It’s easy to fall into comfortable beauty routines and use the same cosmetics and application techniques year after year. But the face you have at 50 isn’t the same as the one you had even a few years ago, so what worked before may not be enhancing your best features.
“Most of us learned to apply makeup when we were in our early 20s, and all we wanted to do then was look older,” said Ariane Poole, a 66-year-old expert in makeup for women over 50 and the founder of Ariane Poole Cosmetics. “If you tell an 18-year-old she looks 25, she’ll be thrilled. But if you tell someone who’s 58 that she looks 65, she’ll be horrified. We don’t want to look good for our age, we want to look good whatever our age, so it’s important to adapt.”
We talked to professional makeup artists ― all over 60 themselves ― about how they help other women let go of what’s no longer working and try new approaches to stay fresh and glowing. They pointed out some of the most common mistakes they see and offered smart techniques to avoid them.
“I firmly believe you can correct anything with makeup,” Poole said. “You don’t need to pile loads of product on your face, and you don’t need filler and Botox, either.”
When it comes to the five key topics below, take note if you haven’t already made adjustments to the products you’re using and the way you apply them.
If you haven’t used primer before, now is a good time to start. The experts we spoke with hailed it as a lifesaver. “A common problem with foundation is that it disappears within a couple of hours when applied to older, thirstier skin,” saidTricia Cusden, 75, the founder of Look Fabulous Forever. “Eye shadows may crease on crepey eyelids, and lipstick may feather into the lines around the mouth. The solution to all these frustrations is to use primers to help makeup stay put.”
It’s important to reevaluate colors and shades from time to time, too. “The shade you choose should match your neck, not your face,” Poole said. “Test a swatch on your chin and compare. If you feel washed out at first, don’t resort to a darker foundation, but try some bronzer instead.”
Makeup artist Sandy Linter, 76, said that if you’ve gotten used to using powder, you may want to try a reformulation. “I tell my clients they can get a glowier look with a combination of moisturizer, primer and foundation,” she said. If you’ve had bad experiences with foundation before, Linter suggested you reconsider: “Foundations are nothing to be afraid of now, even though they had a bad reputation in the past for being too mask-like. Now there are foundations that improve your skin quality and looks.”
Hair can get thinner and sparser as we age, which can affect the look of eyebrows ― and that has a big impact on overall appearance. “Brows add balance to the whole face and definition to the eye area, so they’re important,” Cusden said. The color you’re using to enhance them makes a big difference, she added, warning against using the same old eyebrow pencil you’ve always used. “Enhancing brows to match one’s original hair color may look a bit heavy,” she said. “If your hair has gone from brown to gray or blonde, then a soft taupe color for brows can look good.”
It’s also a good idea to pay attention to what’s happening with each brow. “They don’t tend to age evenly,” Poole noted. “I recommend using brow pomade or mascara, while noticing if you need more on one brow than another. And remember that the end of your brow should be straight across, not dropping down, which can make eyes seem more hooded.”
Yes, you still can use eyeliner. No, it shouldn’t be black. “Our eyes lose definition and seem smaller as we age, so you definitely need eyeliner,” Poole said. “But it shouldn’t look harsh. Instead of black, opt for charcoal gray or deep navy. Fair skin might do well with muted brown or soft olive. Deeper skin tones look great with navy or deep plum colors.”
Still wondering how to do eyeliner like a pro? Here’s Poole’s tip: “Apply the liner along the base of the top lashes, but stop just before you reach the end of the eye. This helps open the eyes and stops the eye from looking downturned.”
If you’ve been putting concealer on first, it’s time to switch things up and “apply it on top of your foundation or tinted moisturizer,” Poole said. In the past, she explained, concealers tended to be thick and heavy, but they’re now more lightweight. Because of that, you don’t want to displace them when you apply foundation, which is why they go on after.
“And if you’re dry under the eyes, I love using a daytime eye cream, followed by concealer and then foundation,” she said.
Even if you didn’t wear blush when you were younger, you may find it helpful now as your skin tone changes. “I feel that blusher is essential on an older face to restore a lovely healthy glow which lights up the whole face,” Cusden said.
Where should it go? The experts suggested a more thoughtful approach than a quick swipe somewhere between your nose and your eyes. “If you place it too high on the cheekbones, you’ll draw attention to under your eyes and even your jowls,” Poole said. Her suggestion? “Apply it right on the cheekbone, not any higher.”
This might be a good time to toss out your old powdered blush and switch to something dewier. “I prefer a cream-to-powder blush formulation so that you can position the blusher easily as a cream, but then move it with a brush like a powder,” Cusden said.
While Poole prefers applying blush right on the cheekbone, Cusden suggested a more “shaped” approach: “I aim to create a tear-drop shape, but at an angle with the round part on the cheeks and the thinnest point at the hairline, just level with your eyes.” To accomplish this, she suggested starting from the center of the eye and moving down until you can feel the lower part of your cheekbone. “Start to apply the blush there and then, using a brush, blend and sweep the color up towards your hairline,” she advised.
Beauty Is Ageless
Finally, whatever you do, be kind to yourself. “I don’t accept the attitude that aging is some sort of failure of will,” Cusden said. “Everyone gets old, but age is no barrier to fabulousness. Nor does it mean we can’t apply some beautiful products to enhance our looks. I love my older face, because it has all the hallmarks of a good life, well lived.”
Check out makeup artists’ favorite products for looking younger, below.
HuffPost may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Every item is independently selected by the HuffPost Shopping team. Prices and availability are subject to change.
An active enzyme exfoliator
For Bobbi Brown Cosmetics artist-in-residence Carola Gonzalez, exfoliating the skin regularly (about three times a week) is very important.
