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Makeup Tips and Tricks for Older Women to Look Younger

Updated: Apr. 12, 2024

Want to turn back the clock and turn up the glow? The best makeup for older women, combined with some pro tips, will deliver a fresher face—without a needle in sight.

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The best makeup for older women

It’s time to trade the outdated notion of “age-appropriate” makeup for a new routine that celebrates your beauty inside and out. The good news? It’s easy, even for a novice: By simply modifying a few techniques and swapping out products for the best makeup for older women (much the same way we learn how to dress to look younger), a fresh-faced look is quickly within reach.

“As we get older, our go-to makeup routines and favorite beauty products may not be performing as well as they used to, and there’s good reason for that,” says Elena Duque, a 42-year-old aesthetician and TikTok beauty expert who’s road-tested “tons of makeup” and skin-care regimens on her own face. “Our skin tone, texture and elasticity is different than when we were in our 20s and 30s, which means our beauty products and how we apply them need a little tweaking.”

We turned to the pros, who shared their favorite tips on how to look younger—from choosing foundations for mature skin and selecting the best eye cream to smoothing out lines on the face and camouflaging problem areas. As a bonus, these hacks will help you learn how to look younger in pictures too. No filter required! Here’s the plan you can instantly put into place on your face.

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Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream Moisturizer with SPF 30.
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Never skip moisturizer

“As we age, our skin becomes drier, and fine lines and wrinkles appear,” says Michele Spellos, a beauty pro and aesthetician specializing in makeup to look younger. “Moisturizing locks water into the skin, giving a more hydrated, radiant and youthful appearance.” Need a visual? Spellos urges you to picture fruit. Yes, fruit. “Think of a grape—nice and plump and filled with water—versus a raisin that’s dehydrated and wrinkled.” That’s why anti-aging secrets always include moisturizing your skin before you even think of applying foundation, and preferably with a formula that delivers a dewy-looking glow and serious SPF ingredients.

One moisturizer to try? Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream Moisturizer with SPF 30. Enriched with peptides, vitamin B and hyaluronic acid, this non-greasy, SPF-stocked moisturizer improves skin firmness and elasticity. Plus, at just around $27, it costs a lot less than the fancy miracle moisturizers on the market.

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L'Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives Hyaluronic Caffeine Eye Serum
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Wake up tired eyes with caffeine

It’s not uncommon to notice bags under your eyes as you age. According to experts at the Mayo Clinic, as the tissues and muscles around eyes weaken with time, fat that helps support the area can migrate downward, resulting in a puffy look. Duque claims the holy-grail solution is to gently tap on an eye cream or serum containing caffeine, which can help tighten and de-puff the under-eye area. Duque’s pro tip: Use your ring finger to gently tap it on, so you don’t overdo pressure on delicate skin and cause more wrinkles.

L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives Hyaluronic Caffeine Eye Serum is a potent potion designed to visibly re-plump, brighten and reduce the appearance of crow’s feet and lines. Yes, please!

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Fenty Beauty by Rihanna's Pro Filt'r Hydrating Primer.
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Take the time to prime skin

Before you even go near your skin with foundation, smooth on a primer to prep your canvas. “Makeup primer is a great way to naturally photoshop your face,” says Spellos. “It creates a smoothing effect that will enhance coverage and keep your foundation in place all day.” How does it work? By invisibly filling in lines and crevices, so makeup can sit seamlessly on top.

We love Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Pro Filt’r Hydrating Primer. The lightweight, moisturizing formula—perfect for all skin types—contains grape seed oil, which is packed with vitamin E and helps to extend the finish of your foundation with a refreshing glow.

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Make Up Tricks Face Oil
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Don’t mix oil and water

“Be sure your primer and foundation are of the same formula,” urges Spellos. “Use water-based with water-based, and oil-based with oil-based.” What happens if you mix instead of match? Foundation may separate and appear cakey on the skin, and even finishing powder may not be able to keep makeup from sliding off your face. “It’s like building a house,” explains Spellos. “When the foundation of the home is not set properly, the entire house crumbles.”

When shopping for your formula, reading labels is key. “Most foundations will list water first as a main ingredient,” explains Spellos. “Do not assume this means it is free of oil or silicone. It’s best to read the bottle, as most will say ‘oil-free’ if they are actually free of oil. For example, while it’s clear that this Smashbox Photo Finish Primer Oil contains oil, it may be less clear that this Physicians Formula foundation does too. (P.S. They’re a perfect pair!)

