Make-up tips for women over 60

Highlighting facial features without overdoing make-up is the way to go for women above 60

American actress Jane Fonda, 79, and English actress Helen Mirren, 72, dazzled on the runway at the L'Oreal Fashion Show earlier this month during Paris Fashion Week.

Fonda stunned in a form-fitting tiger-print Balmain gown, enhanced by subtle orange lips and lush full lashes.

Mirren was playfully chic in wide-legged pants and a menswear-inspired trenchcoat. Her make-up was mostly simple, with the focus kept on bold red lips that completed her strong, elegant look on the catwalk.

The svelte septuagenarians proved that age is simply a number when it comes to beauty and that appropriate make-up can do wonders, along with a zestful attitude.

Make-up artist Melissa Yeo says for women over the age of 60, less is more.

Ms Yeo, 40, from make-up artist cooperative Fac3Inc, says: "Subtle and elegant looks are typically more flattering and dignified.

"Of course, make-up is still a personal choice and can be used to show your personality. But I think older women don't really need to pile on the make-up or use multiple colours to make them look good."

Choose one feature to focus on, such as the eyes or lips. Being too heavy-handed with make-up actually ages women even more.

FREELANCE MAKE-UP ARTIST BENO LIM on how older women should do their make-up

Freelance make-up artist Beno Lim, 48, agrees that older women should be careful not to "over-do" their make-up. "You want to choose one feature to focus on, such as the eyes or lips. Being too heavy-handed with make-up actually ages women even more."

Ms Yeo says that rather than creating a trendy look, make-up for older women is more about enhancing the features and adding warmth to the skin.

"Usually, without make-up, older women can look a bit washed out," she says, explaining that because their hair may be grey, while the eyebrows and lashes are sparser, there may be a "faded look" to their appearance.

"What you want to do with make-up is just add a bit of colour back to the face."

The Straits Times looks at how women over 60 can look their best with the right make-up techniques.

Brown pencil for brows

Madam Mary Ee before her makeover (left) and after (right). PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Who: Madam Mary Ee, 80, a former administrative clerk. She is a mother of four and grandmother of five.

On ageing and wearing make-up, Madam Ee says: "Some people say growing old is not fun because you might not be able to do so much any more. But to me, as long as God gives me energy, I will make the best of each day."

Madam Ee, a volunteer with GoodLife! Family Service Centre, often visits other elderly folk. "I like meeting people and making them happy. That makes me happy too. Some are even younger than me. I still like wearing make-up. It gives me confidence and I feel less shy when I meet others."

Beauty tip No. 1: No need to match grey hair with grey brows

Those with grey hair may think that their brows should be in a matching shade, but make-up artist Melissa Yeo says no.

"You can have warm brown eyebrows even with grey hair and they won't look unnatural. If the brows are very light, that generally makes the face look more washed out."

Older women do not need bold, thick brows, she says.

Simply filling in the brows with a light or warm brown brow pencil - using light feathery strokes - is sufficient.

Beauty tip No. 2: Use concealer for pigmentation 

As women get older, age spots and sun spots usually appear on the skin.

"Some will pile on foundation, thinking that it will cover pigmentation. But you just need to dab some concealer on the spots and blend it into the foundation. That looks more natural," says Ms Yeo.

To cover smaller spots of pigmentation, use a small concealer brush to lightly dab the product directly onto the spots after applying foundation. The hue of the concealer should be close to your natural skin shade.

If the spots are larger or browner, first apply a slightly darker concealer that has a peach base. This will help with colour correction and visually conceal the spots better. Then apply your regular concealer over the darker shade.

Beauty tip No. 3: Use a lip liner and moisturising lipstick 

The skin on and around the lips typically develop more fine lines and slight sagging as women age.

Ms Yeo says a lip liner will not only define the lips better, but also ensure that the lipstick will not bleed.

"Lipstick tends to bleed more easily when there are more fine lines around the lips. So a lip liner will help to stop that from happening."

She adds that older women should stick to softer, creamier lip colours and avoid matt shades, which will cause fine lines to be more obvious.

Liquid make-up for coverage

Madam Minder Kaur before her makeover (left) and after (right). PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Who: Madam Minder Kaur, 61, a former real estate agent and mother of two. She has one granddaughter.

