Creating Subtle Makeup Effects: The Right Tools And Applicators For A Youthful Look

How to create subtle makeup effects to look younger by using the right cosmetics, makeup, tools, implements, applicators and techniques.

Translation: "How do I hide all those 'fine lines' and wrinkles?" The age-old quest for the eternal Fountain of Youth gains new momentum as more baby boomers approach retirement age. The stunning realization that the American Association of Retired People (AARP) considers anyone over the age of 50 to be a "senior" can shock you into a frenzied search for that Fountain of Youth long before retirement. All sorts of lotions and potions, cosmetic lines and assorted implements targeting "mature" women have hit the department stores and drugstores in growing numbers, and they promise to take up increased counter space in the not-so-distant future.

Aside from getting the proper nutrients from food and supplements, and conscientiously applying the lotion or potion of the moment, you can turn back the effects of time by creating a subtle and natural look with your makeup. You'll need the right tools and materials, implements and applicators, and a lighter touch when applying makeup. You need to make a few modifications to the sloppier routines that you may have developed along the way""routines that served you well in years gone by.

The easiest modification that you can make even before trading in your old standbys for new and improved versions is to lighten up on makeup. Use what makeup you apply as an enhancement to your own natural beauty rather than as oil paint on a canvas screaming for paint""think Monet instead of Picasso!

The most important tool

Your skin is the most important tool in creating a subtle, natural, youthful appearance. The better your skin, the less effort you will need to exert in creating a youthful effect. Mature skin dries with age, so your first consideration is hydration. If your regimen has included an astringent, an oil-free moisturizer and makeup, sticky lip gloss and blue eye shadow since you were a teenager, it's time to update your basic routine.

Implement lifestyle changes to slow down the effects of aging:

* Quit frowning and squinting

* Stay out of the sun or apply a high-SPF sunscreen

* Quit smoking

Tools for basic skin care

Care for your skin properly to avoid fine wrinkles. They grow into deeply sketched wrinkles! Use a richer cleansing routine, one that doesn't strip natural oils. Quit using astringent, and if you must use something between cleansing and moisturizing, switch to a non-stripping toner. Use a cream moisturizer with vitamins, botanicals, and sunscreen""something specifically designed and created for maturing skin. Apply an eye cream formulated specifically for the eye area. Maturing skin lines recognize that not all women have dry skin, so you'll find something suited to your skin type, whether it's sensitive, oily, normal, dry or extra dry. If you're unsure of your skin type, the personnel at the department store makeup counters can help you determine your exact skin type.

Here's the biggest, best-kept secret about skin care: It's not so much what you use, but THAT you use it""every day, consistently.

Advanced formulations

In addition to regular daily skin care, many women add secret tools to their daily routine--advanced formulations. It seems that every day there's a new "non-surgical face-lift," or a brand new "better-than-Botox" solution hitting the market. These formulations fall into several categories, with the "better than Botox" lotions and potions leading the pack.

Botox alternatives strengthen the skin by promoting collagen and elastin production while relaxing the facial muscles that are responsible for many of the wrinkles that form over time.

* Avotone

* OHT Peptide 3

* Hydroderm

* StriVectin

* Bioque Serum XL

All of these formulation run close to $100 or more. The good news is that drugstores such as Walgreen's and CVS sell their own knock-off formulations that contain the exact same active ingredients as the original for a fraction of the price.

The other categories include the skin peel lotions available from drugstores or department store makeup counters, and the instant firming formulations from RoC, Rachael Perry, Clinique, Clarins, and a cast of hundreds. Many begin life as "As Seen on TV" products before moving to traditional distribution channels.

If money is a consideration, peruse the Avon catalogs for products that promote collagen and elastin production, contain botanicals, vitamins and other nutrients. Avon is more than a cosmetic company. It's one of the largest, finest cosmetic laboratories in the United States, and it supplies cosmetics to many of the major, high-end cosmetic companies.

