Something seems to happen when you turn 50: The smoky eye makeup, go-to bold shadows and glittery finishes of your youth don’t quite sit the same on your lids. And, suddenly, you find yourself looking for more subtle, natural makeup looks to wear on the eyes.
Of course, we’re not talking totally bare lids, we mean colors that up warmth, add luminosity or make the most of your lashes without screaming, “I’m wearing makeup!” The idea is to enhance rather than cover so you can bat those lashes with confidence. And, combining with a soft, yet colorful lip helps ensure the complexion looks flush and radiant.
Looking for inspiration? Check out these eye makeup looks on stars over 50 to add to your rotation. Bonus: because they’re so subtle, they work for all skin tones!
Why less is more for women over 50
When it comes to women of a certain age, Shara Strand, makeup artist at the Sharon Dorram Color at Sally Hershberger salon in NYC, says less is more. Bold or thick shadows that add drama also have an unwanted side effect. She explains, “Heavy makeup tends to accentuates fine lines, dehydrated skin, wrinkles and dark pigmentation.” So using a lighter hand with softer colors can actually have an anti-aging effect.
And there’s another element here to consider. She says, “Women over 50 are feeling more authentic and ‘themselves’ as ever before, and don’t want to hide behind loud makeup. They want to be naturally enhanced, bringing out their best features.”
The best natural eye makeup looks and colors
Read on for different natural looks to discover that one that work best for you:
1. Natural eye makeup look: a pearly peach swipe
A hint of warmth around your lids with a soft shimmery pink hue can make eyes sparkle, plus the light-reflecting effect of a hint of shimmer helps “blur” lid creases. If you’re experiencing crepiness around your eyes, placement is everything when working with shimmer.
Tip: Take special care when it comes to working with shimmer, which can exaggerate texture. Los Angeles-based celebrity makeup artist Elaina Badro says the key here is to be strategic with placement. “Focus on applying to the lids only and not above it where skin tends to look textured.” Best to concentrate on the half circle of your lid — avoiding the outer edges where the shimmer can slip into crow’s feet!
Or, enlist the clever go-to that Erica Taylor, a L’Oréal Paris League of Experts Makeup Artist, uses: mixing matte and luminous shadow together to get just a hint of a glow in her color without having it read as too flat or sparkly on the skin. “This blend gives the perfect blend of both luminous and smooth,” she says.
To do: Use an eyeliner brush to dust a soft, pearly pink shadow along your lashline. Try L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Monos Eyeshadow, Mademoiselle Pink (Buy from Walgreens, $7.29). Then use Badro’s placement trick to use a fluffy brush to dust in on the tops of her lids below the crease and just before the outer edge of your eyes to keep the color sheer and right where you want it.
2. Beautiful with a bronze eye “blush”
The secret to achieving an un-makeup, makeup look? Starting with a smooth canvas and adding warmth with an unexpected product: Bronzer!
And, for lashes that stand out without looking fake, Strand recommends using a mascara free of tar, “it will help lashes stay flexible and therefore not clumpy.” What to look for instead? Nourishing beeswax.
To do: Start with a good hydrating primer to smooth out skin like CoverGirl Lid Lock Up Eyeshadow Primer (Buy from Walgreens, $12.99). Then, Badro recommends applying a light layer of tinted moisturizer or light-coverage foundation to achieve a translucent, glowing look before finishing off with a very light dusting of your favorite bronzer just above your lids.
Then grab a tar-free mascara with beeswax like Burts Bee’s Nourishing Mascara (Buy from Ulta, $12.99). “I always recommend using a back and forth stroke when applying mascara, which will help get each and every lash accounted for and as full as they can be. It will allow for the root of the lash to be fuller,” says Strand.
3. Natural eye makeup look: soft beige smudges
Notice how the lids are sculpted here with several beige hues to add dimension without using distracting color? Getting the look is easier than you think. Taylor points out that while there’s a darker beige in the creases and along the lashline, the inner corners are more of a creamy beige to give eyes a more open appearance.
To do: Dust a matte beige shadow along your top lashline and then add a darker beige in the crease. Next, “I recommend using a small smudge detail brush for smudging the lash line and a softer ponytail-like brush to sweep over the higher crease to open the eyes,” says Taylor. That way, “The lines are soft and smudged instead of harsh.”
4. Glowing with a champagne sweep
A soft wash of shimmering taupe can make lids look totally incandescent and take focus away from crow’s feet. Plus, it helps make cool skin tones glow. The key for women over 40 is the placement, keeping it on the high points of your lids (and not all over them) to move focus up and keep the formula from caking in the folds of your skin.
To do: Badro says, “Apply shimmery shadows on the lid only, which tends to be the smoothest part of the eyelid. Avoid going over the crease!” Try Maybelline ExpertWear Eyeshadow Makeup in Nude Glow (Buy from Walgreens, $6.29).
5. Natural eye makeup look: a nude wash
Going almost-bare with a hue that’s close to your skin tone is a red-carpet secret to adding oomph to eyes without a lot of color. “The key to a great, fresh nude shadow look is to always start with a bone matte shadow all over the lid,” says Strand. That gives you a base of color you can layer a peach, beige, light gold or pink hue (depending on which is closest to your complexion) on top.
To do: Strand says to highlight the brow bone by tapping ivory shadow under the brow. Try the light shade in the Max Factor MAXeye 3 Color Shadow in Baja Bron (Buy from Amazon, $10). Then layer on a peach, beige, light gold, pink, or peach shadow on top.
6. Dazzling with a dusting of peach
Taylor loves adding peachy hues to make lids glow. A dusting of apricot high up on the lids lifts the face and gives the face the illusion of an overall flirty flush without the need for bold colors. “There are levels of peach ranging from cooler or pinker peaches to warmer or orange tones,” says Tayor. “I prefer to work with a more neutral or pinker peach that is more versatile for most skin tones.”
To do: Simply dust a peach like L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Monos Eyeshadow in Little Beige Dress (Buy from Walgreens, $7.29) across lids.
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