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PLASTIC surgery became a little less attractive recently when 54-year-old author Olivia Goldsmith died of complications after undergoing a "neck lift."
Luckily, knives and needles aren't the only ways to shave off the years. That's what cosmetics are for - if you know how to use them.
"When you hit a certain age, the things you've done before don't apply," says makeup artist Robin Narvaez of Manhattan's Borja Color Studio. "You need to learn new tricks."
Narvaez - who's fortysomething and looks at least a decade younger - has been using these tricks on herself for years. She frequently makes up actors for screen work and photo shoots, and she's seen how cosmetics can help (or hinder) an older complexion.
Her biggest hints: "Conceal and moisturize."
Here's how to shave 10 years off your face:
1. Trim your brows.
Eyebrows frame your eyes - and they can make you look older and sadder if they dip too much in the front. "People in their 40s think [their brows] are all tweezed out, but there's always something you can do," Narvaez says.
Just don't wax them: "Waxing pulls the skin - and gravity at this age does enough of that."
Instead, spring for some Tweezerman tweezers and work gently, grabbing one hair at a time and pulling it in the direction it grows in.
Don't strive for symmetry - just for the right arch around each eye. Or have a pro prune them for you a few times, until you can trace the line yourself.
2. A good concealer is your best friend.
Narvaez favors Lancome's Waterproof Undereye Concealer for hiding imperfections - broken capillaries, age spots, shadows - all over the face.
To apply under the eyes, think triangles: Circles will give you an owl-like look. Dab on three dots in the shape of a triangle under each eye, and pat and feather it in lightly, working toward your nose.
To help disguise nasal-labial folds, use color - by placing a dot of light concealer in each fold and feathering it across.
3. Take a powder.
Older skin dries out faster. To even out your complexion without drying out the skin, use a brush and loose powder (Narvaez likes Armani's Silk Luminescent Foundation).
"Stay away from anything called matte," she warns. "A dry, flat finish will only emphasize wrinkles and cracks."
Apply gently, beginning at the outer corner of the face, by the ear, and brushing down, going in the direction of the facial hair. Avoid layering, especially under the eyes, to avoid that masklike, embalmed look of age-control gone bad.
4. Learn to blush.
"We used to blush all the time when we were younger," Narvaez says.
What nature no longer supplies, cosmetic counters do. Just think pink, not bronze - "like those brown stripes Joan Collins used to paint on."
Instead, go for "a Renaissance blush, that seems to start from within."
Using a brush that fans out, start at the apple of the cheek (just under the pupil) and apply in short downward strokes, moving toward your ear. Brush a bit under temple, than go slightly across the nose and lightly under your chin.
5. Lift those lids.
Elasticity fades with age, making eyelids look saggy, droopy. Perk them up with an eye-blending brush and a light-colored eye shadow.
"Light opens up the eye," Narvaez says, "making eyes look bigger." This time, matte is OK - a shiny finish looks artificial. Brush on eye shadow moving from lash to brown, from the inner corner out, and watch those lids lighten up.
6. Wake up eyes.
Eyelash curlers do this better than anything. To use, look in the mirror and lift your chin. Then, as your eyes lower, bring the curler in, pinch the lash and hold for 10 seconds.
To apply mascara, place the wand close to the base of your lashes and stroke through to the ends. Stick with dark brown or black mascara. Narvaez says: "After 40, any other color on lashes looks artificial."
Avoid waterproof mascara, since you have to rub that much harder to remove it, stressing delicate skin even more. And never curl your lashes after applying mascara - you'll break them.
7. Disguise sagging necks - artfully.
Darker colors make things recede, flab included. Using a tighter blush brush and short strokes, brush on blush or eye shadow (suggested color: Bobbi Brown sable) just under the chin to the bend of your neck.
Do not go above jawline - and don't overdo it. "If someone says you have dirt on your face," Narvaez says, "never do it again!"
8. Soften lines with eye shadow.
Kohl and crayons can emphasize creases, which is why Narvaez uses eye shadow instead. Using a thin flat brush, she applies dark shadow in soft dashes just above the lashes.
9. Go for drama.
"As we age, we can't rim our eyes in black any more - it's too harsh," Narvaez says.
Along the lower lashes, use a lighter shade of eyeshadow like gray or light brown (Narvaez suggests Laura Mercier's "Truffle") to play up older eyes in a more understated, sophisticated way.
10. Better lip service.
To help disguise fine lines around the lip, build up the cupid's bow (centered under your nostrils) with a neutral-covered lip liner.
"Lip lines disappear with age," Narvaez says. Lining the center of the lip makes it look fuller; line the corners, and you look like the Joker.
For dewy-looking lips, try lip glass, a sophisticated twist on the gloss of yore. Avoid matte lipsticks, long-staying lipsticks and sealers, all of which are drying. If your lips are chapped, exfoliate them with a toothbrush.
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