The Fine Line | A Digital Magazine for Women Over 45
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Ever notice how a short brisk walk can be just what you need to get out of a slump, reverse your fatigue, or curb that caffeine craving? An exercise routine is a key component of any healthy lifestyle. And the benefits don’t apply to just your physique — your mind and mood will see the effects as well.
The benefits of exercise go on and on. A daily routine that involves as little as 30 minutes of movement that releases endorphins and gets your heart rate going can have a significant grounding effect in all areas of your life. Better sleep, boosted mood, reduced stress and inflammation, and improved immune function are just a few of the noticeable immediate gains. Plus, it’ll get you breathing deeply, drinking more water, and sweating, which aids skin health as it flushes toxins out.
But even the best exercises are useless if you don’t do them. Here’s how to design an exercise routine that you can stick to.
Think About the Activities You Already Do.
Do you enjoy taking walks with a good friend or find yourself needing a few good stretches throughout the day? Perhaps you enjoy playing in the park with your kids or going out dancing with your husband. One good way to start to build out an exercise routine is to look at the activities you’re already doing. From there, you can add 15 minutes here or 30 minutes there of more structured exercise time — just as a continuation of the activities you already enjoy.
Take Stock of Your Schedule.
Convenience is key when it comes to making space for movement. That favorite yoga class may make you feel great physically, but if it’s all the way across town it may cause more stress than relief. Consider how your movement practice can fit most naturally into your schedule. Find a gym or a yoga studio close to work or home. Or keep a pair of sneakers in your trunk just in case you find yourself with 30 extra minutes to take a quick walk.
Be Present With Your Body.
How are you feeling right now? This is a good question to ask yourself throughout the day. If you’re feeling stiff and sluggish, you may be in the mood for movement that involves stretching, like yoga; if you’re having trouble staying focused, consider something to release pent-up energy, like a jog in the park.
Staying in tune with your body is crucial in sustaining an exercise practice. While you consider penciling exercise into your schedule, leave a little room to be flexible. And take care in seeking out the type of movement that will serve you and feel good in the moment.
Mix It Up.
From time to time, you may want to stoke up your exercise routine with something new. This can be as simple as adding a few 30-second sprints throughout your jog or some interval training to raise your heart rate and get the blood flowing.
Mixing up your fitness routine helps to keep it fun and fresh. Consider signing up for a charity race with a friend, going for certification in a workout practice you’re committed to, or checking out a boutique fitness studio with fun and funky classes. Some of our favorites are barre-inspired workouts that bring out the dancer in you, city-inspired boot camp workouts, and indoor group rowing classes. Allow yourself to get experimental from time to time, you may discover something new you love. At the least you’ll be burning calories and boosting endorphins.
Make Your Routine Last.
Exercise nourishes the body, mind, and spirit. The key to any exercise practice is maintaining it. As you fit in a quick crunch session here or seek out a 90-minute yoga class there, make it work for you.
Remember that a little bit can go a long way, so it’s better to move a little bit every day than to overexert yourself and put strain on your body and your schedule. Being flexible with your schedule and priorities — exercise related or not — will not only reduce your overall stress level, but will also introduce a greater sense of flexibility and ease into your daily life. The key is asking yourself: What will get me in the mood to move?
Discolored teeth can add years to your face. But you don’t have to go around with a dingy smile.
“As we age the amount of enamel [gets] thinner and what [shows] through is usually darker dentin, resulting in a more grayish appearance,” says Dr. Chiann Fan Gibson. This discoloration can be exasperated by a history of taking certain medications, smoking cigarettes, or drinking coffee, tea, and soda. Fortunately, there are many ways to whiten your teeth.
The least expensive way is with over-the-counter whitening strips, which remove surface stains. For a more significant change than what a drugstore product can provide, dental professionals offer several options. A prescription-strength whitening gel combined with take-home trays (universal or custom fitted) allow patients to bleach their teeth at home. Get your teeth as white as you want them to be and then use the gel and trays to keep them white with regular touch-ups.
