The Best Eyeshadow Tips for Mature Eyes

woman with eyeshadow and face makeup

Ryan McVay / Getty Images

As we age, our skin changes and so does the way in which we wear makeup. Oftentimes, older or mature makeup lovers steer away from wearing the bold makeup they may have enjoyed years ago. But it doesn't have to be that way! One of the best ways to make a statement with makeup is with your eyes. But since mature skin types get wrinkles and the look of your eyeshadow, eyeliner, and mascara can change, there are a few key tips to follow for the best eye makeup for older people. To get the scoop, we talked to makeup artists Jo Strettell and Ashley Rebecca for their professional insight.

Ahead, two makeup artists share the best eye makeup tips and tricks for mature skin.

Meet the Expert

  • Ashley Rebecca is a NYC-based editorial and celebrity makeup artist, as well as a monthly contributor for Byrdie.
  • Jo Strettell is a L’Oréal Paris Consulting Makeup Artist whose clients include Demi Moore, Cate Blanchett, Maya Hawke, and Helen Mirren.
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Use Cream vs. Powder

Using a cream shadow versus powder can give you a smoother texture, which can be difficult to achieve when working with mature skin. "I love using cream textures on older women as they appear more hydrating and don’t accentuate fine lines around the eyes that powder eyeshadow can at times," Rebecca explains. Because cream textures are more malleable, you might want to opt for cream blushes and highlighters, too. Plus, using multi-use products, like ILIA's Multi-Stick, that can be applied on all areas of the face are always a bonus. Make sure to blend with your finger to ensure the color spreads nicely and the finish is smooth.

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Consider Your Eye Shape

middle aged woman with beautiful hair and bright colorful makeup

Lee O'Connor / Refinery29 for Getty Images

Whether you have mature eyes or not, your eye shape is one of the first things you should consider when doing your eye makeup. "If you have more of a hooded lid, it’s okay to keep the shadow minimal," such as a wash of color over the lid, or to focus more on eyeliner or mascara says Rebecca. Those with almond-shaped eyes can get away with playing with eyeshadow, since it will still be visible when the eyes are open.

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Use Under-Eye Primer

Sure, you may be familiar with applying eye primer to your lids, but under-eye primer is just as (if not more) important when it comes to eye makeup for older people. As your skin matures, under-eye wrinkles and crowfeet are a fact of life, and under-eye primer can help reduce their appearance. Try dotting on Smashbox's Photo Finish Hydrating Under Eye Primer prior to applying any eye makeup—and under-eye concealer—which has a hydrating formula that prevents concealer from settling into fine lines.

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Line Your Waterline

Eyes tend to appear smaller as you age, which is where the right eye makeup can come in. Use a flesh-toned eyeliner (try Tarte's Fake Awake Eye Highlight) to line your waterline. This will instantly create the illusion of bigger, more youthful-looking eyes.

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When in Doubt, Don't Overdo It

woman laughing with red lip and light eye shadow

Lee O'Connor / Refinery29 for Getty Images / Getty Images

"Less really is more when it comes to doing makeup for older women, and often times I’ll apply eyeliner only to the top portion of the lash line versus both top and bottom—this helps the eye to appear more open and awake," says Rebecca. If you're not certain about a specific eyeshadow look then don't pressure yourself to wear it. A simple eyeshadow look can go a long way. If you'd rather take a break from eyeshadow and your eyelids tend to be tinted or veiny, you can always cover them with concealer to even out the tone. Once you get your rhythm of what you like to wear, you'll find the right products that suit your needs.

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Look for a Conditioning Mascara

"Lashes begin to thin as we age, and fallout doesn’t as often lead to regrowth as it once did," Strettell explains. To help care for your lashes while adding length and volume, she recommends using the L’Oréal Paris Age Perfect Lash Magnifying Mascara, which has a conditioning serum in its formula to treat your lashes while coating them with color. "This is perfect for older women and I always recommend it to my clients."

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Opt for Matte Shadows

As fun and as beautiful as shimmery and sparkly eyeshadow shades can be, you'll want to steer clear. To be on the safe side, stock up on matte eyeshadows that will give pigment to the lid without the concern of emphasizing wrinkles. Try Lawless's The One Eyeshadow Palette, which includes 18 beautiful, neutral shades ranging from soft peach to deep chocolate.

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Use a Waterproof Eyeliner

Using a waterproof eyeliner above and under the lash lines and right in the waterline will give your eyes depth and definition, without the need for eyeshadow if you don't want to use it. Try using Estée Lauder's Double Wear Infinite Waterproof Eyeliner.

Often times dark eyeliner and shadow on the bottom of the eyes can emphasize dark circles, so you may want to only apply liner on the upper lid to eliminate any unwanted attention.

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Don't Be Afraid of Falsies

false lashes with tweezer and applicator


False lashes can be intimidating, but the right pair can completely transform eye makeup for older people. MoxieLash suggests using a realistic lash, like their Wifey Lash ($40), to open and lift the eyes. Before you say false lashes aren't for you, hear us out. These aren't the false lashes that require lash glue and seemingly impossible skills—they're magnetic lashes that are super easy to apply. First, apply MoxieLash's Magnetic Liquid Eyeliner ($45) in short small strokes. Then, use a pair of tweezers to help place lashes on the liner and see them magnetize.

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Highlight With Concealer

Use concealer as a highlighter under the brow. Try NARS' Soft Matte Complete Concealer, which will give the benefit of lightening and defining your arch but also dries as a natural, matte texture. You can also use this tip for any shadow look you're creating if you want to avoid shimmer. Concealer can double as a highlighter by brightening eyes without using eyeshadow, but be sure to start with a light amount of concealer and blend with your finger or concealer brush. You can keep adding layers to intensify the brightness, and set the look with a loose powder to ensure it stays all day.

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Look For Products That'll Help You

Mastering center eye makeup techniques can be difficult as it is, and getting older doesn't make this any easier. "As we age, it's harder to keep a steady hand for many women. This is especially true when applying eyeliner," says Strettell. She recommends using products that will make applying your eye makeup easier, like the L’Oréal Paris Age Perfect Satin Glide Eyeliner, which contains an ergonomic grip to make the product easy to apply.

As the eye area becomes wrinkled, it can be difficult to get a smooth eyeliner application. Instead of trying to line your eyes in one swift motion, create dots along the upper lash line and connect them. Then, smudge the line for a softer look.

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Don't Forget Your Brows

middle age woman portrait

Liliya Rodnikova / Stocksy

It's easy to overlook your eyebrows when trying to figure out the best eye makeup for older skin, but they should be a key focal point of your look. "The brows are so important when working with more mature skin and features," says Rebecca. "They can completely change the way someone looks if they are shaped and filled in properly."

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Use the Right Tools

The key to eyeshadow application for those with mature skin is to blend, blend, blend—and use the right makeup brushes to do so. We love Rephr's Core Collection.

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Set Cream Products

Like we mentioned, the best eyeshadow for mature eyes tends to be cream formulas, since they won't settle into fine lines. That said, it's a good idea to set cream products with powder formulas to avoid any transfer. You can do this for both your eyeshadow and eyeliner, by using a matte eyeshadow. To set your eyeliner, press MAC's Matte Eyeshadow in Carbon overtop using a small, flat top brush.

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Build Your Coverage

Maryann Elizabeth


The best eyeshadow for for mature eyes follows the motto "less is more," and the same concept goes for concealer. "Avoid using thick, heavy concealers on the lids and under the eyes as this can cause a lot of creasing," Rebecca says. "Building concealer coverage and buffing it out with a fluffy brush is a great way to conceal without the makeup looking thick."

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