven't mastered it. I'm not ready to expose my actual ragtag makeup collection!

These days I strive for a natural, neutral palette. Nothing very bright, no sparkly things. For work, I usually apply:

A stroke of dark eyeliner - brown or plum
Concealer for the reddest areas
Pink blush, and, of course:
Lips - my weakness when it comes to color

For off-work hours, mascara, concealer and lips are plenty. What's your opinion about bare-face versus full- or part-face makeup? If you do wear makeup, what are the essentials? If you prefer to go makeup free, is it a new or lifelong habit?


  1. Hello there, I was soooo happy to find your blog. I am approaching 49 but honestly feel 29 so I feel soooo fortunate... Long live young attitudes!!! :))

  2. Mineral-based sunscreen (I love Neutrogena Healthy Defense SPF 50) which leaves a whitish cast, so I powder it or, in winter, smooth some foundation over it. Liner (I love Maybelline gel liner--holds up to eye cream!), dark powder over the liner to soften, medium shadow to deepen my now-puffy creases (Bobbi Brown makes the best matte, neutral colors--try ones other than brown for the best results--Wood Rose looks wonderful with my hazel eyes, w/o any pink-enhancement--or Heather--not purple at all). I darken the white hairs on my brows, mascara, maybe some very neutral blush for shaping, lip gloss...with good brushes, it's really five minutes or less....

  3. I am more confident with make up than without it! Especially on my eyes...I love mascara..but I try to keep it low key or I look like I am trying too hard!

  4. sans makeup I look too much like my mother! At 58 I should be over that, but I wear a minimum amount of eyeliner, brown eyeshadow, mascara and blush every day and natural toned pink lipstick (Maybelline Rose Glimmer.) It makes a difference!

    Recently I told my 30 year old son I was busy putting on makeup and he commented that he didn't think I wore any.

    I kick it up a notch for special occasions, but hate the feeling of foundation. I like to use Maybelline Instant Age Rewind primer on my lips. Recently I began using a touch of my blush as a highliter under my brows and feel it really brightens my face.

  5. I use nothing but moisturizer and it shows I'm afraid, but it has been that way so long...that I would shock anyone who saw me in makeup. I have resolved to try a bit this year.

  6. Patti, I'm definitely better at applying than I used to be. I've always loved makeup and having been wearing it since I was a preteen. Debbie http://thriftygirlvintage.com

  7. Patti, I'm completely in between. I see some girls with amazing make up and make a silent vow to spend more than 5 minutes putting "my face on". But I actually prefer a more clean look. I use Bare Essentials (thinking about going back to a liquid foundation) for base some blush, eyeliner, some shadow and mascara. I'm trying to remind myself to reapply lipstick throughout the day. I tend to groom myself once in the morning and then forget it for the rest of the day. Works for me, but some lip color throughout the day would look better. I rarely go out in public bare faced, but on the other hand; I don't go hiking or to the gym with makeup on! Hugs! ~Serene

  8. What was the point of this makeup exercise? It wouldn't be good to take a year's worth of vitamin C all at once either...WTF!

  9. Patti,
    I had completely forgotten about the Yardley white lipstick. Oh, how cool I thought I was with that on!
    Last year, I really got into makeup again and bought way, way to much. I enjoyed playing around, but it took so much time. When I had to change work locations, my commute took 30 minutes more time and I just could not get up early enough to do makeup.
    Now that I am retired, I have the time, but it just seems like too much work. My eyes are so deepset that no one can see them anyway, so about the only thing I do is a bit of foundation, blush and lip color. I too read Makeup Alley. It is a great resource.

  10. I moisturize, touch-up uneven skin tone with a light foundation, do lipstick, and more recently have been taking a brow pencil to my eyebrows.

    I like a defined brow and a little pencil with a light dust of powder fills them in. If I'm feeling ambitious I run a light colored cream right under my brow.

  11. I used to wear very subtle makeup, until someone commented how great it was that I didn't need to wear any - and I just wasn't comfortable wearing enough that people could tell (other than lipstick, & I have my limits for that).

    I'm fortunate that my brows, lashes & lips are visible without makeup. My former MIL had one of those faces whose features literally disappeared when she was makeup free. My DH doesn't see the point of my wearing it - & claims that the mineral powder makeup is just spreading dirt on one's face.

    So, except for special occasions & those that might involve some picture-taking, I go without & am perfectly happy. If I'm feeling washed out or happen to notice my lips are looking pale, I might swipe on a natural colored lipstick, but that's all I have in the drawer right now!

    guest in CA

  12. Patti--you made me laugh with the yardley lipstick!!!did I love that! And thank you so much for the compliment---and its not that I think I dont need make-up; its just those habits as a hippie and that "clean" look are hard to break! But truthfully, I have a 5 minute face--just mascara, blush and lipstick. More important are moisturizers and sunscreens. And I have a gycolic peel about every 10 weeks. Its damn hard to look healthy and natural!!!

  13. Paula ~ The 5-minute face is a great plan, I first heard of it from Carmindy on What Not To Wear. I'm smiling at how it's "damn hard to look natural!"

  14. Hee! My everyday make-up look now requires 12 products and almost as many steps. It's still (I hope) the same "natural" look I used to achieve with no makeup, but there is definite artistry involved.

    My "no make up" look includes 2 concealers, tinted moisturizer, blush and lipgloss.