In-office whitening treatments are also an option. “If a person needs an immediate brightening or change to their teeth for a special occasion, then the in-office whitening procedure is the best choice,” Dr. Gibson says. Performed under the supervision of a dentist, it entails polishing the teeth, coating them with a hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide bleaching agent, and using a curing light or laser to activate the peroxide. It costs more than other options ($450 to $650) and takes a few hours. It will, however, last about a year.
Teeth whitening of all types can heighten teeth sensitivity, however. Though that problem can usually be controlled by whitening less often, lowering the percentage of hydrogen peroxide in the gel, and/or using a toothpaste specifically for sensitive teeth, those remedies don’t work for everyone. And Dr. Gibson says that if you continue “to whiten without paying attention to the sensitivities and gum tissue health, it can be damaging over time or hurtful to the soft tissues.” Painful symptoms are temporary and dissipate when whitening is halted and healing occurs.
One final note: Discolored teeth can affect your self-confidence, but they can also be a sign of an underlying dental health issue. It is essential to visit a dentist regularly to confirm that your teeth are healthy.
I just left the hair salon with my wet hair stuffed under a baseball cap. I have horses to ride, edits on my latest manuscript to do, and a lesson to teach, and I have no need and no time for a blow dry. But I will always make time to cover the insidious gray hair that, like weeds after a spring storm, are trying to take over my head.
I don’t care about the gray-hair trend. I have always been a bit of a rebel. I don’t care that letting your hair go gray has become a statement of wisdom and power. Though I suppose there is a certain freedom gained from not having to hit the hair salon every couple of weeks, coloring my hair is a sacrifice I willingly make.
Some might argue that I’m trying to hold onto my youth, refusing to accept my aging self, but I feel my age every morning when I get out of bed, when I lift 50 pounds horse feed, stack 100-pound hay bales, when I attempt downward dog, when I try to read the small print on anything. I feel the years, all 63 of them, and I take satisfaction in that.
Let someone have to guess, at least from far off, where I stand on the timeline of life. I want my appearance to align with my determination to not let age define me.
I’ve never had Botox. I accept the crinkly skin on my muscled arms and regard my web of spider veins with fascination. But I don’t want to be labeled from a distance as a grandma. Don’t get me wrong: Grandmas are wonderful, but they are often associated with being old, and I am anything but. Let someone have to guess, at least from far off, where I stand on the timeline of life. I want my appearance to align with my determination to not let age define me.
Like photographs, we fade with age. In my opinion, gray hair only accentuates that. My English and Irish heritage gave me pale skin, and coloring my hair is my way of trying to prevent my image from fading until it can no longer be seen. It’s the same reason I go to the gym five days a week, take care to put on makeup, and choose clothes that are ageless. I have no desire to feel invisible.
I am happy being the age I am, and I am happy for every birthday that lies ahead of me. I am settled in my sense of self, secure in whom I am, delighted by the life I lead, but I will never give in to a trend simply because other people deem it empowering.
Power comes from living your own life, following your own path. And my path leads right to the hair salon.
Kathryn Rishoff is a writer living in California. You can learn more about her at rishoffwrites.com.
Almond milk is a delicious and nourishing dairy-free alternative for tea, smoothies, cereal, and granola. It’s also a featured ingredient in many plant-based cooking and baking recipes.
But most store-bought almond milk contains refined sweeteners, preservatives, and thickeners that can cause inflammation and digestive problems, negating many of the health and beauty benefits. Store-bought versions also contain fortified nutrients, which your body doesn’t assimilate as efficiently as nutrients obtained from whole food sources.
Pure almond milk has similar benefits to whole almonds. Almond milk is slightly processed, since it’s blended and the pulp is removed, so the nutritional profile isn’t as robust. However, almond milk is still a good source of monounsaturated fats, known to help balance cholesterol and decrease the risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer. It also contains vitamin E, which improves skin health by reducing inflammation and protecting cells from free radical damage. Vitamin E also increases moisture levels and elasticity, resulting in youthful looking skin.
You can further boost the health benefits by:
Soaking the nuts in advance to make them easier to digest.
