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You can hide in plain sight behind fabulous frames, get an eye job or even prop up your peepers with Botox, but you can't escape genetics, gravity and the loss of collagen and elastin forever. Why not make like a celebrity and embrace eye makeup as your new BFF? Learn to fake away bags, sags, puffs and circles in 10 steps and 10 minutes. And remember: Practice makes perfect.
1. Prep. Do you love the invisible boost of Spanx, a deluxe memory-foam mattress pad and gel inserts for your pumps? A targeted cream, gel or mask for your eyes works the same way. Choose one infused with ingredients such as hyaluronic acid to plump up lines, botanical extracts to soothe, vitamin C or retinol to brighten and firm, or caffeine to reduce puffiness. It's why savvy stars arrive on set wearing Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Hydra-Gel Eye Patches or Rodial Dragon's Blood Eye Masks under their big dark sunglasses.
2. Prime above. Whether you use an actual eye primer or swap in a cream shadow as a stand-in, makeup will glide on with zero creasing, patchiness or fade-out later. Red or discolored lids (dark lids are as common as under-eye circles after 50) benefit from the coverage and correction of a tinted primer or cream shadow in a peach, warm beige, honey or amber shade, such as Revlon ColorStay Creme Eye Shadow or Laura Mercier Caviar Stick Eye Shadow, to keep makeup application true to shade. It can even take the place of powder shadow.
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3. Brighten below. Face it. Our eyes reveal stress, sadness and lack of sleep. Who wants to hear, "You look tired!"? Apply a creamy, warm, peachy-based concealer one shade lighter than your skin tone in a wide half-moon, from the inner to outer corner, directly below the lower lids, in order to cancel out dark circles and to wake up your eyes and face fast. If it looks too white, go a shade darker; if it feels too yellow or doesn't brighten enough, go a shade lighter. Tap edges with your fingertips for a seamless look.
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4. Define shape. Bring on the blackest gel pencil liner to power up your eyes. Apply it in small back-and-forth strokes between the upper lashes at the eyelash roots. (Gel pencils are amazingly resistant to smears if your eyes tend to water.) Stroke the pencil more delicately along the bottom lids, from the outer corner inward, three-quarters of the way ... fading out rather than an abrupt cutoff. If the top or bottom line seems wiggly, uneven or messy, smudge the line gently with a sponge-tip applicator to blur the edges, and go back over obvious areas with a clean Q-tip.
5. Double or triple line. Next, face the mirror chin up and place a finger on the brow bone to gently expose the inner rim of the eye under the upper lashes. Line the inner rim in short back-and-forth strokes, too. A black gel liner used above and beneath the lashes really makes your eyes pop and restores definition to saggy, crepey or hooded lids. This is not a look for everyone — skip if you have watery eyes or red eyes — but lining the inner lower rims can really add extra drama ... even for daytime. Though for the evening, it's a major win.
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6. Bring out eye color with shadow. Stick with neutral shadow palettes in a warm or cool range, depending on your eye color. Cool eyes (blue, gray, green) stand out in warm colors, while warm eyes (brown, hazel) blaze in cool colors. The contrast works, and neutral shades in the brown or gray range never look overdone.
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7. Customize color. Choose palettes with a mix of light to dark shades and a variety of textures, including matte, satin and shimmery. Mix, blend and layer to build color, to create an endless shade range and for a crisp, clean look or a smoky eye in several ways. Try the Rimmel Magnif'Eyes Shadow Palettes or the CoverGirl TruNaked Eye Shadow Palettes for daily use. And for extra glam, try the Urban Decay Naked Heat Palette or NARS NARSissist Loaded Palette.
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8. Contour the crease. Contour your eye crease by blending a medium shade in a cool or warm gray- or brown-based palette over the entire lid — from lashes to crease. Then brush the same color up and above the crease in an arc, using a windshield wiper motion. You should see the color when looking straight ahead into a mirror. This trick pushes back the fleshy overhang just enough to create the illusion of depth and dimension so that your eyes appear firmly sculpted. Don’t go too far up onto the brow bone or near the brows.
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9. Lash up. Curl your lashes to open your eyes and counteract sag. Front-load your mascara-depositing more at the roots of the lashes, not the tips, in an inky-black shade. Start at the very roots of the lashes so that there are no gaps between the mascara and the upper inner rims (now lined). Roll the brush up in a wiggling back-and-forth movement to saturate lashes. Feeling adventurous? Learn to do a strip of fake lashes. Any celebrity will tell you that they amplify eyes and work like fluttery awnings.
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10. Define brows. Brows anchor your face and frame your eyes for extra attention. Fill and extend the brows with a fine-tipped pencil in a shade from taupe to brown. One thing to note: Our faces become more asymmetrical with age. Don't try to match sets of brows and eyes exactly. The imperfection (one brow higher or thicker, one eye more hooded or narrow) adds personality and character.
For more beauty and style tips for women age 50-plus, check out The Woman's Wakeup: How to Shake Up Your Looks, Life and Love by Lois Joy Johnson, and AARP's Beauty & Style issue.