Makeup tips for older women

makeup for older women

Getting older might come with its challenges, but looking good shouldn’t be one of them. We’ve been on a quest to discover the secret to flawless makeup when you’re over 50 because, as our skin changes with the years, so too do our beauty needs. With the help of professionals Jane Cunningham (British Beauty Blogger) and Tricia Cusden (Look Fabulous Forever) – and, of course, the wisdom of some glamorous gransnetters – we’ve compiled the best tips for perfecting your makeup, no matter your age.

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Makeup for older women – the best tips and techniques

From brows to dark circles to age spots and everything in between, here are 10 secret tips to swear by as an older woman.

makeup for older women

1. Start with a primer

Using a primer is essential for achieving that flawless look. It creates a smooth base on which to apply your foundation and will help to smooth wrinkles and fine lines while evening out your skin’s pigment and it helps your makeup last longer. Primers are also available for eyelids and lips to prevent eyeshadow from creasing and lipstick from bleeding.


There’s a primer for every skin type so choosing wisely will give you the best results. You may benefit from a product that minimises pores or one that suits dry skin. It’s worth remembering that ageing and the menopause change your skin – what suited your 40-year-old skin might not suit it now. If you’re unsure of your skin type, it’s worth braving the beauty counters of your nearest department store and getting some advice – and free samples, of course!


2. Choosing the right foundation for mature skin

Once you’ve primed your skin, you can move on to applying your foundation. A lightweight foundation, BB cream or CC cream will give a more natural look. That said, if you’re battling with menopausal sweats, you might want to choose a foundation that will stay put all day.

If you’re confused by the difference between them then you’re not alone; here’s what each product does and how to best use them.

These contain several products in one, such as concealer and SPF, and are great for those who need next to no coverage, as they are primarily for prevention and maintenance. They hydrate and firm skin, protect it from environmental damage and lightly cover blemishes.

CC creams, or ‘colour correcting’ creams, are a lighter version of foundation while still having more coverage than BB creams. They prime and even out your skin tone, and often have hydrating benefits, making them ideal for mature skin and those concerned with age spots. 

Now you’re in the know, your next job is to find the right BB and CC cream for you. 


Foundations are thicker than BB or CC creams and offer more coverage. They cover small imperfections, even skin tone and add a slight warmth to the skin. They also come in a larger variety of shades. 

The heavier your foundation, the more pigment it contains, which is essentially powder. This will make mature skin feel and look dry, whereas a lightweight or moisturising formula will make it look hydrated and dewy.


However, if you just can’t let go of your favourite full-coverage foundation, make sure to use lots of moisturiser and a primer beforehand to make sure you have a smooth base to work with.


Always test foundation on the jawline (not the back of the hand). It needs to be close to your natural skin tone, but it doesn’t matter if it’s not an absolute match as long as you blend well.

“I have used Estee Lauder Double Wear foundation for 35 years – nothing else comes close.”

Invest in a decent sponge blender or foundation brush so you can get a photo finish. Sponges are easier to control but applying with a brush helps your foundation to last longer. Application techniques and tools can make all the difference, so it’s essential that you have the products to get that base just right. Apply your foundation to the centre of your face and work outwards to blend with your jawline.


3. Apply a concealer after your foundation

If you have blemishes or dark circles under your eyes that you would rather not be on show, then pop a bit of concealer on after you’ve applied your foundation, BB or CC cream. Here are our top tips for applying concealer:

  • Always apply after foundation and not before. That way you’ll only use what you need and it will look more natural.
  • Choose the wrong concealer and it will just sit in any creases and draw attention to eye wrinkles. Make sure you are using a product that is specially formulated for the delicate skin around your eyes. Concealers that are designed for blemishes tend to be thicker in coverage and won’t give the desired natural look. 
  • Use an eyelid primer. It’s designed to keep your eyeshadow in place but equally suitable for the delicate skin under your eyes. Dot a little on to smooth out any fine lines.
  • Apply your concealer like an upside-down triangle with the tip pointing downward toward your cheek. This not only provides coverage but it helps to deflect light away from the areas you don’t want to draw attention to.

IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye Concealer, £25 is an excellent choice for mature skin and has a large range of shades available, while Maybelline Eraser Eye Concealer, £8.99 targets dark circles and fine lines, resulting in a fresher look.

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4. Use powder sparingly

Unless you suffer with oily skin (and possibly even if you do), you should try to avoid using a powder. In the past we were taught not to shine, but these days, shine is ‘glow’.

Powder can seep into the lines and creases of mature faces so, if you really feel the need to wear it, keep it to an absolute minimum and only apply around the t-zone area where oil can settle.  



5. Blusher – use a crème blush formula

makeup for older women

Crème blush is the friend of mature skin, as opposed to powdered which can stick to dry patches or get folded into creases. It’s as simple as smiling, dabbing a dot onto your smile lines and blending over those apples!

Word to the wise though – don’t whip it up to your ears; you’re aiming for a healthy looking flush, not a Sable Colby lookalike. 

If you want to go a step further and fake high cheekbones – or draw attention to your god-given ones (lucky you!) – lightly apply a highlighter pen over your cheeks, where your face naturally catches the light. This will give skin a healthy glow and a subtly luminous finish. A highlighter stick works well as it is easy to apply and blend.



6. Add a bit of bronzer

Far from essential but brilliant all the same, bronzer is an excellent way to give mature skin an extra youthful boost. Most bronzers, however, are powdered, which means you have to take extra care when buying one to make sure that it has finely-milled particles, so that it doesn’t sit in any creases. Our favourite is Hoola Bronzer by Benefit, £27.50, as it’s non-shimmer which is more complementary on mature faces. 


7. Fill in eyebrows

Nothing says ‘child of the 60s’ quite like an over-plucked brow. To add insult to injury, eyebrows become sparser as you get older. 

Fixing thin eyebrows can be a bit of a challenge depending on the kind of treatment you need, but, in the meantime, a little brow pencil can do just the trick.

The key is to keep your brows tidy (snip if you have to) and look for a brow pencil with a brush at the other end so that any obvious pencil lines are brushed out.

If you have very thin brows, it’s best to leave them alone entirely or go for a shade or two down – it’s better to have a whisper of definition than an awkward-looking line. Another great product is brow gel, which you can use to set your brow pencil, feather your brows or add some colour to them.

And, best of all, you don’t have to play by any rules – budget buys are often just as good as more expensive brands when it comes to brow products.

Gransnetters recommend Avon’s True Colour Glimmerstick Brow Definer for its easy application and MAC’s Eye Brows Big Boost Exclusive Fibre Gel which is long-lasting and waterproof, ensuring it won’t drip down your face as the temperature rises.

“I lost both eyebrows due to thyroid problems. I have found that Avon Glimmerstick for brows is wonderful. I use light brown as I am blonde but there are other colours.”

“I use MAC eyebrow gel. I think the trick with brows is to go a shade lighter than you think is right – they always seem to look darker on the skin – and apply with feathery strokes.”


8. Eye makeup – master the smokey eye look

This is often a problem area for older skin because of natural elasticity loss which can make lids creased and give you hooded eyes. If you want to achieve that smokey eye look, stick to these steps:

  • Apply an eye lid primer. As your skin gets thinner with age, you’ll notice that your eyelids will develop a translucency and uneven skin tone. Dot a primer onto lids before you apply any hint of colour.
  • White eyeliner applied to the edge of your top lid will help your other colour to stand out more and open up the eye to make it look bigger and brighter.
  • If you have creased lids and don’t feel confident with a gel eyeliner, then opt for kohl and apply it as close to the lash line as you possibly can, dotting the pencil rather than dragging it. Brown or a soft grey pencil can be a less severe option.
  • When it comes to eyeshadow, whatever shade you choose, don’t be shy with it. Cream-based products sit better on mature skin as, unlike powder eyeshadows, they won’t settle into creases. However, if you’ve always used powdered eyeshadows and don’t want to change the habit of a lifetime then make sure to use a primer first. Avoid eyeshadows with a shimmer as these only serve to highlight fine lines. 
  • Do make sure you apply eyeshadow with a small, soft brush and blend it – a cotton bud is ideal – just to smudge it a little so that the colour doesn’t look like it’s been crayoned on.

