Anti-aging is such a hot topic these days. Everyone and their mother (literally) are calling out tips and tricks to
take years off our faces. Most times, it’s innocent enough. A product recommendation here, an eye makeup trick there. But even if your goal isn’t to look younger than you actually are—whether that’s because you’re a 20-something with baby skin or because you’re a badass 50-something who wears fine lines like badges of honor (mad respect!)—you probably still don’t want to age yourself unnecessarily with rookie makeup mistakes that chip away at your most radiant reflection. Fair?
We learned from celebrity makeup artist
Shannon Pezzetta and Kevyn Aucoin Beauty’s global director of artistry and education, Nick Lujan, that creating a more youthful look with makeup is actually really simple. Not surprisingly, heavy-handedly covering every single imperfection is the last thing we should do if looking younger (or at least not older) is our goal.
We love a good beauty cheat code, so we asked our pros for their top makeup tips for those looking to put their youngest looking face forward.
And as a friendly reminder, we don’t believe, nor do we want you to believe, that younger equals better. Beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, colors, and ages. Full stop. A radiant and glowing mug is a move we can always get behind, and if our efforts leave us looking a little younger, then that’s just a bonus! Read on for the artist-approved tips and the best products to execute them IRL.
Both our experts agree that heavy, matte makeup is the thief of youth. “The best products for keeping the face young are creams and liquids,” Pezzetta tells us. “I like to stay away from heavy matte makeup [on my clients].” The artist works with a vast age range of celebrities, from Regina King and Nia Long to Alexa Demie and Marsai Martin. Judging by the glow Pezzetta imparts on each of them, independent of age, it’s clear she knows a thing or two about creating beautifully ageless looks. In terms of anti-matte foundation, anyone (especially my fellow WWW beauty editor Erin Jahns) will tell you this lightweight, dewy option from Koh Gen Do is like a dream in a bottle.
Another lovely lightweight foundation formula to consider is this ultra-dewy offering from It Cosmetics. It delivers a glow unlike anything you’ve ever seen, with SPF protection to boot.
“To reduce the look of fine line and wrinkles, you want to plump skin and smooth texture. Sticking to more hydrating and radiant foundation formulas will certainly help,” Lujan adds. But he also points out that heavier, matte formulas don’t have to be an absolute no-go. “A full-coverage foundation with a liquid highlighter is my favorite combination. Daily, I use Kevyn Aucoin Beauty’s Foundation Balm with a pump of our iconic Glass Glow Face.”
“If you are looking for longevity and coverage, you can still use your full coverage, matte formulas, but by adding a bit of Glass Glow Face to the formula, you will certainly look much more youthful,” Lujan explains. The takeaway: Steer clear of heavy, matte foundations unless you plan to thin them out with glowy additives.
Aside from lighter foundations, our experts say that liquids and creams are the way to go for blush, eye shadow, and highlighter too. “I love cream and liquid blush and cream shadows in warm pink and peach tones,” Pezzetta shares. “My favorite liquid blush is Nars in Orgasm for lighter skin tones or in Dolce Vita for darker skin tones. When applying, I focus on the apples of cheeks to give that baby glow.”
Liquid highlighters are another youth-preserving alternative to pressed powders. We love the soft glow you can create with this affordable option from L’Oréal,
Pezzetta also calls out her love of cream eye shadows. They come in many different forms, but we find that the ones housed in sticks are easiest to use. We love the soft, shimmery ones from Laura Mercier. They’re super easy to blend out, either with a brush or with your finger. The takeaway: Swap in liquid and cream formulas wherever you can.
Lujan says that a pro tip for concealer is to warm it up in the back of your hand before applying to your face and to only place it on the areas of discoloration or the hollows under the eyes. “Avoid placing concealer or highlighter on the puffy part of under-eye bags as it tends to make them stand out more. By concentrating your product in just the hollows and discoloration, you are balancing out skin and creating the illusion of smoothness,” he says. We Who What Wear Beauty editors are huge fans of this blurring concealer by Charlotte Tilbury.
Like plenty of other makeup artists and editors, Pezzetta calls out the Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer as her all-time favorite. She says her pre-concealer routine includes under-eye patches as well as eye cream to get the smoothest application.
Dupe alert! By our estimation, this Nyx concealer shares more than just a similar name to the beloved Nars formula mentioned above. It has a curiously similar consistency and wear at a fraction of the cost. The takeaway: Use soft, creamy concealers and a light hand to strategically place product in the hollows of your eyes and on top of discoloration.
