Beauty does not have an age limit. Neither does makeup. So, all those dumb rules such as that women should not wear bright colors after a certain age? That’s hogwash. My mother rocks a red lip like nobody else and she’s 70 years old. So do Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep and Helen Mirren (though my mom is prettier than all of them combined!).
So, why do we need to talk about makeup for older women at all?
Not to draw boundaries but to adjust and evolve.
It’s more to do with adapting to the way our skin and facial structure changes with passing years. As we grow older, our skin loses some elasticity and gains texture. Fine lines, wrinkles, extra dryness… these are all par for the course.
Which is why you need to re-examine your makeup techniques and formulations. Want to wear a pop of pink on your cheeks? Of course, you can! The difference lies just in how you apply it. For instance, a powder blush may look cakey and spotlight every tiny line and wrinkle. Solution: Switch to a cream based formula.
Yes, it can be that simple.
And here you have all this and the rest: Your simple, expert-approved guide to the best makeup for older women.
Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize!
Do you know why that 22-year-old neighbour has skin that glows like the sun and seems to literally hug her bones? The kind that annoys you because it can actually pull off #wokeuplikethis without cheating? It’s because skin is blessed with peak levels of water, fat and oil till the mid-20s. After that, it’s downhill for the most part.
So, the first step in makeup for older women: Load up on the moisturizer. Diligently massage a cream or oil into your skin even before you pick up the first makeup brush. Yes, it’s boring. And yes, it adds on one more step. But the payback is tremendous because no makeup will ever sit well on dry skin.
Bonus tip: If your makeup tends to slide off with the moisturizer alone, opt for a moisturizing primer. It will give you the hydration and create a base for longevity.
Best moisturizing primers for older women (click to buy it now): Murad Invisiblur Perfecting Shield, Dermablend Insta-Grip Jelly Face Primer, TULA Skincare Face Filter Blurring & Moisturizing Primer, Bobbi Brown Vitamin Enriched Face Base Priming Moisturizer
The perfect foundation for older women
Even your foundation should be warm, dew-y and luminescent (look for words like “moisturizing” or “light reflecting”). And ideally a shade or two darker than your skin tone. A too-pale, too-matte foundation adds on the years by making you look washed out and exaggerating every tiny crinkle.
And use a light hand: When makeup artists have to age stars for the screen, they actually spackle on ultra-heavy foundation!
Best foundations for older women (click to buy it now): Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation, Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter, Lancôme Skin Feels Good Skin Nourishing Foundation, Chantecaille Future Skin Gel Foundation, NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30,
The eyes have it!
The skin under our eyes becomes thinner with the years. In a double whammy, this really brings out the dark circles and fine lines, while simultaneously making it more difficult to blend in the concealer for a natural finish.
Solution: Switch to a liquid concealer, apply it with a brush and put it only on dark areas, not under the entire eye.
Best concealers for older women (click to buy it now): Trish McEvoy Instant Eye Lift, NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer, Estee Lauder Futurist Hydra Rescue, Giorgio Armani High Precision Retouch Concealer, Pat McGrath Labs Sublime Perfection Concealer
Say no to powder
As for powder, throw it out of the window once and for all. It just settles into fine lines, highlighting them with a vengeance, along with making the complexion appear dry and pasty. In fact, try and stick to creams, gels and liquids for all makeup products, including blush and eyeshadow.
Repeat after me: One of the best makeup tips for older women is that anything which adds hydration, dewiness and luminescence to your skin is good. Anything that dries it out is evil. EVIL. The more hydrated your skin, the younger it will look.
Blush it up!
Then there’s that little fact about losing muscle tone as we grow older (thank you, gravity!), which makes our facial structure less defined. So, apply blush on the apples of your cheeks, rather than under the cheek bones. And stick to creamy formulas and a shade that’s close to your natural flush – blush that’s too dark or too bright will wash you out.
As for lipstick…
Every time someone tells me that “women of a certain age” should stop wearing a bright red lipstick or a fuchsia lip gloss, I want to slap them.
What’s the age limit on having fun? On being cheerful? On wearing a war armour when you face a tough day?
I will tell you exactly the same thing I told my mother: keep the bright hues — just adjust the texture.
As we age, our lips get drier and thinner. Keep them moist with creamy lipsticks and plumping glosses. Or just top off your lipstick with a clear gloss, which will reflect light and make lips appear fuller.
One more thing about lips: Your natural lip line can begin to fade as you age, which makes lipstick more prone to bleeding and feathering. Tracing it with a lip liner can help the color stay put.
What’s going on with my lashes, you ask?
Another adjustment to makeup for older women? As we age, our lashes start flattening out (thank you, gravity… again!). To counter, befriend the eyelash curler. Curling your lashes will make your eyes look bigger, brighter and perkier.
With the passing years, you will also notice that lashes start getting thinner. Reflex action would be to load on a thickening mascara but that’s counterproductive. Thin lashes literally cannot support the weight of these heavy formulations and they will start getting flatter and clumpier. Instead, look for a lengthening mascara, which is lighter yet adds sufficient bulk.
Oh! And absolutely, totally leave out mascara on lower lashes. Unless you want to highlight each and every tiny line or dark circle. No? I thought as much.
Best mascaras for older women (click to buy it now): Chanel Inimitable Mascara, Honest Beauty Extreme Length Mascara + Lash Primer, Surratt Beauty Noir Lash Tint, Hourglass Unlocked Instant Extensions Lengthening Mascara
And the brows
But do define your brows, which also keep getting thinner with the passing years. This visually drags down your entire face. A simple pencil or brow powder will fill them back in to lift your face, define your features and make everything appear more youthful.
Keep the eyeliner… forever!
Even when I’m 90, the one thing that’s not going anywhere is my eyeliner. I love my eyeliners. Especially the coloured ones, which are perfect for getting party-ready in a hurry (turquoise eyeliner + nude lips = effortless glam). And I’ve no intention of ever giving up even one of them.
But its a fact that with age, the skin above your lash line becomes droopy and less defined.
Easy fix: Swap the waxy pencils, which tug on the skin for a creamier formulation that will glide on easily. A liquid or gel liner, which goes on with a brush, is the best bet.
Best eyeliners for older women (click to buy it now): Bobbi Brown Gel Eyeliner, Trish McEvoy Intense Gel Eyeliner Pencil, Dior Crayon Eyeliner Waterproof, Lancôme Le Crayon Khôl, Marc Jacobs Beauty Highliner Gel Eye Crayon Eyeliner
One of the best makeup tips for older women is to approach shimmer with caution. Formulas with shiny particles act like mammoth spotlights, throwing into focus every line, wrinkle and wayward pore. The newer illuminators and highlighters are great at adding that elusive hint of glamour without covering your face in chunky, gritty glitter particles.