— Style —

FIVE MAKEUP DON’TS FOR WOMEN OVER 50

The great Ruth Gordon from the 1968 film Rosemary's Baby.
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When was the last time you visited Ulta or Sephora or cruised makeup lessons on YouTube? Lots of teens and young women have taken makeup to extremes, but I’m shocked to see how many women over 50 have joined them.

Many look like they’ve been to clown school.

Not long ago I popped into Ulta to buy some eyeliner and was met by a host of young men and women with dark streaks down either side of their nose and face, big lips… I mean jumbo-sized lips… that were drawn way outside the lip line, and eyebrows that look like they’d been applied with asphalt rollers. Okay, I get it. They’re young. They work in a cosmetic’s store, and it’s easy to get carried away, but I wasn’t prepared for the mature customers who looked just like them. 

What’s up, ladies? Some of us are either taking makeup advice from our granddaughters, or we’re trying too hard to look younger. 

FIVE MAKEUP DON’TS FOR WOMEN OVER 50

• Don’t overdo the dewy look. It can look greasy.

• Don’t wear colored, pearlized highlighter on your cheekbones. Let me count the ways it looks dumb.

• Don’t forget to blend contour shadow unless you want your face to look dirty.

• Don’t use a heavy hand when filling-in eyebrows.

• Don’t wear extreme false eyelashes.

While makeup should enhance what we have and fill-in what’s missing, like eyebrows, we need to be careful or we will draw the wrong kind of attention to ourselves. Most of us remember the sting we felt when we no longer turned heads like we used to, but coloring too far outside the lines only makes us look pathetic.

Back in the day the advice for women of a certain age was to wear less makeup. It would make us look younger. But I’m reminded of a conversation I had with my friend, legendary makeup artist, Sandy Linter. 

When I asked Sandy if she thought this was true, she said, “Less is less. Without makeup we look older, like we’ve quit trying.” 

When we reach a certain age, more than ever, our eyes and brows need defining, especially if we wear glasses. We need to add a thin smudged line of eyeliner at the roots of our upper lashes and some mascara. Then apply a soft eyeshadow, blush and lip in the same color family that complements our skin tone. I prefer a sharp lip pencil to lipstick or a stain, because the pencil doesn’t bleed through my lip lines.

I love this photograph Jennifer Denton took of me a few years ago, and one of the reasons is my makeup. My blush, lips and eyeshadow are all in the same color family. If you’re interested, the products I used then and now are listed below. Sometimes I experiment with other brands, but for the most part, I’ve found what works for me. I like these because they’re highly pigmented, which means they apply well and don’t fade easily.

Nothing will turn back the clock, but in ten minutes we can look better than the woman we were when we climbed out of bed this morning. Do you wear makeup?

Love, Brenda

51 Comments

  • Reply Lauri August 21, 2021 at 7:33 am

    I’m turning 60 at the end of this year and I do still wear makeup, but noticed a few years ago that my application techniques needed to change. I usually try to avoid any of the Ulta/Sephora make-up artists when shopping, as they always incorrectly color match me. I usually look for a mature woman behind the make-up counter at Nordstrom. I wore a Chanel CC cream foundation for my daughter’s wedding, and my skin looked perfect!
    I so enjoy your posts, and look forward to reading your memoir.
    Enjoy the weekend…

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 22, 2021 at 4:14 pm

      I’m with you, Lauri, about finding more mature makeup consultants at department stores. So wise!! I only go to Ulta to purchase product I already use. 98% of the time I order online. You’re right about application techniques as well. I’ve thought about doing a video. Thanks for your continued support and generosity about my blog and my memoir. I appreciate you! xoxox, Brenda

  • Reply Debbie August 21, 2021 at 7:34 am

    Glad to see you blogging again
    Yes – I wear makeup when I’m off the tennis court and after I get off the construction site. I haven’t found a makeup that is sweat proof – lol
    I wanna read your book – where can I buy it?

    • Reply Tara August 21, 2021 at 7:42 am

      Literally, this morning. Article about ingredients in sweat proof make-up. Toxic to us, toxic to ground water, toxic to soil. Estee Lauder will phase them out, others want them outlawed……………. So much for avoiding toxic political headlines today !

      • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 22, 2021 at 4:18 pm

        Oh! That’s great info, Tara! I hope Debbie sees your comment. Thanks so much! xoxo, Brenda

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 22, 2021 at 4:17 pm

      Debbie, I sweet lady! Great to see you here! I workout indoors, so I’m afraid I’m of no help when it comes to suggesting waterproof makeup although it’s easy to find waterproof mascara. Lots of steps still to go before I submit to an agent, but I will let you know as I make progress. Thanks for your interest! Keep building those houses and showing the men how smart and capable you are!!! xoxox, Brenda

  • Reply Tara August 21, 2021 at 7:38 am

    Salon disaster ca. 2018, gone was decades long blonde hair. Lifetime normal. Now? Who was I? Chose the Carolina Herrera style. Enjoyed what it did to jewelry & clothes & makeup choices. Easy to change at a whim, mood, who I was everyday. Real me, long hair me, suddenly incognito. Loved it. Love it.

    Everything sourced from thrift stores. Now, daily ‘incognito’ choices, made in bed, before arising, usually 5am, riffing thru permutations, muse leading. Where does THAT come from?

    Then, decision to go thru grim epoch growing hair out. Parallel with a pandemic? Shaping at the salon, pair of disasters. Now, a year of ‘shaping’ my own hair, while it’s growing out. Thin, fine hair, yet having fun with it. And, who I am. The new normal, incognito. Made me understand Madonna’s addiction to shape/shifting herself.

    More crazy, decided to bleach my blonde hair, blonder. What harm could it do? Deeper incognito, new styling choices.

    Make-up as you describe, already age appropriate. Who knew?

    Young woman, 20’s, often sit with in Church, does the crazy fun makeup you described. I know for sure, would have done it too, occasionally, at her age. We bonded over the hair/clothes/shoes thing. She said one Sunday before service started, “When I get old I’m dressing just like you.” Adored it, and she was horrified at too much truth out of her mouth.

    Body still ok for bikini. Haven’t worn one since 20’s. Kissed that goodbye this year. These are our best days. In the water, a bikini, on the boat thinnest cotton black turtle neck & black/white sarong, and straw hat/black band bought on sidewalk in Yucatan. Sun poisoning issues. Earth did not tilt out of orbit, in a bikini in public…soaking wet, at my age !

    Love the shutters in your room, clothes/make-up/hair too. Historic tall shutters leaning in my shed now. May finally have a destination. My ceilings are 11′, need the scale.

    Too long already, and the rest, we must talk. A story to tell.

    BTW, planning for some Stick Trees & Green Meatballs in my garden this fall. Pics already sent to yardman. Priming his brain. He’s been fabulous with my Tara Turf. He’s scheduled to build, East Conservatory this fall too. Materials on site, for years. Didn’t see this sweet life chapter coming, Anticipation. Am great at making 1 thin dime go further than known.

    Certainly understood Miss Katherine Scott, when I was 7 years old, saying, “I can live without the necessities, but must have the luxuries.”

    Garden & Be Well, XOT

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 22, 2021 at 4:26 pm

      I’m not surprised that you are making different choices that surprise you. I think we all are in this strange time of our country/world history. For the most part I don’t go out, workout with my trainer via FaceTime and the rest of the time I’m glued to the computer, working on my book. Like you, I have thin, fine hair, and I’ve been cutting and coloring it myself. Some times I do better than others, but no OMG disasters yet. From my early 20’s, in the 1970’s, Sandy Linter did my makeup, so she’s been my guru and has kept me from doing anything crazy. Every time I see her I tell her to make me look just like her! LOL! Your stick trees and meatballs… Mine all died last winter in our Texas deep freeze as well as the pots they were in. Those shattered. I still haven’t gotten over losing them because I babied them and trimmed them. Loved those topiaries! You’re funny: MUST HAVE THE LUXURIES!! xoxox, Brenda

  • Reply Shaoron August 21, 2021 at 10:02 am

    Took me first half a sentence to recognize your writing! I didn’t notice the name til after! Miss your emails!

