Be honest. How do you feel about running a brush through your hair in the morning, maybe gathering it into a ponytail or stuffing in under a toque, then pulling on your clothes, and heading out into the wide world completely barefaced? All you, nothing else but you, un-retouched, except for sunscreen. If that’s your daily normal, then I salute you. Me… I’m way too chicken. Unless I’m going skiing, fishing, canoeing, or walking the trails, I don’t show my face in public without make-up. And I haven’t since I was in high school.

Of course, the way I make up my face has changed a lot over the years. Make-up itself has changed, fashion has changed, and I’ve changed (a whole lot) since I received my first mini-make-up kit from my big sister for Christmas when I was in grade nine. And for the past few years, learning to make-up my old(er) face has required me to learn quite a few new tricks.

All made-up and no party to attend tonight.

I love make-up, most of the time. I love playing with colour, with eye-shadow, and blush and lipstick. When I was working I used to enjoy my morning routine. My half hour in the bathroom each morning was contemplative time; doing my hair, applying my make-up, sipping my first cup of tea delivered by my thoughtful Hubby, and organizing my day in my mind. As I said in another post on make-up a few years ago, I’d emerge after my thirty minutes of contemplation, made-up, coiffed, caffeinated, and ready to meet my day.

Since I retired I’ve had a very different morning routine, and for the past five years I’ve been slowly altering how I wear make-up, and how much of it I wear. So, in the interest of learning a few new tricks and getting my make-up done for free, when I was contacted about a Christmas promotion event for Laura Mercier, my favourite make-up line, I booked an appointment. I used to be exclusively a Bobbi Brown devotee; the Bobbi Brown girls at Holt Renfrew were my go-to experts for years. But I shifted my allegiance to Laura Mercier when Nordstrom opened because of a lovely cosmetician named Katie, who I’ve written about before on the blog. Katie taught me how to “tight-line,” and how to properly use my highlighter powder, as well as giving me all kinds of skincare pointers. Despite wearing make-up for more than forty years, and even working for a stint on the Lancôme counter at Simpson’s back in the early eighties, I find there are always new techniques I can learn.

When Katia, who now manages the Laura Mercier line at Nordstrom, told me about their pre-Christmas make-over promotion, I was keen. I was interested in trying new eye-shadow colours in a neutral, soft palette which I could apply easily and simply for day, and layer more dramatically for evening. I thought I might move away from tight-lining, especially for travel, maybe get a liner pencil that would pack more easily. I was also looking for a blush that, applied to the apples of my cheeks, would brighten my face without looking too “rouge-y.”

Last Friday afternoon, I enjoyed a lovely couple of hours with these three ladies.That’s Diane on the left. Diane is the Laura Mercier rep for Eastern Canada, and a very talented make-up artist. In the middle is Fadumo, an experienced cosmetician who works these events for Laura Mercier. And that’s Katia on the right. Katia manages the LM counter at Nordstrom.

Diane, Fadumo, and Katia at the Laura Mercier counter in Nordstrom.

So what did I learn? Fadumo showed me how using eyebrow pencil doesn’t have to make you look like Nora Desmond, all it takes is feathered strokes, and brushing. I thought my brows looked good when she was finished, but I’m more comfortable with my angled brush and my “brow definer” which is a kind of gel/powder in a little pot. I’ve been using it for years now because I cannot make a pencil look natural.

I also loved what Fadumo did with my eye shadow. The new shadow colour (Fresco), which I purchased, goes beautifully with the shadows I already owned. At first, she tried a taupe liner pencil, but we all agreed that using a brush to tightline with my dark blue liner works better with the very neutral eyeshadow colours. I wrote a post about learning how to tight-line ages ago. You can read it here, but honestly this short You Tube video from Laura Mercier shows you much better. The key from what I’ve read, and from my own experience, is to make sure the liner is not too watery, and to apply at the base of the lashes and not in the water line where it will simply run into your eye. I have sensitive eyes and I’ve had no problem using this technique. I much prefer it to my old smudgy pencil.

Diane suggested the blush I’m wearing here and I love it. It looks dark in the compact, but isn’t when it’s applied. It gives me some much needed colour in my cheeks, brightening my face without looking like I’ve too much make-up on. And she showed me how to use the highlighter powder which I already owned to soften the colour if I want. Diane also chose the lipstick pencil I’m wearing. It’s quite dramatic here, maybe a better look for me for evening. But she explained how I can use it as a stain by applying it over my lip balm to give just a hint of added colour.

My Lucille Ball look-alike lips are maybe a bit too dramatic for me for day.

