Javascript is not enabled.

Javascript must be enabled to use this site. Please enable Javascript in your browser and try again.

Skip to content
Content starts here
CLOSE ×

Search

Leaving AARP.org Website

You are now leaving AARP.org and going to a website that is not operated by AARP. A different privacy policy and terms of service will apply.

10 Holiday Makeup Tips for Women 50+

Glam up with these easy techniques


Makeup is always empowering. Give us a swipe of lipstick, and we're off the couch and out the door with the self-confidence of a supermodel. The holidays are a perfect opportunity to update your makeup routine, reboot application skills and get tons of “you look great” compliments for your efforts.

Here are my own top 10 beauty tips as well as professional advice from celebrity makeup artist Sandy Linter, whose clients include Christie Brinkley and Elizabeth Hurley.

spinner image Image Alt Attribute

AARP Membership

Join AARP for $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal. Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP The Magazine

Join Now

spinner image Nicole Kidman, Molly Ringwald, Patricia Clarkson
Nicole Kidman, Molly Ringwald, Patricia Clarkson
Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic, Nicholas Hunt/WireImage, Amy Sussman/Getty Images for BAFTA LA

1. Decide on your wow zone

 Make a stronger lip or an eye the focal point of your makeup, and go easy on the rest. “If you can wear a bold, dark. deep or bright lip, then you don't need much eye makeup,” Linter explains. You might do a red, berry or rosy pink lipstick with low-key neutral eyes or switch things around and do smoky lined lids with a soft neutral lip. Doing a loaded face with both strong eyes and lips looks overdone. You can always go back and forth as celebs often do and play up eyes one day and lips the next, depending on your mood.

spinner image Debra Messing, Lucy Liu, Sharon Osbourne red hair, defined eye pop of black pencil, nude lip
Debra Messing, Lucy Liu, Sharon Osbourne red hair, defined eye pop of black pencil, nude lip
Steve Granitz/WireImage, Taylor Hill/WireImage, Dan MacMedan/WireImage

2. Switch to a black eyeliner pencil

 There's nothing like an ebony pencil for firming and defining lids that are crepey, droopy, deep-set or looking tired. Start at the very outer eye and work inwards, using tiny back and forth strokes. Keeping definition close to the lash roots gives your eyes a firm, sculpted shape. If you draw the line too wide or it squiggles, just go back over it with a Q-tip to soften or correct. Then sharpen the pencil and redo the line to keep the intensity strong. Sketch beneath the eyes, too, but this time use a light touch — unless you're rimming the inner eye, which brings out deep-set eyes.

See more Health & Wellness offers >
spinner image Salma Hayek, Revlon ColorStay Créme Eye Shadow, RMS Beauty Eye Polish, Julia Roberts
Salma Hayek, Revlon ColorStay Créme Eye Shadow, RMS Beauty Eye Polish, Julia Roberts
Eric Fougere/Corbis via Getty Images, Ulta, Sephora, Taylor Hill/Getty Images

3. Use a cream eye shadow as a primer

 When applying makeup, save your eyes for last. Layering products is the secret to eye makeup that won't budge. A cream shadow like Revlon ColorStay Creme Eye Shadow ($8, ulta.com) or RMS Beauty Eye Polish ($28, sephora.com) makes liner application easier and gives powder shadow something to cling to for zero creasing, fading or flake-out. Choose a shade close to the skin on your lids (it'll disguise redness and any shadow will work over it), match cream shadow to powder shadow for a more intense easy smoky look, or choose a shimmery shade to add sparkle to fatigued eyes.

spinner image Angela Bassett, Julianne Moore, Cynthia Bailey
Angela Bassett, Julianne Moore, Cynthia Bailey
Granitz/WireImage, ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images, Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

4. Stick with brown or gray shadows

Blue eye shadow is trendy for mature celebs, but the color is hard to pull off for mere mortals. Opt instead for warmer shades for cool eyes, such as blue, gray or green, and cooler shades for warm brown or hazel eyes. The contrast works to bring out your eye color, and no matter how much you smoke up the lids or frame the eyes, they never look overdone. Choose palettes with a mix of light to dark shades and a variety of textures, including matte, satin and shimmery. Mix, blend and layer to build color and create an endless shade range, and for the ability to do a crisp clean look or a smoky eye in several ways.

spinner image Rita Moreno, Oprah Winfrey, Susan Sarandon
Rita Moreno, Oprah Winfrey, Susan Sarandon
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images, Andrew Chin/Getty Images, Glikas/WireImage

5. Do your eyes for your glasses

 It is no secret: Prescription lenses distort eye size. Nearsighted? Your lenses are concave and make eyes appear smaller. Compensate by using liner and shadows to contour a bigger shape. Do a pale shade on lids, a taupe or medium shadow in the crease, and a very dark liner at the lash line. Farsighted? Your lenses are convex, so eyes appear bigger behind your glasses — but any lines, crepey texture on lids or messy makeup are also magnified. Do a clean, crisp liner and skip the smoky dark shadows when wearing your glasses.