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 22, 2021 at 4:27 pm

      Hi Sharon! You recognized my writing style? Love that!!! I’ve missed blogging and hearing from you as well. Let’s keep it up! xoxox, Brenda

  • Reply Donna August 21, 2021 at 10:20 am

    Wonderful post and great advice! I’m turning 65 next month and my makeup is minimal. I also use Bobbi Brown and Mac. Their colors are perfect as our skin changes. You
    mentioned lip stain – have you found one that lasts all day? I’m searching for for the perfect one for travel. I’m headed to Italy for a month and have my makeup down to five items – except for the perfect lip stain.
    Keep posting and have a relaxing weekend.

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 22, 2021 at 4:30 pm

      Donna, I DON’T use lip stain. I don’t like the flat matte look on my lips. I prefer a light touch of gloss over the lip pencil in the middle of my upper and lower lips. Think it’s more flattering plus the stain bleeds on me. You’re going to Italy? Tell me about your trip so I can live vicariously through you! Enjoy! Be safe! xoxox, Brenda

      • Reply Donna Robinson August 22, 2021 at 8:17 pm

        Brenda – I misunderstood about the lip stain but will try the pencil and gloss. Great idea!
        I’m spending Sept in Italy to celebrate my 65th birthday – solo trip doing everything I love. It starts with a food tour to Abruzzo (small group led by Elizabeth Minchilli and Evan Kleinman) and then I spend the rest of the month in Rome, Umbria and Tuscany. I’ll be posting on IG at robindr2. Email me if you’d like details about the tour etc. It’ll be based in a tiny village in the mountains of Abruzzo – an amazing week of cooking, wine, weaving and pottery. After that I’ll be exploring Rome and beyond. Leaving Sept 1!
        Donna

        • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 23, 2021 at 8:50 am

          Donna… I’m excited about your trip. I’ve considered going on one of Elizabeth Minchilli’s food tours. Just followed you on IG. What a beautiful page. Can’t wait to see your photographs. Keep me posted!! Stay safe. xoxox, Brenda

  • Reply Jeannette August 21, 2021 at 10:44 am

    I cannot understand why so many women today want these gigantic lips. Whenever I’m talking to someone that has had their lips done this is where my focus goes to but not in a good way!! As far as the eyebrows go the style today reminds me of Groucho Marx character. I just don’t get how this is attractive.
    I love the quote from your make up artist friend. I know that I look older without make up, but I’m very careful on not overdoing it. Still looking for the perfect foundation that covers and hides imperfections, without looking heavy. I’ve tried applying with a sponge and a brush never totally happy. I keep looking. Nice to see a post from you today. Hope things are going well with you. Take care

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 22, 2021 at 4:33 pm

      Jeannette, I’m with you. I don’t think any of it’s attractive. It creates the opposite kind of attention from what they were looking for. We want to be the best version of ourselves at this age, not trying to look like we did when we were plump and juicy. Yours is the second post about foundation and application, so I may do a video and address those issues. Like you, I’ve never had much success with a sponge or a brush. So happy you enjoy my posts!! Thank you! xoxox, Brenda

    • Reply Donna Robinson August 24, 2021 at 1:47 am

      Thank you! I’ll update you on the tour when I return.

      • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 24, 2021 at 9:00 pm

        Oh thank you! I look forward to it. I hope you have great fun. xoxox, B

  • Reply Colleen August 21, 2021 at 11:45 am

    My red lipstick is a must-have. Apart from that, my makeup is not too conspicuous.

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 22, 2021 at 4:35 pm

      Colleen, I’m envious of your red lipstick. Red is too harsh on me, plus I have to be careful not to do anything that has blue hues. They make me look ghastly! xoxo, Brenda

  • Reply Barbara August 21, 2021 at 12:09 pm

    What about multiple ear piercings especially high on the outside of the ear? Or grey nail polish that looks sickly. Never understood that. Even blue and green. Why wair those colors on our nails? Like the other comments I can’t wait until your book is out. Love your writing Brenda. xX Barbara

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 22, 2021 at 4:38 pm

      Hi Barbara! LOL! I have a friend, who’s older than I am, and her ears have multiple holes and earrings. I don’t get it, even on younger women. Wow! You’re hitting two of my dislikes, today. Funky colored nail polish. When I see grey nail polish, it makes me think of a dead person’s hands. Eeuuw! Awful. Thanks for being one of my best cheerleaders, sweet lady! I appreciate you! Always! xoxo, Brenda

  • Reply Amy August 21, 2021 at 1:07 pm

    Did I miss where you listed the makeup products used in your photo??

