With my 50th birthday 15 months away, I’ve become all too aware of the trap a woman can find herself in. Looking good for your age is now an expectation as Botox, fillers and skin-tightening lasers have become commonplace. And yet there is a fine line between a smattering of baby Botox to soften creases and a swollen face full of filler – one that is tricky to tread.
As a mother to 17-year-old twins in their final year of A-levels, the thought of an empty nest coinciding with the big 5-0 has brought about a pang of panic that unkindly coincides with perimenopause.
Once upon a time, a confidence crisis like this was easily abated with a slick of bright lipstick or a well groomed brow. But my skills with a make-up brush have gone the same way as my tolerance for wearing heels and my stamina in the gym.
Enter Lisa Eldridge, make-up artist to a gaggle of elegant over-40s celebrities including Kate Winslet, Nicole Kidman and Claudia Schiffer, and the make-up wizard behind some of the world’s most famous magazine images. A YouTuber for my generation, Eldridge’s online make-up tutorials have accrued more than 233 million views, culminating in the launch of her own beauty collection, from her sell-out Seamless Skin Foundation to her perfectly pigmented True Velvet Lip Colours, worn on screen by actresses including Claire Foy in A Very British Scandal.
Eldridge is here to give me a masterclass in make-up sculpting, a talent I’m keen to master as it’s unquestionably the most affordable way to feel better about how you look. What I’m learning is that the notion of make-up being ageing is a myth based on poorly applied colour in archaic textures that no longer exist.
On the contrary, even inexpensive brands now boast high-tech formulations in a wide range of undertones, making even the boldest of hues flattering at any age – if you know how to apply your make-up correctly. As Eldridge says, it’s not always the colours you’re wearing, but how well they’re blended that makes for an ageless finish.
From sculpting your face with concealer to lifting hooded eyes with smokey eyeshadow, Lisa Eldridge demonstrates the face-lifting make-up secrets that every woman over 40 needs to know...
Eldridge insists smoky eyeshadow not only hides a multitude of sins, but gives the eyes more impact. Still, for a seamless effect she suggests building up in layers beginning with a neutral base followed by a mix of brown and black. “Always begin with a shade similar to your skin colour which you can then build on” she says.
From there, she applies a deep chocolate brown shadow just above my socket using a small brush in circular motions, followed by “a little bit of black” for impact, before applying a liquid eyeliner on the top lash line, followed by a softer gel pencil in a deep burgundy shade inside the upper water line to make the eyes pop. Now you can add highlights of colour depending on your eye colour – Eldridge chooses copper to complement my green eyes.
The key to it all looking seamless, however, is blending. “Always have a clean brush to hand to blend in the pigment after every layer – it’s the secret to a professional finish,” says Eldridge. As for my eyelashes, she curls them and applies black mascara, focusing on the roots of the lashes. When the mascara is on, Eldridge applies a few last touches to the eyeshadow – she adds a tad more black at the outer corners for an added lift.
In the bag: Lancome Hypnôse Drama Eyeshadow Palette in shades 14 Smokey Chic, and 18 Nude Sculptural, £33.75 each, Look Fantastic; Lisa Eldridge Liquid Lurex in shades Lauren and Diana, £19 each, Lisa Eldridge; Lancome Lash Idole Mascara, £24, Boots; Hindash Heroline Liner, £19.50, Cult Beauty; Victoria Beckham Satin Kajal Eye Pencil in shade Bordeaux, £22, Victoria Beckham Beauty
My expertise with base goes as far as applying a golden toned foundation (to counteract redness) with a beauty blender along with an undereye concealer two shades lighter than my base to illuminate the eye area. But Eldridge shows me how to sculpt starting with skincare.
After cleansing my face and applying moisturiser, she uses two metal massage tools straight out of the freezer to depuff and tighten underneath my eyes and along my jawline. Next, she uses a fluffy brush to blend the foundation lightly all over using soft circular motions that give a second skin effect, being careful not to apply too much.
While it is considered brightening to use a lighter shade of concealer underneath the eyes, Eldridge warns people against going too bright; instead use a combination of colour corrector, in my case Eldridge chooses a peachy shade, with concealer dotted carefully where needed, such as on the outer and inner corners of the eyes, between the brows and on the bridge of the nose. On my lower face, Eldridge shows me how a little bit of concealer added to the outer corner of my mouth and below the cheeks can lift my bone structure considerably.
In the bag: Lisa Eldridge Seamless Skin Foundation in shade 11, £44, Lisa Eldridge; Estee Lauder Double Wear Radiant Concealer in shade 2N, £27, Boots; NARS Radiant Creamy Colour Corrector, £24, Look Fantastic
Contouring feels out of step with the natural look I’ve honed up until this point, but Eldridge insists that as long as it is used in the right places and blended well, this can be a brilliant trick for softening jowls and elevating the top half of the face. She uses a cream contour stick on my face but says powders can be a great alternative that’s less intimidating for beginners.
Instead of drawing a contour too low, which “only pulls the face down,” she recommends drawing a short line at the very outer corner of the face, near the ears, and blending upwards in soft motions – not downwards which will have the opposite effect. Next, she draws along my jawline and down onto my neck to create a soft shadow that helps to define a wobbly jowl area. A few dots of highlighter on the tops of the cheekbones and diffused into my skin helps to reflect light.
Blush is the last step to bring rosiness to the face, which Eldridge applies lightly and sparingly onto the apples of the cheeks for an invisible pop of colour.
In the bag: Fenty Beauty Match Matte Skinstick, £23, Boots; Kevyn Aucoin The Sculpting Powder in shade Light, £23, Look Fantastic; Lisa Eldridge Elevated Glow Highlighter in Crystal Nebula, £27, Lisa Eldridge; Chanel Joues Contraste Powder Blush in shade Rose Initial, £38, John Lewis
As someone who has a full pout already, I’ve tended to skip lip liner, yet Eldridge proves that it makes lips appear fuller and can elevate the face. Lip liner should never look hard, she explains – so avoid making bold strokes.
Demonstrating the best technique to use on me, Eldridge uses soft feathery circles that gravitate onto the body of the lip to create a fuller outline without any hard edges. The key is to take your time and build up the shape slowly, which emphasises or cheats a full mouth and subtly lifts the top lip, which can droop with age.
For the colour, Eldridge goes for a hue that’s a slightly bolder shade to my own lips,and finishes with a pop of non sparkly gloss for a subtle shine.
In the bag: Lisa Eldridge Luxuriously Lucent Lipstick in shade Kitten Mischief, £26, Lisa Eldridge; Victoria Beckham Lip Definer in shade 2, £20, Victoria Beckham Beauty; Lisa Eldridge Gloss Embrace in shade Songbird, £18, Lisa Eldridge
Photographs by Mateusz Sitek; Make-up by Lisa Eldridge; Hair by Samuel Broadbent at Hershesons; Annabel wears Wyse Rae Ruffle Sleeve Top, £150, (wyselondon.com)