It's not called a beauty "routine" for nothing: Once we find a set of makeup products we like--say, in our 20s--too many of us avoid switching things up, sometimes for years on end. In fact, in a recent Prevention.com poll, over 30% of respondents said they "hadn't changed a thing" about their beauty routine in more than 10 years! Meanwhile, trends evolve, colors go in and out of style, and the products and application techniques that flatter young, firm skin do us no favors as we age--not to mention, many of us just aren't sure how to minimize fine lines, dark circles, and other signs of aging in a way that's fresh and flattering. Here, Nicole Pearl, founder of TheBeautyGirl.com, and other beauty experts reveal the most common makeup missteps women make--and the secrets and new products that will get you back on track.
Makeup mishap: Foundation foul-up
When fine lines settle in and sun spots multiply, many women reach for foundation, layering it on like it's going out of style. Unfortunately, instead of hiding imperfections, the more-is-better strategy brings attention to them. Excess product has nowhere to go but to settle into creases, which exaggerates wrinkles, and thick layers piled on top of each other create a dated, masklike complexion.
For smooth, flawless-looking skin, choose a lightweight liquid foundation over a powder. Look for an easy-absorbing fluid formula such as Maybelline New York Fit Me! Foundation ($8; drugstores); it moisturizes skin and is easier to blend than powders, which can turn chalky and leave behind a dull, flat finish, a trait we associate with older skin. Squeeze a nickel-size amount in your palm and rub it on like you would a moisturizer. Applying with your fingers instead of a brush eliminates the chance of product overload.
Makeup mishap: Caked-on concealer
"Concealer can be your best friend when covering blemishes," says NYC New York Color artist Mathew Nigara. The problem arises when women use the same trusty spot concealer for other issues, such as hiding dark under-eye circles. A cover-up that's thick enough to hide a pimple is likely to have a tacky, heavy consistency that's too rich for the delicate thin skin under the eyes. Instead, use a sheer formula such as Sally Hansen Natural Beauty Fast Fix Concealer Inspired by Carmindy ($9; drugstores) to camouflage circles. Tap on with a concealer brush and blend with your finger for the most natural finish, and you'll foil signs of exhaustion without compromising a youthful appearance.
Makeup mishap: Runny mascara
While waterproof mascara is less prone to smudging, the stronger formulas can dry out lashes, which can become thinner and more fragile as we age. To get full-looking lashes sans smearing, Carmindy, host and makeup artist for TLC's What Not To Wear, offers the following tips: 1. To give the illusion that skimpy lashes are thick, smudge a chocolate brown eyebrow pencil like CoverGirl Brow & Eye Makers Pencil in midnight brown ($4; drugstores) along the roots of the lash line. 2. To coat and seal delicate lashes, choose a gentle mascara such as Blinc Mascara ($25; blincinc.com). "It's made with polymers that form a tube around each lash to prevent smudging, yet it comes off easily with warm water," says Carmindy.
Makeup mishap: Metallic lids
Like the '80s obsession with perms, every trend must come to an end. One of the hardest for women to kick: frosty eye shadow. When eyelids become less taut, usually around age 40, it's time to graduate from the glitter. Shimmer shadows settle into crinkles, magnifying crepey lids. Matte shadows such as Revlon Matte Eye Shadow in peach sorbet ($5; drugstores), on the other hand, are extremely flattering. Taupes, lavenders, soft peaches, and grays work on all skin tones. Want to up the drama? Incorporate eyeliner in a jewel tone such as garnet or plum for a pop of color. "To create the illusion of a lifted eye, avoid heavy liner on the bottom lash and apply it to the upper, outer corners of the eyes," says Shawn Towne, national educator for Jane Iredale.
Makeup mishap: Vampire red lips
It's an age-old fact: a dark color, be it on your floor, wall, or even lips, makes any surface area look smaller. Because lips naturally lose fullness over time, the last thing we want to do is shrink them. Plus, deep hues make teeth look less white. "For lips that look juicy, wear vibrant lip glosses and lipsticks," says Nigara. To instantly update your look, slick on a sheer version of popular lip colors such as coral or hibiscus--try CoverGirl NatureLuxe Gloss Balm ($6; drugstores), a line that's full of fresh, youthful shades.
Makeup mishap: Sunken cheeks
"Women always choose blah cheek colors because they're afraid of color," says Carmindy. The reality is that bright blush actually brings youth and vitality to the face, helping to restore the look of fullness to sallow cheeks. "Ditch dusty browns and roses and go for a cream formula in a floral shade," she says. Creams blend better than powders and add the extra moisture mature skin needs. One to try: Jane Iredale Just Kissed Lip and Cheek Stain in Forever Pink ($25; shop.janeiredale.com). To apply, start by positioning your brush higher on the cheeks, then blend the blush downward toward the apples. This technique creates a more modern finish, compared with the pink stripes up to the temples that were popular back in the day.
Makeup mishap: Overplucked brows
It's important to resist the urge to overpluck brows, especially as we age. Overtweezing can make brows disappear entirely, and those strands may never grow back. Thankfully, there are brow pencils and powders like Sonia Kashuk Arch Alert Brow Kit ($10; Target) that can bring sparse hairs back to their fullest potential. To apply, start at the inner brow and work your way outward using a stiff, angled brush or sharp brow pencil, whichever you prefer, and make short, feathery strokes.
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Makeup mishap: Powder overload
There's a fine line between glowing and greasy skin, and many of us aren't sure where it is. The biggest mistake women make when trying to control shine is forgetting to leave a little of that natural glow. One too many pats of powder can wash out the dimension from your face. "A little glisten makes you look fresh," says Carmindy. To tone down oil without going overboard, use a lightweight pressed powder containing oil-absorbing mica and silica like makeup artist favorite MAC Blot Powder Pressed ($23; maccosmetics.com). Dust it on with a small blush-size powder brush rather than a big dome brush, which can dump powder like a bulldozer. For touch-ups throughout the day, Carmindy recommends using the compact's puff and tapping it onto, rather than rubbing it across, the skin, a technique that promises to deposit just enough product without crossing the line.
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