spinner image Laura Dern, Kris Jenner, Elizabeth Hurley, Brooke Shields
Laura Dern, Kris Jenner, Elizabeth Hurley, Brooke Shields
Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images for BFI, Rodin Eckenroth/WireImage, David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for The Estee Lauder Companies, Craig Barritt/Getty Images for MoMA

6. Create a modern brow

 No matter how cool and trendy your clothes (and the rest of your makeup), if your brows say “retro,” you'll look out of date. Use brow pencil in short feathery strokes to extend the length and fill in the shape, which will unhook and correct tadpole shaped brows, fatten skinnies, complete brows with missing heads or tails, and give your face a “groomed” look. Keep the arch stretched way at the end. Don't try to match sets of brows and eyes exactly. The imperfection — one brow higher or thicker — adds personality and character. And who can resist that?

spinner image Tracee Ellis Ross, Jessica Lange, Sharon Stone
Tracee Ellis Ross, Jessica Lange, Sharon Stone
Getty Images (3): ABC/Image Group LA, Taylor Hill/FilmMagic, Britta Pedersen/picture alliance

7. Let your skin look like skin

Keep face makeup glowy and radiant. Choose a foundation, color-correcting (CC )cream or tinted moisturizer that gives you fresher, healthier-looking skin. Going a little sheerer and more luminous looks more appealing than a full coverage foundation and powder, which can also look theatrical and masklike with stronger eyes and lips. For the dewiest look, wash your face and prep skin with a facial mask for 10 minutes prior to applying makeup. Gently massage on the moisturizer, let it sink in a few minutes and then start your makeup. If you are going out for the evening and want to redo one item from your morning makeup application, make it the foundation. You can retouch the eyes and lips easily.

spinner image Jennifer Lopez,  Cate Blanchett, Jane Seymour
Jennifer Lopez, Cate Blanchett, Jane Seymour
James Devaney/GC Images, Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images, Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images

8. Lash up to look awake

Curl your lashes to open your eyes and to counteract sag. Use a curler with good spring-cushioned pads and a wide shape to prevent crimping, and curl before you add mascara. To apply, front-load your mascara — depositing more at the roots of the lashes, not the tips, in a black shade to really make your eyes look bigger and stronger. And start at the very roots so there are no gaps between mascara and the upper inner rims. Roll the brush up in a wiggling back-and-forth movement to saturate lashes. For a real pop: Learn to do a strip of natural-looking fake lashes. “Any 50-plus woman can carry off false lashes now,” Linter says. “Just be sure to keep your hair soft and natural so they look newsy.” Celebs always wear them to amplify eyes, day or night. They work like fluttery awnings.

spinner image Christie Brinkley, Julianne Moore, Vanessa Williams, Nars Blush in Orgasm, Stila Convertible Color in Lillium
Christie Brinkley, Julianne Moore, Vanessa Williams, Nars Blush in Orgasm, Stila Convertible Color in Lillium
Eric McCandless via Getty Images, Gary Gershoff/WireImage, John Lamparski/Getty Images, Sephora, Ulta

9. Never skip blush

 While even a face cream takes weeks to see real change, blush's power is instantaneous. “I use Stila Convertible Color in lillium (a cream blush), and brush Nars Blush in Orgasm on top, blending both at the high point of the cheeks. That combo gives every skin tone a believable glow,” Linter says. And know that cream blushes that look bright or deep in the compact case do calm down on application to a wash of color.

spinner image Isabelle Huppert, Isabella Rossellini, Jennifer Tilly, MAC PowderKiss Lipstick in Fall in Love, Professional Makeup Suede Matte Lipstick in Cannes
Isabelle Huppert, Isabella Rossellini, Jennifer Tilly, MAC PowderKiss Lipstick in Fall in Love, Professional Makeup Suede Matte Lipstick in Cannes
Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images, Michael Tran/FilmMagic, Paul Archuleta/Getty Images, Ulta

10. Lipstick makes any smile more appealing

 For some women, wearing a bright lip is basic as a bra. For others, a mauve-tinted lip balm is as far as they will go. While neutrals are always great, upgrading to an even slightly more pinky, rosy, peachy color can add energy to your skin and make you look instantly more dressed up. “I love the new mattes for mature women. But add a dab of gloss to the center of the lips to keep it fresh,” Linter advises. Whether your lips are thin or full, high-pigment mattes like MAC PowderKiss Lipstick in Fall in Love ($19, ulta.com) and NYX Professional Makeup Suede Matte Lipstick in Cannes ($8,ulta.com) will last through hours of eating, air kisses and eggnogging, and they won't dry out, flake or fade away.

For more beauty and style tips for women age 50-plus, check out The Makeup Wakeup: Revitalizing Your Look at Any Age by Lois Joy Johnson and Sandy Linter.

Discover AARP Members Only Access

Join AARP to Continue

Already a Member?