Common Makeup Mistakes That Make You Look Older

I think we would all agree that makeup generally improves our appearance. That is why we spend so much time and effort wearing it, right? The last thing we want is for our makeup to actually make us look older than we are! Today I want to share some common makeup mistakes that make you look older.

Technique as well as the type of products you are using really make a difference. Mature skin requires a different approach, so if you are still applying your makeup like you did when you were in your 20’s and 30’s you will definitely want to consider these common mistakes.

Applying Too Much Of Everything

As we age, the temptation may be to wear more and more makeup to “cover up” imperfections in our skin. Wearing lots of thick, heavy makeup in general actually makes you look older. Try to change your approach to makeup to a less is more attitude. We want to strategically wear just enough products to accomplish a fresh and youthful appearance.

Heavy & Dark Eyeliner

This is a big one. Wearing heavy black eyeliner all around your eyes is harsh, and it makes your eyes look smaller. Instead use a lighter color like brown, grey, or taupe, and line the upper lash line only.

As we age, everything starts to droop, including our eyes. For a more lifted look, concentrate on the upper eye only. If you must line the lower lid, use an eyeshadow in a soft neutral color and smudge it slightly. Try to avoid the inner corner of the eye.

In this photo, I only put a small amount of mascara on the bottom lashes, but no liner. If you have small eyes like I do, using dark eyeliner will really make the eyes look even smaller.

Dark or Glittery Eyeshadow

Another common makeup mistake that makes you look older is dark or glittery eyeshadow. Dark shadow is too harsh for mature skin. Instead stick to neutrals in a matte or slightly shimmery color. Absolutely no glitter!

In the photo above, I am wearing this Milani palette using only the two lightest shades. I lined my upper lash line only with the dark brown.

My all time favorite eyeshadow palette is the Too Faced Natural Matte Neutrals palette. I use this palette more than any other and often for photos.

Skipping Mascara

Mascara really opens up the eye. A good heavy coat on the upper lashes will do wonders. If you apply mascara to the lower lashes, go easy. I have tried many mascaras and to be honest, no certain one has ever stood out to me that much. I do prefer a waterproof formula. Currently I am using the Bambi Eye by Loreal and I do like it.

Wearing Too Much Foundation

Choosing the right foundation for mature skin is so important. There are so many on the market that it can be overwhelming. I recently wrote a post on the best foundations for mature skin that I have personally tried and liked. You can see it here.

Again, think less not more when it comes to foundation. Concentrate on the areas that typically need the most coverage like the nose and the center of the face. Gradually blend it toward the outer edges of you face and forehead. Using a blending sponge or a brush will blend your foundation better than using your fingers – especially if your skin is dry.

Our skin loses moisture as we get older, so using a moisturizer under your foundation is important. Choose a foundation that is also moisturizing. Anything too matte or too luminous will accentuate fine lines, texture, and wrinkles. Look for a soft satin like finish.

The other extreme would be not wearing foundation at all. This is a mistake. If you don’t like foundation, try a tinted moisturizer or a BB cream.

Using Too Much Concealer

Another common makeup mistake that makes you look older is using too much concealer under the eyes. The skin under the eyes is very thin and delicate. Do not make a big upside down triangle with concealer under your eyes! It will not flatter you.

Don’t Do This!

Instead, use a tiny bit in the area that you have discoloration. For me, that is the inner corners under both eyes. Just a dot of concealer blended gently with your ring (4th) finger is the best way to apply concealer. Your finger is gentle and you will just use quick pressing motions.

Thick concealers will also accentuate crepy skin under the eyes, making you look older. Choose a formula that is thin and blends easily. Personally, I have not found a better concealer than the Maybelline Instant Age Rewind concealer. I have tried the popular Tarte Shape Tape and I do not like the way it looks on me.

Wearing Too Much Blush or Not Wearing Blush At All

Blush gives our skin color and accentuates our cheekbones, both of which are good things. Avoid wearing too much blush or risk having clown cheeks.

