What Makeup Looks Best Over 40?

By Mel - 4 min read
woman with natural grey hair

Are you confused with What Makeup Looks Best Over 40? As a makeup artist, I can reassure you that the makeup you are using is likely to be similar, if not the same, as they always have been.  The only difference is that you may prefer a more softer and targeted application approach by using techniques and placements that help to flatter and enhance your natural complexion and features.

What Makeup Looks Best Over 40?

Find the right Skincare Routine for your Skin before you think about makeup.

I’m a huge advocate of a really sound, skincare routine. If you can, find a skincare consultant that can advise you on a skin regime for your skin type. I use a doctor that specialises in skin to advise me on what is best for my needs.  She is in Essex, UK and is a former burns doctor and is therefore very well versed in skin. Many good beauticians will help you too. Do your research.

Ask your friends, reach out on Facebook if you are on social media and/or read reviews to find the best consultant or ask what others use and then find what’s best for you.

It can be confusing….

It can be confusing to understand what makeup looks best after 40 and as our skin starts to change and perhaps what did work, no longer works for us, but it can be difficult to know where to start to make positive changes that are more targeted.  I believe that’s because there is so much (too much) overwhelm out there in the makeup stratosphere.

The make up you are already wearing is likely to be absolutely fine to still use but you may want to make some tweaks to how you apply it.  You may prefer a softer application approach to makeup by using techniques and placements that help to flatter and enhance your natural complexion and features.

I like to keep my makeup classic and minimal since I turned 40. I am now much more strategic about make up placement. If I go to the effort to put makeup on, I feel it’s best to apply it in the most flattering way.

I personally avoid a heavily contoured looks and instead go for ways to soften my features with light contouring only where I feel I need it. Heavy contouring and caking can create a severe look that does not soften features on mature skin. Here is my 9 step guide and will answer the question what makeup looks best over 40?

Pre Makeup….


As mentioned, I am a huge advocate of the improvement to skin and how makeup looks on the skin when you have a good solid skincare routine. Skincare goes beyond the realm of this post, but you can find my latest article on skincare here.


Drink a glass of water every time you go to the bathroom as well as a 1 litre bottle when you’re ‘on the go’ and keep to a diet full of fresh fruit, veggies and salad and strive to minimise stimulants such as coffee, alcohol and sugar.

woman with a glass of water
woman about using a brush to her eyeshadow palette

So let’s get on with the answering the question…What Makeup Looks Best Over 40?


Prime with a colour correcting primer or an anti ageing primer depending on your needs.  For example if you have a lot of pigmentation then go for the colour correcting one such as Stila One Step Correct.  However if you need a ‘glow from within’ look, then go for a primer such as Laura Mercier Illuminating primer or Charlotte Tilbury’s glow.

If you are not priming, then you are missing a trick. Primer allows for a smooth complexion from the outset and creates a canvas for your makeup. There will be no need for heavy coverage if you can counteract discolouration on the face and create a light glow base before you even start to apply makeup. In the above image, I’m using Stila One Step Correct.

I do my eye primer at this point and then set the primer with Translucent powder. Always set your eye primer with loose powder. I then go onto applying the rest of my eye makeup.


I add foundation after primer and I use a sponge to apply only where I need the coverage, so not all over my face. Just cover areas that are red, where you have blemishes or pigmentation but leave the other areas, just make sure you blend well. Do blend down the neck and don’t forget your ears.


I use my concealer by placing it on the inner corner of my eyes and the outer corner not all the way along the under eye area.  It just creates more lines and creases and is generally not flattering for mature skin.

By applying to the inner corner you are highlighting and covering any under eye circles (if you have a lot of purple use a colour correct such as Urban Decays Yellow Colour corrector before you add concealer). Applying to the outer corner allows for a more lifted appearance and ensures the eyeshadow is sitting higher up on the outer eye. I then lightly set using a small fluffy brush . I love Anastasia Beverly Hills Translucent powder or Laura Mercier’s Translucent powder.

Step 6- BLUSH

I add colour to my face where I naturally ‘colour’ when I exercise and when I am out in the sun. For me, that is usually just a little blush, but sometimes I will add a bronzer particularly if its the Summer and I a light tan (usually a light fake tan in my case!) I am in love with the Jane Iredale Cotton Candy blush. It suits my pale cool toned skin and it has a slight sheen to it, which lifts a more mature complexion.  If I feel like adding some more dimension to my features, I’ll then use my Too Faced Contour palette and add some contour.


I don’t feel my makeup is finished without adding highlight to the higher points of my face. Add to the higher points of the cheeks, bridge of the nose, middle of the brow and the cupids bow. I am sure you will love the glow it gives the skin.


Do not be scared of powder ladies!!! If you have had problems with caking and it getting into your lines, you have been using the wrong type of powder. Go for translucent setting powders. 

Anastasia Beverly Hills, Chanel and Laura Mercier do great setting powders for mature skin. Set areas of the face that tend to get a little oily and avoid areas that are dry. For me, that just means setting the middle of my face as I have a slightly oily t zone.


I love it for a look that’s natural but it really does give the lips a fuller more plumped up appearance.I more often than not just use a lip salve that has a pink pigment to it and I apply it all day to keep my lips moisturised and pigmented. It makes me feel more confident and put together especially when I am out and about and busy. I am also partial to a lovely lip colour and I’m loving my Itsmycolour lipsticks and Charlotte Tilbury and Nars for lovely colours too which are also moisturising.  I have lipsticks for day and night depending on my mood and the occasion

So, What Makeup Looks Best Over 40?

Probably the same make up as you have always used but use a softer and more target application.  Focus on looking after your body from the inside out, focus on a consistent skincare routine and apply your makeup to enhance your best feature and only use makeup where you need to cover blemishes or pigmentation and add colour to the areas that naturally catch the sun and where you naturally flush.

Before you go, do consider joining the newsletter here and you will be automatically added to the waiting list for a free ‘Fast Track To Fabulous’ Starter guide as soon as it becomes available.  This way you can stay in the loop with all things self care and beauty for the over 40’s.

  Disclosure: Bear in mind that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a small commission. Keep in mind that I link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.

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About the author

I’m Mel and the author of Silver Styling. I help women over 40 find calm and confidence by encouraging a holistic approach to beauty.

I am a professionally trained freelance makeup artist, session hair stylist and beauty author, based in London.  You can find more about me here.

Do consider joining the newsletter as we start to build on content in 2022 and automatically go on the waiting list for your FREE Fast Track To Fabulous Starter Guide.


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