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Make Up Tricks Foundation For Mature Skin
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Choose a foundation specially formulated for mature skin

As your skin matures, so should the products you choose to perfect it. The best makeup for older women includes a foundation that doesn’t just mask imperfections but actually works hard to help turn back the signs of aging. Look for non-matte products that do double, triple, even quadruple duty—say, by adding a dewy glow, intense moisture, sunscreen to ward off spots and wrinkles, retinol and even a filter-like finish. “Dewy foundations give you a more hydrated, youthful look than matte foundations,” says Duque.

Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Aging Perfector fits the bill. It offers blendable sheer coverage, SPF 20, retinol, antioxidants and vitamins. This do-it-all formula covers every base—literally.

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Lancome Foundation
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Don’t match your foundation to your face

This may seem counterintuitive, but according to Spellos, nothing ages you faster than a line of demarcation caused by a foundation that’s a different color than your neck skin. (Your neck is one of the biggest age giveaways, and anything that draws unwanted attention to it will backfire on you, say makeup artists.) “Foundation needs to be like a flawless, seamless, airbrushed finish that matches skin perfectly,” explains Spellos, who recommends finding a happy medium between your face and neck tones and blending well.

You’ll find just the right colors with Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra 24H Long Wear Foundation collection. Available in more than 40 shades, this transfer-resistant formula is also packed with SPF 15 and has a breathable, lightweight feel.

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Make Up Tricks Use Brush Or Sponge
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Apply makeup with a brush and a sponge

There’s a place for both tools when scouting out the best makeup for older women. According to Spellos, brushes are not only the quickest way to apply foundation, but they give skin an airbrushed finish while keeping the oils and bacteria on your fingers from clogging pores. (Bonus: You also use less product, so you’ll get more bang for your buck.) After applying foundation in a stippling motion with your brush, pressing and tapping in tiny dots, use a makeup sponge to push the product into your skin for a seamless, natural finish. “It’s important that the sponge is damp so it doesn’t drink in the makeup,” cautions Spellos.

You’ll definitely want the IT Cosmetics Heavenly Luxe Complexion Perfection Brush 7 in your makeup kit. With a 12,800-hair count, the plush, wide bristles on this dual-ended brush (the other side is scaled down for concealer) are perfect for tapping on foundation with an invisible, filter-like finish. You also can’t go wrong with the Original BeautyBlender. Bouncy and edge free, this universally beloved makeup sponge gets in every little nook and cranny with streak-free results.

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Make Up Tricks Color Correction
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Color-correct before you conceal dark circles

While some people experience under-eye bags as they age, others are plagued with dark shadows. And though you may be tempted to whip out that concealer tube and go on an immediate “undercover mission,” Duque recommends that you take a beat and start with a color corrector instead. “Often, as we age, our under eyes hollow out, and we lose fat in that area. To make them appear less recessed, start with a color corrector in a pink or peach color,” she says. “Wait a couple of minutes until it’s settled in, then apply your concealer over it for a smoothing and brightening effect.”

Like a true artist’s palette, the super-affordable NYX Professional Makeup 3C Color Correcting Concealer Palette boasts six “corrector” shades, designed to tweak a variety of skin tones and discolorations. For example, most dark circles have a blueish tint, so use peach to cancel them out. On the other hand, redness is neutralized by a green concealer, and purple tones around the eyes can be counteracted with yellow.

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Make Up Tricks Eyeliner
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Skip the white liner on your waterline

The trick’s been around forever: Use a white pencil liner on the inner waterline of your eyes to brighten the area and remove redness and signs of fatigue. Only problem is, this move can actually look unnatural and draw negative attention to the area. “Instead, try using a nude color,” recommends Duque, who explains that it will subtly cover any redness that surrounds tired, older eyes.

Duque is a fan of L.A. Girl Ultimate Eye Intense Wear Auto Eyeliner in Super Bright. We know, the shade sounds harsh, but this highly pigmented tone is actually nude and natural looking, she says. Plus, the formula is long-lasting (a tough feat on the waterline) and comes with its own retractable pencil, so you don’t need to sharpen it.

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Make Up Tricks Cream Eyeshadow
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Give cream eye shadow a whirl

Powder shadows are easy to apply, but “as we age, our eyelids tend to lose elasticity, and powders can accentuate the folds,” says Duque. Instead, she recommends pivoting to cream eyeshadows that come in pencil or stick form. “I’m a big fan. They glide on smoothly, and you can use your fingertips or brushes to blend them.”

e.l.f. Cosmetics No Budge Shadow Stick is one of Duque’s favorites for its highly pigmented color and stay-put formula. It’s also super affordable at just $5! Don’t miss these other makeup tips if you wear glasses.