Here’s a look at the colour palette I’ll be using from now on.  For everyday, I’ll use the new Fresco eye shadow on my lid, the Baroque in the crease, and the Sandstone as a highlighter under my brow. I’m quite used to wearing three eye shadow colours. But if you’re not, I think I’d still love just the Fresco on the lid, and the Sandstone under the brow. I’ll probably do that when we’re travelling and I’m in a hurry in the morning. For evening I might add the Cafe Au Lait as a contour colour. I’ll stick with my Marine Bleu liner, but during the day I’ll apply it with a very light touch. I’ll ditch the Barely Pink blush for now in favour of the newly purchased Sangria. I need more colour in the winter. And I’ll soften it, if need be, with my Highlighter powder. The new matte lipstick I’ll use with my lipbalm most days, and on its own for evening, with a bit of gloss on the bottom lip, as Diane suggested.

My colour palette with new additions purchased last week.Yesterday, I hauled out my new purchases and did a test run. I love the eye shadow. It’s very neutral here, applied with a light hand, and I was pleased. I used my lip balm with just a smudge of the new lip colour and I like it. But I need more practice with the new blush. I applied it, and then practically erased all the colour with way too much highlighter powder. I look quite colourless in these shots. Is it the cream top and vest as opposed to the burgundy turtleneck in the earlier shots?  Maybe. I do know a little more pink in my cheeks would be good. I also know that I’ll get the hang of it eventually.
Selfie-taking can be down-right embarrassing. One should never take it too seriously.
You know, my relationship with make-up over the years hasn’t always been a love affair; sometimes it’s been challenging and sometimes even fraught. I wrote about that journey in this post a while ago. Since I’ve entered my sixties, aging skin, disappearing eye brows, and wrinkly lips have posed a whole new set of challenges. And since I’m not ready to sally forth each morning bare-faced, unless I’m lacing up my runners, pulling on my fishing boots, or strapping on my skis, I think I’d better learn some new tricks to tackle these new challenges.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not interested in having “a little work done,” as the euphemism goes. Not at all. I don’t want to deny that I’m sixty-two; I don’t want to erase the lines, or smooth out the crow’s feet. I just want to find the most flattering way to look a bit fresher, and more pulled together than I do when I roll out of bed. And I want to still feel smashing when I go to a party.

Which is kind of ironic. I’m having cataract surgery tomorrow. I know! And I won’t be able to wear eye make-up for two whole weeks. Which takes me right through all our Christmas party dates. And just as I’m learning some new make-up tricks. Drat. Still… as recompense there will be that ability to see clearly thing. That will be good.

Now have a look at the original trailer for one of our favourite British television shows. Old dogs learning new tricks. Hubby and I loved this show. We were sad when it ended.

P.S. Thanks to Diane, Katia, and Fadumo for a wonderful afternoon. I had such fun playing with make-up and yakking with you guys.

Now… what are you doing, my friends, make-up wise to deal with the challenges of aging? Any new tricks you want to share with the rest of us?


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From the archives


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39 thoughts on “New Tricks”

  1. Susan, I'm one of those women who doesn't go out in public with a bare face, either, even if it is just mascara on the top lashes! Now that I'm 52, I've noticed a difference in my eyebrows. I don't like the look of using a pencil, so I also use a small, stiff, angled brush. I think it looks much more natural. Believe it or not, I've never had a make-up counter session! Another thing I'm trying to re-learn is eye liner. I laughed at your Nora Desmond reference because I read that one of the things that "older" women do wrong with their make up is continue to use too much eye liner. It's tough. I still look back fondly to the eighties! -Jenn

    1. Too much of anything on aging skin is a problem as far as I'm concerned. Blush, eye-liner, lipstick, whatever. I look at the eighties fondly too… and laugh at my bright slashes of blush… but everyone was doing it that way. We thought it looked marvelous!

  2. Your makeup looks fantastic. I love the lipstick on you and think you could wear it during the day easily, it just takes some getting used to. I'm going to try that color next time I near a store. Good luck on your surgery today.

  3. Must admit I am not one to wear much make up; usually only blush and lip gloss. Part laziness and part allergies, I guess–haven't found a mascara that doesn't make my eyes itch or worse, make me look like a demented raccoon after a couple of hours. My eyes are large but deep-set (even more so with age), so it is almost pointless to use eye shadow. My eyebrows are mostly invisible under my hair which is probably why I forget about them. I've been blessed with pretty good skin which, as I near 70, is a saving grace.

