Sixty years young (Eight makeup tips for mature skin)

Good evening fellow makeup enthusiasts! Hope the recent cold weather in Canberra didn't quench your passion for being beautiful!  Mother's Day is approaching soon, and as a daughter, I want to write something for all loving mums around the world. Here is my take :)

The majority beauty models in TV commercials and fashion magazines are under 25. Most makeup campaigns target young people. Many makeup artists have only worked on young faces.

What is going on? Does the natural aging process keep us from wearing makeup? Instead, mature women get bombarded with the overwhelming promotions of all sorts of anti-aging skin care products, and the negligence of main stream makeup market toward them inevitably makes us think, do we still need makeup as we get older?

But it is common sense that makeup can enhance anyone’s physical appearance, no matter you are old or young. Have you ever seen the paparazzi photos of Hollywood celebrities without makeup? Certainly glamor does not come from nowhere, and without the magic touch of makeup (of course plus hair styling, wardrobe, etc.), many stars are just pedestrians. Let’s be realistic. Although makeup cannot reverse your age from 80 to 18, it will make you look best at your age if it’s done properly. As a makeup artist, I believe that everyone has his/her own beauty at different age. I am constantly inspired by mature women, as they are attractive, wise, and confident. Just like wine, they get better with age.

My lovely mother-in-law Sue is definitely one of the most adorable women I ever met in my life. She has the most beautiful smile and her positive attitude is almost contagious. Believe or not, she is 60 years young( I really wish I can look as good when I am at her age). I had been wanting to do a makeup on her for a long time, and finally we sorted out some time during the Easter holiday. It’s not a typical makeover that you see in beauty books or magazines, as that type of makeup is often very dramatic and barely wearable in daily life. My aim is just to give Sue a healthier complexion as well as enhance her beautiful features in a natural way.

Here is the result as well as some makeup tips for mature people (Assume you know the basics of makeup). To show you what proper makeup can do, all photos were taken under natural lighting with ZERO digital modification (Photo courtesy of Geoffrey Jones at

1. Choose your foundation wisely: As people age, facial skin tends to become more pink-toned. That can be caused by many reasons, including poor blood circulation, thinning of the skin, or other conditions like rosacea and broken capillaries. However, that doesn’t mean you have to use pink-based foundation, as pink foundation on ruddy skin can age the skin and make it look unnatural. In contrast, yellow-based foundation can counteract the redness in the skin, as well as match the skin on your neck and chest better in most instances. Texture wise, powder foundation should really be the last choice, as it accentuates wrinkles and fine lines while makes skin look dull. Both liquid and cream foundations are good, but I found cream is ideal due to it relieves the dryness of most mature skin. Dewy finish is also more flattering compared to matte finish, as the slight sheen on the skin will make you face look fresher and healthier.A good foundation primer would also be a good investment, as it has the ability to smooth the skin out and minimize the appearance of pores.                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

2. Get rid of heavy facial hair: In mature women, hormone changes (especially the reduction of female hormone e.g estrogen after menopause) may lead to heavy facial hair. To make the makeup stay put and the skin texture smooth, it is essential to get rid of the excessive facial hair by either shaving or waxing. Remember, moustache is never attractive on a lady.

3.  Sculpture your face with contouring: As we age, our faces change.  Gravity, loss of skin elasticity, the thinning of subcutaneous fat tissues, and loosen of the muscles all lead to a less tight profile. However, that doesn't necessarily mean we have to go under the knife to fight aging, as proper contouring can restore the youthful looking with relative ease. I am not going to take you through contouring in detail here as the topic itself is very extensive, but there are few fool proof techniques that everyone can do at home to change the look of your features.First, always highlight the triangle area underneath your eyes given eye bag is not a problem (Think of Kim Kadashian’s makeup, the highlight under her eyes is almost signature). Second, remember to highlight the nasolabial fold (lines along you nose and lips, which is also called smile lines or laugh lines).  Last but not least, remember to shadow the jaw line (to give face a lift) and the tip of the nose (nose tip tends to drop when people age).