"When it comes to makeup application, mature skin needs to be polished to remove dead skin, dry patches, and increase skin cell turnover," she said, adding that exfoliated skin will also make foundation look smoother and more even.
She uses this active exfoliator which uses potent fruit enzymes to gently slough off dead skin cells along with nutrient-dense plant oils and honey to help restore moisture and clear congestion.
"As skin matures, it starts to lose luster and luminosity. Skin starts to become more dehydrated, dull, and wrinkles become more pronounced," Gonzalez said. Because of this, she and nearly all of the other makeup artists we spoke to said that it was best to choose a foundation that's hydrating, lightweight and has a non-matte finish.
Jeanette Aguirre, a Los Angeles-based lead makeup artist for Glamsquad, said that she loves this luminous silk foundation by Giorgio Armani on mature skin because it won't settle into fine lines and wrinkles. The hydrating formula claims to blur imperfections and offer a glowy finish.
"I can't stress enough how important it is to wear sunscreen daily to avoid premature skin aging," Aguirre said, something repeated by many of the others as well.
For a more natural, everyday makeup look, Aguirre reaches for this color correcting cream from Supergoop that contains mineral SPF50 for protection against UVA and UVB rays. She said she likes the customizable and buildable coverage offered by most CC creams as well as the skin-perfecting, natural finish that it leaves behind.
CC Screen is also infused with some skin care ingredients, like apple extract to help brighten the complexion and red seaweed extract which can help protect skin against free radical damage.
Los Angeles-based makeup artist Susan Zeytuntsyan said that setting powder has a tendency to settle into and accentuate fine lines, so it's important to only spot powder using a small brush, and only in areas you really need it, such as the T-zone.
"Use a very finely milled loose powder," Zeytuntsyan said. "I love the Hourglass one because it has reflective particles that help maintain that glow while still setting your makeup."
According to Zeytuntsyan, hydrating the skin is one of the most important steps in the makeup prep process. This is because makeup applied on top of dry skin can make products look patchy or settle into fine lines.
"For mature skin, use a really rich and emollient moisturizer as a base for your foundation," she said. "I love Embryolisse Lait Creme Concentre."
This iconic French face cream actually functions as both a moisturizer and a makeup primer and contains a blend of calming aloe, soy proteins, skin-softening shea and beeswax.
Both Zeytuntsyan and Garrison said to opt for a cream blush rather than a powder formula because it gives you a natural flush with a more radiant finish. Garrison said that placing your blush a bit higher on your cheekbones can give you an "instant facelift."
"Applying blush on the apples of the cheeks gives the illusion of a rounder face and can make you look more youthful," Zeytuntsyan added. She considers the Kosas cream blush and highlighter palettes to be a beautiful option thanks to their ultra-blendable and conditioning formula that's fortified with skin-benefitting oils and botanicals. They are also available in three different shades.
"Another trick to make your eyes look brighter is to take [the] highlighter and apply it using your finger on your brow bone, center of your eyelid and the inner corner of your eyes," Zeytuntsyan said. "This is a quick and easy way to brighten and add a pop to your eyes without the need for a ton of eye makeup. "
Brett Freedman, a Los Angeles-based celebrity makeup artist, said that as we age, we lose the color in our skin. Adding a lift of tawny or bronze to your usual routine makes skin look warmer, more glowy and all-around healthier.
He suggested using Charlotte Tilbury's Airbrush Flawless bronzer. Its pressed powder formula is made using micro-fine perfecting powders for a silky feeling on the skin as well as hyaluronic acid to hydrate.
Garrison said that it's important to prep your under-eye area with moisture. One of her favorite eye creams is the iS Clinical Youth Eye Complex, which is packed with peptides and potent antioxidants to help support collagen production, protect the skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines.
When it comes to addressing under-eye puffiness and eye bags prior to makeup application, Garrison also likes to use these cooling eye gel patches that claim to deliver potent actives to help de-puff, brighten and smooth the under-eye.
Garrison's absolute favorite product for achieving that "lit from within glow" is Charlotte Tilbury's cult-favorite Hollywood Flawless Filter, a unique product that hydrates, illuminates and blurs imperfections.
"You can mix it in with your foundation for an all over dewy finish or just apply it to the high points of your face, like the tops of your cheekbones, for added radiance," Garrison said.
"As we age we develop fine lines around our lips and if you’re not using a lip primer, your lipstick is more likely to bleed," Garrison said. Her solution? To always line lips prior to lipstick application and prep using this lip primer that can smooth lips and prevent lipstick from feathering.
Setareh said the melanin in our lips can fade with age, making them look smaller than they really are, or smaller than they once were. Using a lip liner to slightly over-line the top lip and just the center of the bottom lip can help create a more full look and draw attention to the center of the face.
She also said she avoids drying lipsticks or matte lip paints, and that lip liners by NYX are what she typically grabs for most. Available in a large variety of shades, these lip pencils are creamy and long-wearing.
Setareh commonly brightens the eyes of her mature clients, which she achieves using matte shadows from a Viseart eye palette. This professional makeup brand is known for producing richly pigmented eyeshadows that are easy to blend.
"I use a matte or satin highlighter in the corner of the eyes and move it upwards under the brown bone. This is better than trying to use concealer under the eyes, which creases tremendously," she said.
For an extra wow effect, Setareh also applies a flesh-toned or white liner to the waterline, which can help the eye appear more open and bright.
Garrison and Setareh both shared love for Nars' Radiant Creamy concealer, an industry favorite formula that contains light-diffusing mineral powder to blur the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and brighten the under-eye. It's available in 28 shades.