    Though I never usually go out without at least blush and gloss, and always dressed neatly and accessorized with earrings and a scarf, I realized last week that in my hurry out the door to grocery shop (e.g. to get it over with asap), I had forgotten to put blush on. I carry lip gloss with me, so that wasn't a problem, but I ended up using the old "pinch your cheeks" to add some colour to my face. Let's just say, I will try not to forget blush the next time.

  4. I agree with you about the new lipstick. I prefer the brighter colours on you. For the eyebrow-challenged like myself, try microblading. It's a bit pricey but in the hands of a good professional is almost as effective as a surgical brow lift. I've just had mine done and so far so good.

  5. Beautiful make up and beautiful girls,all four of you
    At home, I have only cream
    Outside the house, I wear tinted SPF 50 Avene cream, blush (always in cream,now Chanel) ,concealer/highlighter under my eyes and lipstick (I love red or berry colours) with completely nude (colour of my skin) lip pencil.
    Sometimes a little Jane Iredale mineral loose powder ,when going out a little bit of shimmer under eyebrows
    No eye make up,mascara maybe three-four times a year,brows as they are
    A couple of times a year I tint my eyelashes and brows
    Good luck with your cataract surgery

    1. Thanks, Dottoressa. Under-eye concealer is a must for me as well. That's one technique I learned from the Bobbi Brown girls. That and darkening my eyebrows.

  6. Makeup is a go to whenever leaving the house but I use neutral colours and for day time a light hand…you just never know when you will bump into a former student! I will wear red lipstick when wearing black or red in an outfit! I select my makeup depending on how they test the products and the products must be cruelty free to animals. (Unfortunately, Laura Mercier has been acquired by Shiseido and is now inheriting Shiseido's animal testing policy which is not cruelty-free.) I've been using Urban Decay products and have been pleased with them. As I age (62) I must lip line my lips to prevent lipstick from travelling…especially when using a deeper shade. The new colours you have selected are delightful and very flattering on you…nice to have 'experts' in the makeup field spend time providing the how-to's to get your best look. Enjoy playing with the new colours after your two week makeup enforced break is over…wishing you a complete and quick recovery from the cataract surgery. Cheers, Alayne

    1. I must admit that I have no idea of the testing policies of the products I use…something that I used to be aware of years ago. Not sure how I lost track of that.

  7. You look gorgeous in your make-over photo! I think the new lip colour is lovely – but great that you can use it with lip balm to soften the look too. I have never developed the knack of doing my eyebrows properly – think Angry Birds! I have lots of good makeup, but find that my daily routine is mainly face cream with SPF, concealer and lipstick. Perhaps I should think about visiting a makeup counter for a session with an experienced cosmetician – it would be good to see how the pros do it and good to keep updated.

  8. I've always been a minimalist when it comes to makeup, but I won't leave the house without mascara and blush. I usually add a neutral eyeshadow and for a dressier look I'll also apply eyeliner and lipstick.

    Hope your surgery goes well! I'm sure you'll be happy to have that behind you.

  9. I'm a little lazy so I don't wear too much makeup, but I don't leave the house without doing my eye brows. Sometimes I add BB cream, mascara and lipstick. And to really dress it up, some neutral eye shadow. I'm naturally "rosie" so never use blush……
    Good luck with the surgery!
    Suz from Vancouver

  10. YOur makeup looks great. I had no idea what tight lining was or that it even existed, but I agree that if I tried it on the waterline (new word also) it would just run in my eyes. Question — what do you do for under eye circles?

    1. Thnaks, Lynn. I used to use Bobbi Brown under-eye concealer. But I bought the Laura Mercier one last week and I love it. Goes on like silk, covers shadows, and I can't even tell it's there.

  11. Your make-up is lovely. You're right about subtle changes. Have had a few scary experiences with makeovers. Good luck with your cataract surgery. Iris

  12. Hope all goes well with the cataract surgery. I have always enjoyed makeup and now with greying hair and pale skin need it even more but with a very light touch.

  13. I always pick up something great from your posts…Like that leather trimmed Vince charcoal sweater/coat we both own. I think you recommended the lid primer in "cotton" that I also now use. Will look into your Laura Mercier products. But, just to show you that I read the entire post, I am most psyched about your Brit Com recommendation of "New Tricks". We've just run through the entire Midsommer Series, Vera, Hamish MacBeth, Poirot and more and needed a fix. Thanks!