    • Reply Nancy August 22, 2021 at 10:57 am

      Me too!! I am looking and searching, can’t find it!

      • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 22, 2021 at 4:42 pm

        Nancy, There are three Amazon links, directly under my blog post. You’ll see photos of Mac Eyeshadow and Bobbi Brown blush and lip pencil with a direct link to Amazon where you can purchase them. Let me know if you don’t find it. xoxox, Brenda

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 22, 2021 at 4:40 pm

      There are three product links, directly under the blog and before the social media share links and my bio. Amazon links for Mac eyeshadow and Bobbi Brown blush and lip pencil. xoxo, Brenda

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 23, 2021 at 1:08 pm

      Hi Amy! I’ve posted photos and an Amazon link to three products directly under my blog, before my XOXOX, Brenda signature. It probably looks like an ad. I’ll try and fix that next time. xoxox, Brenda

  • Reply Karen Austin August 21, 2021 at 1:30 pm

    Brenda: Thanks for the tips. I have dialed all they way down to “no make up,” but I appreciate the bread crumb trail you have created for me in this post if I decided to start wearing some again — but wearing different products in different ways. That photo of you is fabulous!

    • Reply 1010Parkplace August 22, 2021 at 4:44 pm

      You’re braver than I am, Karen. If I’m out and about or if I FaceTime with my trainer, I always wear makeup. Give all the praise on that photograph to Jennifer Denton!!! She knows my face and how to make me look my best. xoxox, Brenda

  • Reply Carol Cassara August 21, 2021 at 1:34 pm

    You are seeing women in makeup? Gosh, it’s been so long since those in my circle wear it.

    • Reply 1010parkplace August 22, 2021 at 4:46 pm

      Carol, I see women at the grocery store, UPS, my Bible study group and the writer’s retreat in Carmel this summer. I suspect the ones who used to wear makeup are still wearing it. xoxox, B

  • Reply Marie August 21, 2021 at 1:56 pm

    Having turned to my natural salt and pepper hair color, I find some makeup is a must: eyeliner top lashes, brow pencil, lipstick and some blush.

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 22, 2021 at 4:49 pm

      Marie, Last year, during covid, I let my roots grow out about four inches. Grey hair is not for me, but you’re right about needing something on your eyes and some color on your face. If not, it makes you look older. I look like a blank wall without makeup. xoxox, B

  • Reply Terry August 21, 2021 at 2:47 pm

    Yes, wearing makeup but not much. I stopped coloring my hair thirteen months ago and it’s salt and pepper so I need some color on my face. I do tinted moisturizer, blush and brows daily even though retired. Glasses hide my bare eyes. Concentrating on skincare via Angie Hot and Flashy on YouTube right now. She is nearing sixty and her recommendations have turned my skin around in just a few months. Highly recommend.

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 22, 2021 at 4:52 pm

      Terry, Tinted moisturizer, blush and brows is smart, but you really need eye makeup if you wear glasses. Don’t think glasses hide your eyes. They call attention to your eyes, and a little pencil liner, mascara and a soft eyeshadow will make you look years younger. xoxo, Brenda

  • Reply Lynda Davis August 21, 2021 at 2:49 pm

    Missed you and so glad you’re back in the saddle. I agree with Jeannette about the fake lips. They’re so phoney looking. No one can move their upper lip and all we see are a few bottom teeth. Less makeup but in tasteful application is better as we age. Boomerbroadcast.net

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 22, 2021 at 4:54 pm

      Thanks for stopping by and joining the discussion, Lynda! I appreciate it. Yes, as long as we’re not trying to copy the Kardashians with our makeup, we need some color in our face to make up come alive. Brenda

  • Reply Marilyn August 21, 2021 at 3:13 pm

    Like Amy, I’m also hoping to see the list of make up products.

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 22, 2021 at 4:55 pm

      Goodness! Sorry all of you didn’t see them! Look again, right under my blog post there are photos and links to three products. It says Amazon and there’s a MAC eyeshadow and a Bobbi Brown blush and a lip pencil. You may have thought it was an ad. xoxo, Brenda

  • Reply Rebecca Forstadt Olkowski August 21, 2021 at 4:07 pm

    I wear very little makeup anymore. A CC cream, eyebrow pencil, lipstick, blush which is sometimes my lipstick, a tiny bit of mascara and that’s about it. Maybe a touch of nude cream eyeshadow. Less is more.