On make-up and ageing, Madam Kaur says: "Getting older doesn't mean you become less active or less beautiful. I still help out at the temple, go for walks and meet friends. Make-up helps me to look more presentable."

Beauty tip No. 1: Always apply moisturiser before make-up 

Make-up artist Melissa Yeo, 40, says older women typically have drier skin, so applying a light layer of moisturiser before make-up will help keep the skin hydrated and give it a natural glow.

"Women tend to have rougher skin as they age. Applying moisturiser will help smoothen the skin and make it easier to apply foundation. The make-up will glide on more easily," says Ms Yeo from make-up artist cooperative Fac3Inc.

Freelance make-up artist Beno Lim, 48, says a face oil is also a good option. 

Beauty tip No. 2: Use liquid or cream make-up

Since the skin can be more dry, liquid and cream-based products are better than powder products, which tend to look cakey on the skin.

Ms Yeo says a serum-based liquid foundation is a good choice for more hydration. "A liquid foundation will minimise the appearance of fine lines, but still give the skin good coverage. Make sure to apply a light layer so that it does not become cakey."

Rather than using a powder blush, older women can select a cream blush. "It will look less dry on the skin. You also don't want to apply any colour below the apple of the cheeks. This will visually pull the face down," says Ms Yeo.

Mr Lim says to apply a cream blush, one should rub the product on the back of the hand to warm it up first. This will make application smoother.

Then use a blush brush to pick up the product and brush it lightly on the cheeks in a circular buffing motion. This will create a sheer and natural finish.

Beauty tip No. 3: Use eyeshadow for deep-set eyes and darker skin

For those with darker skin, warmer tones do not show up as well. Cooler colours such as lavender and blue are more suitable.

Ms Yeo says: "For darker skin, I would pick a light lavender base with a slight shimmer. This will brighten the skin and visually lift the eyes. Then I would use a warmer purple on the outside corner of the eyes to give them some definition."

She adds that for deep-set eyes, the brow bones usually create a shadow on the lids, so a brighter eyeshadow will help to visually bring out the eyes.

Layer blush colours for natural look

Madam Betty Ong before her makeover (left) and after (right). PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Who: Madam Betty Ong, 70, a former executive secretary. She is a mother of two and grandmother of three.

On what beauty means to her now that she is older, Madam Ong says: "Beauty is both physical and emotional. When I look good, albeit with the help of light make-up, I feel confident and comfortable.

"Besides looks, I think respecting others and treating them as you would like to be treated also makes you more beautiful."

Beauty tip No. 1: Use a cream highlighter 

A subtle cream highlighter with a slight shimmer, used on strategic parts of the face, can help lift the features.

Make-up artist Melissa Yeo, 40, says: "As women age, there can be some sagging around the features. So, a little bit of highlighter here and there can visually lift the face."

Using a small brush or the fingers, apply the highlighter on the cheek bones just above the apples of the cheeks. The product should be applied from the middle of the cheek up towards the temple, says Ms Yeo, who is from make-up artist cooperative Fac3Inc.

The cream can also be applied lightly under the eyes and around the sides of the nose. These areas tend to have shadows or slight redness. The highlighter will brighten and even out the skin tone. 

Beauty tip No. 2: Use brown eyeliner

Freelance make-up artist Beno Lim, 48, says a brown eyeliner looks more natural than a black one, which can look harsh on an older woman.

Ms Yeo says a brown eyeliner will also help to colour-correct old eyeliner tattoos, which women in their 70s and 80s may have.

"Eyeliner tattoos were a trend back then because they were convenient.

"But as women age, the tattoos become a bit green. So, a warm brown eyeliner will help to make the tattoos look better and define the eyes," she says.

Beauty tip No. 3: Coral layered with pink on the cheeks for a natural flush 

For Asian women, who tend to have warmer yellow undertones in the skin, coral cheek colours add a healthy glow to the face.

Ms Yeo says: "If the eyes and lips are kept subtle, the cheeks can have a bit more colour for an overall radiant look."

She says a coral cheek colour can be applied on the apples of the cheeks up towards the temples. Then a pink shade can be added just on the apples of the cheeks to give the look more depth.

"One colour can look a bit flat. But with two, you get more dimension."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 19, 2017, with the headline 'Keep it light and simple'. Print Edition | Subscribe