When it comes to makeup, people can likely agree on one thing: Foundation — yes, even the most full-coverage of formulas — should enhance your skin’s appearance, not have a mask-like effect that covers your natural complexion. However, there’s no denying that as you age your skin changes and so, too, will your needs change in terms of what a base product can do for you. Perhaps you’ve noticed that in the majority of makeup tutorials on YouTube and in most makeup ads, the models showcasing complexion products and techniques are in the prime of their youth, nary a fine line worth filling and with skin possessing the bounce-back rate of a full tank of collagen. That said, we bypassed popular opinion to get the experts’ experience and chatted with some of the most experienced makeup artists to bring you helpful advice for shopping, applying, and wearing foundation when you’re in your 40s and above. Read on for their five must-have tips, plus bonus ones to take your makeup game to the next level.
Skin-care prep is key
The best way to ensure flawless application of foundation, whether you’re 14 or 40, is to prep your skin properly prior to the first drop of makeup. “Moisture is key, so always make sure you start with a moisturizer that’s hydrating but won’t turn greasy and interrupt your foundation texture,” makeup artist Nick Barose, who counts Kim Cattrall, Angela Bassett, and Holly Hunter as clients, tells Allure. His go-to? Lancôme Nutrix Royal Day Cream, which gives skin a naturally healthy sheen.
“Prior to applying foundation, reach for a hydrating moisturizer or a bit of face oil. You can even dab in the foundation with a bit of the oil left on your fingers to add some extra moisture,” says makeup artist Gucci Westman, founder of Westman Atelier. “Be vigilant about moisturizing in all areas — especially around the eyes, where you want the skin to feel smooth.” Another Westman-approved tip to get a healthy glow without product: “Circulation is also key. Stimulate your face with a quick
Find the right primer
“A primer that helps blur lines is great because then you won’t actually need to use as much foundation,” Barose says, namechecking Lancôme’s La Base Pro Perfecting Makeup Primer and Armani Maestro UV Skin Defense Primer as favorites. “You also don’t need to wear it all over the face. Focus on lines or [other areas] of your face [you want to] blur.”
Barose suggests clients look for primer formulas that feel gentle on skin and aren’t not too drying or mattifying, as those can sometimes make skin look drier. Another option is to seek out balm-like primers like Tatcha’s The Silk Canvas and Wander Beauty’s Rise and Prime that hydrate your skin while keeping makeup in place.
Customize your coverage
While “less is more” can be a good rule of thumb, the reality is that if you’re looking for more coverage, a fluid-thin liquid foundation may not fit the bill. However, the opposite isn’t necessarily a better alternative: “Heavy, thick formulas will exaggerate fine lines and wrinkles,” makeup artist and photographer Beau Nelson tells Allure.
“As the skin ages, it gets thinner and [fine lines and wrinkles] can show beneath a heavy foundation application,” says makeup artist Sandy Linter, sharing the same sentiment. “Coverage can be minimal and look spectacular.”
To get your desired coverage and ensure a natural finish, look for buildable formulas that you can layer on top of one another to create a seamless result. “It’s really about looking like you’re wearing less, but that doesn’t mean you’re actually wearing less,” says Barose, who uses IT Cosmetics Confidence In A Compact and Sisley Paris Sisleÿa Le Teint Anti-Aging Foundation. “The right foundation, concealer, and powder [for your skin] will add coverage and blur lines while reflecting light,” he adds.
Hydrating foundations are your friends
“Look for a foundation with a hydrating formula,” Westman says, recommending her own Westman Atelier’s Vital Skin Foundation. Some buzzwords to keep in mind while perusing the Sephora and Ulta aisles: “Moisture, hydration, luminous, glow,” says Nelson. “Mature skin tends to be drier and needs maximum hydration. Matte formulas aren’t great for this; look for something dewy.” His kit includes Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk, L’Oréal Paris True Match, Chantecaille Future Skin Foundation, and Koh Gen Do Maifanshi Moisture Foundation.
Linter advises choosing a shade with yellow undertones as well. “Yellow warms up the skin. And the warmer your skin looks, the younger it looks,” she previously told Allure. “It just has to have a tint so that the skin tone is sunnier and doesn’t go ashy,” she adds.
Powder with caution
If you’ve got oily skin, odds are that you don’t leave the house without a pressed powder compact. But if you’re concerned about accentuating any fine lines or wrinkles, use the stuff sparingly. “Powder is your friend, but you need to be careful where you put it,” says Barose, who reaches for Koh Gen Do’s Natural Lighting Powder for touch-ups. “Look for one that’s silky — not drying — unless you really need more coverage in certain areas. I usually do most of the coverage with foundation but use sheer, light-reflecting powder to set and keep it polished, focusing on the T-zone.” A few sheer powders that fit the bill: Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder, Hourglass Veil Translucent Setting Powder, and Nars Light Reflecting Pressed Setting Powder.
Use a sponge for best results
While using your fingers may seem like the easiest (and uh, free) way to apply your foundation, using a makeup sponge will ensure an even, natural finish. “I apply foundation on the larger areas of the face first, like the cheeks and forehead, then I go in and tweak around the nose and the chin area,” says Linter. “Then lastly, I’ll apply concealer, plus maybe a touch of foundation under the eye area.”
“[Using your] fingers can look blotchy, uneven, or gloppy, which can make your lines come out more,” Barose says. “Invest in ones like Thrive
When it comes to concealer, the lighter the better
Crow’s-feet and dark circles are two common skin concerns when it comes to the undereye area, but with the right techniques people won’t even know you’ve got them. “Avoid thick, drying concealers as they bring out [any fine] lines,” says Barose. “When it comes to undereye concealer, you need a formula that will give you coverage but without looking cakey or dry, which emphasizes fine lines.
I love liquid formulas that reflect light like Nars’s Radiant Creamy Concealer,” he adds, as well as M.A.C. Studio Fix Concealer or Clé de Peau Concealer, which he prefers to apply with a concealer brush.
“If you need coverage under the eyes or on spots, find a thin, highly pigmented concealer that locks into place and doesn’t require powder,” Nelson echoes. (Some of his recommendations include Giorgio Armani Beauty’s High Precision Retouch for the undereye area, plus Charlotte Tilbury’s new Magic Away Concealer, Laura Mercier’s Secret Camouflage, and the tried-and-true, Best of Beauty Award-winning Maybelline New York Instant Age Rewind for other areas. However, if you already have a ride-or-die formula, don’t fret: “If you love your current concealer and it doesn’t self-set, try setting it with a blurring powder and a small, soft brush,” Nelson suggests.
Choose your highlighter carefully
Glitter and shimmer are dealer’s choice always, but something to consider when it comes to mature skin because anything with sparkle can act as a microscope for fine lines and wrinkles. “A bit of highlighter will give a youthful, radiant look, but avoid anything too frosty or shimmery,” suggests Barose, who recommends dabbing a sheer liquid formula like Make Up For Ever’s Ultra HD Soft Light Liquid Highlighter on top of cheekbones to bring life to your complexion and add dimension to your foundation.