No matter how famous or how rich, the truth is that everyone will age. In the American culture, the standard of beauty is measured in conjunction with youth. All women, even those who were once considered to be great beauties will inevitably start to lose their looks. A formerly youthful woman may find herself feeling self-conscious and even invisible to the public.
However, the personality and spirit of the mature woman remains, and mature women should be able to continue to feel beautiful — without apology and in an age-appropriate way.
Makeup artists should know many mature women do not know how to adjust their makeup to suit their age. The result is that the mature woman may wear either too much or too little of the appropriate makeup. The mature woman may also not realize that the placement and selection of products must be adjusted to accommodate the changing anatomy. Makeup can greatly improve the existing features and overall appearance of the mature face. A careful makeup application will restore self-confidence and enhance the aging face to reflect the youthful spirit that is still within. In short, makeup for the mature face requires a delicate balance of empathy, knowledge, finesse, and skill.
A mature face is defined not only by age, but also by the condition of the skin. As women age, the skin loses hydration, resulting in dryness and the development of lines and wrinkles. The facial structure changes dramatically due to the loss of hydration, as well as from the slow-down of collagen production. This loss of elasticity along with gravity, draws the face downward. The areas of the face most affected are the forehead (wrinkles across, as well as on either side above the nose), eyelids (heavy folds), outer corners of the eyes (drooping), the bags under the eyes, deepened nasal labial folds, down-turned corners of the mouth, and loose or slack jawline (jowls).
While the skin’s undertone does not change throughout one’s life, (warm or cool), there is a loss in the amount of pigment in the skin, resulting in a sallow, less radiant look. The loss of pigment occurs in skin tone, eye color (iris), and hair. The hair in the eyebrows and eyelashes thins because there is no new growth, exacerbated if over-tweezing throughout the years has also destroyed the hair follicles. Mature skin also becomes thinner, and surface discolorations, such as age spots and deeper under eye circles become highly visible.
When selecting and applying foundation, the goal of the makeup artist is to try to restore the pigment and radiance of the skin. The skin must first be properly hydrated and primed. The undertone must then be carefully identified, and the undertone must not be confused with the various surface colors. Some olive may be added to the warm base to compensate for the sallow or ashy tone that may appear with age.
Full coverage foundation is typically not desirable, as it will serve only to emphasize the flaws of the mature skin. Certain moisturizers, as well as foundation products, are manufactured with ingredients such as peptides, which may (or may not) firm, plumb, and lift the skin. Foundation is best applied with a sponge and moistened with ionized water. This adds more moisture and radiance to the skin.
When selecting a concealer and under-eye primer, it is often wise to choose one that has slip and will not pull on the delicate under eye area. The under-eye area should also be well hydrated and primed with, preferably, a silicone-based primer. Frequently, the pigmented concealer will have a salmon-base to cancel out the blue that appears in the inner eye hollows, as well as under the pouches under the eyes.
A lighter concealer, possibly mixed with the foundation, may be used to highlight the corners of the eyes, the tops of the cheekbones, the temples, and the corners of the mouth. Other than to correct a slack jawline, there is typically little need for contour for the mature face. The highlight, contour, and cheek color must be well blended — harsh demarcations are highly unflattering on the mature face.
A soft, warm color placed on the very top of the cheekbone will make the mature skin glow. A hard, or dark color on the cheeks will harshly contour the mature face. Cream blushes that leave a stain on the cheekbone work well on the mature face to restore color and lift to the face, as well as provide a long-lasting flush to the cheeks.
Due to the dry, wrinkled, and otherwise not smooth surface of the mature skin, the face looks best with little to no powder products. Powder may settle in the creases, and it may also add to the dry look of the mature face. If the makeup artist has selected a silicone-based foundation, there may be no little or no need for set powder other than in the under-eye area.
The skin of the mature woman will have thinned and, depending on the woman, start to droop and develop wrinkles. Due to the uneven surface of the lid, it is very important to avoid the use of shimmer or any other light-reflective products because it will draw attention to any uneven surface. The eyeshadow colors should be carefully selected. It is recommended to use matte tones; any harsh eyeshadow color should be avoided. With matte eyeshadows, use darker tones on areas of the lid that need to be deemphasized. For areas of the eyelid that need to be brought forward, the makeup artist should select lighter, matte eyeshadows. The shadows should be well blended – hard lines are unattractive anywhere on the mature face.
Eyeliner is a great tool for creating the illusion of a lifted eye. Since hard lines are undesired, liquid eyeliner is best avoided. The makeup artist should select a eyeliner with soft edges and pull the eyeliner up into the crease of the eye to create lift. Neither the eyeliner nor the eyeshadow should extend outside of the eye area, into the wrinkles (crow’s feet).
Curling the eyelashes may also work to lift the eyes. Brown or black mascara should be applied; however, the makeup artist must be careful to apply the product sparingly and evenly. Too much mascara will create a hardened and even more aged image.
The eyebrows may become shorter, thinner, and ashy due to loss of pigmentation. If sufficient eyebrow hair remains for eyebrow mascara, the product will enhance the eyebrow and will also warm the color of the hair. If the eyebrows are lacking due to hair loss, the eyebrows can be elongated with an eyebrow pencil or water-resistant eyebrow gel. Eyebrows need to be brushed through with a warm-toned eyeshadow, and then set with an alcohol-based product to ensure they stay in place. A hard wax product may be very useful for taming any unruly eyebrow hairs as well.
As stated before, the mouth will start to sag or droop. There may be darker spots on the upper lip due to hormonal changes. In addition, cracks will eventually start to develop in the lip line; if the mature woman is a smoker or sun-worshiper, the cracks will develop earlier and will be more profuse and deeper.
It is very important to start with a sharpened lip pencil, in a shade that either matches the lips or is a shade deeper. The lip pencil will not only provide the stencil to work but will also provide a waxy base for the lipstick to adhere. The makeup artist should select a moist lipstick that is not too saturated to avoid harsh lines. If a bright or hard color is used, lipstick may be softly applied with a finger. Finally, the mature woman’s lip will look much better with a glossy finish.
To avoid having the lip products bleed outside of the lip line, as well to ensuring long-wear, there are a few techniques that the makeup artist may employ. Foundation or set powder may be applied around the finished lip line to create a barrier. The lip products may also be set using a single ply tissue and powder. After applying the lip liner and the lipstick, the artist will brush the translucent set powder over the tissue gently placed on the lips. The process can be repeated several times, reapplying the lipstick each time. The final step, after setting the lips with the tissue and powder, will be to reapply the lipstick, and then finally add the lip gloss to create that lush look.
Although the consensus of beauty is deeply tied to youth, women can find beauty at any age. With the correct placement of makeup, the right attitude, and refined skill, the mature woman has nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Jill Glaser is an Illinois state-certified freelance media makeup artist, working in and around the Chicago area. She is also the founder and owner (since 2006) and one of the instructors for the Basic, Media, Clinical, Careers, Advanced Media, Airbrushing, and Bridal Makeup courses at Make Up First School of Makeup Artistry. Glaser is also the owner of the agency Artists by Make Up First, LLC, which places graduates of the school in full and part-time work. She also continues to freelance as a makeup artist and hair stylist for television, film, print, video, music video, weddings, and special events.