Makeup Tips and Tricks

When I changed my eating habits in my mid-fifties, the quality of my skin improved dramatically. The redness and puffiness went away. Breakouts diminished and have all but disappeared. First, I have to tell you that what we eat, drink or smoke (eeeew!) every day shows on our faces. The best thing you can do for your body and your face is to eat more vegetables, fresh fruits, grains, nuts, seeds, and drink more water. Processed foods are never good for you. Ask your doctor before making any significant changes.

Makeup can enhance what we already have going for us, but as I celebrate birthdays, I wear less color. I am well aware that my natural coloring is getting softer with passing time and that bold makeup will not serve me well. Hairstyles and makeup trends come and go out of fashion. If we cling to thin, over-plucked, and artificially arched brows and darkly lined lips, it is just as bad as keeping the Rachel hairstyle a few decades longer than everyone else.

As we age, we develop little fat pockets underneath our eyes and often form a hooded upper lid. I apply eye makeup to minimize this as much as possible. There is never shimmer on the brow bone, and I work with the natural arch of my brow and fill in only where they are sparse with a very light hand. Thicker brows are the style right now, but that would look rather odd on me because my natural brows are not now, nor have they ever been very thick. 

A light hand in applying makeup and consistently removing all of it before you go to bed at night are the most important tips I can offer you.

I apply liner only to the top lid and on the upper waterline. The line always ends above and before the corner of my eye. Avoid any tail to the brows or your eyeliner because it visually brings your face downward.

An easy formula for applying eyeshadow is to keep it simple and use only two colors. Use a neutral shade all over your lid, and then apply a darker color in a C shape at the outer corner to counter that hood. You can see how I achieved that in the photo below.

The most crucial makeup technique to remember is to blend and blot. Deposits of unblended color, bold liner, and lipstick that travels are never kind to us. Chose the colors from a palette that flatters your coloring (never match your eyeshadow to what you are wearing). Any color you add should always complement your natural coloring. This applies to hair color, makeup, and clothing. Color works for or against you. I will never forget the beautiful lady I saw who had blonde patches of highlighted hair that grabbed brassy tones so that it looked orange, and her cheek and lip color was pink and red.

Remember to keep an open mind about trends, study your face and hair color in natural light. Do those colors clash with each other or your coloring? Evaluate your makeup at the end of the day. Did your lip color travel into the lines around your mouth? Did your mascara smudge and flake? Did your foundation cake and gather in your laugh lines? These are good things to know and keep in mind as you apply your makeup tomorrow. The world isn’t lit like a bathroom. Check your makeup in different lighting to make sure you aren’t applying it too dark. I use a lighted mirror by Ott-Lite, which simulates natural daylight.

Click here for a fun YouTube video I made to show you how I would look if I got too carried away with the makeup.

From the old photo below, you can see that if I still wore my hair and makeup in the same way, it would not be a good look for my sixty-year-old face. This is an extreme comparison, but I promise you that I still see women wearing their high school hairstyles and makeup more than thirty years later. Our faces and skin physically change over time, as do the trends. We need to keep an open mind about what flatters us or maybe not so much as we age.

Atlantic City, 1977
  1. you know….you are actually beautiful no matter how your make up is worn. Yes, in the video it might have been more than I (or you for the matter) would wear but I still thought you looked beautiful. Thanks for always setting us straight in aging gracefully!

  2. Alright! Fans want to know the story behind the Miss ? Tennessee picture. It has Atlantic City underneath. The Miss America pageant? Grazie, Bella!

    1. That was a pageant that was held during the Amvets National Convention. I represented my home state of Tennessee and I won! It was great fun and I won lots of prizes and experienced life with Paparazzi for the next few days. (They were not so much fun!)

  3. Because great skin care is really the foundation of great looking makeup, would love to know your skin care routine. Thank yoU!

    1. My skin care routine starts with the first paragraph. What I eat makes the biggest difference of all in the quality of my skin. There is no special skin care routine for me. I just wash my face every morning and night. Sometimes I use the Absolue moisturizer or oil if my skin feels tight and dry but not always. I use the same Lancome line to wash my makeup off and remove eye makeup.

  4. If you don’t mind sharing, I’d love to know the eye shadow colors you use. I have blue eyes too and I really like the way your shades bring out the blue!

    1. I use a variety of colors, but they always have cool undertones including taupe, reddish brown, smoke, slate, gray and rose-cream colors. (I never wear browns, camel, gold or green eyeshadows. I avoid anything with a yellow or gold undertone.)

  5. Perfect advice especially your advice about eyebrows. You have always been beautiful…fun seeing a photo of younger you. Unfortunately I cannot wear any powdered eyeshadow regardless of the brand. Within one day of use I will have an eye infection. I now use a chubby stick eyeliner/eyeshadow by Clinique. It is so easy to blend….no hard edges and looks very natural. Great natural looking colors also. A cream eyeshadow base works terrifically with eyeshadows for all day wear. I can’t use anything that is scented. Allergic skin is no fun at all!

    1. It is never just one color. I line my lips, apply a bold color and then blot carefully and apply a small amount of a lighter color in the center part of my lips. 397 BERRY NOIR (MATTE)L’ABSOLU ROUGE by Lancome is a great base color. I avoid wearing shimmer or gloss.

  6. Something happens as you age, if you have fair skin and light hair: your eyebrows and eyelashes seem to disappear. I used to have long lashes — and still do, but you can’t see them. My skin sensitivities now preclude wearing eye makeup, but I’ve found a drug store CC cream for sensitive skin that gives me a natural-born looking color boost and evens my skin tone.