Apply blush just above the apples of your cheeks in a shade that flatters your skin tone. If you have warm undertones, then consider a peachy pink. If you have cool undertones, stay with a soft pink or nude that does not have any gold or yellow undertones.

If you have dry skin, consider a cream blush. They are less likely to settle in to lines and wrinkles. Just be careful to blend it well.

Too Much Highlighter

Highlighter is a very tricky thing for midlife women. A nice glow is youthful, but too much sparkle and shimmer will make you look older. In the photo below I just added a little bit of highlighter to accentuate my cheekbones and catch the light.

Use a highlighter in a neutral tone that does not have glitter in it. Apply very conservatively by sweeping it lightly across the top of your cheekbones and going out towards the hairline.

For a budget friendly option, I really like this Pure Nude Highlighter by Essence. I’m wearing it in the photo above.

Wearing Too Much Powder

I have read articles that say to skip powder all together at my age (51). I think it really depends on what type of skin you have. If you tend to be oily, I think a powder is helpful. The common mistake that causes powder to make you look older is using a heavy, chalky powder. This will accentuate your texture for sure!

Women with mature skin should only wear translucent powder. Some good examples are the It Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores Airbrush Loose Powder, and the Revlon Photo Ready Candid. I have also heard good reviews of the Laura Mercier Translucent Setting Powder; however, I have not personally tried that one.

Wearing Dark Matte Lipstick

Dark, matte lipstick will make you look older because it is harsh and shows all the lines around the mouth that show up in midlife. The example above is extreme and doesn’t even flatter a young person.

You have most likely heard conflicting opinions about wearing bold lipstick colors after a certain age. Some say not to wear bold colors. I tend to disagree.

I like to wear a bold lip color because my natural lip color is a little bit dark, and super light shades look terrible on me. I think the key is to not wear matte lipstick that is bold.

Bright Pink Lip
Bright Red Lip

Of course, nudes, soft pinks, and corals will always be flattering on older women, so you can’t go wrong with those.

Pink Nude Lip

Wear the colors you like. The most important thing is to wear something that has some luminosity to it.

Heavy Lipliner

While we are talking about lips, we can’t forget about lip liner. I have to cringe when I see women of any age wearing lip liner that is darker than their lip color. Ladies, it’s just not flattering…especially if you are older. This is a common makeup mistake that will make you look older.

I’m not very consistent with lip liner as much as I should be, and I am guilty of having my lipstick run. If you wear lip liner, it should match your lips and you should apply a light coat over your entire lip. Then apply your lipstick or gloss.

Neglecting Your Brows

As we age, our brows can become sparse. If you have naturally light hair, your brows may not show up at all. Neglecting your brows can make you look older. At the same time, overfilling or painting on your brows can also make you look older.

For natural looking brows, use a neutral color that isn’t too dark. Make sure you fill them in all the way to the end, and don’t over extend the arch.

Knowing how to apply makeup to mature skin can really enhance your appearance! In fact, if done correctly it can actually make you look younger and who doesn’t want that? I have linked the products mentioned in this post as well as some other favorites of mine in the shopping widget below. I hope that is helpful!



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  1. Terri | 6th Jul 20

    That was really helpful! I am happy to say that I’m not making any of the makeup mistakes, and the reason is because of the blogs for middle-aged women that I’ve been following the last couple of years (I’m 58).

    • The Scarlet Lily | 6th Jul 20

      Good for you! I’ve learned a lot from other bloggers too.

  2. Kelly | 6th Jul 20

    Great post with lots of good information. One product I’ve found to be really helpful as my brows lighten is to use a tinted brow gel. I always gently blot the brush so there are no globs and I get really nice, natural looking brows. The NYX brand works very well and is inexpensive. I love your new blog and have enjoyed every post. And you look amazing at 49 (or any age for that matter!).

    • The Scarlet Lily | 6th Jul 20

      Thank you Kelly! What a sweet thing to say. I will definitely try the brow gel..thanks for the tip!

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