Contouring is the best way to have a face lift without surgery

4. Cream blush/rouge is your new best friend: There is nothing wrong with powder blush, but it can accentuate dry complexion as they only blend well on powdered skin (Remember, powdery look doesn't go well with mature skin). Instead, try using a cream blush underneath your foundation or over to mimic the natural flush shown through the skin. It’s easy to do: Get a small dab of the cream blush, warm it up by spreading it on the back your hand. Then apply it sparingly on the highest point of your cheekbone, with fingers or foundation/small stippling brush, and gradually blend out  (I tend not to powder the cheek to reserve the natural sheen on the skin). One last thing, DO NOT smile and apply blush on the apple of your cheek (Believe me; I can quote so many top makeup artists on that, including Scott Barnes and Rae Morris)! You will end up with accentuated lines (as your blush gets stuck in the lines) and dropped cheek (Remember the apple of your cheek is no longer the highest point of your cheek once you stop smiling).


Apply cream blush with a small stippling brush over foundation is a good way to give skin a natural glow.

5. Keep eye makeup natural: Although when properly done, smoky eyes can look good on anyone at any age, many mature women won’t feel comfortable wearing dramatic makeup. Therefore the number one rule for mature eye makeup is to keep everything natural. Keep the colour neutral. Avoid shimmery/glittery eye shadows (these accentuate wrinkles and fine lines), matte ones are always more suitable. Deepening the socket is normally not necessary, as our eyes sink with aging. Do not use heavy liners, especially on the lower lid; as harsh line makes eyes appear smaller. Dark brown is almost always preferred eyeliner colour than black due to its softness and subtlety. Texture-wise, I try to shun liquid/gel eyeliners as they do not apply smoothly on eyelid with the slightest wrinkles (Yay for soft pencil liners).  Always curl eyelash to help eyes appear more open and youthful. Apply black mascara generously but avoid any clumping. False eyelash is a good asset but avoid heavy ones if the eyelash is sparse or natural finish is favoured.


Keep everything natural is the number one rule for eye makeup of mature people.

6. Frame your face with fuller eyebrow: Eyebrow is probably the most ignored feature in many people’s makeup routine, but no makeup is complete without perfect eyebrow.  Not only big eyebrows are trendy on run ways and editorials, but they make mature face more defined and youthful (Fuller eyebrows are always inevitably associated with youthful appearance). It also helps to open the eyes. See how different Sue’s face with/without defined eyebrows. If you are not sure what to do with you eyebrow, make an appointment with an eyebrow specialist. Trust me, I can never emphasize enough on how much properly shaped eyebrows will enhance your features.


Fuller eyebrow does not only frame your face better, but opens the eyes and makes them appear bigger. (Notice the difference between the left and right sides of Sue’s face? Everything is exactly the same except the eyebrow on the right side was enhanced).

7.  Go light on lips: I don’t know why some old-fashioned makeup artists suggest mature people should stay with dark lip colours. Darker lips appear smaller and duller. They don’t look flattering at all on most people, regardless of age. I am not suggesting frosty or nude colours are the right choice either (Save that for statement makeup or fashion magazines). Colours slightly darker (one to two shades) than your skin tone will make lips appear fuller (e.g coral, peachy pink) and complement your complexion perfectly. Moreover, I am also quite old school on matching your lip colour with rouge colour. (Yes, pink goes with pink and coral goes with coral, no exception). Texture wise, cream lipstick is ideal because matte ones can be drying for most people and look flat. Lining the lips is not essential but it will correct lip shapes to some extent and increase the longevity of your lipstick. Just remember to match the colour of the lip liner and lip stick as close as possible (Or use a natural coloured lip liner which is lighter than the lipstick). I am also quite conservative on the use of lip gloss as it can make you look like you are drooling in many cases (Less is always more, don’t abuse it). A dab on the centre of the lips is normally sufficient.

8. Smile, smile and smile: There is nothing better than having a positive attitude toward yourself and life. Love yourself and others. A genuine smile will beautify anyone. Be confident. You wear the makeup but do not let the makeup wear you.

before and after

Before (wearing minimal daily makeup) and after photos of Sue. Proper makeup can complement your features and make you look fresher.


Sue with her best buddy Flossie. A smile is the best makeup that everyone should wear.   

I know I should make things short and sweet, but it's not always easy to do so when I want to share all my knowledge with you. Hope those tips are helpful to you, your mum and even your grand mum :) Many thanks to Sue for giving me the privilege to  do a makeup on her beautiful face too! If you have any question or suggestion, please leave a comment below or drop a line here. Please also follow me on my FB page

You friendly makeup artist,

Mary xx

Copyright © 2012 Mary Li Makeup Artist, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Nothing within this post, including text or images may be reproduced without my expressed permission.