What Makeup Products Should Be Avoided As You Age?: 4 Products to Skip, 9 to Buy

Cosmetics, Personal/Inspirational
English: A Dior Lipstick Deutsch: Dior Lippenstift
This Dior lipstick has the right creamy (non-matte) texture, but the color may be too bold for many women.

I’m 27 years old now – young enough to still get the eye roll when I mention to others I’m getting older, but old enough to realize that I can’t get away with spending 10 minutes on my makeup in the morning anymore.

That said, I’ve become curious as of late as to which products are great for women in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, and beyond – and which are not.

To Avoid

English: Studio publicity portrait of the Amer...
Elizabeth Taylor in her twenties. Beautiful as she is, note that a lighter lip shade would have made her lips look fuller (though not have matched her dress as well)!
  1. Black eyeliner.  A daily staple for me in my teens and 20s, it can be harder to wear into the 30s and beyond because it tends to absorb, not reflect, light.  As Dr. Jeffrey Schuldt, M.D., a Boston-based plastic surgeon notes, “Youth and femininity are accentuated as light reflects around the eye area.”  It is better to use softer colors in light-reflective formulas.
  2. Frosted eyeshadow.  On the flip side, illuminating fine lines and wrinkles around the eyes is also a bad thing.  Best to use eyeshadows with a small amount of shimmer, without teenage-esque frost, glitter, or sparkle.   I love BareMinerals eyeshadows, which have the perfect amount of pigmentation and shimmer for gradual layering.
  3. Dark matte lipstick.  Full lips are seen as attractive, but as we age, the lips lose collagen and much of their shape.  By using a dark matte lipstick, we are absorbing rather than reflecting light, again making our lips look even smaller.  A better option?  A lipgloss and lipliner, in the same shade.
    Pink lip gloss
    While matte is a definite no-no, so is frost: it accentuates fine lines and wrinkles around the eyes and mouth.


  4. Matte anything.  On the face, matte formulas can sink into fine lines and wrinkles, accentuating them.  On the lips, matte accentuates creases.  Around the eyes, it’s a nightmare.  Best to select light-reflective formulas.

Formulas We Love for Aging Skin – 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond

Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation is an all-time favorite for medium-to-rich coverage.
  1. Concealer.  Think light reflective particles – the finer, the better.  And a moisture-rich, not matte, formula.  For light coverage, we adore Yves St Laurent Touche de Eclat ($42.00, YSLBeautyUS.com).  For heavier coverage, we can’t get over Laura Mercier Seret Camouflage ($28.00, Amazon.com) – one dot with a makeup brush, and our blemishes, dark spots, and fine lines are erased.
  2. Foundation.  Again, the key here is light reflection and moisture.  For light coverage, try Chanel Vitalumiere Ultra Light SPF 15 ($60.78, Amazon.com).  For heavier coverage, Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation ($61.88, Amazon.com) leaves skin as sleek and polished as Armani’s designs.
  3. Eyeshadow.  Hands-down, my favorite eyeshadow is BareMinerals.  Rather than play the guessing game for the right color, I recommend trying a quad, such as BareMinerals READY ($29.00, Amazon.com).
    Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage is a makeup artist’s dream: It hides fine lines, wrinkles, age spots, blemishes, and dark circles instantly.
  4. Lipstick and Lipliner.  Remember:  Matte is the enemy, and you must match your lipliner to your lipstick and lip gloss!  (That “darker line around the outside” trend never looked good on anyone, especially not older women).  I love tarte Lipsurgence sticks ($15.00, Amazon.com), which are a combination of lipstick and lipliner, with a glossy finish.  Also, don’t forget your SPF – lips are ultra-sensitive to UV rays. My favorite is Clinique Long Last Glosswear SPF 15 – but avoid the frosty shades!
  5. If you have oily skin:  The right primer – and blotting papers.  One problem with non-matte makeup is that oily skin can look even more so, especially during the summer.  I recommend offsetting this effect with a great primer that is right for your oily skin type, such as Hourglass Mineral Veil Primer ($52.00, Amazon.com), which is a virtual godsend for oily skin.  It contains an array of lightweight silicones and a high concentration of alumina, one of the most absorbent materials on earth (GlobalSpec).  If you still have oil production, try Boscia Blotting Papers ($10 for 100, Amazon.com).

Bottom Line

To age gracefully, think soft and subtle:  no harsh colors, matte or frost formulas, or giant sparkles!   What are your favorite age-defying cosmetics?  Let us know in Comments!

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  • @Alisa – That’s a great point about darker skin. Thank you.

