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10 game-changing makeup tips for mature skin

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Just because you’ve reached a certain age doesn’t mean you have to put down the makeup brushes or play it safe with your beauty choices. After all, the gorgeous Helen Mirren and Maye Musk (Elon Musk’s mom), have graced campaigns for L’Oréal and Covergirl, respectively, as proof that beauty is ageless.

To help you master a makeup routine for mature skin, we spoke with Stephanie Lawrence, a celebrity makeup artist whose work has graced the runways of New York Fashion Week and actors like Ali Ahn and William Jackson Harper. These 10 simple makeup tips that will help you create a flawless look, whether your aim is to make your complexion appear smoother or to play with color and drama.

Related content feature 10 amazing foundations for anyone over 40 feature 3 easy steps to get younger-looking skin

1. For an even skin tone

The “less is more” philosophy is a great rule of thumb when opting for coverage on mature skin. Spot correcting is an easy way to camouflage dark under-eye circles, blue veins around the eyes, and red spots. “For best results, use your fingers and gently tap on areas of concern, which are generally the cheeks, chin, and forehead,” says Lawrence. “Try not to add too much product at first because you can layer if fuller coverage is desired.”

If you’re looking for a concealer that’s opaque enough to cover blueness under the eyes or dark spots on the cheeks, our favorite is the Tarte Shape Tape Concealer. It rose through the ranks to become our best concealer because of its creamy formula that’s easy to blend and its full-coverage finish that doesn’t require a lot of product.

2. For a moisturized, dewy complexion

Skin tends to get drier as they age due to a slow down in oil production. Instead of choosing powder products that may emphasize dryness, opt for cream or liquid foundations with formulas that hydrate and illuminate the skin. “Powder foundations not only make the skin look dull, but can also settle into fine lines, creating splotches and uneven skin tones,” says Lawrence. For best results, she recommends priming the skin with hydrating moisturizer before applying eye makeup or foundation, as it plumps the skin to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Another option is a dedicated makeup primer, which preps the skin and grips makeup for a longer-lasting look.

For a primer, consider the Nyx Professional Makeup Hydra Touch Primer Base, which claims to hydrate and smooth the skin before you apply makeup. If you don’t already have a go-to foundation, try the Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Aging Perfector to even out the skin tone with light coverage, help diminish fine lines with retinol, and protect the skin from daily sun damage with SPF. If you’d prefer something with higher coverage, try the Cover FX Pressed Mineral Foundation that claims to keep oil at bay with kaolin clay.

3. For a naturally flushed look

If you ever find yourself in a beauty rush with only minutes to apply makeup, choose cream blush, as it not only hydrates but adds luminosity to mature skin. As blush highlights your best features, Lawrence says: “Remember to focus most of the blush on the apples of the cheeks to give a healthy flush of color. Use your fingertips or a beauty [sponge] and gently tap cream blush along the top of your cheekbone and sheer the color as you go outwards and upwards.”

If you’re new to cream blush, try the Fenty Beauty Cheeks Out Freestyle Cream Blush, which comes in 10 shades and boasts a creamy, lightweight-feeling formula that goes on sheer and can be built up to the intensity you prefer.

4. For a healthy glow

Another beauty trick to add lightness to mature skin is with highlighting. Highlighting is as much a technique as it is a product, like its first cousin, contouring. While contouring, or using a cool-toned brown shade that’s darker than your skin, can add depth to the face, it can also look harsh. Instead of darkening in the hollows of your face, try highlighting where the sun would naturally beam off of your face to create a similar illusion of depth without the dramatic contrast.

To help your skin appear more hydrated and give it a glow, use a cream highlighter stick and layer it on top of your blush by tapping it on the cheekbones and blending it up near the temples. Also swipe it over dark lines along the nose area and at the corners of your mouth and blend with the pads of your fingers to make the skin look fresh and awake.

For a cream highlighter that looks natural on the skin but adds luminosity and dimension, try the Ilia Beauty Illuminator, which our tester praised for how easy it blended into the skin without disturbing the makeup underneath.

