How I got out of my 'make-up rut' at 46

After doing the same make-up for a decade, The Telegraph's beauty editor got schooled on how to be brave in your forties.

Beauty editor at large, Annabel Jones

May I be so brazen as to assume that you could be stuck in a make-up rut? At 46, I know I am. I recently took part in a live discussion with Mary Greenwell on the subject of brave beauty. If you didn’t catch it, Mary is an esteemed make-up artist known for working with everyone from Princess Diana to Cate Blanchett and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex.

Mary is in her 60s, but she could easily pass for late 40s. With fuchsia hair and luminous skin that appears untouched by UV rays, she is a glittering example of how to be elegantly brave at a certain age. Of course, age doesn’t have anything to do with beauty these days, other than the fact that most of us become less daring as we get older.

Sharing the screen with Mary made me realise just how safe (or lazy) I’d become, which has inspired me to inch out of my comfort zone and share my learnings.  Like many of you, I’ve pivoted towards eye make-up since face masks became obligatory, and colourful eyeshadow palettes are calling me this season.

Extreme Effects Eyeshadow Palette, £56, Nars2020 Holiday Eyeshadow Compact, £65, Suqqu (, from Thursday), Luxe Encore Eyeshadow Palette, £48, Bobbi BrownForever Flawless Eye Shadow Palette, £12, Revolution, Nikkietutorials x Beauty Bay Pressed Pigment Palette, £25

When trying a bold eyeshadow, the easiest way to apply it is with your ring finger, pressing the colour into your eyelids to seal it in place (try concealer and powder underneath for long-lasting results). You can use a blending brush to soften the edges, though it’s rarely needed. What colour you choose should depend on your mood, occasion and outfit (I scrapped rules about eye and skin colour long ago).

The only thing worth considering is the finish, as Mary warns that glittery textures will highlight deep wrinkles, in which case matt is more flattering. The good thing about investing in a palette is that you can try out a multitude of shades on a whim – I’ve been leaning towards copper, purple and burgundy hues, but emerald green is tempting me as we head into the festive season. 

One tip worth adhering to with face coverings the norm is to coat both your top and bottom lashes with mascara. ‘Flattering make-up is all about balance – with the lower face covered up, lining the bottom of your eyelashes will create symmetry,’ says Mary. Delight your inner magpie with these ageless eyeshadow palettes.