25 Makeup Tips for Women Over 50

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Use Your Makeup to Highlight and Hide

Older woman applying makeup
JGI/Jamie Grill

When it comes to makeup over 50, some of the rules you lived by in your 20s and 30s no longer apply. Quite often, when women reach a certain age, they find that less is more and that they have to adapt their makeup routine to fit their skin.

Whether you want to minimize fine lines, make your eyes pop from under your lids, or maintain healthy, glowing skin, a few beauty tips can help you pull it off and look years younger. 

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Your Skin Comes First

Woman applying moisterizer
Hero Images

Forget makeup tips and a gorgeous hairstyle. Your biggest beauty consideration should be the health of your skin. With great skin, you'll need less makeup. In fact, if you keep your skin well-hydrated and exfoliated, your daily routine may include nothing more than under-eye concealer, mascara, and lip balm.

The secret to working with mature skin is five-fold:

  1. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. Nothing plumps up the skin better than hydration. It also helps everything glide on better, including your concealer, foundation, sunscreen, blush, and everything else. Dermatologists often recommend hyaluronic acid, which helps with aging skin like nothing else. One good option is Neocutis Hyalis
  2. Apply a retinol cream every few days. This is a fantastic way to maintain a brilliant glow and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Retin-A may be too harsh for aging skin, though. Dermatologists recommend a variety of products, including RoC Deep Wrinkle Daily Moisturizer SPF30.
  3. Exfoliate daily. Flaky, dry skin is not a good base for foundation or any makeup products. With time and persistence, you can get rid of it. Exfoliating every day with either a facial scrub or a washcloth dipped in coconut oil will help tremendously. Dr. Patricia Wexler, a dermatologist in her 60s, tells her patients to exfoliate in the shower because it's less messy. Whatever your method, just do it. Wexler's Skin Resurfacing Cream and Tracie Martyn Enzyme Exfoliant are two products that come highly recommended.
  4. Never go to bed without taking off your makeup. Either cleansing oils or creamy cleansers will leave your face nice and clean, ready to wake up refreshed for a new day. You'll find that products like Tracie Martyn Amla Purifying Cleanser and Dr. Patricia Wexler's Universal Anti-Aging Cleanser are great nighttime cleansers for mature skin.
  5. Use sun protection. Keep your face, neck, and hands out of the sun to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and sunspots. Wear sunscreen on your face, hands, and neck, rain or shine, and hats if you are out in the middle of the day. La Roche-Posay Anthelios Sunscreen is an SPF 50 tinted primer that acts as a great base for foundation and other makeup.

The key to great skincare is to know your skin type. Your skin—whether it be sensitive, dry, or combination—has special needs which is why your best friend's or your daughter's favorite moisturizer may not work for you. Once you know your skin type and buy products formulated for it, you should see good results.

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Make Fine Lines Less Visible

Woman applying makeup
Glow Images

No lotion or potion is going to magically make your fine lines and wrinkles disappear. However, slathering on moisturizer before you apply foundation and concealer will temporarily plump up your skin and make those fine lines a little less visible.

The real secret to moisturizing is to use a hyaluronic acid serum before your cleanse. Hyaluronic acid is renowned in the anti-aging world for its ability to retain moisture. Apply this to your skin, let it dry, and then apply moisturizer. You should notice the benefits immediately

Many brands have a hyaluronic acid product, and  Neocutis Hyalis is one that's recommended by some dermatologists. It's especially helpful during the winter months. When selecting one, read the label. The most effective products will list hyaluronic acid at the beginning of the ingredient list, not at the end.

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Choose the Right Foundation

Woman applying foundation
Paul Bradbury /Getty Images

Many older women still use the same foundation they used 10 years ago. However, your skin changes yearly and seasonally, so your foundation should as well. 

In the winter months, you may need a creamy formula for added moisture. In summer months you may that find your skin becomes oily and a tinted moisturizer will do. Many foundations are formulated with mature skin in mind as well.

Makeup artist Lisa Eldridge offers a great secret for important events. She recommends avoiding foundation with SPF if you are going to be taking photos, for example, at a wedding or family reunion. The SPF will add a pallor to your face that the camera could pick up. 

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The Secret Lip Plumper

Women applying lipstick
Kathrin Ziegler

You may notice that your lips seem thinner as you get older. Lip gloss is a great way to plump them up and there's really nothing else that works better.

Add a little color first by filling in your lips with a lip liner or lipstick a shade or two darker than your natural lip color. Then simply add a dab of gloss on top. It's an instant lip plumper.

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Stay Away From Dark Lipsticks

Woman applying lipstick in mirror
JGI/Jamie Grill

Unless you have dark skin and plump lips, you may find it best to stay away from super dark lipstick, which ages everyone. Rosy reds and pinks are better options than deep plums and any shade of brown.

