If you are a woman over 45, chances are you are not availing yourself of Facetime, Photobooth or even Skype, unless the caller on the other side of the screen is someone who has known you for a lifetime and knows you don’t actually look like THAT. Despite following all and sundry internet suggestions on how to take a decent selfie, the picture on the screen of my iPhone always looks like some mask better worn on Halloween. And that is after the filters and available corrective effects. I have even disabled the turn-around feature in case I accidentally hit it and am even more unprepared for the scary monster the lens is refracting back.
I was not blessed with photogenic features and there are very few pictures in existence that are approved by yours truly so I knew that when I asked my friend and make-up artist Shally Zucker who has a long track record in the fashion and magazine industry, to give C&S a primer on simple make-ups for make-up challenged women my age, I would not be the chosen model. Enter Kimberly, my English professor and author friend, who lent her pretty face, and allowed me to photograph her before and after the make-up session.
Kim is both pretty and photogenic (if a bit younger than I would have wanted – in her mid-40’s) but it was still a challenge to photograph her in natural light without every wrinkle, line and shadow aging her beyond recognition. I take it all back Steven Meisel and Patrick Demarchelier: you are worth every penny of the thousand of dollars you charge a minute to make women look timeless.
I had asked Shally to come up with a couple of easy “faces”: one for the day that could be glammed up for the night. And something that could be achieved by a novice in minutes. Lately, I have become fond of watching make-up videos, usually featuring young models, and, if I wouldn’t recommend replicating any of those smoky eyes or sensual lips, I have found little tips that go a long way.
As I age, I use less and less make-up. That is good and bad. Good because too much make-up on a middle-aged woman, especially if inexpertly applied, makes her look garish and older. Bad because, with the loss of collagen that goes with the territory, our features lose their sharpness and using some lipstick or mascara can brighten us up. The overall effect, unless you are going on tv and do need garish make-up to even register on the screen, needs to be natural.
Here are some snapshots and suggestions from a fun-filled afternoon, reminiscent of those childhood ones spent experimenting with mother’s make-up and potions. Coffee and cookies were also involved but, I swear, the Campari bottle in the background was left untouched.
I have a slight aversion to foundation which, in fact, is a woman’s best friend. A thin layer a shade darker than your skin will work wonders to make the skin look compact and blemish free.
- Shally suggested using just concealer (it needs to be a light consistency one and not too thick – we used NARS) instead but not only under the eyes – dab it all over the spots on your face where the skin has blemishes or red patches, and on the upper eyelid too (to make the eye shadow application smoother). Then blend with your fingertips in gentle round motions. Your skin will instantly look more even. Kim’s skin tone required a yellowish concealer but if you are not sure what works for you, have a store make-up expert counsel you. The wrong concealer can make you look pasty. The same targeted application can be done with foundation.
- Using your fingertips, distribute some off-white, neutral eye-shadow all over your upper eyelid and under the brows. Then, with a small brush, apply some pale brown eyeshadow starting in the center of your eyelid and moving out to the side, using round motions to blend.
- To open the eyes, pick a darker shade of brown, go over what you just applied in the same motion, this time also including the crease between lid and arch.
- With a thinner brush, apply the dark brown eyeshadow all along the lower lash line, then use a Q tip to blend (or you will look like a raccoon).
- Move on to your cheekbones. A cream bronzer is easier to use than powder as it blends better with your fingertips. Apply a dab to your cheekbones and blend it by taking it upwards towards the outer corner of your eyes and all along the bone to create some definition.
- Back to the eyes, with a brown/bronze pencil eyeliner, draw a thin line along your eyelids, both upper and lower, and then blend in with a Q tip or a brush so you don’t look like Morticia but, rather, all the products you have applied seamlessly blend together.
- Finally, if you are going to use just one product, let it be mascara. Black, unless you have very blond lashes. When applying, tilt the wand sideways and up (not just upward) – you will notice the difference. Dab a tiny little bit on the lower lashes avoiding clumps. That’s it. Maybe a bit of a nude lipstick, if you want to go all out (if you want more definition on your lips, use a lip liner slightly darker than your lipstick on the inside of your lip lines and then blend it with a brush before applying the lipstick. If you use it on the outside, it will highlight those pesky little wrinkles).
- Keeping everything you already have done so far, with a charcoal pencil eye liner start at the center of your eyelid, along the lash line, and take it out to the side. Then blend with a Q tip to avoid the Cleopatra effect.
- If you want to add more drama, do the same, but with a lighter touch, along the lower lash line and blend.
- Dab a little bit of silver eyeshadow on the center of your eye-lid to brighten the eye.
- If you do want to add a bright lipstick, pick a color that works for your skin tone and apply using step 7 above. Press into a tissue a few times to seal lipstick in place.
A million thanks to Shally who provided time, products and expertise. To see her work or to contact her click here
And many thanks to Kim for lending her face and good humour. If you want to know more about Kim’s work, check out her site. I tinkered with her photos to improve light and saturation but she graciously encouraged me to leave all her wrinkles right where they are!