The best midlife make-up tips – by the world's top artists

While you don’t need to follow a strict set of rules on wearing make-up over the age of 40, the skin and facial structure does change - Getty
While you don’t need to follow a strict set of rules on wearing make-up over the age of 40, the skin and facial structure does change - Getty

You know the drill: a beauty brand launches a new product and more often than not it’s photographed on a 20-something with impeccably flawless skin. But what about midlifers? While you don’t need to follow a strict set of rules on wearing make-up over the age of 40, the skin and facial structure does change, so making the most of make-up as we age might require a few more handy tips.

Whether it’s adapting products you already use or buying a few new ones to inject some fun into your make-up routine, we’ve spoken to some of the world’s leading make-up artists to find out the expert techniques they use on midlifers.

Skin

If you are over a certain age, you have to use eye cream before applying any make-up to hydrate that area - Getty
If you are over a certain age, you have to use eye cream before applying any make-up to hydrate that area - Getty

Apply moisturiser everywhere

by Bobbi Brown

Make sure you moisturise your neck and hands as well as your face. And don’t forget the eyes. If you are over a certain age, you have to use eye cream before applying any make-up to hydrate that area. Next, you want a concealer to even-out your skin, so focus on key areas to tackle redness and then any darkness under the eyes. Try The Face Pencil (£23, Jones Road).

Use a damp sponge to apply foundation

by Val Garland

As skin ages, it gets thinner and fine lines and wrinkles show up more under a heavy base. Also, the more product you put on, the more it cakes and settles into those lines. Avoid this by applying your foundation with a dampened sponge to ensure a lighter finish, or try using your fingertips for the most natural application. The warmth from your fingers helps to blend and melt the foundation seamlessly into your skin. Try True Match Foundation (£7.99, L’Oréal Paris at lookfantastic.com).

Avoid contouring

by Mary Greenwell

It is so important that women over 50 pay a lot of attention to the effect of make-up on their skin. Contouring can be very ageing, but do use a little bronzer around the sides of the face and up on the temples. Cheeks should be gently blushed with a soft colour that accentuates your cheekbones, adding warmth and giving structure to your face. Try Les Beiges Water-Fresh Blush (£42, Chanel).

Good application is everything

by Lisa Eldridge

Women of a certain age are often told to switch to a tinted moisturiser, and that’s fine if you have good skin, but what if you have pigmentation or rosacea? In which case there’s no substitute for a good, lightweight foundation. I don’t believe there are any shades or finishes you should completely avoid, but would recommend applying a small amount of product in thin, well-blended layers. This will avoid a cakey look, which is very ageing. Try Seamless Skin Foundation (£44, Lisa Eldridge).

The power of blush

by Ruby Hammer 

As I’ve got older, I’ve realised the importance of blusher. Applied correctly, it can boost your radiance, glow, and lift the face. For ease of application, I like a cream blush. You can apply and blend it with your fingers when you’re in a rush, or apply with a brush if you have more time. It’s hard to go wrong! Try Cloud Paint (£17, Glossier).

Prep the skin properly

by Isamaya Ffrench

Youthful-looking skin is all about the prep. I like to use a serum before applying any make-up, so look for one with hyaluronic acid to create the perfect base, or you can mix it with your foundation to add a natural-looking luminosity. Try Skinlacq (£60, Isamaya).

Where to place blush

by Joy Adenuga

To achieve a soft face lift, skip applying blusher to the apples of the cheeks and aim for the cheekbones, sweeping inwards and outwards with a fluffy brush. The bulk of the colour should be on the cheekbones instead of the cheeks. I would also advise swapping intense highlighters for soft luminating powders, which give a blurring effect and natural seamless glow to the skin. Try Ambient Lighting Powder (£45, Hourglass).

What to look for in powder

by Gucci Westman

The most important thing when you get older is that you maintain a youthful glow to the skin. As a woman in her 50s, I am always trying to make my skin appear as healthy as possible, and that might require layering different products. Once you’ve applied foundation, a powder is still a good idea – just look for one that has been micro-milled into a formula that eliminates unwanted oil, and gives off radiance. Try Vital Pressed Skincare Face Powder (£69, Westman Atelier).