Purchasing organic almonds to limit pesticide exposure.
1 c. raw organic almonds
2-4 c. clean water (Choose filtered water to reduce exposure to toxic chemicals.)
1. Place almonds in a bowl and cover with water. Soak overnight in the refrigerator.
2. Drain and rinse the nuts. Transfer them to a blender and add water. (Do not reuse the soaking water.) Use less water for a creamier consistency and more for a thinner consistency.
3. Blend on high 1-2 minutes, until smooth.
4. Strain pulp using a cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer; reserve pulp.
5. Transfer milk to a glass jar and store in the refrigerator. Shake before each use. Keeps about three days.
6. Search online for almond pulp recipes for creative ways to use the leftover pulp.
For a variation, swap almonds for cashews, hazelnuts, or pecans. For a hint of natural sweetness, add a couple of dates, raw honey, maple syrup, or cinnamon in step 2.
This story originally appeared on Well Within Beauty. It has been reprinted with permission.
Sheri Salata was 35 years old when she landed her dream job. After graduating from college and working hard at several ill-fitting jobs, she was hired at The Oprah Winfrey Show. “Even though I was in my 30s and the job was entry level, I still felt I had landed in the Emerald City,” Salata recalls. “I had no problem starting over. I mean, this was Oprah!”
Fifteen years later, Salata was promoted to executive producer, and when Oprah ended, she became co-president of Harpo Studios and OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network.
But at age 56, Salata decided that she needed to change her workaholic ways. Like many women, she’d found it easier to give her all to her job and to meeting other people’s needs but had neglected to take care of herself. So she quit her job and committed to radical self-care — body, spirit, and mind. “For years at Oprah, I had access to all the health and wellness experts in the world, but I put it all on my someday list,” she says. “At the time, I would tell myself I was too busy working to take care of myself, but, in reality, I was finding comfort at the end of a long day of work with wine, pizza, and mindless TV instead of a yoga class or a green salad.”
Committing to self-care was challenging. Salata enlisted her lifelong friend Nancy Hala to help, and the two motivated each other to eat better, exercise, and meditate. Some days it was harder than others to stay on track, and Salata would berate herself when she fell off course. “Most of us have no idea how harshly our inner voice judges us over and over again,” she says. “Once I paid attention to that voice, I realized that if I wanted to elevate my life, I would have to change it. I began to speak to myself with tenderness and compassion — and that was a key part of my transformation.”
There are some messages in our culture that women over 50 are done and that we should be waiting around to be called to babysit. It’s up to us to say, “No, we still have a lot more we want to do.”
In addition to self-care, Salata began to tackle more items on her someday list, including learning Italian and improving her knife skills. “These smaller adventures have brought me so much happiness, and they’ve made my brain come alive. I think it’s important to do all the rut-busting activities we can,” she says.
Though some women may feel too old to start over in their 50s, Salata thinks it’s the perfect time to begin fresh. “In the middle of life, some of us think it’s time to wrap up the party — that we have had our chance at relationships and careers, and it’s time to step back and let the clock run out,” she says, adding that part of the problem is an antiquated view of female aging. “There are some messages in our culture that women over 50 are done and that we should be waiting around to be called to babysit. It’s up to us to say, ‘No, we still have a lot more we want to do.'”
And what if you want to retire and dote on their grandchildren? Salta says, “You can be a juicy, sexy grandma baking cookies if that is what you want. But your motivation should be to do that because it’s your dream and not because of society’s expectations,” she says.
For Salata, shifting her focus to herself after years of putting other people first wasn’t easy. But then she had an epiphany that changed her view. “Being someone else’s something — life partner, mother, or employee — does not a life make,” she says. “You must tend to yourself first before you take care of others. What I’ve learned is that people who take care of themselves first find it easier to choose happiness in their lives, and happy people are the ones who contribute most to the world.”
Now 59, the former TV producer continues to hone in on her best life. Hala and Salata started a podcast and a website based on the strategies they used to transform their lives. Salata even wrote a book about her midlife reinvention called The Beautiful No.
