Fed up with ageist assumptions in the beauty industry, Tricia Cusden launched her own makeup brand at the age of 68. Five years on, business is booming and she’s a Youtube star. Here she tells us how to create beautiful eye makeup on older faces
When you conjure up an image of a Youtube makeup ‘influencer’, we’ll wager you’re imagining a fresh-faced, possibly contour heavy millennial who’s partial to a ‘hack’ tutorial and the odd candy hued highlighter. Nothing wrong with that, but the beauty blogger/ vlogger stereotypes can cloud the landscape in terms of what’s really out there, namely smart, beauty and business savvy women with real wisdom, insight and passion to share. One such woman is Tricia Cusden, the Look Fabulous Forever founder whose makeup range is tailored to the needs and desires of older women, without patronising them, and whose website and Youtube channel discuss everything from party makeup to anxiety in old age, with regular street style snaps of chic, mature women.
Tricia can add author to her already multi-hyphenate career portfolio, as she recently published Living The Life More Fabulous , a beauty style, confidence and health guide for older women that will be released in paperback this September. While it takes in so much more than makeup, cosmetics are Cusden’s long-term love, and making makeup not only relevant to older women, but an empowering tool to boost wellbeing and prevent women becoming ‘lost’ as they age, is a key theme in the book.
Speaking of which, changes around the eye area can be some of the most significant in terms of physically noticeable shifts that occur on your face over the years. If you’ve noticed that your eyes have changed shape, that skin laxity has increased dramatically or that makeup that you previously loved somehow isn’t working any longer, you’re not alone, but Tricia is determined that you needn’t give up, stab around in the dark or resort to cosmetic surgery to fall back in love with your features. Makeup can be more transformative than many women realise, as Tricia explains:
“I believe that older faces actually need makeup more than younger ones, however, they don’t need more makeup per se, just the right makeup applied in the right way. The biggest difference between a young face and an older one is the loss of contrast between the features and the surrounding facial skin.
“As we get older we gradually lose melanin which results in a general ‘fading’, so that slowly but surely we have much less colour in our eyebrows, eye area, cheeks and lips. The brilliant news is that all this ‘fading’ can quickly and easily be corrected with makeup, so this is the primary benefit of applying colour cosmetics to your face.”
Given that our eyes are are so communicative, yet tend to be the trickiest feature to master in the makeup stakes, this column is dedicated to the windows of your soul. Here’s Tricia’s guide to bringing your eyes to the fore, making makeup stay put and what to avoid.
Why do so many older women avoid eye makeup?
“Eye makeup is probably the most challenging aspect of makeup for the majority of older women. We came of age wearing a lot of the black stuff around our eyes with deathly pale lips and we loved the way it made us look sultry and smouldering like Brigitte Bardot (we wished!), or arty and intellectual like Juliette Gréco. Above all, we didn’t want to look remotely like our mothers with their ‘powdered noses’ and matte red lips.
“Now we are older ourselves, many of us shy away from applying eye makeup for fear of looking like some tragic old pantomime dame desperately clinging onto our youth. The only real dame who pulls off the trick of looking good with heavily made-up black-rimmed eyes and lashings of volumising mascara on top of false eyelashes is Joan Collins, but she is a force of nature and is above reproof. The other dame who comes to mind is Barbara Cartland, the romantic novelist, who also went for rather less successful dramatic eye makeup in her eighties.”
How to prep your eye makeup
“One of the biggest problems with older eyelids is that eye makeup doesn’t stay put. I often see my contemporaries with messy, ragged black lines around their eyes because they have tried to replicate the solid neat black lines which young women achieve on their perfectly smooth, wrinkle-free eyelids with liquid or gel liners. Fortunately, you can easily improve the look of eye makeup on a thinner, crepey eyelid by applying a flesh-coloured eye primer. This will smooth the skin and neutralise any discolouration there may be. I apply a very fine layer of eye primer to my eyelid every day with a similar brush to the one I use for concealer and then allow it to dry thoroughly.”
Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion Anti-Ageing , £19.50 for 10ml
A smoothing, putty coloured eye base that creates a seamless finish from the get-go and gives all eyeshadow textures greater longevity. It makes eyes look brighter when worn alone too. For a natural result on dark skin tones, choose Eye Primer Potion in Caffeine.
This dense yet soft synthetic blender does double duty for concealer and eye primer, buffing both into skin without any telltale lines or edges.
How to make sure your eye makeup suits you
“Makeup can reshape the eyes in quite dramatic ways. My eyes used to be almond shaped but are now smaller and more round. I preferred them the way they were, so I use eye makeup to restore their former shape and size as much as I can. Start by assessing your eyes in a mirror. Look at the shape and size of your eyes and how they are set into the eye socket. Hooded eyes will have no discernible socket line, while deep-set eyes will have a very dark and defined socket line. Maybe your lashes are sparse and short at the top and practically non-existent on the bottom lid. If you are lucky there will be three clearly defined areas: a brow bone, a socket line and an eyelid. The whole eye is framed at the top by the brow and at the bottom by the lower lashes.”
