Aging is the one thing that literally none of us have any control over whatsoever. We're all going to get old. That's a fact of life. And yet for many women, the prospect of aging is absolutely terrifying.
Of course, women don't want to find the fountain of youth and achieve immortality (well, not all women). Their real concern is the mere appearance of aging, and consumers are willing to pay big dollars to hide the fact that they, too, are vulnerable to the effects of biology.
How much exactly? Well, let's just say there's a reason the global anti-aging industry is estimated to be worth $191.7 billion by 2019.
You don't have to be familiar with that number to know that makeup companies have cottoned onto something big. Have you seen the price of a good concealer these days?
The most important thing for yourself is to buy what's good for your skin and health, and not buy into the idea that you're anything but beautiful at whatever age you are.
Makeup artist Steph Elkington knows a thing or two about the industry. She's worked in it for five years, and she knows all too well the tricks used by major makeup companies to keep women invested in products.
"I think that aging is undoubtedly the greatest marketing tool there is as people want to maintain their health, which is linked to youth," she says. "And youth is linked to being attractive by most standards."
It's a depressing reality, but it's unavoidable. As women pour more and more of their paychecks into the beauty industry, there's one question that few of us are actually addressing: Does any of this anti-aging stuff actually work?
According to Elkington, yes—but there's more to it than that.
"Anti-aging products can and do work but I think there's such an influx of them all the time that it's hard to know what works and what's just a fad," she says.
So what does work? And more importantly, what should we be avoiding?
When it comes to makeup mistakes that age you, there are five common mistakes that most women are guilty of. Hint: It's got nothing to do with how you apply your eyeliner.
Mistake 1: Not Investing in Skincare
Even expert-level makeup application is useless without the proper canvas—your skin. It's our body's largest organ, and it often reflects externally what's going on internally—or at least, it can give that impression. Ever wonder why especially pale women get asked if they're sick all the time? Exactly.
Makeup can be used to express yourself, but it can also be used to conceal. And this is where the problem can lie. Covering dull, dry skin with a thick layer of foundation is only a bandage solution, and it's not going to make you look any more radiant in the long-run. You can't mask dehydration with highlighter, no matter how dewy.
The best way to let that inner light shine? Turn it on, of course! Fuel your body with whole, healthy foods, include plenty of healthy fats. As if we needed an excuse to eat more avocado.
Don't forget to drink plenty of water, either. Forget what you might have heard about eight cups a day. The Mayo Clinic recommends women have around 11.5 cups of water every day for optimum health. Trust us, your skin will thank you.
Developing a skincare regimen that best suits your skin is another important step to not only being a proper adult, but achieving some seriously great skin days.
"The most important thing for your skin and maintaining your skin as anyone of any age is to understand what it needs, what skin type you are and find a few products that take care of it," says Elkington. "Visit a dermatologist and get advice! Always wear sunscreen!"
Mistake 2: Relying on Built-in SPF
Yes, your mother was right about sunscreen. Not only does sun exposure increase your risk of cancer, but it causes some nasty damage to your skin. Hello, wrinkles!
Think the SPF in your BB creme is enough to protect you? Wrong. Products like moisturizers (both tinted and un-tinted) and BB or CC cremes often come with an inbuilt SPF factor, but they're not nearly as effective as applying actual sunscreen.
But why? Well, think about how you apply sunscreen at the beach. You more than likely slather it on and reapply it after a few hours (and if you aren't reapplying, you should be). But do you apply your beauty products this way? No. Chances are, you apply one pea-sized amount of SPF-containing product to your entire face in the morning.
Not only are you applying less actual product to your skin, but that SPF factor has worn off after a few hours—leaving you exposed to the elements. Include a standalone sunscreen in your daily makeup routine, and try to either reapply later in the day or avoid the sun. There's never been a better time to justify buying that extravagant hat.
Mistake 3: Using Products with Damaging Ingredients
There's a lot of debate about what should be avoided when it comes to makeup, with many proponents of all-natural products arguing that some chemicals can even cause cancer. Considering makeup is often absorbed by the skin, or inhaled and even ingested when applied, that's pretty concerning.
If this is to be believed, then what's in those anti-aging products might just accelerate the aging process in a far more sinister way.
Organizations like the Environmental Working Group assess common beauty products and their ingredients and rate how hazardous they may be to your health. Particularly concerning ingredients include parabens, sodium laureth sulfate, and the ambiguously named parfum (which can actually include a whole litany of ingredients).
Anything developed from a scientific point of view and not a big name brand usually have great effects.
If you're more concerned with an ingredient's effectiveness than its chemicals, then you might want to be wary of any big claims made by makeup companies. Elkington says these "miracle" ingredients are often nothing more than a marketing ploy. Instead, look to science.
"Anything developed from a scientific point of view and not a big name brand usually have great effects; or something developed by a makeup artist will be for the benefit of your skin, not simply your wrinkles," she says. "Natural oils and acids are what to look for more than 'essence of unicorn, baby skin extract, some fruit in the jungle has just been discovered and will make you 10 years younger and not as insecure as we're trying to make you feel'."
Mistake 4: Improper Application
Now that you've sorted out your makeup bag, you should probably reassess how you apply those products.
You might think that hiding the signs of aging under enough layers of foundation is the perfect con, but it actually makes you look older. Heavy foundation will settle into the lines of your face and accentuate them. Similarly, too much powder can make the skin appear dry and dull.
Try opting for a lighter base instead. Remember, wrinkles aren't something to be ashamed of—they're a sign of a life well-lived. There's no need to try and wipe evidence of their existence from our face completely.
It's also important to apply makeup gently rather than attacking your face with that damp beauty blender. Getting aggressive with your skin will only traumatize it and actually cause wrinkles, especially around the eye area.
Mistake 5: Playing It Safe
When should you stop wearing winged eyeliner? How about highlighter? Or Contouring?
Don't buy into the idea that you're anything but beautiful at whatever age you are.
The answer to all of these is, whenever you can't be bothered to do these things anymore. Sticking to a limited amount of "age-appropriate" makeup looks is only going to reinforce to you and the rest of the world that you're giving into the beauty industry's idea of what "age appropriate" is—and that idea is kind of ridiculous.
Elkington doesn't believe any beauty look should be "off-limits". She says that she's done any number of makeup looks on her more "mature" clients, and they've all looked great.
"Women particularly have that classic old societal pressure to remain a certain way and 'take care' of themselves," says Elkington. "I hear a lot of clients over the age of 35 lamenting on how 'old' they are. Which is a little distressing as it's like they don't value their age or wisdom. They're just giving into the marketing that being older is basically wasting away and running out of time, particularly where your looks are concerned."
At the end of the day, would you rather base your beauty routine on a multi-billion dollar industry's expectations of their consumer, or what makes you feel good?
The world of makeup can be confusing, and it's hard to tell genuine advice from a marketing ploy. But Elkington has some final advice for makeup lovers of any age:
"The most important thing for yourself is to buy what's good for your skin and health, and not buy into the idea that you're anything but beautiful at whatever age you are."