6 Genius Makeup Tips for Women with Gray Hair

Small tweaks that can help make a big difference.

makeup tips for gray hair universal: a red carpet photo of screenwriter and producer Mara Brock Akil
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Something that’s awesome: Gray hair is now widely accepted as chic. But if you’re letting your natural strands come through, it can also take some getting used to. That means it might be time to rethink your beauty routine and adjust your makeup to your new 'do.

Don't stress though. We're not talking about a complete overhaul here—a few small adjustments can go a long way. Ahead, six simple makeup tips for gray hair to elevate your look.

13 Women, From Their 20s to Their 70s, On How They Handled Going Gray

makeup tips for gray hair andie macdowell: a red carpet photo of actress Andie Macdowell
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1. Cocktail Your Foundation

It's normal to notice age-related changes in your skin like fine lines, enlarged pores or areas of discoloration. And though your first instinct might be to cover or camouflage things, it's actually better to use a light hand when it comes to foundation or concealer. Try mixing a few drops of liquid highlighter with a light-to-medium coverage foundation before buffing it into your skin with a soft, fluffy makeup brush. Thinning out your foundation this way gives you a dewy, brightening effect while still delivering coverage. It's also less likely to crease or settle into any areas of texture.

makeup tips for gray hair jamie lee curtis
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2. Focus On Your Brows

Eyebrows frame any face—regardless of hair color—but this becomes especially important with gray hair, which can make you look washed out more easily. To keep your arches looking sharp, use a brow pencil to define the ends, as they tend to thin the most with age. Ideally, you'll want to use a shade that's most similar to the color of your natural roots (before they turned gray). And if you're still stumped, a dark taupe is usually a safe bet. Tip: Finish by brushing them out with a spoolie so they look soft and feathered.

makeup tips for gray hair carla hall
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3. Highlight Your Cheeks

Now is not the time to shy away from blush. Skipping color here can, again, make you look washed out, so brighten things up with a touch of blush on the apples of your cheeks, blending upward to give a lifted effect. On that note: Peachy tones are the most universally flattering because they make your skin glow, and creamier formulas tend to be more compatible with fine lines.

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4. Define Your Eyes

When you have gray hair, one of the most important things you can do, makeup-wise, is to make your features pop. That means eyeliner and/or eyeshadow is definitely a “do”—especially if it’s in a warm brown or navy; black eyeliner may contrast with your hair too aggressively and look severe. For eyeshadows, opt for warm, matte shades over cool, shimmery ones.

makeup tips for gray hair youn yuh jung
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5. Embrace A Bold Lip

Neutral colors (like rose or nude) have a tendency to fall flat against gray hair. Instead, go for bolder hues like a bright berry or a pink-y peach; shinier or satin finishes also tend to be more flattering than matte lipsticks.

makeup tips for gray hair Mara Brock Akil: a red carpet photo of screenwriter and producer Mara Brock Akil
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6. Set Your Makeup Strategically

Skip the setting powder or use it very strategically to maintain a youthful-looking complexion. As Robert Sesnek, a celebrity makeup artist previously advised us, “Unless you’re really oily, stick to [applying it to] hot spots like the T-zone only.” (And if you do use a powder, make sure it doesn’t list talc as an ingredient, as it can absorb moisture and make the skin look flat.)

Jenny Jin Headshot Vertical 2023

Beauty Director

Jenny Jin is PureWow’s Beauty Director and is currently based in Los Angeles. Since beginning her journalism career at Real Simple magazine, she has become a human encyclopedia of...