Glitter. Glamour. Sparkle. Gold. Silver. Shimmer. How much do I love thee? My love for the twinkly knows no bounds, especially when it comes to eyeshadows. This magpie-like desire shows no sign of abating as I age. In fact, quite the opposite.
Before we went into lockdown, I spent the day with my goddaughter – we did our nails (every digit a different colour, since you ask) and then we moved on to make up. Pink, cerise, mauve, gold and metal grey featured, there was one helluva lot of glittery eye makeup on offer. Full faces on, we looked fab-u-lous! Did I mention she is eight and I am 53?
Jane wears Hourglass Scattered Light Glitter Eyeshadow Pot in Ray £28
The received wisdom is that mature skins just shouldn't 'do' glitter, that as you age you need to ‘calm down’, ‘take it down a notch’ and ‘play it safe’. I could not disagree more. My modus operandi is that as you age you become more YOU and love the things you always have with even more passion and positivity. Add to that the fact that I couldn’t give a rat’s about what others think anymore and that I have confidence that comes with understanding our mortality (sadly in your fifties, funerals become more common than weddings).
There’s a joy in realising that you can just be yourself, undiminished, never hiding one’s light under a bushel and just laugh-out-loud fantabulous. Hurrah! Take it down a notch? Not me. Happily, today’s wonderfully sophisticated makeup formulations, from both the higher spend threshold and the cheaper high street brands – are all on the up and up quality-wise and make it possible to do glitter with grown-up glamour.
The modern formulations glide over imperfections, unlike the shades yesteryear which fell into creases at dawn and stayed there til dusk. “Eye shadow formulations are so finely milled nowadays, so soft and easy to use that you get longer wear, easy blending, no creasing and true colour,” explains celebrity makeup artist SJ Froom (who by the way does a great eye look on her mum in this video below with a By Terry glittery pencil) who has made up the glamourous faces of Naomi Campbell, Adwoa Aboah and Alexa Chung among others.
How to apply glitter eyeshadow
“Sweep on a base shadow in a neutral colour which acts as your primer, then follow with your sparkler onto the edges using a fluffy brush. Then for extra oomph (for the evening especially) use your finger and sweep across the lid. Quick, easy, no fuss, no need for endless blending or work,” SJ explains.
It’s simple to add layers and build a bold look – which happens to be my favourite. At the moment I’m loving an emerald green or mauve jolt. Eyeshadow formulations today are so sophisticated it matters not whether it’s in pencil or stick form, powder or cream – you just have to find the right shade for your eyes to stand out. If the idea of cream is off-putting and you worry that it will stray to cracks and sit there – put your foundation also over the lid of your eye and set with powder prior to application.
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I always pop a highlighter just under my brow and on the top of my cheekbones too which “frame” eyes also. In terms of big bold attitude to powder and paint you cannot beat the great Pat McGrath who never met a bingo bright or spangly sparkle she didn’t like, her Instagram is a genuine Glitterati inspiration.
When I'm wearing “hello me” colours on my eyes I tend to leave the rest of my face quite naturally enhanced rather than competing with my eye shades. So an apricot blush on my cheeks ( Nars Orgasm , £25 is hard to beat), and a nude lip of the Bardot-look-pout variety. I use both hi and lo – Rimmel colours are amazingly pigmentated and a sure-fire happy beauty hit to be found on every high street, but if I’m feeling flush Kevyn Aucoin shades are second to none. You do have to experiment to find your perfect nude lip and it’s dependent on your mouth colour; I favour a pinky beige but darker skins may need a deeper pigment to offer the right amount of coverage, ditto lighter skins need more pink less beige.
How to wear glitter on mature eyes
I know I know – glitter sounds scary. It is probably just a steer -clear of purchase. But, while this is understandably safe behaviour I am here to tell you it’s holding you back from your beautiful best. Promise. Wearing major eyes at night is especially effective, I get asked all the time to share my “what have you put on?” secrets. Obviously right now we are all in need of a cheer-up and I find making up an absolute tonic. I don’t put on full slap daily but I give myself a dose when I am in need, say every couple of days. Bring on the Sauvignon and sparkles and it can totally transform your mood before cheering for our carers and banging on your saucepans!
I also think glitter really highlights the colour of your eyes, so even if you have a sprinkling of crows’ feet, who cares? Your peepers look ‘alive’ and luminous: ‘les yeux lumineux’ as the saying goes. SJ agrees: “Glitter shadows are literally jewels in a jar.” And you can build them up or keep them pared back according to how you are feeling.
But, as I always say, why hold back? Instead, get in touch with your inner joy and simply ask: What would Dolly Parton do?
My pick of the best glitter eyeshadow for mature eyes