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Makeup Tricks Mascara
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Prime your lashes

“Thick, plump lashes can make us feel young and flirty, but lashes may get sparse over time,” explains Duque. A simple way to amp them up without having to fiddle with extensions or falsies? Lay down a layer of lash primer before you apply your favorite mascara. “Apply your primer first, and then immediately apply the mascara before the primer dries down,” says Duque. Doing so before it’s set helps the mascara glide on easily and even works to separate lashes and avoid clumping.

L’Oréal Voluminous Primer & Mascara is a handy two-fer that works in tandem to build up to five times your natural thickness, while keeping lashes soft and clump-free.

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Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser
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Use a cream-based concealer, and let it sit

When trying to put shadows and dark circles in hiding, make sure you reach for a creamy, thicker-consistency concealer (thin formulas won’t stay put, nor will they hide much). Also, pause before you blend. “Letting concealer sit on the skin at least 45 seconds to warm up to the skin’s temperature will help the thicker texture blend easily,” says Spellos. “I tell you—it’s a game changer!”

Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser is infused with ingredients designed to turn back time and reduce the appearance of fine lines as well as shadows, redness and dark circles. This popular choice, which is available in 18 shades, has racked up more than 115,000 five-star ratings on Amazon and is a favorite of Reader’s Digest editors.

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Maybelline's Cheek Heat Sheer Gel-Cream Blush
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Switch to cream blush for a youthful glow

Powder blush is easy to apply, but it may not deliver that fresh-faced look of yesteryear, which is why Duque recommends swapping things out for a gel or cream formula. “Dab it high onto cheekbones with your fingertips to get that flushed, rosy glow from within.”

Maybelline Cheek Heat Sheer Gel-Cream Blush is a water-based liquid formula that glides easily onto skin and leaves behind a dewy finish. The best part is that you can build and layer your ideal amount of color for the perfect look.

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Make Up Tricks Blush
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Strategically apply blush and bronzer

Watch any TikTok video on the best makeup for older women, and inevitably you’ll see a demo about the perfect placement of blusher, bronzer and contour. Nine out of ten times, the advice is to keep it high on the face. “As we age, the cheeks drop,” says Spellos. “Applying color on the upper area of the cheek, rather than in the hollows, will give the appearance of a more lifted face.” Duque also recommends adding a bit of creamy sheen to the temple area for an additional lift.

Ready for your new favorite product? Meet IT Cosmetics Your Most Beautiful You Anti-Aging Matte Bronzer, Radiance Luminizer & Brightening Blush Palette. Formulated with the brand’s “Drops of Light Technology,” plus collagen and silk, this all-in-one compact helps diffuse the appearance of lines and wrinkles while adding color, glow and beautiful depth to your face.

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Make Up Tips Lipstick Bleed
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Prep your pout to prevent lipstick “bleeding”

“Pesky fine lines around the lips can look more pronounced with lipstick on—even if you use liner first,” says Duque. That’s because color instinctively migrates and fills in those little channels; this is known as bleeding and feathering. By priming your lips first, your lipstick will have something to cling to.

MAC Cosmetics Prep + Prime Lip Primer will change your life—at least when it comes to lipstick. We count this among the best makeup for older women because it’s packed with hydrating ingredients that smooth and refine, giving it the power to prevent dreaded lipstick feathering.

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Anastasia Beverly Hills Highlighting Duo Pencil
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Don’t drag down your mouth

“Avoid lining the outer corners of the mouth, as this can drag it down, aging you and giving a clown-like appearance,” says Spellos. Instead, stop your pencil before you get to corners, and blend well by pressing the liner in with your fingers. If you want to actually add lift, she recommends adding a touch of highlighter or concealer around the outer corners of the mouth.

With a matte, pink-based flesh tone on one side and a shimmery beige pencil on the other, the Anastasia Beverly Hills Highlighting Duo Pencil gives you both lip-lifting tools in a single product.

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Make Up Tricks Youthful Pout
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Add a youthful pout without injectables

The hallmark of youth is a fleshy, sumptuous, full lip, but as we age, lips tend to get thinner and less defined. How to recreate the look without resorting to fillers? Try this contouring tip from Spellos, which gives the illusion of a yummy lip by using contour and highlighter products: “Apply a tiny dab of cream or powder contour makeup right above the cupid’s bow and under the center of the lower lip. Then, add a touch of highlight in the center of the lips with a pearlized shadow or gloss. Reflecting light in the center of the lips adds instant fullness, while the dark areas recede,” she says.

While NYX Professional Makeup Sculpt & Highlight is technically made for brows, this dual-ended dark/light pencil is a perfect tool for enhancing lips too. It comes in seven shade combos, though you’ll want to stick to tones that are reasonably close to your lips and complexion, such as Blonde Ivory, Taupe Vanilla, Soft Brown Rose or Brunette Cream.

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Next, check out these stylish fashion accessories that can help you look younger.