As we age our skin care routines tend to change in order to address different concerns — like fine lines and wrinkles, loss of hydration and crepiness — all of which naturally occur as we get older and begin to lose more and more collagen. The same can be said for makeup, especially complexion products because they have the power to enhance skin or leave it looking dry, dull and cakey.
Luckily, there’s a well-spring of beautiful formulas on the market to choose from. Shop TODAY consulted three professional makeup artists to learn what to look for, what to avoid, which products are actually worth it and application tips to ensure you get the most out of your formula.
What makes foundation for mature skin different from other types of foundation?
It all comes down to consistency, finish and ingredients. “Foundations for mature skin tend to be more lightweight but still have enough coverage to disguise concerns such as redness or dark spots,” says makeup artist Brianna Farfel. “Most of them also have skin care benefits within the formula, as well as SPF, and are very hydrating to create a glowy look.”
While moisturizing formulas are typically great for mature skin because they result in a fresh, radiant finish, Farfel notes that they may feel too sticky or greasy for some skin types.
Makeup artist Jonet Williamson adds that foundations for mature skin are distinct in that they often chiefly focus on hydration, plumping, firming, protecting from UV damage and sometimes even filling in fine lines.
What to look for in foundations for mature skin
Williamson recommends looking for foundations formulated with skin-loving ingredients like hyaluronic acid, grapeseed oil and vitamin E for added hydration, as well as silicone-based formulas because they’re best for filling in fine lines and wrinkles.
She also prefers opting for a “natural-radiant finish” that she says “looks gorgeous on mature skin.”
If your skin is mature but still on the oily side, makeup artist Elisa Flowers suggests looking for formulas that contain minerals to help absorb excess shine and subtly blur pores. “Look for ingredients such as mica or synthetic fluorphlogopite, which is a more eco-friendly and sustainable version of mica,” she suggests. “Also look for iron oxide, zinc oxide and titanium.”
When it comes to texture, Farfel recommends going with creamy or serum-like formulas as these will appear the most natural. “The finish should be soft, hydrated and glowy rather than matte because this will exaggerate wrinkles and dry out the skin,” she explains.
What should you avoid in foundations for mature skin?
Williamson advises against formulas that are super full coverage or overly matte. “These tend to fall flat, settle into fine lines and look a bit unflattering on mature skin,” she explains.
“I recommend staying away from thick and heavy powder foundations because powder is drying and can look chalky or draw attention to uneven texture, pores and wrinkles,” Flowers adds. “Also avoid super thick (liquid) foundation formulas which sit on the skin like a mask and accentuate uneven textures on the skin.”
Both artists highly suggest swatching foundations on the side of your cheek or the back of your hand before buying it to see what the finish actually looks like. “If the formula you’re trying out doesn’t look nice on the back of your hand, it will never look great on your face,” warns Flowers.
Best foundations for mature skin, according to makeup artists
Shades: 17 | Coverage: Light | Key ingredients: Prickly pear extract, white sage extract
A hybrid between tinted moisturizer and foundation, this SPF-spiked formula is a fantastic opinion if you’re looking for something quick and easy for daily use. “This is one of my favorites,” says Williamson. “It’s where foundation meets sun protection for a radiant glow.”
Shades: 18 | Coverage: Light | Key ingredients: Coconut water, hyaluronic acid, watermelon fruit extract
For anyone with oily or combination skin, Flowers suggests this weightless formula from Too Faced. “The finish has a matte glow, good coverage and is super easy to apply,” she says. “It feels super nourishing on the skin and looks beautiful.”
The brand also says this foundation is oil-free and contains coconut water and hyaluronic acid to help skin retain moisture while wearing it.
Shades: 12 | Coverage: Light-medium | Key ingredients: Jojoba oil, sodium hyaluronate (hyaluronic acid)
If you’re looking for light-to-medium coverage, Farfel recommends this creamy, skin-loving formula from Jones Road.
“I love this foundation for mature skin because it’s super hydrating and great for all skin types including sensitive skin,” she says. “It also has light buildable coverage, so you can add more for those areas that might need a little more attention.”
Shades: 4 | Coverage: Light | Key ingredients: Glycerin, niacinamide
According to Farfel, BB creams like this one from Dr. Jart+ make excellent foundations for mature skin. “I love that it has SPF 40 in the formula and that it leaves skin feeling so soft and moisturized, but still has enough coverage for dark spots and redness,” she says.
“The key ingredient that I love in this one is niacinamide because it helps calm redness and reduces the appearance of pores and fine lines.”
Shades: 30 | Coverage: Medium | Key ingredients: Radiant microcrystals, transparent and luminous pearls
A mainstay in Williamson’s kit, this high-tech formula from Shiseido features microcrystals that help correct the look of shadows caused by fine lines and wrinkles.
