Piles upon piles of magazines are crowding my night able, threatening to tumble onto the floor and lately, I avoid opening them.

Why? They’re full of airbrushed, gorgeous, YOUNG models and celebrities. Who can compete? (I know, I shouldn’t even try.) Who can even hope to measure up? If I tried to emulate their look, I’m afraid it would be a complete…bust.

Which gets me thinking. We still want to look great. We still want to keep up with the newest makeup trends. I don’t know about you, but my heart quickens when I read headlines that promise you can look 10, 15 or even 20 years older.

And then my brain reminds me to be realistic.

I think it’s entirely possible to look your best without looking inappropriate, but there are definitely some mistakes we make along the way that comes in the way of our quest:

1. Skipping Moisturizer

With age, you lose skin oils; your skin becomes dryer and duller. And that makes wrinkles and fine lines stand out even more. Moisturizing plumps up the skin while and diminishing the appearance of lines and wrinkles. 

2. Going Overboard with Retinoid (or Giving Up Too Soon)

Retinoids stimulate your skin to produce more collagen, which helps fight wrinkles. They first came about as a topical treatment for acne, back in 1971; following that, Tretinoin was approved by the FDA to treat wrinkles by increasing the production of new collagen. All good, yes? But know this: it takes a while for your skin to adjust. And a small amount goes a long way. That’s why you need to start slowly – and expect some redness or peeling of your skin in the beginning (paradoxically, if you have acne it will make it worse before it makes it better). Too much too often can be very irritating; it’s best to start twice weekly and gradually increase usage depending on how your skin responds. And you need to be patient: it takes three to six months of regular use before you start to see a difference in your wrinkles; best results come after six months to a full year. 

3. Combining Too Many Anti-Aging Creams

Although it may seem like more is better, it’s not always. Using too many creams can irritate your skin and rather than see results, you’ll see redness and irritation – which will defeat the purpose and make your skin look worse. Start with one product; then after a month or two, slowly add a second. 

4. Skipping a Primer

Primers help “set the stage” and create a blank canvas from which you can work your makeup magic. They minimize lines, temporarily cover dark spots and help your foundation adhere better to your skin. Your best bet is to use one with a silicone base, which helps fill in uneven skin texture and fine lines. Think of primer as “spackle” for your face.

5. Layering on the Powder

Sure, powder is nice to set your makeup and give a finished look to your face. But you cross the line into mask-like territory when you put on too much and it has nowhere to go but bore into your fine lines and pores, exaggerating what you really want to minimize. 

Paula Begoun, “The Cosmetics Cop” suggests matching powder to your foundation. She also says that powder doesn’t work for all types of foundation; it works best after applying a water or oil-based foundation. If you use an oil-free or matte foundation or a liquid-to-powder foundation, she suggests forgoing the powder altogether. 

Using powder throughout the day for touch-ups and tone down extra shine is fine; just hold back from layering on too much.

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Sheryl Kraft’s work has appeared in various print and online publications including AARP, Prevention, WebMD, Woman’s Day, Everyday Health, Grandparents.com, HealthyWomen.org, Senior Planet, JAMA, Weight Watchers, Bottom Line/Health, Bottom Line/Women’s Health, Caring Today, Westchester Magazine and more. She lives in her empty nest with her husband, Alan, and enjoys weekly Sunday visits from her two hungry 26 and 28-year-old sons (who also occasionally bring a load of laundry). When she's not working, Sheryl enjoys exercising, reading, walking and biking the neighborhood, seeing Broadway shows and spending time with friends. Visit Sheryl's website at www.sherylkraft.com or her two blogs, MySoCalledMidlilfe and Midlife Matters.