Makeup Tips For Seniors

Recently, Family Care magazine received a letter from an ‘oldie’ who asked for some makeup tips for the more mature woman. Ula Western, of Coopers Beach, kindly provided some basic tips and rules for people aged 60+.


  • Firstly, less is more for any age. When applied well, people shouldn’t be 100% sure you are even wearing foundation!
  • Don’t focus on hiding what you don’t want others to see; enhance the things you do want people to notice (your eyes or smile).
  • Try not to over-cleanse your skin. In the mornings, rinse your face with water using a warm washcloth (or muslin), finishing with an alcohol free toner and moisturiser so you don’t strip your skin of its natural oils.
  • Reassess the colour of your foundation or makeup base. Our skin loses colour as we age and this needs to be taken into account.
  • Your makeup should blend seamlessly into your jaw.
  • Light-reflecting bases containing ingredients like zinc or titanium oxides are a great option for mature skin, and photograph nicely while having the bonus of sun protection.
  • Liquid foundations or mousses work well, though I like Jane Iredale loose powder on mature skin (depending on the coverage you are wanting). Take care with powders and use a quality product.
  • To cover dark circles or age spots I press and roll powder into specific areas; if you use a thicker concealer, blend it in with your finger or a sponge (press and roll).
  • Gently stretch your skin as you apply your base or foundation and carefully work the product into the area to ensure even coverage.
  • When it comes to blush, a warm light peach, soft pink, or bronze will add gentle colour to your cheeks, giving you a healthy glow without looking harsh. Use blush sparingly and touch it up if needed during the day, rather than using too much initially. Cream blush is good, as you can blend it into your skin and get it right into any lines.
  • Only use a powder blush on top of powder foundation or face powder, and only use a cream blush on top of cream or liquid foundation … otherwise they won’t mesh. If your cheeks aren’t lined you can use either cream or powder blush, but if there are visible lines cream blush is best. Apply it under a light powder foundation if you prefer face powders (don’t go over the top)!


  • Strong lipsticks can be ageing as we get older, so choose carefully. I don’t like to say you can’t use bright colours when you’re older, as I have some clients in their 60sand 70s who look amazing with their trademark red or pink lips … but these colours don’t look good on every older woman. Try softening bold lipsticks by mixing them with a lip balm or gloss, using a natural pencil liner underneath.
  • As we get older our lips tend to thin. There are some great lip enhancers on the market which can plump up your lips a little. I like to use the ones containing peppermint or ginger, which increase circulation to the lips to give them a softer, fuller look. If your lips are small, steer away from dark, strong colours; instead, use colours that are close to your natural lip tone (maybe a shade darker).
  • Avoid heavy, thick lip gloss if you’re older, and don’t layer on too much lipstick: as it heats up it can run into your lines. Go for a colour you like that looks great with one good layer of application.
  • If you have heavily lined lips, avoid lipstick altogether and go for a nourishing tinted lip balm in a soft pink or nude shade; concentrate your makeup efforts on your eyes instead.
  • Lip liner is great, but don’t apply a solid lip line. Instead, lightly feather the pencil around the edges of your lips, then colour in the whole area so you aren’t left with a harsh outer line when your lipstick has worn off.


  • Avoid heavy colours on your eyelids, as they can accumulate in the creases of your eyes. Go for gentler colours as with the cheeks, such as soft peaches, pinks or browns.
  • Stay away from shimmery, glittery eyeshadows, as they love to settle unbecomingly into creases and will enhance any lines. And beware of cream eyeshadows, which will crease in seconds. There are some modern technology cream eyeshadows that will dry and last well, but you will need to shop around. A matte powder eyeshadow is your safest option.
  • Circling the lower eyelid with a white liner, especially around the inner rim, can brighten and enhance your eyes. Keep the line soft.
  • Avoid dark eyeliners and solid lines. If you feel you need to use a dark eyeliner, blend it carefully into your lash line and soften it with a cottonbud to avoid lines looking too harsh.
  • As we get older our eyes tend to water more, so you might want to avoid waterproof eyeliners, which don’t adhere as well as a standard eye pencil. Avoid shimmery eye pencils, too; they can make your eyes look watery.
  • Brows are vital for framing your face, so invest in a good brow shape from a professional. You might also want to use a brow pencil or powder. Golden rule: choose a pencil that matches your brow hair colour.
  • Brow mascaras are another great tool to enhance brows. They aren’t commonly used, but I like the one from Jane Iredale; brow powder from Form A Brow works in a similar way. You can daub a small brow brush into both products and fill in your brows as an alternative to using a brow pencil.
  • Eyelashes can thin out as we age, so you need to make the most of what you’ve got! Eyelash curlers work well. If you have mastered your manual curlers, then use them. If it is all a little new or awkward, heated lash curlers may be a safer option as there is less likelihood of pinching yourself! Modelco makes a good heated lash curler which can be found in some Farmers and Amcal outlets.
  • Waterproof mascara is wonderful for those whose eyes tend to water. You may want to avoid using mascara on your lower lashes if you are prone to watering eyes or are expecting to cry at a wedding or other special event. Alternately, an eyelash tint can enhance the lash colour and won’t run at all. If you have never had a lash tint before, be sure to get the beauty therapist to do a patch test first to check for a reaction. Results should last for four to six weeks. You can still use mascara when you want to increase the volume of your upper lashes.

© Family Care NZ

Photo:, Fotandy