5. For a smudge-proof eyeshadow look

When it comes to the eyes, the first step is to decide how much you want to play them up. Eyelids’ skin texture may change with age, so you may consider opting for a subtle wash of color instead of a dramatic eye. Lawrence recommends using stick eyeshadows because the hydrating formulas in these creamy sticks are more resistant to creasing, glide well onto skin, and won’t settle into wrinkles. These also glide well onto your skin and won’t settle into wrinkles. “Make sure to use a rounded blending brush for seamless application then blend, blend, blend,” says Lawrence. “For best results, stick with matte or satin eyeshadow formulas as glitter pigments tend to settle into fine lines and emphasize wrinkles.”

Try the Laura Mercier Caviar Eye Color Stick for a long-lasting pop of pigment on the eyes. For makeup brushes, we recommend the Real Techniques Everyday Essentials for a complete kit, but for an eye look alone, snag the brand’s Eyeshadow Makeup Brush Set as the perfect combination for a seamless, creamy eyeshadow blend.

6. For a lipstick look that stays put

Lipstick “feathering” or “bleeding” can be a challenge on mature skin due to tiny wrinkles around the mouth area. To prevent this, use a clear lip liner and slightly extend past the perimeter of your natural lip line to prevent lipstick from creeping out beyond your lips. The best part of this trick is that you can use a clear lip liner with any lipstick color in your collection.

If you don’t already have a lip liner, try Maybelline’s New York Makeup Color Sensational Shaping Clear Lip Liner—it’s retractable, has a fine tip for precise application, and comes in a clear shade.

7. For separated, curled lashes

Eyelash curlers can do wonders to open the eye and make them look brighter. “Even women with sparse or petite lashes will see a noticeable difference in how refreshed they appear,” says Lawrence. For best practice, open the mouth of the curler and gently wiggle your lashes through. Press the handles together for 5 seconds, then release. Repeat this as many times as necessary to grab every lash and create a curl.

If you’re looking for an eyelash curler, we recommend the Japonesque Go Curl Eyelash Curler after testing a variety of popular ones. It’s intuitive to use, compact, easy to store, and it curls the lashes well.

8. For long, voluminous lashes

In addition to curling your lashes, applying mascara is one of the most important steps in eye makeup on anyone’s eyes. Eyes with short or thin lashes that struggle to hold a curl should seek a waterproof mascara that’ll hold them in place for longer. Lawrence explains: “Waterproof mascara is a great way to ensure your freshly curled lashes will not only lengthen and darken but will help secure the curled lashes in place.” For best results, leave lower lashes clean to keep the focus of your eyes upward.

After testing waterproof mascaras, we recommend the Tetyana Naturals 4D Silk Fiber Lash Mascara because it lifts and extends the lashes with a smooth application and it won’t smudge or flake with any water or perspiration.

9. For defining the eyebrows

Good news: Full brows are in style, so you don’t have to pluck often unless you want to. On the other hand, if you lack fullness from years of overplucking, you may want to fill in sparse hairs to make brows appear thicker. Having a great set of eyebrows is just as important to a makeup routine as having the right lip color, even skin tone, and perfectly made-up eyes, as they can make everything look more polished.

“Grab a sharpened pencil and draw feather-like lines in sparse areas,” says Lawrence. “Then, comb brows in between strokes to check for blending, making sure to concentrate on the top brow line to bring attention upwards.” For a well-groomed look that stays in place, finish with a coat of clear brow gel at the end.

If you’re looking for a brow pencil, try the highly rated Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz combined with Anastasia Beverly Hills Clear Brow Gel to define and hold brows in place all day.

10. For removing stubborn eye makeup

The most important rule about mature eyes wearing waterproof mascara or other long-lasting makeup is that it must be gently removed to avoid damaging the lashes or skin. Vigorous rubbing of the eye causes irritation and wear and tear on your delicate skin near the eye area, which can contribute to loosening of the skin and formation of lines and wrinkles. When it comes to makeup removers, opt for products with oil-based formulas, like the Neutrogena Ultra Light Cleansing Oil, to help soften the makeup while protecting the skin.

“Gently saturate a cotton pad and squeeze out excess, set the cotton pad over your closed eye and gently press against the lashes,” says Lawrence. “Hold it there for 30 seconds to break down the waterproof formula and wipe clean. Be sure you do not rub as that will irritate skin and most importantly, your eyes.”

Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

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Linda Barbara

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