  14. Just thinking about your comment that you have worn make-up in public since you were in high school – what made you start wearing it at that point? Was everyone else wearing it/were you influenced by magazines/did all the women in your family wear make-up? I've read comments elsewhere that we European women (yes, I'm clinging on to being European despite Brexit) wear less make up than our North American counterparts. From your travels, do you think that's true? Here in Scotland most of my female friends of all ages wear very little or no make-up for everyday, but that's just my tribe. For myself, I only wear under-eye concealer and a little lipstick (never a gloss), with a very light application of Elizabeth Arden CC cream in winter. Mascara makes me feel that my eyes are exploding, eyeliner turns me into an alien (I own neither of these) and eyeshadow frightens me when I look in the mirror. Nail polish makes my fingers feel like they're suffocating. At just on 60 my eyebrows are still very much there and dark, despite my grey hair. Not rich pickings for make-up counter consultants! New Tricks is lovely – my husband's favourite unwinding after a stressful week TV.
    All the very best with your surgery.

    1. I'd say it was the influence of my mother and sisters. I wrote about that last year, my journey with make-up. I only occasionally read magazines back then, but I was influenced by some tv shows. I remember the Mary Tyler Moore Show, and her outfits very clearly.
      I've had a few friends over the years who come from England, and I observed that perfect hair was less of a consideration, and lipstick always worn. Less so with eye-make-up. Not sure if that is in any way universal, though. I did, however, notice that women in Italy wear much more makeup than I see on women here in Canada. Those are my not very scientific observations… 🙂

  15. Fingers crossed this publishes and doesn’t disappear again! 🙂

    Love your new make up colours, especially the lipstick … great shade for you!
    I occasionally, usually in Switzerland, go out just wearing sunscreen and a little cream blush. Otherwise it’s tinted moisturiser, cream blush, mascara and lip balm or a lipstick that’s the same tone as my lips. Oh and I need to define my eyebrows otherwise they’re almost invisible! Thanks to your advice, I have tried tigh lining and I really like the results. I often go out, especially in the early morning without mascara but then I catch a glimp of my face under the bright shop lights and realise that I look as though I need a good nights sleep. 🙂
    Take care Sue, wishing you a speedy recovery.
    Rosie xxx

    1. Sorry you're having trouble with commenting, Rosie. I also need mascara or my eyelashes disappear. Redhead's colouring means no lash colour.
      Feeling much better, no nausea, but still sensitive to light… with snow on the ground I'm closing the blinds when it's sunny. Stu suggested wearing my sunglasses in the house:)

  16. I have trouble getting my eyebrows to look natural so perhaps I'll take a look at Laura Mercier's. I do love her fine as frog's hair (a Texas colloquialism) powder that sets under eye concealer to keep it from creasing. For a long time I wouldn't wear it because I feared powder there would make me look older, but you can't see it! Sign me up for cataract surgery as well… At least that's what I think my problem is. I have an appointment in January to check it out. Hope you're recovering well. xoxox, Brenda

  17. I wish I could go foundation/concealer free, but I have the dreaded broken capillaries & rosacea. I'm going for my 2nd laser session in January. It helps so much to keep them from multiplying too much. My dad had the same skin conditions which I inherited. Of course my mom had beautiful skin which I did not inherit! haha Also regarding eyebrows, mine were once decent but they are so thin now even though I haven't plucked in years! Discouraging,as I love the big, bold brows young women are sporting these days.

  18. In the past couple of years, I've been going out in the morning to run errands with nothing but sunscreen on my face. I'm now very used to it! For years, though, I would put a full face on every morning, even when my kids were newborns! Once I turned 60, I think I just wanted to get out the door! lol But I always put on a bit of makeup when my husband and I go anywhere. My eyebrows have almost completely disappeared nowdays, so adding those in with some eyebrow powder (my favorite is by ELF!)takes a few years off my face and makes me feel a bit more together. A little tinted moisturizer, eyeliner, and some lipgloss (and sometimes a little blush) are about all I do these days. But I did wear foundation for my daughter's wedding a few weeks ago! I like the lipstick color on you!

  19. I don't leave the house without makeup, except if I'm working in my own garden, and even then I'll often have on a tinted sunscreen, lip gloss, mascara, and eyebrows!!! Heaven forbid anyone might stop by and see me out on my tractor cutting the grass without makeup, ha ha!! Now that I'm 50 I am definitely struggling with keeping my makeup looking fresh for the whole day at work, it's frustrating. Even with primer, it still looks clumpy by mid day, I'm not sure what I should be doing to keep my foundation looking good. I guess I'll just keep touching up after lunch! You look great, by the way, and I love the darker lipstick color on you. Glad I found your blog!

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