Makeup Tricks for Women Over 40 (That I Learned The Hard Way)

I turned 45 this year, and after looking pretty youthful for a long time, suddenly in these last two years or so my age hit me like a truck. In my face. My skin suddenly changed dramatically, becoming much drier yet also more prone to acne. I’ve got the beginnings of age spots (OY). My eyelashes no longer stand up; they point forward making it look like I don’t HAVE eyelashes.

But worst of all, my makeup suddenly stopped working for me. I’ve always been a cheapskate when it came to makeup, buying all my stuff at the drugstore because it was pretty good quality and inexpensive. However, now that my face is a mess of fine wrinkles, I began noticing some problems. My eyeshadows all typical sparkly type shadows began falling into the wrinkles and highlighting them. Because my upper eyelid now droops a lot more, I’d end up with a shadow of my lash eyeliner on the lid making it look like I had two sets of eyebrows. My eyebrows are thinner and patchy. And putting eyeliner under my eyes was disastrous, with the eyeliner slowly falling down and making me look like I have two black eyes.

So I started doing some research about what other women my age were doing (there is surprisingly little info out there), and I learned a couple of things. First, time to switch to matte shadows instead of sparkly. Second, buy better quality makeup. Third, get waterproof products. It’s worked! Lately I’ve gotten a ton of compliments on my makeup, so I thought I’d share what I learned here at Babble.

Here we go!

  • My Makeup Tricks! 1 of 16
  • Hi, I’m old. 2 of 16

    The thing that kills me about being over 40 is how I ALWAYS look tired now, regardless of how much sleep I'm getting. And I get a lot of sleep now that my daughter is seven. I'm not functioning on five hours anymore. So what's up with the eye bags?

  • What’s Changed Now That I’m Over 40 3 of 16

    I know I'm lucky that I generally have pretty good skin, but damn, the perimenopausal acne is SO ANNOYING. Earlier this year I had pimples on my chin that lasted six weeks, and now I have a little patch by my eye. Super annoying. 


    The biggest change is the way the skin around my eyes hangs. My lashes have fallen forward, my upper eyelid has a pouch that it didn't used to, and I have pouches under my lower lashes now too. Those things were the primary motivation for changing up my eyeliner, but the skin on my entire face has changed as well. More noticeable pores, more small visible veins, and more redness. 

  • The Primer Trick 4 of 16

    Primer is the best thing ever. It's like spackle for your face; it fills in the tiny lines and smooths out your pores. I prefer a non-silicone based primer, but I know people who swear by them. I'm currently using  that Clarins primer, but I've also loved this much cheaper version as well.


    You'll notice I'm not using BB cream. It doesn't work for me. My skin is too dry, and it just collects in my pores without smoothing out my skin. It might work for you, though. I sure wish it did for me.

  • Foundation Trick 5 of 16

    Picking a color that matches your skin is critical. I'm pale with pink skin tones and dry skin, so this one works for me. I have yet to upgrade my foundation to a more expensive version (I'm doing it slowly for budget reasons), but this one works quite well. I don't put it on my forehead (makes me breakout), but I put it everywhere else and then use a sponge (not my fingers) to smooth it out. And I know most of us have learned this before we turned 40, but make sure you blend well at the jawline. Remember that girl in highschool that slathered on the foundation that was the wrong color and you could see it like she was wearing a mask? (Come on, every school had at least one!)

  • The Eyelash Trick 6 of 16

    I wish I could claim that I learned this eyelash trick on my own, but I actually saw a woman stand up in the audience on Rachel Ray and suggest this, and I wish I knew her because I would kiss her right on the lips for this trick.


    These are the tools I use to make my eyelashes look 15 years younger. Seriously. 


    First, I put a touch of hairspray on my fingertips, and I gently brush it onto my lashes. Yes, be very careful, because HOLY STINGING EYES. I then take the hairdryer and use it to warm up the eyelash curler. Yes, really. Don't heat it to scalding, duh, but just a bit warm. Then I use the curler as close to my eyelid as I can, and crimp them for a good 15 seconds. 

  • Eyelashes, before and after 7 of 16

    See the difference? I go from looking sleepy to awake instantly. This trick is probably the most important one I know for looking younger. On days I don't want to wear full makeup, I'll just do the eyes and mascara and lipstick and I look okay.

