Like our skincare regimens, as we enter into perimenopause and beyond, the makeup we select also requires a glow up. That matte finish that got us through our 20s would do us zero favors today since our skin requires products with hydration and moisture — which not only benefits its health, but visually reflects light for an illuminating and (dare I say it) youthful appearance.
Switching over to sheer and cream-based facial makeup does not completely cancel the arsenal of powders you may have racked up. It simply means that a balance of textures should be considered for achieving a gorgeous and on-trend made-up skin. Here are my recommendations, in order of application, after much self- and client-based experimentation with GALs our age.
My all-time favorite foundation is MAC’s Face and Body. When I worked for MAC, I would tell customers how it doesn’t smudge, is buildable, a bridal-kit favorite, and is “90% water.” I remember this video from forever ago of Pat McGrath playing with the liquid texture, dripping Face and Body into her hands. The makeup queen showed how she dotted it along her face and let the formula evaporate a bit before blending it into her skin with her fingertips. The big bottle runs about $40 but will last for months and months since a little goes a long way.
Tip: This application works well because I prep my skin beforehand with an SPF moisturizer (No7 Menopause Daily Moisture being my current fave). Always do this — unless you’re using a tinted moisturizer like Laura Mercier in place of foundation, which already includes this hydration to simultaneously prime and protect your skin.
I know that it’s hard to beat NARS and YSL for under-eye concealer, but I was having a hard time finding a formula that provided coverage and didn’t look cakey nor crease or wear off during the day. Enter my introduction to It Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye Concealer. Like Face and Body, a little goes a long way. This formula’s emollient-like texture that makes creasing near impossible, and it’s waterproof, so the wear is extra long. I apply it under my eyes with my fingertips after foundation. I also spot conceal with a small brush and smooth it along my lip-line for a perfect canvas for lipsticks and liners.
Tip: The formula might look shiny if you’re not used to it. Use your fingertip to apply, then top it off with a very, very light dusting of translucent powder with a fan brush to reduce shine. (As an honorable mention, for a lighter, drugstore option, I really love No7 Lift & Luminate Concealer.)
Bronzer and contour sticks, having always been a drag and theatre staple, became mainstream with the Kardashian Kontour — an adaptation of these dramatic face-sculpting secrets — and may now be purchased by the rest of the world in an overwhelming range of colors and formulas. When shopping for my skin color, tanned (which, of course, should be avoided, only makeup-ed), a rabbit hole of reviews lead me to my new fave: another guilty pleasure, the feel-good Warm Wishes Effortless Bronzer Stick by Rare Beauty, aka, Selena Gomez’s makeup brand. Like the other hundreds of comments suggest, this bronzer stick goes on smoothly and blends easily with fingertips or a brush, looking like a natural, beach glow, not clumpy nor orange. While Selena isn’t a selling point for me personally, Rare Beauty’s commitment to addressing mental health and self-acceptance make me love this brand like a love song, baby.
Tip: As mentioned, bronzers should mimic the color of your tanned skin — opt for this tone instead of forcing a darker shade. For a sun-kissed look, apply where the sun hits your face: top of the forehead, top of the nose, and tops of cheeks. For a contoured look, apply for definition: to the outline of your forehead, the sides of your nose, and the hallows of your cheeks. And then blend, blend, blend.
Sometimes a favorite product find me as a gift, as is the case of the YSL Nu Lip & Cheek Balmy Tint from my girlfriend, Emily. She shared her love of applying this glamour goo, even during WFH days when the camera’s off, to add a little lift of color and chicness to the day. Like Glossier’s Cloud Paint and other gel-cream blushes, the YSL tint goes on smoothly, with a playful buoyancy yet dense saturation. The hydrating hyaluronic acid and very sheer texture of this formula offer a buildable, naturally flushed look, unlike the texture of a powder blusher or tinted lipstick.
Tip: I like to squeeze a bit of the tint onto the top my left hand (I’m right-handed), smear a bit with my right-hand ring finger, and then tap onto the apples of my cheeks. I then use whatever is left on my lips, starting with the pout outward.
My girlfriend Kim who works at Urban Decay raved and recommended their All Nighter Setting Spray over and over again — until I finally caved and bought the travel size. Then the full size. And now I can’t live without it. Holy moly, its promise of 16 hours without touch-ups could hold up in court. Apparently, its patented Temperature Control Technology “actually lowers the temperature of your makeup—from foundation and concealer, to eyeshadow and blush—to lock it in place.” And while I’m no longer an all-nighter, this setting spray is a game-changer for any perimenopausal GAL in a face of sheer and cream-based makeup.
Tip: Go straight for the big bottle — you’ll use it. I was afraid that this spray might clog my pores or create some strange texture — wrong. The only thing it causes is compliments on how healthy your skin looks. Not kidding. After I finish everything, including my lip, I spray this generously (probably five times) at arm-length to protect the look I just created and give me the confidence that it will last the day — or the nighter.
Beauty & Wellness Director. I bring a feminist lens to the articles that I carefully curate — this is my angle. But we’ve come too far to not also have some fun. Along with a personal mission to empower women, I uphold a lifelong love affair with the beauty industry and decades of bylines in beauty, wellness, and women-focused writing.
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