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 22, 2021 at 4:58 pm

      Hi Rebecca! It sounds like you’re doing a good job with your makeup. Would you be comfortable with a fine line of eye pencil near your lashes? You can smudge it with a brush so it doesn’t look harsh, but it will definitely help your eyes pop and make your lashes look thicker. xoxox, Brenda

  • Reply Beckye August 21, 2021 at 5:05 pm

    Since I’m in an office facing the public I’m still wearing full makeup at 64. I’m seeing more under eye wrinkles with my powder makeup so am wondering if I need to go to liquid. Any tips?

    Love that picture of you! Very lovely and vivacious!

    So glad to see your posts again! Praying for your book process!

    Love and hugs,
    Beckye

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 22, 2021 at 6:49 pm

      Hi Beckye, I would suggest NO powder makeup. Powder likes to settle in the crevices which isn’t flattering. Find a light liquid foundation that offers coverage but nothing heavy. The only powder I use is putting just a tad on my nose and middle of my forehead with a fluffy brush. Just a little bit. Cream blush is also better than powder brush. That’s why I like the Bobbi Brown. I’m not adept at applying it with fingers so I use a brush and just stipple it on, then lightly blend the edges with a big clean brush. Thank you for the prayers! Now that my mother’s gone, I don’t have many people who are praying for me. Love you! Brenda

  • Reply Jennifer Denton August 21, 2021 at 5:26 pm

    This is still one of my favorite images of you that we have captured!! Your makeup was flawless, hair fab, and outfit just perfect. Photographing you at ease in your beautiful, uniquely appointed home was a joy!! Love you, beautiful friend, and miss your radiant smile!

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 22, 2021 at 6:51 pm

      Hello my darling friend! We need to stop meeting this way!! In person would be much better. I miss you! Love you, Brenda

  • Reply Bonnie August 21, 2021 at 10:16 pm

    I’m 73 and still love to play with makeup although with more subtlety. Am avoiding full coverage and replacing with sheer coverage spf and some concealer as needed. Eyes and lips are focal points. I think this allows a mature woman’s spirit shine through. Thank you for your post !!!

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 22, 2021 at 6:53 pm

      Bonnie, You’re doing all the right things! I, too, love makeup! Perhaps that’s because I loved coloring when I was a little girl. Also, it makes a big difference in how I look. Concealer… I couldn’t do without it, but finding the right shade and consistency so it blends well is always the hard part. What kind do you use? xoxox, Brenda

  • Reply LA CONTESSA August 23, 2021 at 11:08 am

    But you do have a lipgloss on?
    I have always worn BROWNS!They are my favorite…………
    Love a good BROWN LIP PENCIL!I have found the BOBBI BROWN CRAYON LIPSTICK DO NOT BLEED!There are about six colors.
    I highly recommend those if you want a dab of color……again they come in BROWNS!
    OUR COLOR!
    XXX

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 23, 2021 at 1:05 pm

      Hi Elizabeth, I like Bobbi Brown, but not the shade brown on my lips. Looks ghastly on me! Yes, I wear lip gloss. Bare Minerals, but they’ve discontinued my shade, so I didn’t list it. xoxox, Brenda

  • Reply Donna Nance August 25, 2021 at 8:51 am

    Brenda, I would certainly welcome a makeup video! Love the picture of you, not just because you are stunning but because the makeup is so subtle that it appears that you aren’t wearing any at all. These days I seldom wear makeup as it is mostly gardening and June Cleaver things going on. By the way, I had the greatest admiration for her. Hope you and Annie are well. xoxo

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace August 31, 2021 at 11:17 am

      Hello Donna! Thank you for your sweet comment. I look at that photo and am amazed by how much I’ve aged in the last two years. Covid, the loss of friends and freedom and now what’s happened in Afghanistan… Then there was the news of Charlie Watts last week. I am devastated. Grieving for a time that was and never will be again. I love your reference to June Cleaver because I, too, admired her. She’s a great example of a successful woman who “works in the home.” The most important, but often the most thankless, job in the world. xoxox, Brenda

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