“It has amazing coverage and contains light-reflecting technology to help minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles,” she says.
Shades: 30 | Coverage: Light | Key ingredients: Squalane, niacinamide, hyaluronic acid
Flowers loves this skin tint infused with sun protection. “This is a super dewy, hydrating formulation that’s perfect for dry and combination skin,” she says. “Not only does it offer good skin care with clean and cruelty-free ingredients, but it delivers a radiant, luminous glow. I wear it all the time.”
Shades: 9 | Coverage: Sheer-to-medium | Key ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, vegan collagen, vitamin E, apple seed extract
This is another formula that falls somewhere between a tinted moisturizer and foundation as it can either be worn sheer or built up to medium coverage. “The coverage is very beautiful, buildable and radiant,” says Flowers. “I also love adding this serum not only to the face but the body because it gives gorgeous coverage and an all-over glow.”
Shades: 42 | Coverage: Medium | Key ingredients: Iris extract, rose extract, wild pansy extract, synthetic fluorphlogopite
Flowers says, despite this foundation’s matte finish, it still looks natural and light on the skin. It even contains the aforementioned synethic fluophlogopite to aid in oil absorption and blurring the look of texture and pores.
“This is one of my favorite foundations because it looks so beautiful both on camera and in person,” raves Flowers, who also mentions its no-transfer 24-hour wear.
Shades: 61 | Coverage: Full | Key ingredients: Synthetic fluorphlogopite
For those with combination and oily skin types who want full coverage, Williamson recommends this natural matte option from Lancôme, assuring it never comes off dull or cakey. Still, she recommends pairing it with a hydrating primer, especially if your skin leans dry. “It wears so beautifully throughout the day,” she says.
Shades: 40 | Coverage: Medium | Key ingredients: Glycerin
This fan-favorite foundation is beloved by makeup artists, editors and shoppers alike for its ability to cover without ever looking dry or cakey.
“The formula has a natural radiant finish that won’t settle into fine lines or cling to dry patches,” says Williamson.
Shades: 33 | Coverage: Medium | Key ingredients: Glycerin
This formula offers sheer-to-medium coverage with a natural, skin-like finish. “The texture feels super lightweight and looks amazing on all skin types,” raves Williamson. It also contains diamond core powder, which boosts radiance and minimizes the appearance of pores and fine lines, according to the brand.
Shades: 13 | Coverage: Medium | Key ingredients: Squalane, aloe, jojoba oil and shea butter
One of Farfel’s must-have foundations for mature skin — and one she always keeps in her kit — is this creamy, succulent formula from Koh Gen Do.
“This beautiful formula contains ingredients like squalane, aloe, jojoba oil and shea butter, and can be worn either super sheer or built up to medium-full coverage,” she says. “It has an amazing blurring effect because it contains mineral pigments, which help with smoothing out fine lines and pores.”
Tips for applying foundation on mature skin
Start by prepping the skin
All three artists stress the importance of prepping the skin before going in with foundation or any type of complexion product, as this will create a solid canvas for the makeup to sit on top of without looking cakey or clinging to dry areas. Flowers recommends exfoliating a couple times each week using your preferred method in order to remove dead skin and keep your complexion looking smooth and fresh. She also suggests using hydrating serums and moisturizers that plump up the skin, as well as sunscreen for UV protection during the day.
Consider a primer
While primer isn’t completely necessary, Flowers says they can be ideal for anyone dealing with texture concerns, such as enlarged pores or uneven areas. “Try Giorgio Armani’s Luminous Silk Primer for a smooth and hydrated look,” she advises. “And for those who need to disguise large pores and texture, try a blurring formula like Shiseido’s Synchro Skin Soft Blurring Primer or Tatcha’s The Silk Canvas Filter Finish Protective Primer.”
Williamson is also an advocate for priming mature skin. “I’d suggest using a blurring primer like Laura Mercier’s Pure Canvas Primer,” she adds.
Use fingertips or a damp sponge
When it comes to actual application, using your fingers or a damp beauty sponge is your best bet. Williamson says a damp sponge will deliver the smoothest finish, while Farfel swears by using your fingertips, so do whatever feels right to you.
Skip the powder
Another pro tip from Farfel is to forgo using setting powder at all costs. “This will help the skin stay hydrated throughout the day as well as keep the formula from caking,” she says. “If you have oily skin and need to reduce shine, use blotting papers instead. I highly recommend Tatcha’s Aburatorigami Japanese Blotting Papers.”
Meet the experts
- Brianna Farfel is a New York City-based professional makeup artist.
- Jonet Williamson is a professional makeup artist, content creator and beauty expert with more than 14 years of experience in the industry.
- Elisa Flowers is a professional makeup artist in New York City with more than two decades of experience.