Not sure what color works for you? Go to a department store or Sephora and try on many colors with the help of a counter person. You'll quickly figure out what shades flatter your skin tone.

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Try Eye Pencils Instead of Liquid Liners

Woman applying eyeliner

Eye pencils are softer than liquid liners, which can look a little too harsh on aging eyes. To soften the line even more, smudge it with your fingers or use an angled makeup brush dipped in dark shadow as a smudge-y eyeliner.

Avoid lining the inside of the eye if you have small eyes, it makes the eye appear smaller.

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Make Your Eyes the Center of Attention

Woman applying makeup

Just as a fireplace can be the focal point of a living room, consider making your eyes the focal point of your face. This will detract attention from any fine lines or developing turkey wattles.

Enhance your eye color with eyeshadow shades that will make your eyes pop. For brown or hazel eyes, golds and browns are gorgeous, as are blues. Blue eyes look great with blue-gray, coppers, gold, and browns and dark eyes look fantastic with deep rich shades.

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Make Primer Your Best Friend

Woman applying primer

Much like priming a wall before you paint, makeup primer is a great way to get flawless makeup. Applying a layer of primer between your skin and makeup will help your eyeshadow, foundation, and mascara glide on flawlessly and—most importantly—stay put.

Primers for your eyes are recommended if you use shadows and it's good to use a primer on your face if you apply foundation. Layer the primer between your moisturizer and foundation for extra benefits.

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The Brilliance of Highlighters and Illuminators

Woman applying highlighter
​Philipp Nemenz

When highlighter pens and illuminating creams first hit the beauty market they seemed like just another trend that would go away. They haven't and there's a good reason: they work wonders.

Highlighters bring a "lift" the face and instantly shave off a few years. Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat Concealer is a highly recommended one, but there are many brands on the market that work well, too. Many are also considerably cheaper.

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Play Up (and Downplay) Features With Contouring

Woman with contouring brushes

Contouring is a hot trend that can be useful for older women. The technique uses bronzers and blush to create more definition in the face.

The goal is to create shadows to highlight your best parts like your cheekbones and jawbone. At the same time, you can downplay any parts that you'd like to camouflage, such as a weak or double chin, a big nose, or thin lips.

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Natural Is Best, Don't Overdo It

Woman looking in mirror
Mike Kemp

Less is more when it comes to makeup as you age. You don't want to pile on the foundation, the eyeliner, and the heavy lipstick. Instead, use highlighter pens, tinted moisturizers, and a lighter touch of shadow and lipstick.

You might also want to get some bangs. They can freshen up your look, hide certain features, and draw attention to your eyes.

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Curl Those Lashes

Curling eyelashes
Kay Blaschke

The best way to open up your eyes and make them pop is to curl your lashes. For added benefit, warm up the lash curler with a blow dryer for three seconds and then curl your lashes. Make sure to test the metal on your arm first so you don't burn your lid. Then apply a couple sweeps of mascara to your newly curled lashes.

Shu Uemura makes the most popular eyelash curler on the market. 

If your lashes are not as thick and lush as they used to be, you can get lash extensions at some salons. It's pretty pricey, but worth the splurge if you want to look great for a big event.

You can also play around with false lashes. The trick with these is to apply individual lashes rather than a whole length of false lashes. It will look more natural.

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Add a Pop of Blush to Your Cheeks

Woman applying blush
as3d/Getty Images

Too many women use blush incorrectly or not at all. A pop of blush on the apples of your cheeks can brighten a dull complexion. The trick is to blend it well so it's not obvious that you're wearing blush.

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Blend, Blend, Blend in Your Makeup

Woman applying makeup

Anything you put on your face needs to be blended well. The secret to great makeup application is to look as if you aren't wearing any makeup at all.

Make sure your foundation doesn't have tell-tale lines at your chin. Blush should just be a pop of color as if you just came in from a brisk walk in the cold. Lip liner should not bleed into your skin. Your brows should not be obviously painted on. Remember, apply a light touch and blend, blend, blend.

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Eliminate Under-Eye Circles

Woman applying concealer

One of the biggest complaints from women of all ages is the circles and darkness that can crop up under the eyes. Unfortunately, these tend to get worse with age.

The best way to cover up under-eye circles is to use a rich under-eye cream at night and a lighter one during the day. You may also want to invest in a corrector in either pink or peach tones to cover the dark circles. Over this, apply a yellow-based concealer and foundation.

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Use Creams Instead of Powders

Woman applying eye creme

Older women tend to have dry skin and oil-free foundations and powder blushes are made for women with oily or combination skin. If you have dry skin, you're better off with creamy foundations and blushes.

