It might not be possible (yet) to turn back the hands of time, but for great skin, there are many steps you can take that can make you appear more youthful if you avoid certain makeup mistakes.
You may be making some very common mistakes in your skin care and makeup routine that actually will cause you to look years older. Oprah and Huffington Post share the best beauty secrets from top experts.
First and foremost, there are a couple of things you can do to slow down the aging of your skin: Wear sunscreen and stop smoking. Sun exposure can lead to wrinkles, age spots and other skin problems in addition to the increased risk of skin cancer. Wear a sunscreen of at least 15, even on cloudy days, on your face and neck. Apply it early - at least 20 minutes before leaving the house. If you plan to spend all day outdoors, be sure to reapply sunscreen at least every two hours and wear a wide-brimmed hat.
Smoking also makes your skin look older by narrowing the tiny blood vessels in the outermost layers of skin, which decreases blood flow. This depletes the skin of oxygen and nutrients that are important to skin health. Smoking also damages collagen and elastin, the fiber that give your skin its strength. The American Cancer Society offers a complete guide on how to quit smoking – and stay quit.
Clean Skin is Healthy Skin
Clean skin is also an important step toward a more youthful appearance. The goal is to unclog pores, dissolve dirt and makeup, and remove excess oils. A simple, gentle cleanser made for the face is enough, says Boston dermatologist Ranella Hirsch MD. You do not need a product that offers a bunch of “extras” that wash downs the drain. Her favorite cleansers are those you can buy at any drugstore across the country, such as Basis Cleaner Clean Face Wash at just $6 a bottle.
Remember that before you begin washing your face and putting on makeup – wash your hands! Our hands are carrying around billions of bacteria at any given time which inevitably gets transferred to our face. Bacteria is the number one culprit of skin breakouts.
When washing the face, first remove eye makeup with a product specifically made for the task and then cleanse. Start at the forehead and work your way down to the nose, then outwards to your cheeks and eventually down to your face and neck. Small, circular motions can help massage the skin, bringing back healthy blood flow to the face. Use tepid water, because anything too hot will shock the skin and could burst capillaries, resulting in red marks usually found around the nose and cheeks. After cleansing, splash the face with cool water to close the pores and pat skin dry with a clean towel.
If you have dry skin, it is a good idea to exfoliate the skin two to three times per week prior to putting on moisturizer and foundation.
Here again, moisturizing the facial skin is very important for a youthful look, but you do not have to spend a ton of money on “specialty” products that claim to do more than they actually do. A basic moisturizer that contains both a humectant such as glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and propylene glycol (to draw water to the skin) and an emollient such as dimethicone, petrolatum and coconut oil (to prevent water loss) .
At night, use a moisturizer lotion or cream that contains a retinoid. Research shows that this vitamin A derivative can undo wrinkles and discoloration caused by sun damage. Look for the word “retinol” in the ingredients list (the higher up, the better.) Retinoids can be irritating at first, so gradually increase the amount you use until you can tolerate one each night. Apply the retinoid to your neck also, but because that skin is more sensitive, use it more sparingly.
Foundation and Powder Mistakes to Avoid
The proper color of foundation can help even out discoloration, but too much of the thick stuff will settle into fine lines and sap the luminosity from your skin. Makeup artist Frances Hathaway suggests avoiding products described as “matte”, “velvet”, and “long-wearing” and opt instead for sheer liquid formulas with light-diffusing pigments.
Many people top off the foundation with powder, but it may not be necessary. Youthful skin reflects light, but powders prevent light reflection and may actually magnify the lines in the skin. If you need an extra layer of coverage, use a very sheer translucent powder and use only on the nose and chin. If you use powder to keep oiliness at a minimum, you may instead try a packet of blotting tissues to use midday on the T-zone (nose, chin and forehead.)
Some women use a thick concealer to hide dark circles and shadows under the eye. Unfortunately, an improper product actually will draw attention to the area. A better option is a brush-on highlighter pen. Oprah suggests Neutrogena Healthy Skin Brightening Eye Perfector, another inexpensive product found in drugstores, which uses illuminating particles instead of opaque color. Apply it only near the inner corners of the under-eye area where shadows are most prominent.