Because a smokey eye is such a good look at any age, it’s almost foolproof. After all, it’s not supposed to be precise.

WATCH: how to create a smokey eye look from Look Fabulous Forever


Scroll to the bottom of the page to see our FacebookLive with Look Fabulous Forever founder and beauty vlogger, Tricia Cusden


9. Choose a mascara that’s right for you

The bottom line is that age is irrelevant when it comes to dark and defined lashes but there are some things to consider before choosing a mascara that’s right for you.

  • If you have heavy lids as a result of reduced elasticity, then your mascara might be prone to smudging. And just like your brows, your lashes are likely to get sparser. With that in mind, your best bet is a water resistant mascara with a thickening formula.
  • Before applying your mascara, make sure your lashes are clean and free of product so that the mascara stays put.
  • If your hands are somewhat unsteady then you’ll benefit from using a smaller brush – a bigger wand will make a mess in shaky hands.
  • Invest in some whitening eye drops to make your natural eye colour more vibrant.
  • Try gently warming an eyelash curler to help the curl in your lashes set.
  • Look down and apply up from the root of the lash to the ends which tend to be lighter in colour.

“I’ve got thin, sparse lashes but I discovered Lancome Hypnose mascara a couple of years ago. The shape of the brush makes it much easier to catch those tiny lashes in the corners of the eye. It never clumps nor flakes and is easy to wash off at the end of the day. Wouldn’t use any other now. Not the cheapest but I think it’s worth every penny.”


What can I do for thinning or uneven lashes?

Fear not as there are products that have been proven to condition and protect lashes, causing them to break less and grow in length and volume. Try Revitalash or RapidLash.

My eyes are sensitive – can I still wear mascara?

Sometimes, as we age, our eyes become more sensitive. If this is the case for you, you can opt for an all-natural mascara. For example, Tarte Gifted Amazonian Clay Smart Mascara offers weightless volume while being kind to eyes.


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10. Lips – go for a gloss or a nude lipstick

The aim is to make mature lips look as full as possible, which means you’ll want to have a gorgeous gloss or complementing lippy to hand.

Lip Liner

Go for a natural shade to line the outside of your lip and achieve a fuller look. Going for a shade that’s too dark will leave you with a harsh outline if your lippy does start to wear off.

Lip gloss 

Lip gloss is the ideal choice for making your lips look plumper, but beware of gloopy, extreme glosses and matte products – they can sometimes have the opposite effect.


best lip liner for over 50s best lip gloss for older women
MAC lip liner No7 High Shine Lipgloss

MAC’s famous lipliner comes in a variety of shades and glides on smoothly for easy application.

Whether you want a bright, bold colour or a translucent gloss for a subtle shine, this product is perfect for special occasions.  

Buy: MAC, £15.50

Buy: No7, £9



If, however, you can’t deny yourself the love of a good lipstick, choose a fairly neutral colour – think a couple of shades darker than your natural lip tone – as this can give mature lips a boost by making them appear fuller. Again, try to avoid matte lipsticks if you can, a cream finish will be more flattering.



WATCH: how to apply perfect lipstick


Prices correct as of 09/03/21.


For more top beauty tips from an industry expert, watch our eye makeup tutorial below with beauty vlogger and founder of Look Fabulous Forever, Tricia Cusden. She gives us the low-down on the best makeup ideas for older women, plus reveals some invaluable tips and tricks! 





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Images: Shutterstock

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