Also, consider using a synthetic blush and foundation brush to apply creamy formulas. The natural bristles are better used with powders.

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Pick the Right Pair of Glasses

Woman in glasses
Thomas Barwick

If you wear glasses, make sure your frames are stylish and modern. The late beauty writer Charla Krupp taught us in her book, "How Not to Look Old," the importance of great frames when it comes to appearing youthful. She said that the right frames can take 10 years off your face, whereas the wrong ones can add 10 years.

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Prevent Wrinkles With Sun Protection

Woman in sunhat outdoors
Peter Muller

Dr. Fredric Brandt, the "Baron of Botox" who passed away in 2015, once said that you can prevent wrinkles around the eyes with sunglasses. And you should always wear sunscreen, even if you are just in the car.

The sun can still do damage through your car window. It's interesting to note that many women who commute tend to have sun damage only on the left side of their face.

One of the best daily sunscreens for the face is Roche-Posay Anthelios 50 Face Mineral Tinted Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid. It won't leave you with a white cast and produces a healthy glow instead.

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Conceal Droopy Eyelids Without Surgery

Woman applying concealer
Hero Images

Drooping eyelids are another natural part of the aging process but there's no need to invest in eyelid surgery. The secret to concealing droopy lids is to use makeup such as concealers and highlighter. You can also play up your lashes for extra camouflage.

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Maintain Your Eyebrows

Woman grooming eyebrows in mirror
Inti St Clair

Good eyebrows can make you look years younger. Keeping your brows nice is like having a face-lift without surgery, according to author Charla Krupp's brow guy. You don't want to overpluck brows, though. Brows are less apt to grow back if you pluck excessively.

A few tips for getting perfect brows will help:

  • Fill in your brows with a brow pencil to make them appear fuller. You can also "brush" them out with a mascara spoolie (unused and clean of any mascara) that's been spritzed with hairspray.
  • Try to avoid drawn-in brows. The pencil-thin line with no hair can look fake and overdone. Filling thin brows will give you a much more natural look.
  • Avoid over-tweezing by getting your brows professionally done. If you can't afford waxing or threading every few weeks, use the professional's job as a map for your own tweezing and pluck any stray hairs.
  • Don't tweeze gray brow hairs. Instead, conceal them with a brow powder or pencil.
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Make Up Your Face for Evening

Woman apply9ing makeup

Evening makeup gives you the chance to add drama. This may come in the form of a couple false eyelashes or by contouring your makeup. Perhaps it means curling your lashes if you don't do that for daytime. In any case, this is your chance to have fun.

When you're older, less makeup can actually make you appear younger. Your makeup should not be noticeable, however, your hair and jewelry and a fabulous outfit should be. Wear a statement necklace, get a professional blowout, and invest in a great dress in a color that makes your eyes or your hair color pop.

Keep in mind that a shimmery eyeshadow might not work as well as it does on younger women. Shimmers will only highlight wrinkles, so use a neutral eyeshadow base on your lids instead.

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Take Care of Your Teeth

Woman brushing teeth

Your teeth, just like the crow's feet around your eyes or the wrinkles on your hand, can show off your age.

If your teeth are in good shape but are yellowed from years of drinking coffee, tea, or red wine, think about getting them professionally whitened. You can also whiten teeth quickly with over-the-counter products such as Crest Whitestrips.

If your teeth are in poor shape, either chipped, worn down, yellowed, or with spaces between them, you might want to see a cosmetic dentist​ to find out how you can improve your smile. The bonding, crowns, and veneers used today can create a very natural look. Of course, dentistry is not inexpensive, but the boost in your confidence may be worth the cost.

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Stand Up Straight

Woman smiling and sitting tall
Thomas Barwick

While it's not a makeup trick, it is one of the simplest beauty tricks that anyone can pull off. If you can consciously train yourself to stop slouching, you will exude confidence. Not only will this make you look ten pounds thinner in seconds, it will make you look five years younger as well.


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Your Inner Self Reflects on Your Outer Beauty

Woman smiling outdoors
Hero Images

Coco Chanel said it best in her famous quote, "Nature gives you the face you have at 20, it's up to you to merit the face you have at 50." If we can leave you with one beauty tip, it's this: how you feel on the inside reflects on your outside.

While everyone endures hardships by their 50s, they are what help mold us into who we are. It's why you have more wisdom at 60 than you ever did at 20. How each person handles those hardships is key. Do you internalize the bad things or learn from them? Do you accept yourself or beat yourself up?

If you are an unhappy person, no amount of makeup or Botox or filler is going to make you beautiful on the outside. Work on your inner life first and that will reflect on your face better than any makeup can.

"Cheerfulness and contentment are great beautifiers and are famous preservers of youthful looks." –Charles Dickens