Fashion Lesson #28: Holiday Makeup


In my last post, I told you about my experience at the Nordstrom Holiday Cosmetics Trend Show.  That experience prompted me to send out a beacon to expert makeup artists throughout the country to help those of us over 30 figure out how to look our best this holiday season, including New Years Eve.

Today’s Fashion Lesson is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the wealth of information my beauty experts provided.  I will be publishing their answers to my inquiry in their entirety next week.  You won’t want to miss their valuable tips!

In The Beginning

Many of us start out experimenting with our mother’s makeup as young girls.  When we are old enough to wear makeup in public, some of our mothers took us to the local cosmetic counter for a makeup lesson.  Others, took their cue from magazines, television or our girlfriends.

As we grow and mature, it’s important that our makeup follows suit.  I can’t tell you how many women I see that are still applying and/or wearing the same colors they wore as young women first experimenting with cosmetics.

Start With A Clean Pallet

With age, the importance of regular cleansing, moisturizing and generally taking good care of our skin becomes critical.  If you have dry, scaly skin, it will be difficult to pull off a smooth, fresh finish.

Your regular routine should include these four basics steps: cleanse, exfoliate, tone and moisturize.  If you live in region that has particularly cold winters as we do here in the Midwest, dry warm air from your furnace tends to dry your skin out, so be sure to moisturize often.

“Not To Prime, Is A Crime!” – Napoleon Perdis

A step that may be new to some of you, is the essential application of primer.  Much like the primer you use before painting your walls, face and eye primer helps to even out your skin, making it smooth and helps to fill in fine lines.  It also helps to make your makeup wear longer.

Emily Kumler, President of Prep Cosmetics, recommends waiting for a few minutes before applying your foundation for the best results.  She goes on to say, “Don’t forget the neck!! Unfortunately, the neck is the first thing to go.  It’s so important to moisturize and prime your neck so that when you apply a little foundation or bronzer, it goes on smoothly.  There is nothing worse than seeing a woman with a beautiful face nicely made up who has completely forgotten her neck.  It’s just as important as her hair- they both frame the face.”

Tools Of The Trade

“Makeup, like cooking, is about following certain steps to create a specific result.  So why then can someone follow the same steps but get different results each time?  Like any great chef will tell you, the secret ingredient to recreating your recipe time and time again is the specific tools you use!  The better the tools, the better the results.  A good set of brushes is important to correctly apply eyeshadow, blush and foundation.”- Karin Noel, Key Makeup Artist at Mars Studio in Costa Mesa, California.

So which ones do we choose?  Dara Klein, veteran New York makeup artist, trainer and founder of DaraMascara highly recommends the following:

*For purposes of illustration, I have linked an example to each brush.  Unless specified otherwise, the links are for illustrative purposes and are not endorsements.

  • Pony Tail Brush– ” The best brush to purchase for a ‘wash’ of shimmer, matte base shadow, etc. is what’s referred to as the ‘ponytail’ brush.  This is the full, soft, black haired brush, that every line makes.  It is crimped at the base of the ferrel, is full, and almost round until the very tip- which is tapered to a point.  This makes it easy for blending as well as rolling underneath the eye to set eye concealer with powder.”
  • Angle Brush– Used for lining eyes and filling in eyebrows.  Dara recommends also using the small liner brush: “I am a HUGE fan of Face Stockholm cake liners with the angled liner brush to apply.  Every evening eye will look dramatic and MODERN with a defined lash line and these are the most simple liners to use without venturing into surgical steadiness needed for liquid liner.”  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  • Lash Curler– “Everyone swears by Shu Uemura- but the BillybBeauty eyelash curler is curved more to fit a rounder eye, as opposed to an almond, wider shape, which is best suited for an Asian women; which the Shu Uemura lash curler complements.”
  • Smudgees– “These are my favorite things EVER! They are pre-moistened q-tips.  Brilliant. Do your eyes first, clean up underneath and apply foundation afterwards.  You can carry them around in your purse for any corner of the eye smudges.”
  • Lip Brush– “Skip the liner ladies- so 1992.  Use a lip brush to enhance the shape of the lip with a lipstick which keeps the lips looking soft and supple, not over applied.  The most aging look can be an over drawn lip with sharp lined edges.”

Karin Noel offers this insider tip on brushes: “Professional makeup artists like to mix-n-match the brands of their brushes and you can too.  Don’t feel stuck to using the brush in a set you bought, that might not be working for you.  Better yet, rather than buying a pre-made set of brushes, make your own!!”

