My 73-Year-Old Mom Is Proof That These Cheap Makeup Products Look Expensive


(Image credit: Courtesy of Elise Marquam Jahns)

If you're a Who What Wear Beauty regular, you're likely already familiar with my 73-year-old, *very* badass mom, Elise Marquam Jahns. And if you're new to the vertical, welcome! My mom is 73, a professional makeup artist, a beauty YouTuber, and, perhaps most notably, immune to aging (at least aesthetically speaking). Okay, obviously I'm kidding, and in reality, my mom refreshingly embraces her age and the natural aging process. (She's never had an injection or even a professional facial!) That said, she has better skin than I do (unfair but true), and she regularly schools me in her whip-smart makeup techniques and product suggestions. One such example? She is a savant when it comes to bargain shopping—be it fashion or beauty—and just one look at her perfectly applied makeup yields proof that one need not spend a fortune on skincare and makeup products to look totally amazing.

To be completely honest, I used to be a total snob when it came to makeup, and for a long time when I was growing up, my mom always preferred prestige formulas as well. It hasn't been until recently that she has embraced more affordable formulas and integrated them into her YouTube content and day-to-day beauty routine. (See her full drugstore makeup tutorial here!) Even though I've been slower than my mom in adopting a regular queue of budget beauty must-haves, I can never help marveling at her makeup. So I asked if she could give me the full breakdown of her go-to drugstore-makeup look, including the specific formulas and tips she swears by. 


(Image credit: Courtesy of Elise Marquam Jahns)

"I think that no matter our age, finding a great bargain is a rather unforgettable experience," she explains in the video and later reiterated to me over the phone. "In fact, I have a hunch most people can easily think of their best-ever bargain buys. I just happen to be wearing a bargain I found while holiday shopping last December. This could be a bathing-suit cover-up, but I like to wear it as a summer duster. It was on sale at H&M for $3."

Despite my mom's love for affordably priced makeup, she never wants to sacrifice an expensive-looking, upscale result, and she's shared with me that many of her older clients are wary of cheaper drugstore formulas, assuming they'll end up looking "cheap" or "tacky." 

"Those of us over 50 can look expensive wearing makeup that doesn't break the bank. I’m a professional, working makeup artist who specializes in—and is passionate about—helping those of us who are 50-plus look like the very best version of ourselves," she emphasizes. Intrigued to see which products she prioritizes at retailers like Ulta, Amazon, Target, and Walgreens? Keep scrolling! Some of the best drugstore makeup products for mature skin are just ahead. 


(Image credit: Courtesy of Elise Marquam Jahns)

My Mom's 6 Steps for a Flawless Drugstore-Makeup Look

#1: Skin Prep

#2: Eyes

#3: Brows

#4: Primer, Foundation, & Concealer

#5: Contour, Blush, & Highlight

#6: Lips

Beauty Director

Erin has been writing a mix of beauty and wellness content for Who What Wear for over four years. Prior to that, she spent two and half years writing for Byrdie. She now calls Santa Monica home but grew up in Minnetonka, Minnesota, and studied writing, rhetoric, and communication at University of Wisconsin, La Crosse. She studied abroad in Galway, Ireland, and spent a summer in L.A. interning with the Byrdie and Who What Wear family. After graduating from UW, she spent one year in San Francisco, where she worked as a writer for Pottery Barn Kids and PBteen before moving down to L.A. to begin her career as a beauty editor. She considers her day-to-day beauty aesthetic very low-maintenance and relies on staples like clear brow serum (from Kimiko!), Lawless's Lip Plumping Mask in Cherry Vanilla, and an eyelash curler. For special occasions or days when she's taking more meetings or has an event, she'll wear anything and everything from Charlotte Tilbury (the foundations are game-changing), some shimmer on her lids (Stila and Róen do it best), and a few coats of the best mascara-type product on earth, Surratt's Noir Lash Tint.