She says she hopes that sharing her story will inspire other women to think about what they want to do with the second halves of their lives. “When I took the time to excavate the dreams I had for my life, that I hadn’t yet manifested, I began to chart a course for a full-on joy ride — not just my dream career but a dream life.
“And choosing to have the life of my dreams is a daily practice. My life today feels even more expansive and more fulfilling than I could have imagined.”
Exhausted after a hectic day but cannot get to sleep. Sound familiar? It’s estimated that 30 million Americans suffer from clinical insomnia that can be caused by health issues, including sleep apnea. Many more, however suffer from incessant mental chatter that keeps them awake when they want to be sleeping. Why are you wide awake and worrying? And what can you do?
The Problem: An Anxious Brain
Some people find that even if their bodies are tired, their minds won’t rest. Health concerns, money worries, fears real and imaginary, past hurts, current judgments, catastrophic what-ifs, and imaginary conversations create a tangle of noise and chaos in the mind. It can keep you from getting to sleep or shakes you suddenly awake at 3 a.m. Some people are naturally more worried than others, but some women find that anxiety — and the related insomnia — during perimenopause is new.
Solution #1: Meditation, Mindfulness, and Mantras
Meditation: If you’re looking for natural ways to sleep without taking insomnia meds, the National Sleep Foundation recommends meditation.
To start, lie in bed on your back or a comfortable position (though on your back is best), arms relaxed at your sides and legs slightly apart. Close your eyes and focus your mind on your breathing — slowly inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth. Doing this for a few minutes will start to give you a sense of feeling more relaxed. Then, imagine your mattress is a soft cloud; consciously relax your shoulders, back, arms, and legs into the cloud. The worries may try to butt in; acknowledge them and then let the chatter pass through your mind without validating it. Return your focus to your breathing.
It may take a few nights of trying to meditate yourself to sleep before the next thing you know you’re awake and the last thing you remember was starting to meditate.
Mindfulness: Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and author of several bestsellers, including Mindfulness for Beginners, is considered the godfather of mindfulness in the context of health, and he’s excited at the medical science backing mindfulness for improved sleep. Kabat-Zinn describes mindfulness meditation as the art of “non-doing and really cultivating just being,” which he believes and studies are showing can transform our biology in ways that “tilt our system in the direction of health and well-being.” You can sit in mindfulness meditation any time of day, of course, but it’s particularly meaningful at night for helping you sleep.
Again, lie comfortably as relaxed as you can in bed, close your eyes, focus on your breathing for a few minutes, then turn your attention to your five senses: tune into a sound in the room, a night-bird’s call, a branch tapping a window, the hum of your fridge in the distance. Notice a smell and focus your mind on that, or notice how your bed sheets feel on your skin. Focus your mind on the sensations and just breathe. Being mindful and practicing mindfulness will hopefully, after a few tries, relax you into sleep.
Mantras: Adding a mantra to your meditation may help you relax even more. You can make up your own mantra relevant to your life or how you want to be and feel — and anything goes. Try: I am happy, healthy, and whole. Or: Be here now. Or even: I am getting sleepy.
Prescription sleep medications often have a slew of side effects. Many women are replacing them with supplements and herbs, including (in states where they’re legal) CBD and medical marijuana. You might try the following commonly used sleep-promoting supplements, which help people in varying degrees (in alphabetical order):
Ginkgo biloba: Taking 250 milligrams within an hour of going to bed can help reduce stress and promote relaxation and sleep.
Lavender: Studies have shown that lavender aromatherapy, such as smelling lavender oil for about 30 minutes before you sleep, improves sleep quality. Try dotting lavender essential oil on your pillow or having a lavender oil defuser on your nightstand.
Magnesium: Research shows that magnesium helps regulate melatonin production and increases the level of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), a calming brain messenger.
Melatonin: Melatonin levels naturally rise in the evening to tell our brain it’s time to sleep, but when you’re not sleeping you might want to try supplementing to see what happens.
