Find out what researchers have discovered is the key to turning back the clock
Women worry about wrinkles and struggle with dark spots. But a new study brings to light a more subliminal aging cue: a lack of contrast. Scientists at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania tweaked the tones of facial skin in photos of women 20 to 70 years old, then asked volunteers to estimate the age of each. Turns out, those with minimal contrast (a monochromatic appearance with little color difference in the lips, eye area, and skin) looked the oldest. Makes sense, since with each passing birthday, lips, lashes, and eyebrows naturally lighten.
Before you make a beeline for your makeup stash and slap on the deepest-red lipstick and smokiest-gray eye shadow you can find, know that the effects of makeup needn’t be dramatic. In fact, they shouldn’t be: Too much contrast can look heavy and put an even brighter spotlight on fine lines and wrinkles. Instead, try these subtle anti-aging tips to tint your face. . .right back to your twenties.
Go for a creamy, luminous foundation that matches the skin on your lower cheeks (don’t go by your neck: Since it’s been mostly shaded from the sun all these years, it may be much lighter), says New York City makeup artist Erica Whelan. Divide an almond-size amount over cheeks, forehead, nose, and chin, then blend with a damp sponge for a light veil of coverage that diffuses the look of any fine lines.
Eyelids & Lashes
Fading, thinning fringe makes your lash lines so faint that you have to squint to see ’em. That’s why one of the best look-younger-now eye tricks is to reinforce the lash line, says New York City and Los Angeles makeup artist Sarah Tanno.
Pick a pencil eyeliner. Its sharp edge allows for precision, lets you get thisclose to the lash line (for a natural effect), and offers more control than gels and liquid liners do. Try espresso for light skin and black for medium or dark.
Pull your outer corners taut, then wiggle the pencil in between your lashes. Wing the liner slightly upward as you finish your outer corners: “Old eyes tilt downward, and if you follow the curve, you’ll just look sad,” says Sandy Linter, the New York City makeup artist who created the looks in these photos. Skip liner below—it can drag the eyes down.
Dust a light to medium bronze eye shadow into your creases, then place a champagne hue onto lids up to the bronze. “Redefining the eye socket and highlighting the lids helps combat sagging, droopy lids,” says Linter. Coat top lashes in black mascara.
The natural flush that once graced your face now emerges only after you run a 5-K. To fake it all day, every day, “look for formulas and shades that help energize and add sheen,” says Whelan.
Reach for cream or gel blush: Thanks to their dewy finish, they bring a youthful, fresh glow back to the skin, says Tanno. Light or medium skin can opt for a light or mid-toned pinky-apricot; if you’re dark, go for a raspberry hue.
What not to copy from your younger years? Placement. “We’re told to put blush on our apples, but as we age, our skin sags and nasolabial folds become more pronounced. Putting blush close to the center of your face draws more attention there,” warns Whelan. Find the highest point of your cheekbones—it’s two inches directly below your eye’s outer corner—and dab blush right below that point, blending toward your hairline.
Be strategic with bronzer. The last thing sunspotted skin needs is a coating of brown powder. But if you crave a golden glow, “sweep a light-tan bronzer along the very top of your hairline and your temples, swinging the brush under your cheekbones, as if you’re making a C-shape,” says Linter. “You’ll enhance bone structure and also make the rest of the face seem lighter.”
Lush, defined brows are the facial equivalent of a gravity-defying, toned tush—a sure symbol of youth. But as you age, arches can thin out—especially at the outer corners—and fade.
Don’t confuse defined with dark. “Brows should complement your face and not be distracting,” says Whelan. Gals with light or medium skin—even dark-haired ones—can use a taupe pencil; go for rich brown if your complexion is deeper. Fill in any sparse spots using short, feathery strokes. Add extra to the “tail” of your brows—they tend to thin out with age—extending each one so it hits right above your eye’s outer corner.
Over time, lips get smaller and paler, and their border starts to become less defined, says Whelan. Fun.
Lip liner is a must. Reinstate your lips’ shape by tracing them with a pencil in a shade that closely matches their middle, then fill them in: A medium rose is pretty on light to medium skin. If your complexion is dark, try red-toned plum; top with a matching sheer, moisturizing lipstick—having a sheen helps visually plump up the lips a bit.