    A friend who is a makeup goddess once influenced me to use a brow pencil. I came out looking like that Anthony Bourdain dream sequence Christmas special from years ago. It’s singed into my brain. I will not go there again. All that was missing was the smeared lipstick and a purse beverage. I highly recommend that show as a hilarious example of makeup gone wrong.

    Thanks for posting this as an example of makeup done right. “If in doubt, leave it out” is my motto.

  7. Great post! I agree with your tips to creating a beautiful and appropriate makeup for older women. However, I think a lot of women miss the opportunity to look great by either wearing no makeup or makeup that is too soft and colorless. You look wonderful in the pretty red lipstick and eye definitions you have chosen. I think as our skin tone and lashes/brows fade, we need more vibrancy to our makeup not less. But, as with all good things, moderation and proper blending is key.

  8. I totally agree with your dietary suggestions. Just over a year ago, I started drinking over 64 ounces of water per day. I noticed a vast improvement in my skin and a couple of other health issues vastly diminished. I found that the greatest threat to my health is sugar. I have to limit it or I feel it the next day throughout my body.

    Blessings to you, Susan!

  9. The makeup transition for me after 50 was difficult – SO much trial and error (and $$$) in colors, types of products, application. Was a shock to me – since I was always an expert in perfect makeup application. Never expected such a challenge as time went on. There were tears of frustration!! I completely agree with you – and use FAR fewer makeup products and lighter application than ever. The “colors” I use now are different. My focus is more on using healthy skincare products now. In the end, I think I look better, healthier and more youthful now. Has been completely liberating and way less time consuming!! Finally found my perfect combination and it’s a wonderful feeling to receive compliments.

  10. Thanks! I watched the video and I agree! My granddaughter tried to do my eyebrows perfect like a teen and it looked weird to me! I grew up with curly hair and my brows were always thicker, I do wear them some thinner now but painted on looks hideous on me, so I use a lighter pencil and try to keep it less than drawn on looking. I save heavier eye stuff for a special evening. Enjoy your site and videos!

  11. I really enjoyed your video. I appreciate your affirmation of the look we should go for as we change with the years. You look very beautiful and show self respect. Thank you!

  12. Thanks for this information. I too get very itchy eyelids if I use powder eyeshadow and think I am like Kat,doesn’t matter which brand. Will, like Kat, try the chubby stick eyeliner as eyeshadow. Great how we all learn from others and you of course!

  13. I am 67. I have freckles and medium skin tone and I can tan easily. I use spf 30 on my face everyday. My eyes are dark green. I let my hair grow grey and it is salt and pepper. My natural hair was very dark. I feel like my hair color and face all blend together to give a pale washed out look. Any suggestions to amp up my skin tone and eye color without applying more eye shadow and lip color. I feel wearing brown eye shadows dont enhance but look muddy.I also wear glasses. One pair has red frames which I love and the other pair are a subdued purple color. I love to wear purple and pink is my absolute fave. Thanks.

  14. You always look great! I’ve recently tried Cindy Joseph’s Boom Color and Glimmer. I really love the natural look and ease of application. Have you tried them? Best to you as you enjoy the season.

  15. Hi Susan
    I try to look the best I can for my age.
    I use good skin products and dress fashionably and I am slim. But I know there are all kinds of derma fillers and botox out there and I wondered if you have availed yourself to them. I think you are lovely no matter but creams can only do so much so I know a positive self accepting attitude is key. I get curious about the dermatologists magic though and I am a little scared to try.

    1. What you see is what you get with me. I have not tried anything more than a facial and that one time I told you guys about getting dermabrasion. I am going to just stick with mother nature.

  16. Susan, thank you for this post. I loved watching your makeup video illustrating what not to do. Only an older woman with tons of self confidence and knowledge has the courage to show herself at such a disadvantage.

  17. I have a quick question, Susan. Is the foundation you use, called Lancôme Absolute foundation? I use the Absolute skincare lines which I really like but haven’t seen anything about an Absolute foundation. Maybe it is new.

    1. Hi Rebecca, this is the foundation I use. I put one little dot about the size of a lentil in the palm of my hand and use a foundation brush to apply it just at the center of my face around my nose and then blend it. Never put foundation on the area around your eye sockets. That is a different skin so it never looks the way it should there. I do use a lot of moisturizer in the winter, but never very much foundation.

  18. Yay yay yay
    That’s what I hoped you would say Susan.
    You are a natural beauty and a role model.
    Thank you for sharing your wonderful words of wisdom with us!

  19. Is that. Lancôme liquid eyeliner? It doesn’t float into your eye since you line the inside of the lid..? I love all your tips and look forward
    To each blog. Thank you

    1. I often use a pencil to line the waterline most of the time. It isn’t as easy to apply the liquid eyeliner without getting it in my eye, but if I look in the magnifying mirror it makes it a bit easier.

  20. This morning I left off the liner and mascara to the lower eye. I actually had to SEE the difference on you to realize how harsh that really looks. My mirror lies to me.

  21. Mascara is a favorite item in a makeup it. You can all brands to figure out which is the best and the most long lasting. Mascara is used to lengthening your lashes and to give it class….

  22. I found your Make Up Tips very helpful.
    I am also enjoying the way you put your outfits together. I have a big Birthday coming up soon & am looking for a Dress that will suit my short, slightly overweight figure. Hoping to see something on your Posts.

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I share tips and inspiration for using what you already have in contemporary ways. Defining words include effortless, classic, refined, discreet, and elegant. My style is chic, minimal, and timeless with a bit of edge.