The ultimate edit of tried-and-tested foundations for mature skin

All the ones you need to know about - and tips from make-up artists on how to apply them

woman wearing make-up
(Image credit: Getty Images)

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

Jones Road What The Foundation

Best for a minimal coverage, maximum glow

Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation

Best for high coverage without looking caked

Suqqu The Liquid Foundation

Best all rounder

Shiseido Synchro Skin Radiant Lifting Foundation SPF30

Best Foundation For Mature Skin Over 40

Charlotte Tilbury Charlotte's Beautiful Skin Foundation

Best Foundation For Mature Skin Over 50

Pat McGrath Labs Skin Fetish: Sublime Perfection Foundation

Best Foundation For Mature Skin Over 60

Madeleine Spencer

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.