One of the crappest things about ageing is having to review and re-think your make-up routine. Like many woman, I love the transformative power of make-up and beauty products, but found after around 45 my usual techniques didn’t work and I had to change my approach. I am a bit of a whore when it comes to brands and have tried hundreds of different bits and pieces over the past 30 years and would love to share what I have learned and loved.
The greatest test of any product is which ones you keep buying. I have bought thousands of lipsticks, foundations, mascaras and skin creams, but there are very few brands that have been so brilliant I’ve thought, ‘right, that’s it! That’s the one!’, and stuck with it for years. I am easily seduced by the serpent whispers of new brands opening their coats and inviting me to look at their latest wares.
For this post I am being very strict. I am only mentioning products I have been using for years and replaced at least three times. For me, that is the true test of a good product. Some are good for a woman over 45, some are just good all round.
My entire approach to looking good is very much in the ‘scrubs up well’ category. Most of the time I’m in knackered jeans and a jumper, no make-up and glasses. Because I’m lazy. However, my argument is that if I generally look rubbish, people are then surprised and think I look great when I dress up, whack the contact lens in and slap on a bucket of products and hair pieces. This is also the only time I allow photographs to be taken. Though I only pull out all the stops once or twice a month, I adore buying and playing about with make-up and have drawers and boxes of the stuff.
To begin with, a quick note about clothes. I’m not a great fashionista and at my size I can’t access trendy stuff although getting down to a size 14 (from an 18-20) makes things easier. Clothes designed to look good on a size 8 tend not to look so good on a size 14 even if you can squeeze into them. That said, I was stupid to spend my twenties and too much of my thirties in big ballooning black clothes. If you are on the curvy side for God’s sake think fitted and well-tailored. Trust me, baggy just makes you look fatter. I’m sure everyone knows this – I did come pretty late to the party.
Also, over 40, COLOUR! Lots of colour. I just thought about wrinkles happening when I got older – I didn’t realise that getting older means that not only does your skin start to sag off the bones of your face – who knew? – you also lose your rosy glow. If you’re not careful you can look really washed out – and you know what washes you out more than anything? Black! Yes, black, my go-to neutral. Curses!
Unless I can be arsed to slap on a full face of make up, wearing black makes me look pallid. So going for colour near the face is a really good idea. Antoine and Lili is a fantastic company who do great clothes in a rainbow of colours, but there are hundreds of shops out there – embrace colour!
I love earrings but always end up wearing the same studs for ages on end as I forget about them. I have noticed that whenever I see a 45+ woman in the media many of them wear huge (usually diamond) drop earrings which seem to be very good at brightening the middle-aged face. With this in mind when I saw these ones in a shop just next to my house I fell in love with them.
Unfortunately, when I saw them in the shop window I was weighed down with a hundred bags of shopping with a crippling headache caused by refereeing a mind-bogglingly stupid argument that had blown up between my two children as to which of them was the most cold. I managed to get a photograph on my phone and back home, persuaded my husband to go out and buy them, pinging over the £35 with my banking app. I hasten to add he was going out anyway, he just prefers to shop sans children *eyeroll*.
So off he goes. When he returns an hour later with his Christmas cheese and port, he hands over the earrings box with a smug smile; unfortunately he’s bought the wrong ones *another eyeroll.* They cost £30. I don’t know why this didn’t make him wonder if he’d purchased the right earrings. I had to go out again to swap them but the main thing is I love them, and when the light is right they look brilliant. Husband still owes me £5. He did redeem himself, though. Without any words or guidance from me he has decided to buy me these for Christmas.
Aren’t they gorgeous? Not to sound patronising, but the boy done good. I can’t wait to open this present on Christmas morning.
So let’s get onto products. Since I first started experimenting with make-up I have been a black eyeliner girl. My eyes are small and without eyeliner I don’t feel ‘done’. Since my early 20’s I have been working on and perfecting a black line edging my eyelashes. I experimented with a flick but never stuck with it. I have come to realise I just don’t have the right shaped eye-socket. Whenever I get a make over they are always very scathing about my eyeliner addiction and try to make me stop doing it. I always thank them nicely, leave the shop, then rush home to add some eyeliner.
I’ve tried most eyeliners on the market. None really stand out as being any better than the other. I prefer a pot and brush, but have used the felt-tip type ones and they work fine. Bobbi Brown’s gel eyeliner in espresso or black is gorgeous and velvety.