Pile on the peptides

by Huda Kattan

One of the most important things to me is to always enhance your natural beauty and to never mask your skin. Our skin quality changes quite a bit as we age, so it is vital to have a strong skincare regime, as your make-up is only as good as the base it’s on. Use a face cream rich in peptide, which will help to plump the skin, as well as reduce redness, and even out your complexion before you get to the foundation stage. Try Honey Whip Peptide Moisturiser (£37, Wishful at Cult Beauty).

Lips

Although striking, bright reds should be avoided on thinner lips - Bob Thomas
Although striking, bright reds should be avoided on thinner lips - Bob Thomas

Fake fuller lips

by Alex Babsky

There’s a consensus that as women age, they should wear less make-up. I’d agree with this in terms of skin, but I think wearing a little more on the eyes and lips can look great. Try recreating the fuller lip shape of your youth with a matte lip-coloured pencil. You need a lip liner that stays put and won’t migrate into fine lines. Complete with a velvety lipstick. Try Nudiversal Lip Duo (£22, CTZN Cosmetics).

Beware of brights

by Mary Greenwell

If your lips have become a little smaller, please avoid bright and vivid reds. Go for colours that enhance and for most people this means staying in the skin tones ranges, whether it be four tones lighter or four tones darker than your natural lip colour. I always go for lipsticks that are darker for myself, as giving your mouth a little pop helps define, but always in the neutral family. Try Contouring Lipstick (£26, Sensai).

Naturally enhance the lips

by Cher Webb

Define the lip shape with a soft lip liner pencil that mimics the lips’ natural shade. Apply all over the lips and follow with a lip tint to smooth and hydrate the lips. Try Bitten Lip Tint (£32, Victoria Beckham Beauty).

Eyes

Mascara with a glossy finish will keep your eyes looking fresh - Image Source
Mascara with a glossy finish will keep your eyes looking fresh - Image Source

Soft definition is key

by Nikki Wolff

The key to creating the most flattering definition around the eyes is to work from the lash line outwards. Start by lining the eyes with a pencil and then use a brush or your ring finger to softly blend and diffuse the edges. Then using a small angled brush, take a little black shadow and press on to the outer corners of the lash line. This helps to create the illusion of a lifted eye and thicker lashes. Try Beauty Tattoo Waterproof Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner (£19, KVD at Boots).

The expert way to fill your brows

by Lisa Potter Dixon

Filling in your brows can make such a huge difference to your face. We tend to lose the tails of our brows as we age, so adding a few hair-like strokes can act like an instant eye lift. To know where to apply the pencil, hold a make-up brush from the corner of your nose, up to the outer corner of your eye. That’s the angle that your brow should end, so only lengthen to there. Try The Brow Perfector Pencil (£21, Nars at John Lewis).

Enhance your eyes by ‘tightlining’

by Kenneth Soh

Take a long-lasting gel pencil and work it into and along the top lash line, getting it right in between your lashes. It doesn’t have to be neat. Then remove most of it above the lashes, leaving the pencil between the lashes, giving you a “tightline” that defines and brings out eyes naturally. Try Voyeur Gel Eyeliner (£27, Hourglass).

Blend two colours

by Lan Nguyen-Grealis

In my experience, it’s a balancing act between looking glam but not overdone. My advice is to graduate definition around the eyes by using two colours rather than blending one colour out – so you still have a strong impact, but the overall effect is softer. For example, a colour that suits most on the lash line is a black kohl liner and layered brown kohl liner on the edge of the black – and then blend where the colours overlap. Soften the brown as needed with a blending brush or cotton bud. Try Intense Gel Eyeliner (£22, Trish McEvoy at Liberty).

Texture is key

by Adam De Cruz

For people in their 50s and 60s, I always think it’s about choosing the texture of your products wisely. For the eyes, avoid metallics as this will emphasise lines. Eyelash curlers are an absolute must before mascara: they open up the eyes and make your lashes ready for it. As for mascara, choose one that has a glossy finish, to keep your eyes looking fresh. Try Hypnôse Mascara (£28.50, Lancôme at Boots).

Get the eyes right

by Ruby Hammer

My style is now less about eyeshadow and more on shaping my brows and adding definition close to my lash line to define the eyes with an eyeliner that has a micro tip. Also, think about your attitude: I just accept that products now might be different to what worked for me in my 20s. Finally, a magnifying mirror also comes in handy! Try Precision Eyeliner (£18, Ruby Hammer).