Here are more suggested beauty tools:

  • Blush Brush– Used for contouring cheeks.  Be sure to limit the use of this brush to blusher.  Use a separate brush for bronzer and powder.
  • Foundation Brush– Used to apply a smooth finish to your liquid foundation and blend makeup properly on your face.
  • Powder Brush– Karin Noel suggests: “When buying this brush, make sure that it has a beveled end.  This is so it can get to all the contours of your face which are angled.”
  • Bronzer Brush–  Due to the dark pigments in bronzer, it is wise to use a dedicated brush to avoid a demarcating look.
  • Concealer Brush–  Allows for better control in application for small blemishes or color variations.

Determine Your Undertones

We have a clean, moisturized, primed face and all the tools necessary to get started, now we need to ascertain which colors are best for us.

Deborah and Claudia Caraballoso, co-founders of My Hair and Makeup, suggest that we first consider the undertones of our skin.  Much like determining your “season” in fashion, understanding whether you have warm or cool undertones will help you create a complimentary cosmetic look.

According to Caraballoso, warm undertones are commonly found in women with brown, green or hazel eyes; rich brown, auburn or red hair; and olive, yellow or orange skin tones.

Cool undertones are likely found in women with blue/gray eyes; blonde or black hair; and fair, pink or bluish skin tones.

Choosing The Right Shade

Once you have determined the undertones in your complexion, we can move on to selecting shades for your eyes, lips, cheeks and foundation.

EYE COLOR- Opposites Attract


Image Source:

For an evening look that “Pops”, consider using a color that is the opposite of your eye color on the color wheel.  For blue eyes, try brown tones that compliment your personal skin tone.  Brown and green eyed ladies may want to consider plums or violets.  And for a true “pop” of color for ladies with brown eyes, a deep midnight blue may make your eyes shine.

If you are still questioning your dominant undertone, the glints of light at the center of your iris may hold the key to your lingering question.

(click on each image for photo source.)

images eye

Notice the center of the iris of each of these eyes.  The first eye has a “warm” yellow/golden center.  The second eye to the right, has a “cool” gray center.  Factor these colors in with the rest of your attributes and you will have a better understanding of your undertones.

Cheek & Lips

Armed with a better understanding of a warm or cool undertone, choose a natural blush with a peach or pink tone that will add a hint of color to your face.

When selecting a lip color, it’s all about creating harmony within the color pallet you are using.  Select a cheek and lip color that is within the same shade range, such as a pink cheek and a nude or beige lip, using this combination will come together looking fresh and young.

Another interesting suggestion came from Rachael Shanethe Style Coach: “In your 30’s, don’t go lighter than the color of your gums.  Look at the inside of your lips-match the brownish-pink color for your best shade.”  She also recommends using tinted lip balms and layering them with lip gloss, for a simple evening lip.


Ah, the bane of many women’s cosmetic woes.  We’ve all seen them- heck at one time or another, we have been “that woman” whose face is a totally different color than her neck.  One suggestion to avoid demarcation, is to use a tinted moisturizer.  The sheerness of the product softens the look of your face without the harsh, thick foundation that can accentuate wrinkles or lines.

The most important point is, that your foundation should even out your skin tone, be sheer and un-noticeable.

Focus On Your Best Feature

“No one is ever too old to look cool- On the other hand, you’re never too old to look ridiculous.”- Claudia Caraballoso

I asked my beauty experts if women over 30 were too old to be participating in the trends they see on the runway or in magazines.  The resounding opinion was no, with one caveat- wear only one trend at a time.

Remember the midnight blue I suggested for women with brown eyes earlier?  You want to choose one focal point at a time.  In this instance, it’s the eyes.  All other aspects of your makeup should be neutral.  That means a light cheek and lip color so that your eyes are the focal point.

Packing in too much color will not only age you, but make you look like a clown in the process.

If you are looking to de-emphasize a feature, say small, close set eyes, keep the eyes light and neutral and go for a dramatic red lip.

One definite no-no, is wearing glitter.  Flecks of glitter sandwiched between wrinkles is just not a good look.

Another trend aging women should be conscious of, is shimmer.  As we age, the skin over our eyes begins to droop and sag giving it a “crepe-like” effect.  If you want to wear a shimmering color, experts agree, that you should wear it near the inside corner of your eyes.  This is one area that seems to remain taut and adding shimmer here will open up the eyes.

As Deborah Caraballoso put it- “Be careful not to add so much [shimmering eyeshadow] that you have now given your crows’ feet a stage, spotlight and a microphone.” 😉

How Did You Do That?

I am always curious to know how makeup artists perform their “magic.”  I asked our experts to give us some tips that we could incorporate into our holiday, photo ready look.


Several of the beauty experts that I spoke with, recommended using a cream blush, blending it in upward strokes on the apple of the cheeks.

Another suggestion from Dara Klein was to “place the cheek color where the face is flat or is under the bone structure.”  Adding color to this area with a soft dome shaped blush brush blending down and back toward the hair line will give you a soft natural look.

East coast makeup artist Béke Beau suggests that we use our fan brush to “apply a light touch of shimmer to the high planes of the face” to create a softer image.