Passion flower tea: Passion flower is native to Africa, Asia, Australia, and North America; the North American species has been linked to improving sleep.
Tryptophan: You know this one from your Thanksgiving nap. A low dose of 1 gram daily of this essential amino acid purportedly helps you fall asleep faster and improves sleep quality.
Valerian root: This is one of the more common natural sleep aids. It is also commonly taken to help fight for depression and anxiety, and to relieve menopause symptoms.
Solution #3: Noise
Noise isn’t typically conducive for a good night’s sleep, but there are certain types of noises that can help you fall asleep.
White noise:Science defines this type of noise as a soothing sound across all hearable frequencies that remains consistent, which can help block out other noises like snoring, traffic, or barking.
Pink noise: On the broadband of sounds, pink noise is like white noise with the bass turned up. Studies show it not only helps promote sleep but also helps boost memory.
Ambient sounds: Typically from nature, like waves on a beach, rain on a roof, birds chirping, or a fire crackling. You can ask Alexa to play these sounds or find them for free on InsightTimer.
Tip: Put a noise machine or your phone, if you are using a noise app, on the floor — not on your nightstand — because the noises are best heard from a distance.
I was about 10 when I first heard about meditation. My parents, who weren’t exactly hippies but embraced things like food co-ops, Beat poetry, and Ms. Magazine, got into transcendental meditation briefly in the ’70s while we were living in England. They each had a mantra that my brother and I begged them to tell us. They never did. My father, a type A businessman, didn’t stick with it much past those early days, but my mother, an artist and seeker, continued to meditate on and off for decades, through the devastating illness that took her life at 68.
In high school, I took an independent study course to learn Taekwondo. Our teacher wanted us to have a well-rounded experience, so he took us out for a sushi lunch and taught us to meditate. He led us through a guided meditation, and I remember feeling a calm that I had never felt before. Sure, my mind wandered to things like homework or a new crush, but in between those thoughts were blips of peace. This was a revelation. I was a big worrier — even as a kid — and saw disaster around every corner. I would stay up at night, listening to the airplanes overhead and imagining nuclear bombs dropping. I was more of an insomniac at 9 than I’ve been in my entire adult life.
Those fears and worries eventually abated, and as I entered my teens, I figured out how to have more control over the thoughts that scared me. Even so, my mind was in constant motion. Many of the thoughts that plagued me were negative, a constant swirl of teenage angst. Frankly, it was exhausting.
Am I a different person? No, but I can step back from my thoughts and get some perspective.
I returned to meditation in my mid-20s, on a monthlong family trip to Tuscany. I was there with my brother who had just moved back from the West Coast and was coming off a speed bender; my dad, who was deeply depressed; and my mother, who had just been diagnosed with an incurable illness. We were staying with an old family friend who was struggling with what I now know must have been menopausal rage. Under the Tuscan Sun it was not. The villa was between two small Italian villages, and you couldn’t get anywhere without a car. I tried to escape by taking walks along the dirt roads, but that proved to be dangerous.
Fortunately, I met a young yoga instructor who was also staying at the villa. I would see her practicing on the terra cotta terrace overlooking the hills of Tuscany. Curious about what she was up to, I wandered over one day and she asked if I wanted to join her. I enthusiastically said yes.
At the end of each yoga practice, we’d lie in shavasana and meditate for a short time. Calm washed over me and soothed my frenetic mind. I had a chance to momentarily take a break from worrying about my mom’s illness, my weight, arguments with my dad, and other distractions. I came to think of meditation as a little mental vacation. It wasn’t a total escape — the thoughts were always there, sneaking in between the spaces — but it was an opportunity to take control over my monkey mind, a Buddhist phrase that means “unsettled; restless; capricious; whimsical; fanciful; inconstant; confused; indecisive; uncontrollable.”
While I continued to practice yoga regularly throughout my 20s and 30s, I let meditation fall by the wayside. Until, in August of last year, at age 49 and struggling with sleeplessness for the first time in my life, as well as hot flashes, I decided to give the Headspace app a try. The simplicity of the app, the short time commitment (10 to 15 minutes), and Andy Puddicombe’s comforting (and, dare I say, sexy) voice hooked me.
