10 Makeup Mistakes That Make You Look Older and How to Avoid Them

As we age, our makeup routines much grow and change with us. But so many women make the same makeup mistakes year after year, according to Los Angeles-based celebrity makeup artist Jan Ping. If you don’t update your routine, you run the risk of looking older than you are. Follow these 10 tips to look your best, at every age.

1. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize

applying moisturizer

It’s one of the keys. | Ridofranz/iStock/Getty Images

Applying makeup on dry skin ranks as one of the biggest makeup mistakes. It can make your face look dull, cracked, crepe-y, and tired. Every look rests on a solid foundation, and using the right moisturizer will set a solid one. Also beware using too much face powder. While it will keep shine down and help makeup stay put, it can also age you. Powder settles into fine lines and wrinkles, especially on dry skin.

Next: If you always apply makeup in the bathroom, you may want to rethink that.

2. Apply your makeup in natural lighting

portrait of young beautiful woman

Natural lighting helps you get the best match. | yurok/iStock/Getty Images

Many of us have bright, revealing lights in the bathroom or makeup vanity. That can lead to makeup mistakes like using the wrong shades or applying too heavily. Always test your makeup, especially foundation, in natural lighting. Since you spend most of your time in natural light, make sure you check your look there, too. It will avoid a nasty surprise when you get a glimpse in that storefront window, later.

Next: Exercise caution during this part of your routine, as well.

3. One concealer does not rule them all

Woman applying concealer

You need different concealer for different coverage. | monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images

Spackled-on concealer actually highlights lines and wrinkles as it dries, so you want to use extra moisturizer around your eyes. If you can, use minimal concealer on the inner corners of your eyes only. When it comes to foundation, splurge a little. “No foundation is better than bad foundation, but good foundation is best,” said Maybelline New York makeup artist Melissa Silver.

Never use too much product at once, which will cake and make you look older. Instead, dot just a little on the bones beneath your eyes and blend it upwards, instead of applying it directly to your dark circles or blemish. You also can’t use one concealer for everything. A peach-toned concealer cancels out the blue in dark circles, while a green-toned one hides blemishes. Yellow-toned ones will even out larger areas, like your cheeks.

Next: If you use this technique, your look needs updating.

4. Harsh lip liner belongs in the Clinton era

Dark lipliner

Stay away from crazy contrasting lip liner. | Stockbyte/iStock/Getty Images

Harsh lip lines have gone the way of stirrup pants. Instead of drawing a thin, sharp line around your lips, blend it inward. You should wear a lip liner to keep your lipstick from bleeding, not just defining your pucker. Draw a smudged outline, shading your lips with the pencil. Whatever you do, always match your lip liner to your lipstick. Dark outlines and light lipstick looks very dated.

Next: The following look also sets you back decades.

5. Never match your makeup to your clothes

beauty eyes makeup

Pair neutral clothes with vibrant makeup. | Staras/iStock/Getty Images

Matching your makeup to your clothes feels old-school, and not in the classic vintage way. When you wear both bright-colored clothes and makeup, you risk looking like a member of the circus. Makeup artists suggest pairing vibrant clothes with neutral makeup and a classy smoky eye with more formal looks. Feel free to use a bright lip with sparkle for special occasions, but always stay mindful of the occasion. If it feels too splashy for the office or the weekend, follow your instincts.

Next: This makeup mistake just screams “old lady.”

6. Update your blush application to flatter your face

40s woman applying makeup

Apply a rosy pink blush to the apples of your cheeks. | Eva-Katalin/iStock/Getty Images

You may remember the old advice about applying blush on the apples of your cheeks. Taking that too literally can make you look like a clown. Also watch out for brushing blush too far down below your cheekbones. That visually pulls down the face, making you look jowly. Instead, pay attention to where you blush naturally. Brush it up along the cheekbone, using the center of your eyes as a guide. Sweeping it upward will also draw the eye that way, slimming your cheeks.

Women with fair skin look best in rosy pinks and peaches, “nothing too brown,” according to Silver. Pinks and peaches work well on medium skin tones, too. Corals, oranges, berries, and bronzes complement darker complexions, but avoid blue undertones if you don’t want to look ashy.

Next: Update your look instantly by following this rule.

7. Give your eyebrows some love

Cropped shot of eyebrow correction procedure

Don’t pluck them too thin. | YakobchukOlena/iStock/Getty Images

As women age, their hair can thin, resulting in pale, sparse eyebrows. Keeping your brows well-shaped and defined can instantly give your face a more youthful look. Fill it in with quick, short strokes, using a pencil or eyebrow gel in a slightly lighter color than your natural brows. Make sure to stay in the same color family though — you want them to look like they grew that way. Also follow your brows’ natural shape. Too much arch will make you look like a Disney villain, and nobody wants that.

Next: Watch out for this harsh makeup mistake.

8. Skip dark, harsh colors unless your skin tone is darker, too

woman applying black eyeliner

Avoid harsh black liner. | ValuaVitaly/iStock/Getty Images

Dark, dramatic eyes can get tricky to pull off, according to Ping, becoming less flattering on most women as they age. “Our eyelashes thin out as we get older, and women sometimes try to overcompensate for that with lots of black makeup,” she added. “All that does, though, is draw attention to the wrinkles around your eyes.” Instead of a black liner, choose a dark brown or grey. Less is more, in this case. You also don’t need to line your eyes all the way around. Lining the bottom lid too heavily will pull your eyes down, making you look sad. If you must line the bottom, use a lighter color.

Next: This makeup trend belongs in your costume box.

9. Leave the glitter in the disco era

girl with gold glitter

It doesn’t do anyone any favors. | korabkova/iStock/Getty Images

If you spend much time in the makeup aisle, you know every brand loves glitter and glam, these days. But older ladies should stay away from “frost” or “iridescent” eyeshadow and glittery powders, according to Ping. These light-reflecting formulas actually accentuate fine lines and creases, giving you a crepe-y look. Instead, use a little glimmer right in the inner corners of your eyes or along the brow bone, to brighten things up a bit.

Next: Speaking of eyes, take care of your peepers.

10. Baby the soft skin around your eyes

Caring for the skin around the eyes

The skin there is extra delicate. | PavelKriuchkov/Getty Images

“We apply all kinds of creams and cosmetics there, but you can do more harm than good if you’re too aggressive,” said dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon Melanie Grossman. Too much rubbing, can damage the skin and cause red, puffy eyes, as well. As we age and our skin gets thinner in that area, the results look even more pronounced. You should always remove eye makeup at the end of the day to avoid irritation and infection, but gently. Use a gentle cleaner and a soft towel, but never scrub too hard.

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