“The good thing about makeup is that there are no rules for any woman of any age,” says celebrity makeup artist and aesthetician D’Andre Michael. His advice is to embrace aging “and just focus on enhancing your features and beauty.” While there are no rules set in stone and makeup is, at its best, a vehicle for self-expression, the way your makeup goes on and appears at age 50 is different than at age 20—it’s a simple fact of life.
Celebrity makeup artist Sandy Linter says aging women have concerns about their skin, not that this is anything shocking. “They can see people looking at them and noticing all the problems—the wrinkles, the bags, the sags.” However, the makeup artist wants to remind people that 50 is not old, “as a woman over 70, I can tell you from my heart,” she says. While 50 is still a young, vivacious age, your skin is different, and the way makeup sits has shifted. To help you adjust your routine, experts share their best tips on how to approach makeup once you’re over 50.
Start with skin care
Celebrity makeup artist Ermahn Ospina says, “One of the most successful makeup tips at any age, in order to achieve that smooth, glowing radiant look, is prepping the skin before any makeup application.” Makeup artist and mature makeup expert Michelle Spieler agrees that a strong skin prep game is imperative to mature makeup application, noting that “our makeup only looks as good as the skin beneath it.”
She recommends beginning with a light cleanse, a supple essence or serum. She recommends COSRX Snail 96 MucinEssence ($25) or Paula’s Choice Multi-Peptide Booster ($58), a moisturizer based on your skin type and SPF. “Once your skin is well prepped, wait several minutes for it to absorb into skin before starting makeup.”
For a serum, Ospina recommends Shiseido Ultimune Power Infusing Serum ($140), which “hydrates and strengthens the skin encouraging a more youthful appearance.” He follows that with the Shiseido serum with the Charlotte Tilbury Magic Cream ($100)—which was recommended by both Ospina and Michael for its anti-aging, collagen-boosting, wrinkle-diminishing and plumping abilities.
Try tinted moisturizer or BB cream
Spieler says her favorite makeup on mature skin is tinted moisturizer or BB cream. She notes that it evens out skin while letting it still look like skin. “Gone are the days of a full mask of heavy foundation—it ages us. I believe in looking good closeup,” says Spieler.
Celebrity makeup artist and founder of Neen, Jeanine Lobell, also recommends opting for a tinted moisturizer for mature skin. She recommends NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer ($46) since the finish isn’t super shiny.
If you want a bit more coverage, “you can take your concealer and apply it in areas you need more coverage or use a liquid foundation in the T-zone only, feathering it outward to seamlessly blend into skin,” says Spieler.
Be detailed when it comes to your eyebrows
“As you age, your eyebrows have a tendency to become unruly and thin, you start to lose the tail, and you get gray hairs,” explains Michael. “So the goal is to maintain the natural shape of your brows as a well-defined brow, which will lift and open your eye and frame your face, giving you a younger look.”
To achieve this, Michael suggests doing “light feathered strokes” and filling in the entire brow, then using a clear brow gel to set them. He recommends the Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz ($23) or NYX Makeup Professional Micro Brow Pencil ($11).
Opt for a creamy blush
Lobell recommends using creamy textures on the cheeks, like Neen Going Rouge Blush ($29), “as the creamy texture and high pigment will give you an excellent flush to the cheek that won’t settle into fine lines.” She likes to apply it high on the cheekbones to contrast any under-eye darkness.
Be mindful with powder products
Spieler says it’s okay to use powder on the face if you have oily or combination skin. However, if you have normal to dry skin, she recommends strategically placing “translucent powder only in the T-zone using a smaller brush.” If you really want to wear powder, Lobell recommends using a “fluffy brush for precision application, avoiding areas with too many fine lines.”
Find the right shimmer for you
“All these outdated rules about shimmer shadow for older women need to go,” says Lobell. “A champagne nude shimmer applied on the lid and lightly under the brow bone is amazing in your 50s. It lights you up, and brings a lot of light and life into the face and hopefully makes you happy too.” She created the shade Beam ($29) for the perfect bright-eyed look.
Michael recommends mattes and soft shimmer eye shadows for those over 50, noting that high gloss, shimmer and frosted eye shadow options may accentuate wrinkles more. However, if done properly, and with the right formula, a bit of shine certainly won’t hurt anyone.
Choose the right eyeshadow shade based on your complexion
Eyeshadow colors are not one size fits all. Michael says the best eyeshadow shade for you depends on your complexion. He advises that those with a warm skin tone stick to green, brown, pink and gold; cool skin tones should opt for blue, gray, silver, pink and peach; dark skin tones should select brown, black and deeper colors.
Try a smokey eye
“A lot of women don’t know how to use eyeshadows or do creative things with them, and after 50, you don’t want to go too crazy on the shadow,” says Michael. When in doubt, he advises turning to a smokey eye. Doing this offers a bold yet youthful look. The key is to blend and use complimenting colors. You can use browns, deep browns, blacks and even colored shadows such as blues, greens, ambers, etc.”
Update your look
Linter suggests continually updating your hair and makeup look as you age to suit your current appearance. The lipstick that looked perfect on you in your 40s may not be the best option for you now, so test out some new products and treat yourself.
Remember less is more
According to Ospina, when it comes to makeup on over-50 skin, less is more. He adds that this is especially true during the summer months, so consider dialing down your makeup application. “With women over 50, the more you try to hide your flaws, the more you bring attention to them,” notes Michael.
Try a setting spray
If you have a full day with no time for makeup touch-ups, Spieler recommends using a setting spray. “I really believe in setting spray,” says Spieler. “My choice and the number-one in my pro kit is Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Setting Spray ($38). I’m always impressed with how long makeup stays with it.”
Take advantage of advances in cosmetics
With the advances made in cosmetics, there are plenty of makeup products specifically formulated for mature skin. Linter advises people to pay attention and take advantage of these advances.
Maintain healthy skin
Makeup looks so much better on a canvas of healthy, clean skin, so for better makeup application, ensure you’re caring for your skin. “Women over 50, please take full advantage of a great dermatologist,” advises Linter. “Ask questions. Don’t depend on the internet for the answers. Make an appointment with a dermatologist and ask the questions.”