Skip to content

Mastering Eye Makeup at 50, 60 or 70+

There's more to pretty peepers than meets the eye

Mastering Eye Makeup at 50, 60 or 70+


Life has gotten way more complex — and eye makeup, of all things, appears to be keeping pace.

"If you could take one beauty product to a desert island …"

The answer to that question used to be simple: mascara, right?

Not anymore, alas. Life has gotten way more complex — and eye makeup, of all things, appears to be keeping pace.

At least that's true for me: I seem to go anywhere with a veritable satchel these days, filled to overflowing with eye shadow, eye pencils, concealers, makeup brushes and brow fillers.

So let the beauty business obsess over what will be the next runway trend or whose will be the face of the next big brand. The consumers the industry should truly be courting — you and me — will stay busy figuring out how to make our eyes look their best at 50, 60, 70 and beyond. See (ha-ha!) if the following tips don't help!

If you're 50 to 60

Symptoms: Crow's feet, dark circles, unsolicited comments such as "You look tired."

Causes: Sun exposure, stress, menopause, bad habits I'm sure you've left behind (smoking, tanning, late-night cocktails).

Treatment: It's time to give your dry, delicate eye area some TLC. You can keep your smoky eye makeup, but consider making these tweaks:

1. Prep with a hydrating eye cream before you apply any other makeup. (For its ingredients to work best, chill it in the fridge beforehand.) Your concealer should then glide on.

2. Apply creamy hydrating concealer in an inverted triangle — the base directly under your bottom lashes, the point toward your cheeks — to brighten your eyes and entire face. Go one shade lighter than skin tone.

3. Use a shimmery neutral shadow (or eyeliner) to restore sparkle. Go low-dose, not glittery.

If you're 60 to 70

Symptoms: Sagging or deep-set eyelids, under-eye shadows or bags.

Treatment: Stay with your neutral palette — that is, choose grays to charcoal for light eyes, nude to chocolate for dark eyes — but weigh these changes:

1. Use a peachy concealer to neutralize any discoloration in the divot at the side of the nose, inner eye or under the eyes. For bags, apply concealer one shade darker than skin tone on the puffy part, one shade lighter in the recessed groove beneath the bag.

2. Apply a tinted shadow base (or primer) to eyelids to ensure makeup goes on smoothly and lasts longer.

3. Contour your crease by blending a medium shade in your gray-brown palette over the entire lid, from lashes to crease. Then, using a windshield-wiper motion, brush the same color up to and just above the crease in an arc. (You should see the color when looking straight ahead into a mirror.) This easy trick pushes back the fleshy overhang just enough to create the illusion of depth and dimension, making your eyes look firmly sculpted.

If you're 70+

Symptoms: Hooded eyes, thinning brows, asymmetrical facial appearance.

Treatment: Don't use makeup to realign your brows or eyes; the imperfection adds personality and character. (Hey, it works for Jane Seymour!) Continue wearing a brighter lipstick to offset loss of facial structure, but also think about making these moves:

1. Use the blackest gel pencil liner to power up your eyes. Apply it between the upper lashes at the eyelash roots, making small back-and-forth strokes. (Don't worry if the line is wiggly, uneven or messy — simply go back over it with a liner brush to blend.) Then gently lift your upper lid; using the same back-and-forth motion, pencil the inner rim just beneath the lashes. This restores definition and really makes your eyes pop.

2. Front-load your mascara. Using an inky-black shade (such as L'Oréal Paris Voluminous Feline Noir or CoverGirl So Lashy BlastPro), deposit more at the very roots of the lashes than at the tips. If you suffer from dry-eye syndrome — which, paradoxically, often causes you to tear up — choose the waterproof version.

3. Wear sexy glasses that tilt up at the corners. These can be a bold or contemporary, oversize or cat's-eye — in short, any frame that swoops subtly upward along the temple. No surgery required!

For more beauty and fashion tips, check out The Woman's Wakeup: How to Shake Up Your Looks, Life, and Love After 50 as well as AARP's new Beauty & Style digital magazine (available on iPad).