Béke also commented that if she were allowed only one feature to focus on, it would be the eyebrows.  “Resist the urge to over-tweeze and learn how to make the most of your arch using a pencil or powder”, Beau says.


Another tip from Dara Klein is to, “layer and layer black mascara to emphasize the defined lash line, and don’t skimp.  Use a defining, volumizing  mascara like Lancome Hypnose, Oscillation or Diorshow Unlimited.”

After having my makeup done by a Dior makeup artist at the Nordstrom Trendshow, she gave me a sample of the Diorshow mascara and I really liked it.

One other tip that came up over and over from the experts was to experiment with false eyelashes.  Experts felt that using even a few lashes in the outer corner of our eyes, helped to counteract the droop that tends to set in with age and define our eyes.

You Asked- Dara Answered

Earlier this week, I gave readers an opportunity to ask our beauty expert Dara Klein of DaraMascara whatever was on their mind.  Here’s a look at the advice she gave two Fashion Sensei readers:

Stephanie asked:
Q: I am not very sure what base color of correctors  I  should use.  I am Asian, fair. Can you help?


A: Fair, Asian skin tones look nice in a pale pink/peach shadow base- try Laura Mercier Eye Basics in Peach.  Use something flat/matte to minimize the space from the crease to brow as opposed to shimmer since there tends to be more space there vs. the lash line to the crease.

realultimatepower asked:
Q: I would like to know the expert’s opinion/advice on makeup on men, and if it could work in a setting besides movies/television/media/formal settings…


A: Ok guys- don’t be afraid to get online and get some of these products- they are a sure way to enhance without looking ‘made up’.  My male clients love to enhance their features, so aside from a great skin care regimen of: cleansing, exfoliating, toning and moisturizing (in that order) anything you put on top of your skin will look enhancing.
Tinted moisturizer– corrects the ruddiness in your skin like a foundation with the texture of a moisturizer.  I’ll make shade selection easy for you- choose a shade based on the amount of redness you have to correct or neutralize not a shade you want to match your skin tone.  If you are medium olive toned with more ruddiness you want to choose a Medium to Dark shade.  Try the Stila TM’s, they’re the best in my opinion.
Brow Groomers: Clear mascara for the brows- use to comb brows into place and it deposits no color .
Brown mascara: Go to a cosmetic supply store and buy tester mascara wands (the tester wands they use at the cosmetic counters).  Dip this wand into the tube of Brown Mascara- this deposits less onto the brush then using the actual mascara wand that comes in the tube.  Gently and I mean, GENTLY sweep mascara once through top lashes just ‘hitting’ the lashes with the wand.  Avoid wiggling and really applying to avoid fake looking lashes.  Unless of course your name rhymes with mascara and you are mildly obsessed.  This will enhance your eyes without looking applied.  Try, Lancome Définicils Brown (NO Waterproof!)
Bronzer– kiss the skin through the t zone with a large powder brush and this warms the skin.  Avoid overly shimmery bronzers.  I’m a fan of Fresh ‘Here Comes the Sun’.

I hope that helps! -Dara

Ready For Your Close Up

Now that you have all the tools to look fabulous for your holiday and New Years celebrations, get ready  to have your picture taken.

In today’s Fashion Lesson we are reminded, that we are never too old to look beautiful.  With each new decade we can expect to wear less and less makeup, but I believe this just opens up our natural beauty to shine through.

I hope that you found this Fashion Lesson as beneficial as I did.  I want to thank all of the beauty experts who contributed to this Fashion Lesson, for their insightful and interesting beauty tips.

Once again, there were so many invaluable pieces of advice offered from my panel of experts that next week, I will be publishing unedited transcripts from three of today’s featured makeup artists.  In addition, the ladies will be dishing on their feelings about any “rules” women in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s + should be following.

Let me know what you think of these tips or if you have any others that you would like to share, by leaving a comment.  Also, if you use these tips for your holiday, be sure to send me a picture, I will put them up on the site. 🙂

If you enjoyed this post, be sure to SUBSCRIBE via RSS or EMAIL now so you don’t miss a thing!

Be sure to check out the Fashion Sensei Services page for more information on Fashion Consultations in the Metro Detroit area and more.



Filed under Aging, Beauty, Cosmetics, Fashion Lesson, Fashion Sensei, Fashion Writer, personal shopper

3 responses to “Fashion Lesson #28: Holiday Makeup

  1. veggiemamma

    Thanks Fashion Sensei, great article. Especially the eye color section!

  2. cacj

    Fashion Sensei, I loved the layout of your blog. I was also introduced to makeup at an young age and believe that makeup enhances the natural beauty and like American Express I would be at lost without my black eye line.

  3. Thanks veggiemamma, I’m glad you enjoyed it. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s