Pezzetta also calls out the youthful effect of full eyebrows. She says the key is creating hairlike strokes that don’t look to harsh or unnatural.
Lujan also loves a full brow to soften the face and make it appear younger, but he cautions not to go too far. “Don’t overdraw your brows,” he says. “Sketch individual hairs in sparse areas of your brow, using an extremely precise brow pencil or marker. I love Kevyn Aucoin Beauty’s Precision Brow Pencil. The product is firm enough to use like a microblade technique to sketch in one brow hair at a time.” Lujan also says that a little-known pro tip he swears by is to fill in brows at the beginning of makeup application because brow products adhere better to clean skin. Genius!
Another wonderful product for creating precise, hairlike strokes is this fine-tip brow pen by Lime Crime. For natural yet full-looking brows, this is a must-try.
To keep brows in place, Pezzetta reaches for this clear, waxy pomade that coats each hair for a flexible hold. The takeaway: Full brows help to take years off your face, but make sure to keep them looking natural with precise, hairlike strokes.
“I love to do flesh-toned lips to give them a fuller look,” says Pezetta, who believes that loss of volume in the lips is a sign of aging that we can easily conceal with the right technique. She calls out exfoliating as a great first step, but the real magic is in the product layering. She starts with a dab of this lip tint by Benefit to enhance the natural flush.
Then comes lip liner. Pezzetta says she’s a big fan of MAC lip pencils, as are we. They’re substantial enough to cover any lines or texture on the lip line and come in an array of colors, including an impressively inclusive spectrum of nudes.
Pezzetta tops her custom full lip concoction with this moisturizing rose lip balm to seal in moisture and keep the lips looks soft and plump.
Lujan also thinks there’s a strategic way to conceal lines around the mouth that might creep onto the lips, making them look more aged. “To enhance the wear of your lip products, always start with an Unforgettable Lip Definer pencil,” says Lujan. “This will fill in texture on the lip and help keep lipsticks in place.” The takeaway: Create full-looking lips with flesh tones and a lip liner that won’t settle into fine lines.
“Powder is your friend, but too much powder can be your enemy,” says Lujan. “Choose powders like the Kevyn Aucoin Beauty Loose Powder, which is designed to smooth over pores and fine lines. Gently press and roll powder only into areas that are textured or have unwanted shine. Dust off excess powder from the skin with a clean powder brush,” he instructs.
Pezzetta also says that color-correcting before applying concealer under the eyes, where too much product buildup can be aging, is a good way to make less product go further. She loves these sticks by Smashbox and tailors the color used to the skin tone of the client she’s working with.
She says peach tones, like the one shown above, are great for lighter skin tones, while the orange stick is much better suited for medium to dark skin tones.
Lujan also recommends teeny amounts of multi-use products to get the most payoff with way less makeup. “Use less than a grain of rice–size amount of Sensual Skin Enhancer,” he says. “To remove excess product and reduce any chances of creasing, use the back of your concealer brush to press and roll product under the eye to smooth the look of your concealer. Finish by pressing and rolling a sheer amount of loose powder under the eyes lock your product in place” The takeaway: Use smaller amounts of product to make sure you’re not inadvertently emphasizing the areas you’d prefer to conceal.
As a surprise to absolutely no one, our experts both put major emphasis on the importance of skincare for looking younger. “Do not skimp on skincare—it is the key to beautiful, youthful skin,” Lujan implores. He called out hyaluronic acid as an ingredient to incorporate, which most of us are already hip to for its plumping, water-attracting benefits. Lujan reminds us that making sure the skin is well hydrated will always yield better results when applying makeup, too.
“My favorite moisturizer that really hydrates and does the job is It Cosmetics confidence cream,” Pezzetta says. “I apply it before foundation or for a more natural look to the skin. You can even mix the two together and apply with a round foundation brush.”
If you peek inside the kits of any number of famous makeup artists, you’ll likely spot this cult favorite French face cream.
Lujan also loves a good anti-aging face treatment. “This essence has liposome-encapsulated retinol, which works from the inside out, unlike other retinol products, which work from the outside in. Also, it helps draw all your other skincare product in deeper and also helps to speed up the desquamation process in adult skin,” he says.
And, as if it hasn’t been the skincare line of the year, sunscreen is an absolute must. Pezzetta says that at minimum, hydrating the body and skin by drinking lots of water and wearing sunscreen every time you leave the house are the keys to creating the best canvas on which to apply makeup. The takeaway: Take care of your skin with ingredients like hyaluronic acid, retinol, and SPF. Up next, I’m 55—these are the five fountain-of-youth makeup hacks I swear by.