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The Small Makeup Tweaks That Can Transform Your Entire Look In A Big Way

Still have the same makeup routine you used in your 30s? It’s time to change.

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foundation swishes in a variety of flesh-tone colors from dark to light
Florian Sommet/Trunk Archive
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You’ve been using the same makeup for years, and now you’re starting to notice that it’s not quite working. It’s not you … it’s the makeup.

Mature skin needs makeup that hydrates (think creams rather than mattes, for example), and even the way you apply your makeup should be adjusted to optimize your look. It’s not about hiding; it’s about shining. We spoke with makeup artists to learn the best techniques and secrets for mature skin.

Be creative with concealer

As you age, the area around the inner corner of your eye tends to hollow and thin out, creating a darker appearance. Combat this by applying concealer on your eyelid as an eyeshadow primer, says Madison Dennis, a makeup artist based in Nashville, Tennessee. Brightening with concealer can give your eyes a more youthful appearance.

Skip the matte colors

Mature skin may appear to be duller and less vibrant, says Jordan Artistry, a licensed cosmetologist specializing in makeup and hair. It’s a simple fix. “I suggest avoiding products that are matte and powdered, and using more fluid sheer products,” she says. This will combat the dull appearance and add a little shimmer and moisture.

Gain glow

As we mature, we lose that rosy glow that we have as children. So Margina Dennis, a New York-based makeup artist, suggests underpainting skin so it looks like it’s shining from within. But using a glowy foundation can sometimes look like a hot flash is occurring, so Dennis has her own method. “After moisturizing, I like to highlight the high plains of the face like the cheek bones, cupid’s bow, bridge of nose and forehead (if it’s small) with NYX Born to Illuminate,” Dennis says. Next, she applies a cream blush that’s a little stronger than normal. For this she suggests Julie Hewett’s Cheekie, as it melts into the skin. Apply at the edge of your cheek and blend back toward your ears; also apply on your temple and chin.

Get the correct foundation

You may notice that your skin texture and color have changed, so you’ll need to get a foundation to go with your evolving skin. For women over the age of 50, Amy Elizabeth, a makeup artist, says she loves the Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation and the Giorgio Armani Power Fabric Concealer. If your eyes are deep set, or if you have more dark spots, apply a little of the Giorgio Armani Master Corrector under your eyes before the concealer to add brightness. If you prefer to skip foundation altogether, try Laura Mercier’s Tinted Moisturizer Natural Skin Perfector Broad Spectrum SPF 30, she says. “This tinted moisturizer evens out the skin with very sheer coverage.” When it comes to foundation, you might also want to try Clinique products and items from Maybelline.

Play with cream

She also suggests using a cream highlighter rather than a powder, as creams will melt into your skin and look more natural. “I like to gently press a little highlighter on the cheekbones and above the eyebrow to give a lift to the face and brows,” she says. “Creams also give a more youthful finish, but please use sparingly.” (If you go too heavy, you can accentuate fine lines.) Her favorites are the Kjaer Weis Cream Highlighter and Bobbi Brown’s Illuminating Balm.

Add life to your eyes

Adding warm-toned eyeshadow will add life to your skin, Amy Elizabeth says, suggesting Tarte’s Tartelette in Bloom clay palette. But be careful with shimmer finish shadows, as they can emphasize lines. Use shimmers as a highlight with a loose bristle brush, but never layer shimmer finish shadows on top of each other.

Use a cream blush

For those over the age of 50, it’s important to learn to use cream blush and cream contour, says Theresa Novicky, a licensed makeup artist based in Raleigh, North Carolina. Start by sculpting the face not with bronzer but with taupe color from the center of the ear to about an inch from the side of your mouth, she says. Make sure to blend it completely so you don’t have racing stripes. Add some of the cream blush to the tops of your cheeks, and follow up with a dry brush to soften the look. “I would highly recommend avoiding sparkle and shimmer at all costs,” Novicky says. “Shimmer will get into your fine lines and magnify these lines.”

Blend toward the brow

You may have noticed that your eyelids have gotten heavier, creating a “hooded eye,” says Heather Hughes, director of education and senior makeup artist at Luminess Beauty in Stafford, Texas. “The trick with hooded eyes is to bring the crease up and blend up,” Hughes says. “You can start with eyeshadow on the lid but keep blending up towards the brow.”