  • The Eyeshadow Trick 8 of 16

    The hardest thing I had to let go of with my eyeshadow was walking away from the smoky eye. I can't do it anymore. It makes me look like I've been punched, it highlights wrinkles, and really makes me look much more tired and old. So I've switched to using bright neutral colors instead. The brand I show here is one of the few I've found with matte collections.


    I use a bright white shade on my lower eyelid, then tone it down a bit with a peach color on both upper and lower lids. Then I take a flat brush and apply the white eyeshadow below my lash line on the my bottom lid this really helps me look more awake and makes the eye bags less obvious. Lastly, I use the white eyeshadow in the outside corners of my eyes. The start of the crow's feet means there is a little collection of dark skin there, and lightening it up really helps brighten my eyes.

  • The Eyeliner Trick 9 of 16

    I've a huge fan of a defined line of eyeliner. For decades I used a pretty standard liquid liner that I loved, but in these last few years it stopped working. It flaked off my eyelids and got liner all over my face. So I got a tub of waterproof eyeliner that is about the consistency of mud, and use a small angled brush to apply the eyeliner to my upper eyelid. If you prefer a softer line, this liner is very easily smudgeable, too. 


    One VERY big pain in the ass while applying liner now is that I have to use one hand to hold my upper eyelid out of the way. I really need three hands to apply it now.


    One other thing I've invested in is quality makeup brushes. For years I just used what came with the makeup, and I have to say using good brushes REALLY helps in application.

  • The Eye Brighten Trick 10 of 16

    Here is where my last hold out of cheap, shimmery shadow comes in: using it to brighten my eyes. I use a teeny bit on a brush in the inner corners of my eyes; it helps define my eyes and call attention to them while also making me look less tired much better than eyeliner under the eyes.

  • The Blush Tricks 11 of 16

    I still use a pink blush. Yes, I know I could use a bronzer instead, but I don't like it. I also prefer a matte look, and bronzers are always shimmery. I use the blush on the apples of my cheeks with a bit on my cheekbones, and I also use it around the jawline to downplay the start of my jowls and my double chins. That brush I use is called a "stippling" brush. I don't know why. 

  • The Coverup Trick 12 of 16

    I bought Bare Minerals ages ago and was sad to discover that my skin is far too dry to use it as a foundation. However, I have found it to be excellent as a coverup! I use a small brush and cover my age spots, the red tiny veins around my nose, and again in the outer corners of my eyes. I also use it on my stupid perimenopausal acne too.

  • The Finishing Powder Trick 13 of 16

    I love a good finishing powder. This brand is not my favorite; because it's high definition, it's ground super fine and I have to hold my breath while I use it to avoid inhaling it. But I will say, it really looks and feels nice. I brush it on pretty generously, and then use a makeup sponge to smooth it out and remove excess.

    Note that I do this BEFORE applying mascara.

  • The Mascara Trick 14 of 16

    My best advice about mascara? If you spend money nowhere else, do it for mascara. A high quality mascara makes a huge difference in how your eyes look. This version of Fresh mascara is discontinued, but the Supernova version also rocks. When I apply it, I first use the edge of the makeup sponge to knock off any loose powder or eyeshadow. You don't have to do this in fact, leaving the powder on and then putting mascara over it can make your lashes much fuller but I do because I already have pretty full lashes. I do, as you see, still apply mascara to my lower lashes. I imagine, over time, that will be something I have to stop doing for the same reasons I no longer apply eyeliner under my eyes. 

  • Best Lipstick EVER 15 of 16

    If there is a better brand of long lasting lipstick, I don't know about it. I've used this brand for ten years, and I love the way it lasts. I used to use Always Sienna, but I'm wearing a slightly pinker version today. Most long lasting lipsticks can be pretty drying, and this one is no exception. Thankfully, the lip gloss cover takes care of that. I never reapply during the day, just use the lip gloss. When I've put this lipstick on before going out at night I wake up with it still on in the morning even after washing my face!

  • Before and After 16 of 16

    See? So much less tired looking! I don't know that I actually look YOUNGER, just not tired.  Also, this makeup was for going out in the evening. For daytime, I do a much smaller line of eyeliner on my upper lid, and wear a more sheer lipcolor. I hope these tricks work for you! 😀

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