How to Apply Makeup

By Charlotte Latvala

Many “experts” will tell you to tone down your makeup once you hit the mid-century mark. Mute it, soften it, keep it light.

Nonsense. If anything, you should kick it up a notch. When your skin is like a ripe peach in your twenties, you can get away with a hint of mascara and a vague suggestion of lip gloss. At 50, after decades of late nights and happy hours, you probably need to plaster it on like spackling. Some pointers:

  1. Use whatever color eye shadow you like. If it’s peacock blue and green, you can always tell your kids that you’re wearing it ironically. Bonus: Neon eye shadow will draw the gaze away from your sagging jowls.
  2. Pick a fifty-something role model. Joan Jett and Courtney Love are excellent choices. You’ll want to emulate the look down to the slightest detail, including thick black eyeliner and/or blood red lips. If anyone criticizes you, say you’re auditioning for a spot in a Runaways tribute band.
  3. Wear sunscreen. Not to protect your skin – it’s probably too late for that, especially if you spent summers in the 1970s lying on a blanket in your back yard, greased head to toe in baby oil – but because the intoxicating scent of the beach will distract people from looking at your makeup too closely.
  4. Choose your products solely based on advertising slogans. That is, always go with “Big Flirty Lashes!” over “Age-Defying” anything. (Here at “How to be 50,” we don’t believe you should deny OR defy your age. There’s really no point; see the post entitled “Be Honest.”)
  5. Steal your teenager’s stuff. Chances are it’s better than yours. Makeup is expensive, but kids who have no bills to pay don’t mind forking over for the top-shelf brands.
  6. Never apply makeup under bright lights. You don’t want to scare yourself or any small children who might be passing by. Choose a dimly lit, cozy spot like the little mirror on your car’s visor. At night.
  7. Don’t limit any makeup item to single use – that’s a waste of money! No eyeliner? Use mascara! Lipstick makes a great blusher. In a pinch, use Sharpies or non-washable markers to accentuate your best features; just look under your sofa cushions and you’re likely to turn up a few.
  8. Make “getting enough sleep” part of your beauty routine.
  9. On second thought, forget that. And strike the phrase “beauty routine” from your vocabulary. Because what you’re after here isn’t beauty, per se. It’s just feeling like you’re still in the game. Even if you’re not sure what the game is, anymore.
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Filed under 1970s, 50, humor, makeup, mid-life

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