Annoyingly smug sentence klaxon: I'm in my early 30s, but I regularly get asked if I'm in my mid-20s. Admittedly, this can be frustrating in a professional setting, but most of the time I'm incredibly flattered. I'm not the only one who experiences this. When I casually asked the Byrdie office if they ever get ID'd, one editor said it was so bad that on a recent night out in Cardiff she was refused entry to three bars because she'd forgotten her driver's license. Another said how just this week a teenager asked her if she was studying at college or university. She's 32. Clearly, we're all giving Benjamin Button a run for his money.
So what's the secret? We don't all belong to some kind of eternal youth cult, drinking from a potion proffered by Isabella Rossellini as in Death Becomes Her (although, hello, that would be amazing). In fact, it all comes down to our use of beauty products. I spoke to a variety of colleagues in the beauty industry, as well as professional makeup artists, who told me their secrets to looking more youthful. Helpfully, they gave me very similar answers, which means looking younger is actually pretty simple. Keep scrolling for the best tips on how to look young with makeup, plus other age-defying tricks from beauty professionals…
#1: Skincare is seriously important
Skincare is essential to getting a youthful look. Personally, I'm a big fan of serums full of hyaluronic acid and moisturisers that leave skin dewy. Byrdie contributing editor Amy Lewis agrees, advising that it's all down to how you treat the skin in particular areas.
"I'm really big on using eye cream and face oils every morning to keep skin looking really smooth and plump under foundation."
Byrdie Editorial Director Amy Lawrenson says that while it's a lot to do with how you carry yourself, a smooth complexion can hide the years, "I'm using retinol right now so my skin tone is much clearer and fresher."
Lisa Potter-Dixon from Benefit suggests using a face primer like Benefit POREfessional Face Primer (£26) to help "diffuse the look of fine lines and open pores. Apply underneath your [makeup] after your skincare for the perfect flawless face."
#2: Skip the heavy foundation
While flawless skin is key, you won't get that by using heaps of foundation. True, you want to get rid of your flaws but not at the expense of all that foundation finding its way into your creases (read: wrinkles).
Amy Conway, a professional makeup artist for Bobbi Brown, recommends one product in particular: tinted moisturiser. "There are key similarities to women who often get ID'd, firstly it's in the skin," reveals Conway. "That fresh illuminated base that looks like skin can be created with a sheer tinted moisturiser. Apply Bobbi Brown Illuminating Moisture Balm (£43) underneath makeup to achieve the glow."
#3: Keep eye makeup minimal
When I was younger, I used to use my kohl liner like I thought I was Marilyn Manson. But now I stick to a thin line of liquid eyeliner with a small flick to give a more youthful appearance to my face. I thought it was just my little trick but turns out it's actually a good tip for giving your face a lift.
Conway told me that "time and again women that look young for their age wear less eyeliner." While they still wear it, she says, they apply it "very thin along the line with nude eyes, which is perfect for enhancing the eye but ensuring you are focusing on the eye and not the makeup so it gives a real clean and natural finish, with almost an innocent feel."
#4: Fake It: The First Flush of Youth
What's more youthful than a glowing, slightly rosy face? Kelli J. Bartlett, director of makeup artistry for Glamsquad, says that "applying a cream blush to the apple of the cheeks can add youthful radiance and volume to the face, where it typically begins to sag and thin out as we age."
If you're wondering what kind of colour to go for, Potter-Dixon recommends peach tones, as these are "the safest option as these are soft but will leave the complexion looking fresh."
#5: Go Easy on the under-eye concealer
Here's where it can get tricky. While you might think that hiding those dark circles is key, the truth is that under your eyes can give away your age more than anything else, as it will only sit in your lines. Lewis reiterates this saying "thick concealer and heavy powders are going to sit in all your lines (no matter how fine) and make things more noticeable."
Instead, keep everything light. Stephanie Koutikas, makeup artist and creative director at Mehron Makeup, says "too much coverage can bring an ageing appearance to the skin and can highlight wrinkles and lines in this delicate area. Prep the skin with a moisturising eye cream, and keep the touch light." Essentially, less is more.
#6: The highlighter is your friend
Of all the tips recommended, this one was pretty much universal: Highlighter is your friend. Lewis said, "Using highlighter on my eyelids is a really great trick that makes you look instantly brighter and more youthful."
Potter-Dixon even suggested that you mix a highlighter with your foundation "to create a youthful glow, mix a liquid highlighter with your foundation. This will lift the look of your skin and give a dewy finish."
Conway's tip is to add a "wash of highlighter to brighten and enhance" after you've added blush to the apples of your cheeks.
Hannah Hatcher, global educator for Jane Iredale, even recommends applying "shimmer as a small highlight in the center of the lid to create a brightness in the eyes, or you can use a shimmery lip gloss to help your lips appear plumper than they really are. Use it sparingly, and it can brighten up a whole look."
#7: Curled eyelashes + thick eyebrows are a must
Finally, to give yourself that doe-eyed look, the best trick is to open out your eyes by curling your eyelashes. "Nothing creates a young 'flirty' lash like a good curl. First curl the lash, then apply Bobbi Brown Eye Opening Mascara (£25) for that real lifted and wide-eyed look," says Conway.
Lewis says that "full brows are a must—it's crazy how quickly thin or limp brows age you." Bartlett agrees, saying, "As we age, brow hairs become more sparse and lighter (even gray), so by beefing up the brows, you immediately evoke a youthful structure to the face."
Next up, here's how to apply foundation like a pro.