Now, nine months later, I’ve completed 29 hours of meditation and 128 sessions, all conveniently tracked in the app. Am I a different person? No, but I can step back from my thoughts and get some perspective. That frustrating client who might have had me stewing for days now isn’t such a big deal. I’m less reactive, and there’s a growing sense of calm deep within me that didn’t exist before. I’m sleeping better, too.
I’ve also noticed that meditation is almost like a palette cleanser for the mind, helping clear away the debris as I transition from one part of my day to the next. Another unexpected benefit is that it gives me a quiet moment to think about my mom, her soothing influence, and how much meditation helped her as she neared the end of her life. I may still have monkey mind, as we all do to some degree, but now I look forward to my daily practice and time to recalibrate in the space between my thoughts.
With all the talk of brain health and growing focus on the prevention of age-related neurological disorders, even the most innocent of senior moments (god, we hate that phrase) can be scary — often leading down an internet rabbit hole and resulting in self-diagnosis of a devastating disease. But rest assured that while you may be losing your mind with worry every time you blank on someone’s name, you probably aren’t literally losing your mind.
Why Is This Happening?
The brain is an organ and, like the rest of your organs, it ages and gradually deteriorates over time.
“There is a slowdown in your processing speed,” explains Dr. Alicia Parker, assistant professor of cognitive and behavioral neurology at the Glenn Biggs Institute for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Diseases at the UT Health Science Center in San Antonio, Texas. “Your recall ability declines, which is why you may have a difficult time remembering names, especially of people you don’t often see.”
What Can I Do?
Before you resign yourself to a life of double-checking the oven to make sure you turned it off, you should know that there is good news and bad news.
The bad news? You can’t stop the brain’s aging process. The good news? You can slow it down. How? Dr. Parker says that there is plenty of evidence to support the benefits of mental and physical activity on the brain. Just 30 minutes of aerobic activity at least five times a week can get the heart pumping and the blood flowing to the brain. A diet high in vegetables and lean protein, along with eating fish a couple of times per week has been shown to help as well. “Eating fish works to slow down memory change more than simply taking omega-3 supplements,” says Parker. “Those are not FDA approved, so the amount of omega-3 you are getting might not be the same as what it says on the bottle. It’s better just to eat the fish.”
And though many people are quick to point fingers at technology and multitasking for the shift in memory function, Parker says the opposite may be true. “Using your smartphone requires you to use quite a few areas of your brain,” she says. “And it’s always good to be socially active and communicate with people to stimulate your brain, whether it’s face-to-face or online.” Even playing online games can help, as can crosswords, Sudoku, and other puzzles or word challenges. “These are all good ways to keep your brain challenged,” assures Parker.
When Is It Not Normal?
Forgetting a name is one thing. Forgetting entire conversations or how to get to your neighborhood grocery store is another. These could be indicators of a larger issue and should be checked out by your physician. “This type of trouble with short-term memory or navigation can be an Alzheimer’s-type pattern,” Parker says.
That sounds scary, but don’t let fear prevent you from mentioning it to your doctor; early detection can make a big difference in the efficacy of treatment. Parker explains that Alzheimer’s is a degenerative disease that causes slow changes over time. Therefore, the earlier you are diagnosed, the more effective the treatment can be in stabilizing changes in the brain.
Although Alzheimer’s and similar diseases are the biggest concerns for many people, there are several, less-threatening causes for memory changes, and most are easily treatable. Some medications, for example, can affect attention and concentration. So can hormonal fluctuations associated with menopause or thyroid issues. Another culprit? Sleep apnea. “If you are snoring a lot at night, the air is not getting into the body easily and you are not getting enough oxygen to the brain,” Parker says. “That can affect how your brain functions during the day.”
The bottom line? All memory changes should be discussed with your doctor. Chances are, it’s nothing to worry about — but when it comes to your health it’s best to be proactive.