  • @Hollis – Thanks for your input. Sometimes I agree with Beautipedia.com and sometimes I don’t. While Paula and her writers also cite peer-reviewed scientific research, it is one thing to cite scientific research and another to consistently draw correct scientific conclusions from it. The more studies that are available regarding a specific topic, the better, and they should be from human studies as much as possible. Some of their reviews draw harsh conclusions (such as that about alcohol causing free radical production) from isolated studies involving rats or cells in vitro only. While these conclusions are to be considered, they cannot be declared as factual until they are repeated. Overall, though, I like the site, but I have to mention this.

  • Alisa

    I follow Futurederm advice “most” of the time. I love just your website and insight but I must add my voice to agree with DD.

    Most of the “misses” with the advice coming from not being dark skinned and not being over thirty – over forty and being afraid of looking old. I am an African American woman and 55. Even at this age, I struggle with very oily skin. I have learned to ignore most of the advice about aging skin and makeup. Matte makeup is a godsend for people with my kind of skin. Of course I will stick with the blackest eyeliner I can find – or my eyes disappear on my face. Friends and coworkers ask me if I am tired when I dont pull my eyes FORWARD with black eyeliner.

    I learned in my 20’s that the constant advice for moisture even for people with oily skin was not for me. Yet having said all of that, I still think your website is great and I will look forward to your viewpoints. But you know what is good about getting older? Knowing how to temper the best intented advice with your own experience.

  • Hollis

    Much of your advice is excellent (and the comments as well.) However, I am disappointed that almost all of your product recommendations are in the stratospheric price range. You don’t have to spend a lot to get good products. Check out http://www.beautipedia.com for well-researched reviews in every product (and price) category. (To be fair, the Hourglass Mineral Veil Primer received a top rating on this site. Some of the other products you suggest are also highly rated, while their price points are duly noted.)

    Being well, well, well over 30, I find that breaking the “rules” sometimes has an unexpectedly nice result. Just don’t break them all at once!

  • @Kyra – I’ll be sure to be more age-specific in the future, though I will say that there are some women in their 30s who sunbathed and/or used a lot of tanning beds in their teens and 20s and do have significant crow’s feet and loss of lip lines. This is more of an issue in more sunny areas, but you’re right, I will be more sensitive to age groups in the future.

  • Kyra

    I totally agree with DD…it is really too extreme to say that in your thirties you should give up on black eyeliner!
    And losing collagen in your lips??? At thirty??????????????????
    Maybe you’re talking about fifty…

  • @DD- That’s a valid point, and I certainly meant no offense or to be harsh in this post at all. I’ll be sure to watch that in the future. It’s just that, as I am approaching my 30s myself (I’ll be 28 in November), I’m more cognizant of what makes the most of my features and what does not. Perhaps I should have written the post from that angle rather than an ‘aging’ one; thanks for the info!

  • DD

    I think I know where you’re coming from, however I don’t like the idea of trying to scare women from doing things that make them “appear older”. Your language is pretty harsh (we’re really not at war with our faces), and it seems that you’re young enough to still be living in fear of growing older. Seriously, anyone who refers to 30s as old is obviously in the throes of some kind of aging crisis.

    Now, I’m over thirty and have dark skin, so I’ll stick with black and dark brown liners when I feel like wearing them because they go well with my complexion. I have oily skin so it will be a long time before I leave matte formulas behind. My large pores (that I’ve had since I was a teen) make me very cautious of light reflecting particles on my face. I have large, full lips, and the loss of collegen to my lips is and will be minimal. I love to play up my lips and will continue to.

    I think on top of all of the “reasons” I’m allowing myself to break these rules, the fact is I like those things. I take care of my body and my skin, but most importantly I choose to feel good about myself. If that means a deep wine matte lipstick, so be it. Maybe feeling good about yourself no matter what is something that comes with age.

  • @AwwRITE! – Thanks for those great tips! I’ve never tried Smashbox PhotoSet finishing powder or Guerlain Rouge G, but I do agree with you on everything else wholeheartedly! 🙂

  • AwwRITE!

    My tips for aging gracefully (and fighting acne) start at night: Retin-A (but not on my cheeks, which get too dry) topped with Cera-Ve PM.
    During the day, I use EltaMD UV Clear sunscreen, with Giorgio Armani Lasting Silk (it helps keep my oily skin looking pretty), Smashbox Photo Set finishing powder (it works better for me than a primer underneath foundation and doesn’t break me out), and the same Boscia blotting papers that you recommended above. I am also obsessed with Guerlain Rouge G de Brilliant lipcolor–sheer and super-moisturizing!

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