Best Makeup Tips for Mature Skin
Just as cosmetics trends change through the years, so does our skin — so it’s no surprise that in midlife, we might need to update our makeup drawers, and step away from some of the products that worked so well for us in our 20s and 30s. (Basically: If you’re old enough to remember buying Revlon Silver City Pink lipstick, it might be time to trade it in.)
So, what are the best ways to show off and flatter our skin now? Read on for a detailed breakdown of makeup tips for women over 50, in order of when to apply. Note, be sure to start out with well-hydrated skin courtesy of a moisturizer or a moisturizing primer to ensure a fresh, even result.
“If your skin is dehydrated, no matter how good your concealer is, it’s going to crack,” says Tim Quinn, a celebrity makeup artist. To make sure you're starting your routine with your skin as hydrated as possible, try applying under-eye patches, such as Patchology Moodpatch Happy Place Eye Gels, for 10 minutes to add moisture to the area before doing anything else. Next, celebrity makeup artist Campbell Ritchie recommends laying down a thin layer of a creamy concealer and tapping it into the skin with a fingertip to even out areas of discoloration — generally under the eyes and around the nose. She likes Jillian Dempsey Spot Stick Concealer, which allows for precise placement.
It turns out there is a scientific reason foundation can feel less effective as we get older. As we age, our skin gets drier (and thirstier); unfortunately, according to makeup artist and RMS Beauty founder Rose-Marie Swift, many foundations are loaded with binders, clay, alcohols, fillers, and talc, which sap hydration further, accentuating fine lines and wrinkles. That’s why most makeup artists who work on women in midlife note that the best foundation for mature skin is a cream formula, such as Iris & Romeo Best Skin Days SPF 30.
Makeup artists tend to steer us away from powder formulas in midlife, as these can settle into fine lines and wrinkles, making them more prominent. That said, for those of us who struggle with cream blush because our skin tends to soak up face makeup like a sponge, Ritchie recommends layering a powder over a cream formula. She likes using RMS Lip2Cheek as the creamy base plus any powder blush on top (just tap the excess off the brush before applying). Fun hack: Dabbing lip-toned lipstick on our cheeks can achieve a similar effect.
4. Eye Makeup
Fast and simple is the way to go for the eye area, says Ritchie. “We don’t need fussy BS at this point in our lives.” To that end, she favors a creamy pencil liner that can be “quickly blended out with a finger” for a slightly smoky finish. (We like Chantecaille Luster Glide Eye Liner, which doesn’t drag on crepey lids.) A nice lengthening mascara, such as Benefit They’re Real! Lengthening Mascara, is also key for opening up the eye area.
Ritchie warns against microblading or tattooing brows unless your brow hair has completely fallen out. While it may be expedient, it can look harsh on mature skin. Instead, she likes to use plain old bar soap to groom brows into place, which can give the effect of fuller brows. To do it, drag a damp disposable spoolie brush (or an old mascara wand that has been thoroughly washed) across a bar of soap, then use it to sweep brows upward. Allow to dry for a minute or two for lasting lift. If your arches are too skimpy for this technique, a brow pencil with a thin tip, such as Kosas BrowPop Dual-Action Defining Pencil, can help. Take feather-like strokes to pencil in faux hairs, and then use a spoolie brush to blend.
Much like our cheeks, our lips tend to draw in moisture from lipstick. This can leave us with, at best, lip color that fades almost instantly, or, at worst, a very dry pout. Again, layering is our best option, says Ritchie. She likes a stain (for example, Clarins Water Lip Stain) topped with clear lip balm or gloss. But a tinted balm, such as Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm, can also do the trick, albeit with shorter-lasting results. A hydrating lipstick, such as Jones Road Beauty The Lip Tint, is a worthy option too, but steer clear of excessively bright or dark colors, which tend to enclose the area visually. A shade that’s within one or two hues of our natural lip color creates a more open look.
7. The Finishing Touch
For an extra burst of hydration — and to make makeup last even through hot flashes — spritz skin with a refreshing setting spray, such as Coola Makeup Setting Sunscreen Spray (which also helps ward off future UVA damage).
Didi Gluck is a New York City-based writer and editor who has been writing about beauty, health and fashion for more than 25 years. She has been the beauty and health director of Marie Claire, Shape, Real Simple, Redbook and MORE, and contributed to InStyle, Allure, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Travel & Leisure, Town and Country, Better Homes and Gardens, Popsugar and Southern Living.