Help! I Don’t Know How To Do My Makeup Anymore

Are you stuck in a makeup rut?

Photo by Maria Orlova

I’ve been doing a black flick across my eyes since I first got my hands on a liquid liner. For over ten years I didn’t feel like my makeup was fully ‘done’ until I swept that ink across my lid followed by a swoosh upwards.

Then one day, a few months ago, I just couldn’t get it right. The wing didn’t sit right on the corner of my eye and it looked too thick across my lid. I blamed it on the liner and bought two or three others. When that didn’t work, I switched to a lighter brown (something past me would have scrunched her nose at!)

I always wanted my liner to be as prominent as possible but suddenly the subtle brown worked better. Other than for big nights out I’ve just kind of gone off eyeliner, especially a black one, altogether. Makeup trends come and go, and a softer, cleaner makeup look is in for 2023, but it wasn’t just this that had me turning my back on glossy black.

It also doesn’t look right on me anymore. In as little as two or three years, my eye shape has changed as I get older, leaving my autopilot flick looking totally wrong. Surely I’m not alone, but suddenly I realised, I don’t really know how to do my makeup anymore!

Nichola Graham of UR Makeup Pro shares beauty advice on YouTube and Instagram, specialising in tips for women over 40. Speaking about why many of us may be feeling this way, she says: “It’s likely that your skin has changed overtime and the products that once worked for you are no longer reacting the same way.

“Understanding your skin type is key. Your once dewy skin may have become dry for lots of reasons, such as weather, sun damage or medication. Instead, create that dewy look by choosing a foundation that is creamier or ‘illuminating’ to mimic that effect. Your eye shape, lip shape or even face shape may have changed, so the shapes and styles of makeup application that once worked for you are no longer flattering. With liner, you may have to soften the look and opt for shadow liners rather than the liquid or gel formulas you once used.”


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A post shared by Nichola Ni Gréachain (@urmakeuppro)

Makeup artist Michelle Kinsella has worked across photoshoots, TV and more in her career. She adds that the pandemic played a factor too: “A lot of people are feeling this way after two years of not wearing makeup. A contributing factor can be a change in the shape of some of your features. As we age, we lose collagen and elastin, our features begin to go south and our eyes might get a little droopy. Also your skin may have changed texture so maybe a foundation that suited you before might just not suit your skin any more or a matte lipstick you always loved just looks so dry on you now.”

Michelle suggests we have fun to figure out what works. “I’m always wary of ‘rules’ in makeup. Makeup is fun and it’s not a tattoo, it washes off, so experiment with different trends. By experimenting you’ll find what you feel most comfortable with!”

Nichola adds that our beauty ruts can be down to boredom too. “I think we can definitely get bored if we continue to do our makeup the same way for a number of years and in some cases, decades! If you’re nervous to try something new I suggest starting with a new texture or colour.

“If you’ve always gone for a very full coverage base, try out a medium coverage base. It will instantly change the look of your skin. If you would love to try a new shade of eyeshadow but you are nervous, just use a pop of colour on the outer corners of your eyes. It won’t be as scary as changing your entire colour palette in one go. Makeup should be fun and almost therapeutic. You’d be amazed at how even one small change could make you feel and look!”

On the other hand, we can get swept away by TikTok trends and viral hacks. Nichola points out: “Keep in mind that not all trends will work on everyone. If you have a hooded eye not all flicks of eyeliner will work for you. You might be more suited to a batwing liner, even if it’s not the current trend. If your skin is particularly oily or you have large pores, not all ‘glowy’ skin looks will be right. You can opt for a matte base instead which will hide pores and use a highlighter strategically to give a beautiful glow.”

There are many reasons why our routine isn’t working for us anymore, and Nichola suggests getting to know your face as a first step. “If your face has changed for any reason, learn what your face shape is now, not what it was 20 years ago. Your face could be fuller or slimmer. The angle of your blusher will have to change. Blusher applied closer to your nose will give the illusion of a narrower face. If you have a fuller face this can work great and if you have a narrow face keep your blush further away from the centre of your face.”

Another factor for many women is menopause, and Nichola points out: “You’ll likely find that makeup and hot flushes don’t mix well. Opt for a serum foundation that won’t melt away as easily. Cream products on the eyes, lips and cheeks will be more waterproof and avoid powder. Powder and perspiration will just lead to a cake-y mess that will drive you crazy.”

When it comes to ageing, Michelle has one cardinal tip. “If I had a euro for every time I said ‘less is more!’ This is never truer than when fine lines start to appear. The more makeup you wear the more visible those lines are. Skin prep is so important also, typically as we age our skin becomes drier so make sure you are using the correct skincare.”

Both artists suggest enlisting the help of an expert as a guaranteed way to figure out your beauty routine. “If booking a private consultation isn’t in your budget then give your makeup bag a good spring clean and throw out anything past its sell-by date!” Michelle suggests.

“Visit makeup counters and ask for help. Watch YouTube videos, follow makeup artists on Instagram and pop them a DM if you have a specific question. Use social media to your advantage. Book a private one-to-one consultation with a professional who will go through your makeup bag with you, and figure out what suits you and what doesn’t. They should go through a simple beautiful look, tailored to you and explain how to achieve it at home.

“This is invaluable and a very worthwhile investment. As I always say to my clients – you wear your face every day!”