Routine maintenance

Eyebrows can add a harsh look to your appearance. Pluck stray hairs with eyebrow tweezers, or carefully wax the brow area if you know how to do it. Test the wax temperature on your hand first to avoid burning the delicate eyebrow area. Avoid the two eyebrow looks that detract attention from the rest of your face:



* the unkempt mono-brow look, where the eyebrows have grown together

* the over-arched, over-defined thin brow

Preparing the canvas

Once you've cleansed and moisturized your face, you'll further prepare the canvas to accept makeup by hiding the imperfections. Those imperfections fall into the following general categories:

* Lines and wrinkles

* Color imperfections, such as age spots and dark circles under the eyes

* Bags and sags

Wrinkles and fine lines are much easier to camouflage than they used to be. You can use a silicone-based filler to fill the wrinkles, such as Prescriptives Invisible Line Smoother. Apply with your fingertips, wipe away any excess, and allow it to dry before applying any concealer or makeup.

Apply concealer to the area under the eyes, the eyelids and all discolored areas on the face and neck. To apply concealer for the most subtle effect, use a damp sponge and blend well. Stipple (apply more than one very light application) instead of applying a large amount of concealer all at once. Be careful not to tug the skin under the eyes. In addition to concealer, try one of the new light diffusing sticks. Elizabeth Arden makes an entire line of light-diffusing products""the WhiteLight line.

Prepare the eyelid area in much the same way you prepare the area under the eyes. If your eyelids appear dark or otherwise need color correction, you can choose from one of the many color correctors formulated specifically for the eyelid area, such as Lemon-aid from Benefit Cosmetics. Use a dry makeup sponge rather than the little applicator brush that comes with it for an even application.

Bags and sags also respond well to light-diffusing formulations. Apply with a damp makeup sponge to receive the most even, natural coverage.

Applying makeup for a natural effect

For the most natural look, emphasize no more than one area of your face.

Start by brushing your eyebrows in the direction they grow with an eyebrow brush. If white or gray hairs dot your eyebrows, you may use an eyebrow pencil to fill in your brows. Use short, feathery strokes. Try to match your eyebrows to your hair color.

Apply no more than two eye shadow colors to the eyelid for a natural, youthful daytime effect. Muted, neutral tones work best. Leave the glitz and glitter for nighttime. Apply one or two light coats of mascara, and trade in the black mascara for dark brown. Use a mascara comb to separate lashes.

If you must use eyeliner, use a brown or neutral eyeliner pencil and smudge the color. Avoid fluid liners and thick lines. They look unnatural and harsh, the exact opposite effect from the one you want to achieve.

Apply a cream or powder blush. Liquid rouges are best left to the professionals--they're very difficult to apply and blend correctly. Apply a cream blush directly to the skin using a light touch, and then blend with a damp makeup sponge. Apply a powder blush with a blush applicator brush instead of the little applicator blush that comes with most powder blushes. You'll have much better control and achieve better results with a proper blush applicator brush.

If you use powder, apply a light dusting of powder. Use a face powder brush for best results. Dip the brush into loose face powder, and tap the brush on the powder jar to dislodge excess powder. After applying in broad, sweeping strokes, buff the powder with the brush.

Before applying lipstick, you can camouflage fine lip lines and prevent lipstick bleeding with a waxy lip foundation such as De-groovie by Benefit Cosmetics. Apply with a lip brush and blot any excess with a tissue. Apply a moisturizing lip color to maintain moisture throughout the day, and save the bright reds and fuchsias for evening occasions. Stick to a muted neutral for daytime wear, and apply throughout the day as necessary. Above all, leave the fat-lipped, "sexy" look to the younger generation.

It's taken you far more time to read this article than it will take you to follow the simple, youth-restoring routine above. Makeup application should take about five or ten minutes at the most. Spend more time on face care and you'll need to spend even less time on makeup application. Try the various youth-restoring lotions and potions, and don't worry about brand names. Use the one that's best suited to your skin. What is it they usually say to people who have just had a face-lift? "You look so rested, dear!" Eat right, drink plenty of water, and get proper sleep to ensure that you always look your best. The elixirs of life are the best tools available to maintain that youthful look well into your sunset years.

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