Over 55? What to Look for in Foundation Makeup

Your Skin Type, Your Price Points & How to Prep Skin Before Application

foundation tips for older women
how to pick the perfect foundation. Riser / Getty Images

If you are over 55, it may be time to change up your foundation makeup. Here are seven things women should look for in foundation. 

Why You Should Reconsider Your Foundation 

This article isn't for everyone. Not all women wear foundation, while others may look perfectly fine in the foundation they've worn for years, if not decades. But many of us would benefit from a change in formula and perhaps shade because our skin at age 55, 65 and 75 simply is not the same as it was at 30.

You may find you need a new foundation as your skin changes after menopause and you may need to switch foundations seasonally as your skin adjusts to changing weather patterns. The perfect foundation will even out skin tone while disguising fine lines. What it won't do is cake into your lines or leave you with a mask-like complexion.

Consider Your Skin Type

As we age, our pores tend to get bigger and our skin drier, so it may be time to switch from a heavy foundation to a lighter, more moisturizing one.

If you do have dry skin, skip the sticks, matte finishes, oil-free, and powder foundations, which tend to sink into fine lines and which can appear heavy on the skin. Instead, opt for mousses (also known as "whipped"), oil-based, or mineral formulas. You can never go wrong with a foundation that's marketed as "sheer." (See this article on sheer foundation). 

If you have oily skin, I recommend an oil-free tinted moisturizer.

Laura Mercier makes a great one. It comes in 10 shades. Not sure which one is best for you? Try before you buy at a Sephora, where they are happy to assist. 

I include many great foundations for older women in my list of the 12 Best Foundations for Mature Skin

How to Pick the Correct Shade

Picking the right shade of foundation can be daunting.

But it need not be.

The perfect foundation will blend seamlessly into your skin. Apply a swipe along your jawline. It should disappear. That's your best bet. Keep in mind you may need a couple different shades, one for when your skin is darker in the warm months and one for colder months when your skin is naturally lighter.

If you find your skin appears ashy, keep in mind that it's normal for skin to lose its radiance as we age. To get back a bit of color into your skin, add a drop of liquid bronzer to your foundation, or sweep a bronzing powder after you apply foundation. Apply bronzer on the spots where the sun naturally shines (your forehead, cheeks, and nose).  

To ensure you don't find a foundation that's too light or dark, I recommend testing the foundations in a Sephora with the help of a friend or salesperson. Or you can buy a couple shades of a foundation from a drugstore with a liberal return policy. Return the one that doesn't work.   

Read more in How To Pick the Perfect Foundation Makeup.

The Proper Way to Prep Skin Before Foundation

Foundation will glide better over skin that's well moisturized. 

The secret to keeping your foundation from settling into fine lines or large pores is to apply a foundation primer BEFORE you apply foundation.

You can read more about foundation primers in What Is a Foundation Primer? And Do I Need It?

The short answer is "yes." Yes, you need foundation primer. It works much like paint primer does — it fills in your cracks and holes before the top coat goes on. It also allows the top coat to be applied more smoothly.

If you don't want to invest in a primer, then moisturizer will also work. You can apply a moisturizer or moisturizing sunscreen (never, ever forget sunscreen or you will age faster) under your foundation.  

How to Apply Foundation

There's no one way to apply foundation. Some women like to use their fingers, which sort of warm up the foundation. Many makeup artists love foundation brushes, which covers the face and blends in foundation seamlessly leaving you with an air-brushed complexion.

I am obsessed with applying foundation with a foam sponge. It gets into the nooks and crannies around my eyes perfectly without getting makeup all over my fingers (that I then inevitably transfer on to my white towels).

Whatever method you prefer, you want to make sure to apply foundation only on the areas needed, like covering up the redness in skin or the darkness around the eyes. Too much foundation can result in cake face. You don't want this. You want your natural luminosity, as makeup artist Lisa Eldridge calls it, to shine through. 

And remember that foundation is meant to even out skin tone, not  cover up dark under-eye circles and broken veins. You'll want to spot treat these with creamy, non-drying concealer. 

How to Get a Dewy Look

I don't like an overly powdered look, which is sort of out of fashion these days. Dewy, luminous skin is always, always in. Let your natural beauty shine through by avoiding using a powder to finish off your look.

Instead, consider trying out an illuminating cream such as Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat on a few spots to create lift. Apply a bit under the eyes, above the brow, in the creases of the jowls (along with your nose) and under the chin. Then pat in with the pad of your finger. One great tip is to look in the mirror with your chin down. Apply the illuminator to the dark shadowed spaces.

My Best Foundation Picks for Women Over 55

The picks below range from inexpensive drugstore brands to luxe department store products. Each one has been handpicked by me based on rave reviews and high marks on the most respected review websites. I provide both the pros AND the cons to help you decide.

Check out the list: The Best Foundation for Mature Skin.