Why matte eyeshadow is all you need
“My suggestion is that you always use completely matte eye shadows, which will add colour and shading without drawing attention to the creases on your lids, unlike frosted or shimmery shadows.”
Your mature eye makeup masterclass
“I suggest that you start with very soft colours in neutral tones like grey, cream and taupe. The simplest eye makeup that you can do is to apply a pale eyeshadow to the lid and then take a complementary darker shadow and apply a very fine line of this colour to the lash line using a small wedge-shaped brush. For instance, I would team cream with cocoa brown, pale grey with charcoal grey, taupe with dark green or dark purple.
“Don’t aim for perfection, just push the darker shade into the base of the lashes with the brush and sweep the colour up and away at the outer edge. You could leave it there or take a mid-tone colour and add some shading into the socket line. Then blend all three shadows with a clean eyeshadow brush to create a pretty, slightly smoky effect. I also apply a soft line of shadow along my lower eyelashes too, however, this needs to be done smudgily rather than as a solid jet-black line.”
With a ‘warm; and ‘cool’ palette to create daytime neutrals or a statement smokey eye, this matte eyeshadow trio allows for smooth, non-jarring transition between shades (no blockiness) and blend out beautifully so that people see your eyes before your makeup. Always preferable but often difficult to achieve with eyeshadow in particular.
Copy VB's trademark smoky eye with this sunset hues palette of five matte shades. Terracotta and deep plum blend beautifully together for a new take on neutral that works perfectly in both summer and autumn.
Beauty Pie ten matte shade palette , £35 or £10.16 for members
Ten nude and natural shades make up this slim palette that's petite enough to pop in your handbag for touch ups on the go. Turn to the right-hand shades to amp up the glamour for evening wear, or rock the lighter hues daily. The formulas are non-crease and creamy and last all day long. Not a member of Beauty Pie? Join using code GTGSENTME and get an extra £50 to spend.
This collection of eight velvety shades delivers long-lasting, comfortable wear with hues that look fab alone or when blended together. The two big pans in the palettes are base shades to make sure the colours really pop.
Generously sized pans of velvety matte shadow in understated colourways, as the name implies. Warm and cool chocolates create definition on all skintones, while a light mauve makes green and brown eyes shine in particular. A bargain, and wearable day in, day out.
I’m a longtime devotee of Zoeva eyeshadow- they’re relatively inexpensive yet rich and easy to blend out. This ten pan palette looks a bit Sin City if you simply take in the packaging (it’s urban-inspired), but the shades within take you from subtle creams and browns to burgundy and, at the more extreme end, orange. Which somehow looks super cool when worn in moderation and buffed in without any hard edges. This palette is also very lightweight- if you need makeup on the go but crave the choice that’d normally be open to you at home, it’s a neat shadow solution.
Speaking of choice, this 35 piece shadow vault has a colour for every occasion, but it veers towards warm undertones- think peaches and cream, cocoas and terracottas. Lightly blend darker shades around the crease and outer corners of the eye to open up the face and make eyes appear wider.
MAC Pro Longwear Paint Pot, £16.50
If you prefer a creamy texture but are concerned about colour gathering in creases, get your paws into a Paint Pot. Groundwork is a caramel brown shade that is nothing short of iconic- it suits almost everyone, and smudging it on with a brush or a finger post-primer is as technical as it needs to get. Not all of the colours are matte, so perhaps peruse your local MAC counter for a close-up, but none contain too much glitz either so whatever you go for you’re safe from high shimmer.
MAC 127 Blending Brush, £16.80
Possibly the most iconic makeup brush on the planet , there’s barely a makeup artist I’ve met who doesn’t have this neat eyeshadow blender in their brush roll. It picks up the perfect amount of product and blends powder and cream textures flawlessly, so you’re getting your money’s worth.
Zoeva Luxe Shader Brush, £10
Another practical multitasker, this compact shadow brush is brilliant when it comes to close-up blending and taking shadow along the lashline- it creates a smudge, but never a mess.
The non-matte exception
“If you feel that matte shadows look rather dull, especially for an evening look, try a slightly shiny cream smoother such as LFF Lid Colour , £19. More glimmery shadows such as this can be used across the whole lid or just the inner third of the eyelid in a colour that enhances your eyes. I apply them after I’ve applied shadow to the socket line with a small stiff brush.”
Hooded eyes? Here are the best makeup tips and techniques to make the most of your natural eye shape