Drooping lids, sagging cheeks, the suggestion of jowls. Welcome to the “mature” face! But all is not lost. As I found out, you can create the illusion of a more lifted and sculpted visage without going under the knife. It’s all done with highlighting and contouring.
I took a field trip to that rugged outpost of cosmetic culture, Neiman Marcus. It just so happens that my friend, Susan, is assistant manager of cosmetics, so she set me up for a session with Jola, an expert on all things Chanel. Before getting into the makeup aspect, she gave me a tutorial on Chanel’s anti-aging line, Sublimage.
Little did I know that Chanel has a serious entry in the botanical skincare game. The exotic ingredients, like Vanilla Planifolia PFA and Golden Champa are all sourced from Madagascar and the Himalayas, and are patented, pure and cultivated from organic soil. The collection includes cleanser, a serum, toner lotion, eye cream, masque and more with active ingredients formulated to firm, purify, and revitalize. Note: all this wonderfulness does not come cheaply. The Sublimage line ranges from $95 to $425, not for the faint of heart or light of wallet! I was grateful to be given a bag full of sample sizes which I covet and use judiciously.
Jola suggested giving new products 4 weeks to produce any noticeable change. And taught me a new trick: when applying eye cream, use only your ring fingers and pat around the entire orbital bone 8 times, pausing and pressing at inner and outer corners of the eye.
Then it was on to makeup with artist Chiara. She started me off with Le Blanc, a sheer, illuminating primer for eyelids that controls redness (like veins), darkness and shadows that sometimes plague older women. This also helps keep shadow color true and can be used as highlighter too. While that set, she patted serum all over my face, following with a light moisturizer (Sublimage Fine). Moisturizing pre- makeup is a must, she stressed, for a smooth and lasting finish. A bit of CC Cream followed as a primer and to minimize pores. She pressed it into my skin with a sponge, covering red areas so well, I barely needed foundation.
Dark areas recede and light brings a feature forward, so for most older women, that means a light color on the lid and a slightly darker one in the crease. The highlight goes directly under the outer half of the brow bone. And a touch right in the middle of the lid makes the eyes sparkle. As always, the importance of blending was emphasized. I bought a blender brush to be reserved solely for this purpose, (MAC#217) and it is my new favorite tool. Everything should be blended in an upward and outward direction. Gravity does enough to drag our eyes down as it is!
Since dark does bring the eye down, allocate that black or espresso liner for the top lid only and instead of following the eye shape exactly, Chiara brought it up and out slightly at the outer corner. She then went over this with a dark shadow and a tiny brush to soften the line, and tight lined the upper lid (lining under the lashes while holding the lid aloft) for a look that mimics thick lashes. She reserved colored liner for the bottom lid, right in the lash line, using a Black Jade pencil to bring out the gold and green in my brown eyes. Black mascara was applied to top and bottom lashes.
Brows are critical to frame the eyes and she used pencil to fill and draw my sparse brows out towards the outer eye corners, then brushed gently through them with a spoolie for a natural look.
Knowing my aversion to heavy foundation, Chiara deftly applied Vitalumiere Acqua with a brilliant foundation/powder brush that stippled rather than brushed it to a flawless finish. For contour, she brushed Les Beiges #50 from my temples downward, angling beneath my cheekbones, toward my nose. Next came blush applied from center of cheek up and out, followed by gold highlighter, swept from the high point of the cheekbone to the temple. All was well blended, no stripes allowed! Then, with the highlighter remaining on the blush brush, she started in the middle of my forehead and drew the brush down the center of my nose to the center of my chin. Voila! Illumination.
I like to use the same contouring powder along the jawline and just under the chin for subtle definition and eliminating those creeping jowls, blending well. The finishing touch? Or Blanc eyeliner in the inner corners of the eyes and just above the cupid’s bow of the lips. A soft lip color was added and a dab of gloss in the center of the upper and lower lips. The idea is to capture light and draw it to the high lighted areas.
Oh, that I had professional quality photography! But flip through any fashion magazine and you’ll see that each advertising image has been contoured and highlighted to the nth degree. Here’s an example of a L’oreal ad featuring Julianne Moore, my personal idol and choice to play me in the story of my life. If only!!