It’s perfect for a dramatic night-time look as it does come out quite thick, no matter how fine a brush you use. It also smudges really easily, which is great if you want a smoky eye, not so good if – like me – you wear a contact lens and rub your eye and it comes away sooty with eyeliner. Another problem is that it dries up very quickly. You can’t let too much air get to it. What I do is quickly scoop out a blob of it – I paint it onto the back of my hand (then forget, and go out with what looks like a melanoma on my skin) – from which to paint my brush. If you leave the lid off for more than a few seconds it dries up and becomes unusable. To be fair to Bobbi Brown I don’t use it very often so months may have passed since I last used the gel so that also may be why I think it dries up quickly – it probably doesn’t, I just forget I haven’t used it for six months.
For everyday use I have a whole pile of different eyeliners. But then I started to get older…
Once I hit 45 I started noticing that, along with the drooping flesh bags under my eyebrows, something odd had happened to my inner eyelids. I don’t know whether anyone else has found this, but the skin there seems to have thinned and crumpled so that when I apply eyeliner, it immediately takes a merry dance upwards, furrowing into a million creases, leaking all up my eyelid leaving a great grey smudge. Disaster! Was this the end of my eyeliner days!?
I tried lots of different eyeliners but they all did the same thing. Finally, I stumbled upon a solution. Two, in fact. One for when I am doing a proper full face and am doing it properly, and the other is more of a quick (successful) fix.
Firstly, Bare Minerals 5 in 1 eye make up. Fantastic stuff. It puts a neutral primer on your eyelid which seems to keep the dreaded eyeliner leak at bay. It also keeps eyeshadow fixed on most of the day.
I’m not sure what the five things it can do are, but I use it to thicken up my ageing eyelids, giving them a good base for the rest of my eye make-up.
If it’s a going-to-work or going-to-pub-want-to-look-fairly-nice-but-not-going-mad kind of do, I use this absolutely fantastic concealer stick face touch-up thing from Bobbi Brown.
I have bought this three times now. To begin with I used it to cover a red nose, but one day when I had run out of my Bare Minerals 5 in 1, I decided to try it on the inner corners of my eyelids. Well it worked like a dream. In fact, eyeliner clung to it almost as well as it did when I was ten years younger. Brilliant. Thinking about this product being discontinued gives me the bum sweats. I really must stock up.
What about dark circles under the eyes? I hear you cry. WELL. I haven’t had to worry about that ever since I discovered this product about 8 years ago. I remember exactly as my nine year old daughter had just turned one when I was persuaded to buy it by a very pushy saleswoman in a shopping mall. It is HUGELY expensive, and way out of my usual price range. However, and you may not believe this, I have only had to buy it twice and the second one still hasn’t run out. IN EIGHT YEARS. OK I am sure it’s swarming with bacteria, but it works too well for me to worry about that.
So what is it? It is La Prairie’s Light Fantastic Cellular con eye treat. It is pricy (around £56) but you get a refill with it, so it’s two for the price of one. And it works. The only product I have found that does. Covers dark circles really well. You only use a tiny bit at a time and I would never be without it.
I ran out of eyeliner today and decided to get one my hairdresser had recommended. She came to my house last week drenched after getting caught in a torrential downpour. Her hair was dripping but her eyeliner was immaculate. ‘What eyeliner are you using?’ I asked immediately. Turns out it was from Mac: Liquidlast Liner, guaranteed waterproof.
In the interests of this blog I thought I’d try it out and film the results. Can I just say before you look at the video I didn’t have a scrap of foundation on, so please excuse the uneven, wrinkly etc skin. All I put on was my trusty Bobbi Brown concealer on the inner eyelid and then lined with the Mac Liquidlast. I apologise for the wobbly line, I have never used this before and the brush was a bit tricky. I usually get a smoother line that this.
So here is a video of me straight after putting on the liquidlast…
And this is after a day’s shopping in town. Here I am rubbing my lid with a wet finger to test how waterproof it is…
And there’s the proof! Pretty damn waterproof I’d say.
I’d better stop there. This took longer than I thought it would. I’ve still got some more products I want to tell you about. I will have to put it into another post as I’ve wanged on long enough.
I would love to hear any suggestions, advice and tips you might have. Add them to the comments below!