The 10 Best Makeup Tips for Women Over 40, According to Top Makeup Artists

The best part about getting older is that you pick up different skills and knowledge along the way. (Did 20-year-old you know how to tie a silk scarf or audit your grocery bill? If so, we applaud you.) In the spirit of continually learning, we wanted to know if there were any beauty tricks to master by the time we reach our 40s, so we tapped four celebrity makeup artists for some advice.

For starters, all four of them stressed the importance of skincare. “If your skin looks good, your makeup will look even better,” says Jamie Greenberg, who works with clients like Kaley Cuoco and Rashida Jones.

“The key to applying makeup in your 40s and beyond is hydration,” adds Nechelle Turner, a national makeup artist and educator for Jane Iredale. “Hydrating the skin pre-application gives it a more youthful and plump appearance from the start.”

Got your moisturizer game on lock? Let’s move ahead with the makeup now.

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1. Know your undertones

“Choosing the right foundation shade is all about knowing your undertone,” says Monika Blunder, a Los Angeles-based makeup artist and founder of an eponymous beauty line. “If you figure out whether you are cool, warm or neutral, it will make choosing any complexion products (i.e., foundation and concealer) so much easier.”

Here are some easy ways to identify your undertone:

  • Look at how you react to the sun. If you tend to tan easily, you have warm undertones. If you burn easily, you have cool undertones. And if you tend to burn a little before gradually tanning, you have neutral undertones.
  • Look at your jewelry. Do you glow in gold? You have warm undertones. Sparkle in silver? You have cool undertones. If you look good in both, you have neutral undertones.

2. Learn what colors compliment your natural coloring

“After you know your undertones, you can look at a color wheel and determine what colors compliment them,” says Blunder. “People with warm undertones tend to look good in gold, reds, yellows and warm-toned browns. Those with cool undertones look good in silver, icy blues, purples and pinks, and people with neutral undertones can usually pull off anything, though I especially love rose gold and mauve on them,” she adds. “You can also compliment the colors in your eyes or your hair color.”

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3. Always prep your skin

Again, because it bears repeating: Skincare before makeup, always. Robert Sesnek, a celebrity makeup artist for Catrice Cosmetics likes to prep his client’s skin using moisturizer, eye cream and primer because “it visibly plumps any fine lines and give your makeup staying power.” When applying primer, Sesnek recommends adding “just a touch in any areas where the pores appear larger, which is usually on the cheeks or chin.” (Greenberg agrees, adding that “less is more” in areas with a lot of texture.)

4. Go light on the foundation

“Learning how to do a quick but effective base is a game changer. If you learn how to do it correctly, you look naturally flawless,” says Blunder. “I love cream products because they are so versatile. You can really sheer them down or build them up to hide imperfections, while still leaving your skin looking dewy and naturally radiant.” (Sesnek prefers a liquid formula like Catrice’s True Skin Foundation ($11) because it has plumping and hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid and watermelon seed oil and is easy to build into a skin-like finish.)

No matter what you use, start your application in the center of the face and blend outwards for a more natural-looking finish. “I like to use a brush to lightly buff the foundation onto the skin before taking a damp makeup sponge to soften the edges around the perimeter of the face,” says Sesnek. “This will really blend everything together.”

5. Skip the powder, or use it very sparingly

All of the makeup artists we spoke to for this story unanimously agree that skipping powder or applying it strategically is key to maintain a youthful-looking complexion. “Unless you’re really oily, stick to hot spots like the T-zone only,” advises Sesnek. (And if you do use a powder, Turner says to make sure it doesn’t list talc as an ingredient. “Talc absorbs moisture and can make the skin look flat,” she explains.)

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6. Balance out your features

This tip is pretty straightforward. “If you’re wearing a bold lip maybe tone down the eyes—and vice versa,” explains Greenberg (who likes to use colorful eye shadows, liners and even mascaras to add a subtle pop of excitement a la Tracee here). On that note...

7. Simplify your eye makeup

“Strong hard lines can give a heavy appearance to the eye, while a softer line gives a more open and youthful appearance,” says Turner. To that point, Sesnek recommends using a liquid or cream eyeshadow to “do a simple wash of color” on the lid. “By the time we reach our 40s, the skin around the eyes loses elasticity, which can make application a bit trickier,” he adds. Hence, more emollient formulas go on easily and are less likely to settle into fine lines and crease as they wear.

8. Condition your lashes

“As we age, our lashes and brows may become thinner and more brittle, which is why I recommend using a conditioning treatment regularly,” advises Turner. (This one contains ingredients like hydrolyzed wheat protein and vitamin B5 that strengthen and hydrate your lashes, while extending their length when used before mascara.)

For special occasions, Greenberg prefers applying individual lashes (over full strips) because they make a big difference in opening up your eyes without weighing them down.

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9. Never skip blush

“Blush brings everything together and is especially impactful as you get older,” says Sesnek. “I like to apply it high on the apples of the cheeks to lift the face and add dimension.” (See Kerry Washington here.) “Sometimes I’ll blend a little blush into the crease of the eyelids to bring the entire look together,” he adds.

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10. Fill the lips

“Another concern for many women who are 40 and over is thinning lips,” says Turner. “To create the illusion of fuller lips without looking overdrawn, use a neutral toned lipliner to enhance their shape before applying lipstick.” To that end, Sesnek also recommends choosing moisturizing formulas over matte ones. Good thing lip gloss is back and better than ever.

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...