Maybe you’ve skipped concealer for most of your life because you didn’t suffer from acne or dark circles. Or perhaps you pledged allegiance to a certain concealer in your 20s, but it doesn’t seem to do the job now that you’re older. As age-related hyperpigmentation begins to appear and skin becomes drier and less firm, coverage needs as well as how you apply concealer change.
Makeup artist Mathias Alan, who mentors women over 40 on their changing cosmetics needs on his Mathias4Makeup YouTube channel. “I often get asked about concealer, because it can be very frustrating for women to find the right product for their skin tone and type,” he says. Though Alan notes that “application techniques vary from person to person, because of the combination of primer, foundation, concealer, and application tool being used — whether it be a brush, sponge, or finger,” the product you choose is important, and identifying a few key factors (plus learning a few tried-and-true techniques) can help you pick your perfect match.
Look for: Texture
If you now have a few more skin issues to cover than you used to, you might think that a heavier, thicker concealer should do the trick. Wrong. Mature skin benefits from creamy — not thick — formulas that blend easily and boast buildable coverage. “A thicker consistency will settle into fine lines if your skin is extremely thin under your eye,” Alan warns.
Speaking of under the eye — where you’re likely to be applying concealer — he notes that because skin is incredibly thin in this area, you’ll want to be “mindful of how much opacity you’re getting from the concealer you have chosen.” Definitely steer clear of heavier concealers here; a little goes a long way and a too-thick formula can actually weigh down the delicate skin. However, should you feel timid toward creamy, pigmented formulas (which Alan notes is a sticking point for many mature women), be aware that a water-based product, though lighter in consistency, will wear off quickly and provide little to no coverage for more finicky age-related skin issues.
Look for: Color
The No. 1 struggle Alan sees women encounter with concealers: what color to choose. “Many of the women whom I have mentored will blindly choose concealers that they think should match the foundation they wear — for example, light beige, neutral, fair beige,” he says. “Concealer is not supposed to match your foundation; it’s supposed to be a touch lighter than your foundation.” To determine your concealer color, rather than look at your face, assess your neck for a color match. Then test the closest matches (if you can) to see which brightens your eyes best. Remember, too, that concealer is applied on top of foundation, so be sure to wear your foundation when you test concealers so you can get a complete picture of how you’ll look.
Though every woman’s coloring is different, Alan allows that one through line for choosing colors does exist for mature skin. “Normally, even if a woman’s undertones aren’t extremely pink or tan, the under-eye area tends to look blue or plum as we age, and a concealer with a little bit of salmon in the tone would work better than a beige or neutral concealer alone,” he says.
Look for: Coverage
Do you want full coverage or sheer? “This is always a personal preference,” Alan says, noting that while the product’s built-in coverage certainly matters (i.e., “full coverage” formulas are best saved for glam looks), your application and an examination of your end goals trump all. “Most women don’t consider that their concealer application should vary depending on the event or type of day they’re about to get ready for,” he says.
Think about time of day, what kind of look you’re seeking (more made-up for an event or dressed down for daily errands), how long you need the coverage to last and whether your photo will be taken (sheer coverage won’t show up on film, while heavily applied full-coverage can appear caked on). You can certainly depend on one concealer for all scenarios, but how you layer the product will make the difference. Opt for a creamy formula with medium coverage and apply it with a concealer brush using light, downward strokes— a technique that Alan says makes the product look thinner and more lightweight. If one layer isn’t enough, apply another thin layer until you build to the coverage you desire.
Look for: Longevity
It doesn’t hurt to purchase concealers claiming long-wear or waterproof properties; after all, you don’t want your concealer sliding down your face by midday. But Alan notes that, again, longevity boils down to application and product layering. After you apply your concealer, Alan suggests lightly stippling skin with a beauty sponge (misted with setting spray, if you use it) to further blend and set your concealer. Finish by using an eye shadow brush — not a fan or big powder brush — dipped in a finely milled, loose setting powder, and work the powder into the fine lines of the under-eye area. “[Setting powder] is really one of the main keys to keeping your concealer from creasing under your eyes,” Alan says.