Your eyes say a lot about you — for better or for worse. Not only do they let everyone know how much sleep you got last night, but they also can reveal your DOB. And, while there’s nothing wrong with aging — you definitely get wiser as you get older — your skin starts to change. Specifically, it begins to lose elasticity, which leads to fine lines, wrinkles, crow’s feet, and sagging around the eyes. (Learn tips to smooth out the eye area here.) Certain shadow textures and hues (i.e. the metallic powder you wore religiously in your teens and twenties) can make this appear more pronounced than they are actually are.
But as frustrating as fine lines can be, they shouldn’t dramatically affect how your eyeshadow application. We called upon celebrity makeup artists Gita Bass (who works with Laura Dern and Tina Fey) and Mai Quynh (whose clients include with Scarlett Johansson and Freida Pinto) to share their tips, tricks, techniques, and must-have eyeshadow formulas perfectly suited for those with more mature eyes.
Skip Metallics and Glitters
As fun as glitter can be, there’s a time and a place for it — and for nearly everyone, that time and place is usually Halloween or New Year’s Eve. Overall, chunky, glittery formulas aren’t the most flattering choice, regardless of what area of the face it’s being applied to. Bass explains these types of formulas can actually enhance texture rather than conceal it. Think about it — glitter nail polish looks so good because the surface of your nail is smooth. When fine lines, enlarged pores, or lip lines come into play, sparkly finishes fall flat.
She also urges to steer clear of heavy or thick matte powders as they can be hard to blend, which is irritating to the delicate eye area. They also are more likely to sit in fine lines, causing creasing and crepiness. Seek out a more luxurious, lightweight shadow, preferably something with a cream or gel texture. “For mature eyes, I prefer a creamier formula — either a cream to powder or a silky powder shadow with a very subtle shimmer,” shares Bass.
She is especially fond of Bobbi Brown Longwear Cream Shadow in Beach Bronze ($28) for this reason. “I love how beautifully this velvety cream shadow blends, and once it sets, it stays put,” she explains. “It has a gorgeous velvety finish that glides over lines providing a slight sheen that adds dimension without exaggerating lines or wrinkles.”
The Marc Jacobs Beauty O!mega Gel Powder Eyeshadow ($62) is another pro-pick, because even the matte shades apply super smoothly. “These glide over the eye for a seamless, crease-resistant color,” she notes. “The matte shades work perfectly for deepening up the crease thanks to the smooth, buttery formula that doesn’t settle into lines.”
Make Time to Prime
Just as you rely on a face primer to help fill in pores and fine lines for a smoother canvas for foundation, you should be doing the same before eyeshadow with an eye primer. Try silicone-based formula like Urban Decay Anti-Aging Primer Potion ($35) to fill in fine lines and creases on your lids. “It helps with longevity, but also minimizes creasing,” informs Quynh.
Stacking different eyeshadow formulas on top of each other can also help prevent creasing. “I like to layer my shadows by starting with a sheer wash of cream, like the Charlotte Tilbury [Eyes to Mesmerise in Jean] ($42), a gorgeous champagne with a touch of shimmer,” recommends Bass. “Then, I like to apply a shadow, such as the Dior Backstage Eye Palette in Warm Neutrals ($49) over the top. This combo works on almost any skin tone and gives a creaseless finish that won't settle into lines and stays put.”
Stick to Subdued Hues
Again, save super bright or intensely dark shades for special occasions (or for your lips or nails!). Quynh warns that these shades aren’t flattering when packed all over the lids or used in the crease because they can appear chalky or dry. Rely on soft neutrals that won’t emphasize deep creases.
That doesn’t mean forgoing color altogether. Quynh is a fan of the silky, blendable powders in Burberry Complete Eye Palettes ($62 each) “They come in a variety of super-flattering colors that work on a variety of skin tones,” she says. “If you’re on the fair side, reach for the soft blush or sage green palettes. If you have a medium to deep skin tone, there’s a really pretty coffee-colored palette that has a mix of neutral tan colors that I love to use.”
Bass suggests that if you do want to incorporate color into your look, using warmer earth and jewel tones. Because these shades are a bit more exciting than basic neutrals, they’ll catch the eye a bit more, but they’re still subdued enough to not call attention to any crow’s feet. She herself is a fan of the purple-ish tones in Chanel Les 4 Ombres in Tisse Rivoli ($61).
“It’s gorgeous for a natural look, or can be layered for a plum smoky eye,” she shares. “The shadows have a slight satin finish to gives the eyes a touch of sparkle without emphasizing lines or wrinkles.”
Less Is More When It Comes to Application
Basically, don’t pile on the product. Instead, apply sheer layers of shadow to keep things looking fresh and seamless. “Start with a neutral wash of color as a base, then blend a slightly deeper neutral shadow into the crease and slightly above,” she instructs. “Avoid any [highlighting] color on the brow bone, which can be super aging.” (This technique is not only dated, but also tends to look stark against your complexion.)
If you do want to add some drama, both Quynh and Bass recommend blending a darker shadow close to the upper and lower lash lines, using a soft, fluffy brush for a seamless finish. Blending well on the lower lash line is especially important, because harsh lines in this area can be aging. Buff and diffuse any lines with a tapered blending brush, like Sephora Collection PRO Drawing Blending Brush ($22).
Try this technique with Tarte TarteletteTM In Bloom ($50), which Bass calls “a must-have palette” thanks to its mix of matte and ethereally shimmery shades. “They’re super blendable and easily glide over lids without accentuating texture,” she adds. They’re organized in rows for easy-to-DIY looks — simply use the deepest shade as your powder liner. Now blend away!
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