Cheeks – Don’t Forget Me!
I tend to make this makeup mistake when I’m in a hurry. Do not skip the blush, as it gives your cheeks a rosy glow and brings instant life to your face. And, if applied correctly, can offer a little lift. Smile into the mirror, find the fleshiest part of the cheek, and apply color just slightly above it. Blend the color out toward the temples in circles (not a line or stripe which can make you look drawn and hollow), using a big fluffy (clean!) brush.
Eye Makeup Mistakes to Avoid
As with our other makeup tips, do not use too much eyeshadow. If you make that mistake, tone down the color with a light dusting of your translucent powder. Today, almost any color of eyeshadow goes, but if you are in the professional world, you may want to stick with neutral colors versus bright, bold colors (save those for nights out). Most eyeshadows come in three colors: the base (usually a very light taupe), a highlighter for the crease, and a main color for the lid. Start with the lighter colors first (the base) then the lid color and then the highlighter. Blend together so they don’t look like painted stripes on your eyelids.
Avoid shimmery products, which can highlight heavy lids, lines and wrinkles.
Eyeliner and Mascara are next, and here is the critical step in making your eyes look fabulous. Don’t skip eyeliner, but instead of harsh black, choose brown. Also, a pencil is best for most women. Liquid eyeliner requires a lot more skill and a steady hand.
Trace the brown pencil liner along the upper lash line (into the roots of the lashes), focusing on the outer corners and then smudge it with a cotton swab. “You want to define the eyes with softness and blending, not strict lines,” says makeup artist Troy Surratt. “A thick liner can leave the eyes looking heavier than they are.”
Do not draw eyeliner past the outer corner of the top eyelid into a “Cleopatra” or cat-eye look. On the lower lashes, instead of using dark liner and clumpy mascara, which can make your eyes look droopy and draw attention to dark circles, curl the upper lashes and wiggle a volumizing mascara into the roots and slowly through the ends.
Regular black mascara is best for most women, but if you want to brighten the whites of your eyes (especially if you’ve had a late evening out), a dark blue color can help minimize the bloodshot appearance. But do not use bright blue or teal, unless of course you are in your teens.
For the eyebrows, do not choose a pencil color that is too dark. Remember that brow color fades as you age, so you may often have to change to a lighter color as you move into your later years. Choose a color a shade or two lighter than your natural brow color. If brows are starting to get a little wiry, run a clear brow gel over them as well, brushing them up and out toward your temples.
On The Lips
Dark colors for clothing are great for concealing “sins” and making you look smaller. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the lips. Deep dark lip colors are harsh and should be reserved for our classic movie stars.
Start with a lip liner that is not too dark and use a light hand when applying. A line that is too heavy or a color that is too dark will make the lips look tight and pursed. The best lip color should match the color of your lips and not the color of your lipstick. Choose a creamy formula that will not adhere to dry patches on the lips so it wears evenly.
For lipstick, do not apply directly from the tube as color can migrate easily, bleeding into the skin and fine lines around the lips. Use your (clean) finger or a lip brush so you do not deposit too much pigment. Concentrate the lipstick on the center of your mouth and blend it out. Top with a moisturizing balm or light gloss.
Choose bright lipstick colors such as peaches, and pinks. Red is okay, but choose a vibrant shade over burgundies or wine colors.
Two more things you can do to keep your face as youthful as possible – eat right and manage stress. A healthy diet makes you look and feel your best overall. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Remember that calcium is not only good for the bones, but also good for the skin as it can support skin structure and prevent the appearance of a sagging face. Avoid fats, processed foods, and refined carbohydrates.
Uncontrolled stress can make your skin more sensitive and trigger breakouts and other problems. Remember also to get a good night’s sleep as many nights of the week as possible. A facial massage as a treat once in a while can both ease stress and improve skin circulation.
One last tip: Nothing makes one more beautiful than when they are wearing a smile!
This page is updated on March 23, 2013.