What if the very makeup you so carefully apply every morning is actually aging you? Consider it the beauty version of spinach in your teeth—despite how embarrassing it might be, few people will point it out to you. Here, the experts map out the simple tweaks that can take years off your look.
FLAWLESS SKIN: Nothing will age you faster than makeup that has settled into every line and wrinkle. “Skin tends to get drier as we get older, causing foundation to cluster in creases,” explains Gina Brooke, Madonna’s go-to makeup guru. To prevent foundation from morph ing into a road map of your fine lines, start with moisturizer or face oil and follow with primer to create a smooth palette. Try Jane Iredale Smooth Affair Facial Primer & Brightener Primer($48). Avoid spackle-like foundation—you want a light formula. Try Kimara Ahnert Picture Perfect Foundation ($52). Skin color often changes as we age, so be sure that your foundation matches your current skin tone. (To find the right shade, take a hand mirror and stand by a window to check it in natural light. Be prepared to be shocked.) “Sun spots also confuse many women,” says Sandy Linter, a Lancôme celebrity makeup artist. “Look for a shade in between the spots and the rest of your skin.” Even if you’re spot-free, warmer tones can make you look younger. Finally, don’t use powder; it will amplify fine lines. If you’re truly oily, just powder your T-zone.
ROSY CHEEKS: Powder is also a no-no when it comes to blush. “The key to looking fresh is using a cream blush—it’s more blendable,” Brooke says. Warm shades with a hint of pink or rose gold in them work best for most skin tones. “To give your face a lift, put blush on the apples of your cheeks, then add a touch of highlighter on the center of the cheekbones and blend it up to the temples.” Try Nars The Multiple in Orgasm ($39) and Yves Saint Laurent Touche Éclat highlighter ($41).
YOUNGER-LOOKING EYES: Your dark circles may have gotten worse, but you actually need to use a lighter hand when applying under-eye concealer. “Choose a product that’s not too heavy or dry, and blend with a brush,” says Chanel celebrity makeup artist Angela Levin, who works with Gwyneth Paltrow. Try Chanel Lift Lumière Eye Contour Concealer ($46).
A good eye primer is essential for keeping shadow from settling into wrinkles. Try Smashbox 24 Hour Shadow Primer ($20). “If you were very dramatic with eye makeup when young, you have to tone it down a notch,” says Levin. “Harsh colors accentuate age.” Instead, look for more neutral hues; two complementary shadows are all you need. “If you keep your eye open when applying shadow, you can go higher in the eye crease with your contouring color and that will open and lift the eye,” says New York makeup artist Kimara Ahnert. Switch to a gel pencil for liner. It will stay put rather than drifting into lines. Try Sephora Collection Contour Matte Gel Eyeliner in Espresso Your Love ($14). Vincent Longo, creative director ofStyleBookings.com, recommends extending the line beyond the outer edge, then blend-ing it up and out to further lift the eye. Finish with an eyelash curler and a volumizing mascara. TryLancôme Hypnose Star Mascara ($28.50).
GROOMED BROWS: Brows tend to thin out with the years, especially at the ends. “Filling them in will frame your eyes and make you look refreshed,” says Ahnert. (On the off chance that your brows have stayed lush, beware of overplucking or creating too high an arch. Both are instant agers.) To contour brows, use a pencil that’s slightly lighter than your hair color. Fill in sparse areas with light, feathery strokes, blend well, and set with brow gel. Try Tom Ford Brow Sculptor pencil ($44). Dab highlighter under your arches to brighten your face immediately.
FULLER LIPS: To make thinning lips appear plumper, start with a gentle exfoliation (a bit of brown sugar will work), then use a primer to keep lipstick from bleeding. Try M.A.C. Prep + Prime Lip ($16.50). Linter recommends lining your lips with a neutral or rose-colored pencil to strengthen the borders; blend well. Try Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Lip Pencil in Stark Naked ($20). “Avoid dark lipsticks,” advises Ahnert. “They look too severe.” Choose warm, medium-tone rosy shades. Try Clarins Joli Rouge lipstick in Rose Berry ($27). “Adding a touch of gloss in the center of your lips will give you a softer and more youthful look,” says Brooke. Now, if you can just steer clear of spinach, you’ll be all set.