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Makeup for older women - 10 secret tips

makeup for older women

It’s no secret that, with age, makeup can become a little more challenging. The secret is, however, in choosing the products that work best on mature skin and knowing exactly how to use them. With the help of beauty professionals, Jane Cunningham (British Beauty Blogger) and Tricia Cusden (Look Fabulous Forever), we’ve managed to suss this out and have compiled the 10 most essential makeup tips for older women.

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Makeup for older women - 10 secret tips

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

1. Start with a primer

There's nothing more annoying than applying a full-face of makeup and having most of it disappear by lunchtime. The secret to avoiding this is good primer, which will minimise pores, prep your skin and make everything stay in place longer. They are best used over a moisturiser, but you can also mix a pea-sized amount with your foundation and apply it together if you wish.

Too Faced Hangover by Sephora promotes skins elasticity, smooths skin and hydrates with coconut water for a gorgeous, dewy glow. 

Photo Finish Foundation Primer SPF 20 by Smashbox. This hydrating primer is a great base for makeup and gives a luminous effect. 


2. Use a BB or CC cream, or a lightweight foundation

Once you've primed, you can move on to adding a little foundation, BB or CC cream, which are used to even out skin tone and give light, radiant coverage. Try and opt for the latter two as they are usually more complimenting on mature skin, but we've got a few tips on how to best wear foundation too.

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.

  • BB creams

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

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


Garnier Miracle Skin Perfector BB Cream Liz Earle Sheer Skin Tint
SPF 15

As recommended by Jane, this BB
cream is light, won't settle into lines
and provides just enough coverage.

Smooth, brighten and even your skin tone with this lightweight product made especially for mature skin.

Buy: Boots, £4.99

Buy: John Lewis, £24.50


  • Foundations

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. Then, apply just a small amount to the centre of your face and gradually work your way outwards.  
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.
  • Application

Invest in a decent sponge blender or foundation brush so you can get a photo finish. Application techniques and tools can make all the difference, so it's essential that you have the products to get that base just right.


How can I choose the right foundation for me?



estee lauder foundation

beauty blender
Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place beautyblender Classic Sponge

This foundation is lightweight, stays all day, contains SPF and is great for all skin types.

Perfect for applying foundation or BB cream, this beauty zeitgeist will be an excellent addition to your makeup bag.

Buy: John Lewis, £33.50

Buy: Amazon, £16


3. If you have dark circles or patches, use a concealer

If you have blemishes or dark under-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. 

Concealer can sometimes draw attention to eye wrinkles if not used sparingly, so only apply it to the inner half of your under-eye if this is a concern.

Clinique's Line Smoothing Concealer is an excellent choice for mature skin as it doesn't gather in wrinkles like others do.


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.  



Laura Mercier powder
e.l.f High Definition Powder Laura Mercier Translucent Pressed Setting Powder

In three 'corrective' shades, this
soft focus effect powder masks
fine lines and imperfections.

This powder is fine and light enough to blot away shine, without settling into lines.

Buy: e.l.f cosmetics, £7.50

Buy: John Lewis, £29


5. Blusher - use 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 foloded 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.


liz earle blush cream blusher for older women
Liz Earle Healthy Glow Cream Blush MUA Blush Perfection Cream Blusher

A good quality option that allows you to build colour up gradually.

Dewy, but with a good colour payoff, this is a firm budget favourite.

Buy: John Lewis, £17.50

Buy: MUA, £3


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 Hula Bronzer by Benefit, as it's non-shimmer which is more complimentary on mature faces.


7. 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 have creased lids and don't feel confident with shadow or a quirky cat eye, go for a soft, kohl eyeliner and apply it as close to the lash line as you possibly can.

When it comes to eyeshadow, whatever shade you choose, don't be shy with it. It's okay to have sexy, smokey eyes at any age. 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.

Bonus Gransnet tip: If you apply eyeliner in white or a nude shade to the waterline it can make your eyes pop and appear larger. 

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


eyeshadow palette rock n kohl
No7 Stay Perfect Eye Shadow
Charlotte Tilbury's Rock 'N' Kohl Pencil

The beauty of this palette is the
variety of flattering colours - so
you can go as subtle or daring as
you like!

Part liquid eyeliner, part kohl pencil, this is a wonder product, with intense pigment and the precision of a liquid eyeliner.

Buy: Boots, £15

Buy: John Lewis, £19



8. Use a black mascara that gives definition 

The bottom line is that age is irrelevant when it comes to dark and defined lashes - makeup for older women can still pack a punch!

Rather than scaling back when applying mascara, ramp it up a level, especially for evenings out. While you perhaps don't need the 'fat lash', heavy kind of mascara, well-defined, ultra-black lashes will make your eyes look more intense. 

Also, invest in some whitening eye drops to make your natural eye colour more vibrant. Pair with Boots' No7 Stay Perfect Mascara - a tubing mascara that gives your lashes a defined look and washes off with warm water. We've never known it to smudge either.

Bonus Gransnet tip: Curl your lashes before applying mascara for extra length and definition.


stay perfect mascara tweezerman eyelash curler
No7 Stay Perfect Mascara Tweezerman Eyelash Curler

Another of Jane's recommended 
products, this mascara wand creates 'tubes' around your eyelashes to make them fuller.

These sleek lash curlers are great for added definition and volume - prepare for many compliments!

Buy: Boots, £13

Buy: Amazon, £11.89


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, Gifted Amazonian Clay Smart mascara offers weightless volume while being kind to eyes.


Ready for more makeup and fashion tips? Register here


9. Use an eyebrow pencil to fill in sparse brows

It's true that brows can get sparse as we age... or they may well have been over-plucked during those angsty teenage years! 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. 


urban decay brow tamer
Soap and Glory DIY Brow Bar Urban Decay Eyebrow Gel

Everything you need to sculpt, shape, define and highlight your brows in one convenient compact.

Tame, define and polish your brows with this tiny miracle. Choose from four shades.

Buy: Boots, £12

Buy: Urban Decay, £16


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 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.


brightening lip gloss mac lip gloss
Bobbi Brown Brightening Lip Gloss Mac Galactic Gloss, All Things Magical

Wear it alone or over lipstick with
lip liner for shine and volume.

A beautiful pink with extra shimmer. Perfect for special occasions.  

Buy: Bobbi Brown, £22

Buy: John Lewis, £15.50


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.

For even more well-rounded, defined lips, use a lip liner. Choose one that matches your lipstick and, instead of applying it to the lip line, apply it on the outer edge - just make sure not to over do it!  


nars lipstick giorgio armanic lipstick
NARS Lipstick - Cruising Giorgio Armani Rouge Sheer Lipstick - 102

This lipstick contains a pigmented sheer formula which hydrates your lips and adds a gorgeous shine.

This award-winning sheer lipstick moisturises as it goes, evening out lines and wrinkles.

Buy: NARS, £23

Buy: John Lewis, £29



Prices correct as of 11/03/19.


More beauty tips

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! 




style and beauty advice










Images: Shutterstock