The basis of your makeup routine should be your skin, but hard on its heels comes eye makeup.
First prepare a cotton bud with water-based eye-makeup remover, ready to mop up any mistakes.
I start actual makeup application with ‘invisible eyeliner’, using a technique described in Your Makeover by Morgen Schick. This involves lining your upper inner eyelid with a soft brown pencil, so that none of it shows on your actual eyelid, but the lashline is strengthened, which makes your eyes look bigger. To do this, pull your eyelid gently to the side, look upwards and scrub the liner into the roots of your lashes without getting any on your actual eyelids (it’s hard to describe, this, but there’s a better description in the book, with a step-by-step).
Then outline the inner lower eyelid with white or pale pink kohl pencil. This is an old Hollywood technique to make your eyes look bigger. White kohl pencils are easy to find at the moment, but periodically they disappear from the shelves, so I stock up. Currently I use a white Eye Care one, or a pale pink one from Yves Rocher. I’m still looking for a beige.
Sadly, about 80 per cent of eyeshadows are still powders, but the over-40s are better served by cream sticks, liquids and mousses, all of which glide on very smoothly and show the wrinkles on your eyes less. They’re also easy to apply with your fingers. Fingers are very useful in makeup application, because your own body warmth and skin oils make the makeup more malleable.
As with other areas of makeup, it’s best to stick to neutrals, especially for daytime. Personally, I have about five basic colours at the moment – all shades of brown, mouse, copper, peach and gold, and all with a degree of gleam rather than glitter. Yves Rocher and Avon both make good cream sticks, while Maybelline’s Dream Mousse range contains a brilliant browny eye colour called Plum Temptation, which is great for light coverage in daytime. Stick to shades within a tone or two of your normal skin colour – anything too dark or too bright is ageing.
Apply shadow all over your eyelid, from lashline to eyebrow and blend softly. This alone will do for daytime, but if you want a bolder look, you could try adding a slightly darker shadow right around the eye in a circle, including the tear duct. Stay close to the lashline, and simply wipe off any excess with the cotton bud you’ve got ready. Using an eyeshadow stick in this way works much better than using a liner pencil, which adds a very strong line of colour. Then blend softly, to avoid looking like a panda.
If you like highligher, under your eyebrow line run a fine line of pale pink highlighter. This looks good on EVERYONE and opens the eye right out. Blend it carefully into your main eyeshadow colour.
Then apply eyebrow pencil. My eyebrows are almost invisible because I’m blonde, so I can vary the shape quite easily, but whatever shape you choose, doing your brows is crucial to frame your eye. If you’re not sure how to pluck, consider having them done professionally, even if only once. With good eyebrows and a dash of mascara, every eye looks better, like a picture in a decent mount, even if you wear no other eye makeup, and this is especially important if your brows are greying or thinning.
Apply pencil in light, feathery strokes and blend the colour with an eyebrow brush, then brush the hairs straight up vertically. Then run the brush along the topmost edge to bring the hairs into line – this gives your eye a very wide-awake appearance. An eyebrow brush, in case you’ve never seen one, sometimes comes on the end of an eyebrow pencil and looks like the old-fashioned 1960s wands that you got with a cake mascara – it has short, stiff bristles. If you can’t find one, though, an old, clean mascara brush will do.
Before applying mascara, curl your eyelashes, which again makes your eyes look much bigger and more open. The conventional metal eyelash curler works better if you run it under a hot tap for 5-10 seconds to warm up the rubber, then dry it. Make sure you have the rubber convex side up – the rubber inserts are not reversible and if you use the wrong side, you’ll crimp your lashes rather than curling them. Test it on your cheek before pressing it against your eyelid to make sure the temperature’s right, so that you don’t scald your eyelid. Curl for 5-10 seconds and release, then move two-thirds of the way out towards your eyelash tip and curl again. I curl for 20 seconds on my right eye because it is smaller than my left (due to an eye operation) and needs to be opened out more.
Now apply mascara. The new dual mascaras with conditioner work very well to smooth the lashes. If you’re blonde, brown mascara generally looks better than black, except for night-time or if you’re going for a very pale eye look, when you need a black lash to anchor the eye. Personally, I use mascara on top lashes and on the outer corner of my bottom lashes only, not the whole eye. Apply the mascara brush to the very base of the lashes, then wiggle the brush from side to side up through the lashes, to get a good coating. If you’re blonde, then turn the brush and use it vertically, which again takes mascara right to the base of the lash.
That’s your eyes done, now for the lips.