It doesn't matter whether I'm wearing my journalist or make-up artist hat: the minute I mention that I know a thing or two about make-up, the questions will start.
More often than not, they centre around skin make-up. The thing that crops up again and again: how to make skin look great but, crucially, as if there's no make-up at play.
That caveat comes first, and then everyone without fail asks what the best foundation is, lots of people want to know whether to put on concealer or foundation first, and more than a handful will say 'what's your favourite YSL foundation?' (you can substitute YSL for every other brand as I'm asked a variation of this question at least every week).
When anyone over 40 asks me, they'll often also mention something age-related: wrinkles, discolouration, the desire not to look 'too made up.' My answer to this is blanket: forget your age category and think instead of what your specific issues are. If your skin is dry, focus on that. If redness plagues you, that's the thing to tackle.
That said, there are common themes with skin that's getting older - like hydration taking a nosedive, pigmentation setting in, and wrinkles making themselves known.
I've used years of experiences of applying make-up to people of all different ages to narrow down what the absolute best foundation for mature skin over 40, 50, or 60+, and have added all the info you'll need to make an informed decision for your skin type and preferences, whatever your age.
And to make things even easier, I got in touch with some of the best pros in the business and asked them for their tips on application—you'll want to note these down.
Make-up artist, Andrew Gallimore's top tip:
"If you're concerned about keeping skin looking youthful, imagine a heart shape over your face—within that shape, you'll need the most coverage in general. Be sparing—don't pile on too much foundation to start with; if you add too much product, it'll look like a mask," advises make-up artist, Andrew Gallimore.
Make-up artist, Daniel Sadler's top tip:
"Try priming your foundation brush with moisturiser and then applying the base to it - this helps with application on more mature skin, plus the brush doesn't grab as much product so there's less wastage. Win, win," says make-up artist, Daniel Sandler.
Make-up artist, Jessica Kell's top tip:
"Skip shimmer and look or products which offer luminosity," suggests make-up artist, Jessica Kell, adding that "I would also use any concealer with the foundation to get a seamless blend rather than creating too many heavy layers which are more likely to move or go patchy."
The best foundations for mature skin
As a beauty editor and make-up artist, it's safe to say I know a thing or two about what makes for a really great foundation for mature skin. Not only do I quiz other make-up artists on their go-to formulas in my journalistic work, but I have also been applying foundation to faces of different ages for many years.
To test the below, I've looked for three markers of brilliance which is very helpful or skin that's maturing:
- Hydrating formulas. All skin loses its capacity to hang onto water and oil as it matures, so a formula which gives some goodness back is ideal.
- ... But which aren't too slippery. Mature skin is also likely to have some wrinkles or textured areas, and the last thing you want is a greasy slick collecting in them.
- An easily-spread formula, so application across skin is easy.
Below, you will find an edit of the very best foundations for mature skin which have truly stood the test of time, and which satisfy all the above criteria.
Bobbi Brown Intensive Serum Foundation SPF40
Best for serious hydration
If your foundation always feels a little powdery and tight by the end of the day, this might well be the one you're looking for. I asked my 74-year-old mum who suffers from dry skin to take it for a spin and she reported back that it 'felt very nice on skin - like a moisturiser.'
- Hydrates skin for hours on end
- Natural-looking finish
- Doesn't ever look dry or chalky on
- Doesn't offer lots of coverage
- Slips around a little bit
- Bulky packaging
Jones Road What The Foundation
Best for a minimal coverage, maximum glow
Think of this as a big whack of hydration with a sheer wash of skin blurring and perfecting ingredients that you can scoop out the pot every morning and apply with fingers. Seriously: this is the perfect low-maintenance, high-health finish foundation for skin. It doesn't look great if you keep adding layers, so if you need a little extra coverage, opt for a concealer, instead.
- Contains skincare ingredients
- Seriously nourishes
- Offers great 'no make-up make-up' finish
- Coverage is very sheer
- It doesn't build well - you'll need a separate concealer
- The packaging is weighty so wouldn't be ideal for travel
Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation
Best for high coverage without looking caked
This cult foundation is just a brilliant all-rounder, offering reliably medium to full coverage, without sliding around too much. One thing to be aware of: this one works best when you give skincare a little time to absorb before applying it, so pop on your skincare and all-important SPF, go and make yourself breakfast, or reply to e-mails, then head back and put this on.
- Covers quite a lot of redness
- Looks great when applied with a brush or fingers
- You need to wait for skincare to soak in before putting on
- The glass bottle is heavy in your make-up bag
Suqqu The Liquid Foundation
Best all rounder
There's no getting around that this is a more expensive option, BUT skin is the biggest area of the face, and a little goes a long way, so if you want to invest, this would be a really good way to go. Expect your skin to look more even, smoother, more glowing: all the good stuff.
- Looks like beautiful, healthy skin when on
- It's very lightweight
- The coverage is buildable
- It's pretty expensive
- The glass bottle is a bit cumbersome and wouldn't travel well
Shiseido Synchro Skin Radiant Lifting Foundation SPF30
Best Foundation For Mature Skin Over 40
While offering medium to fuller coverage (though remember you can always mix with your SPF or moisturiser to sheer out), this smooths and adds luminosity - plus it wears REALLY well. It's ideal if you're still battling acne or redness alongside starting to sprout wrinkles as it covers without killing that healthy glow.
- Adds luminosity
- Lasts well all day without moving
- Mimics healthy skin very well
- You might need to add powder if you get shiny in areas to contain
Charlotte Tilbury Charlotte's Beautiful Skin Foundation
Best Foundation For Mature Skin Over 50
This is a can't-go-wrong sort of foundation. Apply it with warm fingers for a seamless finish and it'll blend into your skin, leaving a medium veil of coverage with a bit of added healthy glow. In the mix is also hyaluronic acid, which acts as a humectant to keep hydration right at the surface of the skin.
- Contains hyaluronic acid to help keep skin hydrated
- Adds glowing, medium coverage
- Looks great when applied with fingers
- Offers medium coverage so would need concealer to cover any darker red patches
Pat McGrath Labs Skin Fetish: Sublime Perfection Foundation
Best Foundation For Mature Skin Over 60
The lightweight coverage this offers is buildable, as well as being sheer and a little glossy - it's as if the pigment is suspended in glow. Given that description, you might think it disappears quickly, but you'd be wrong - this one hangs around all day long.
- Buildable coverage
- Looks good and hangs around for hours
- The finish is a beautiful glow
- It offers sheer to medium coverage, but you'll need concealer for any areas requiring more
- It looks best when buffed in with a brush so you might need to invest in one
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Madeleine Spencer is a journalist and broadcaster who has contributed to titles including Grazia, Glamour, InStyle, The Independent, The Evening Standard, and Stylist, as well as offering commentary for the BBC, Sky News, and ITV.
She is keen on exploring the significance beauty rituals, products, and memories have on people from different walks of life, and enters into conversation on the topic with guests on her podcast, Beauty Full Lives.
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