The 13 Foundations Celebrity Makeup Artists Always Use on Women Over 40

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(Image credit: Getty Images)

As someone who has a 71-year-old beauty lover as her mother (it's surprising I became a beauty editor, right?), I know all too well the trials and tribulations surrounding foundation and mature skin. Of course, finding the best foundation for your skin texture, tone, and type is hard enough at any age, but when you throw into the mix age-related conundrums like discoloration from sun damage, fine lines, wrinkles, and dehydration, the challenge only gets steeper.

Being that my mom is an actual makeup artist, I've definitely absorbed some of her wisdom and tips over the years: minimal, if any, powder and absolutely no super-matte formulas. She has flawless skin (both with and without makeup), so I've taken her guidance to heart. That said, I was interested to compare notes with some of the top celebrity makeup artists in the industry who regularly cater to Hollywood's leading ladies 40 and over. What foundations do they always have on hand for red carpet prep, and what application tips do they hold gospel to ensure their clients with mature skin look as radiant and healthy as possible? They're covering all that and more below. Keep scrolling! 

Their Best Foundation, Product, and Application Tips

Tip #1: Your Skin Prep Is Everything

Every makeup artist we spoke to explained that without a well-prepped base (aka hydrated and healthy skin) any foundation application will flounder. Prepping the skin with the right products and ample moisture is crucial for a seamless, long-lasting finish. 

"I am really, really big on prep—prep is everything," exclaims celebrity makeup artist Tamah Krinsky, whose clients include Julianna Margulies, Mary Steenburgen, Judy Greer, Idina Menzel, and Christy Turlington. "Regardless of age, how you prep your skin determines how your foundation will sit on your skin, and the more hydrated and healthy your skin is to start, the better your foundation will look. My clients would tell you skin prep is the longest part of their time in the makeup chair with me!"

Krinsky recommends starting the process with a luxe spray like Josh Rosebrook's Hydration Accelerator ($44) before moving on to an oil. She typically applies around six drops, although it depends on the day and client. "I take three to five minutes to massage the oil from the hairline to the collarbones. It's amazing what that alone can do for your complexion! My favorites are Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Antioxidant Oil ($72), Eve Lom Radiance Face Oil ($80), and the Josh Rosebrook Herbal Infusion Oil ($44)," she says.

Afterward, she'll press a pea-size amount of moisturizer into the skin to lock all the magic in. She loves anything from Tatcha, Drunk Elephant, Dr. Hauschka, or La Roche-Posay.

Tip #2: If You Use Brushes, Make Sure They're Synthetic

So the jury is out on whether or not it's best to use brushes or a damp sponge (like our beloved Beautyblender, $20) for foundation application. Our makeup artists were equally divided in their preference! So we recommend trying both methods to see what you prefer. That said, if you go the brush route, Krinsky recommends using multiple sizes and always reaching for a brush with synthetic brush fibers versus natural hair.

"No matter what foundation I'm using, I always use two brushes—one to deposit the formula and one to blend," she confirms. "I like to use brushes on the smaller side so I can be specific and blend around the structure of the face. To deposit foundation, I use a small flat synthetic eye shadow brush. Synthetic brushes don't hold onto pigment and products as much as natural hair brushes, so you save your products from being wasted, and they leave the foundation where you put them."

To blend, Krinsky tells us she switches to a medium-size fluffy eye shadow contour brush. Although her brush process takes more time than using a Beautyblender, she thinks it offers more precision in addition to a more seamless result. 

Tip #3: Don't Buy Foundation When You're in a Hurry

Sorry, but finding the right foundation—consistency, finish, and shade—takes some time and effort. And Krinsky is especially adamant about taking the time to find your perfect shade. 

"Make sure you are matching your skin tone," she advises. "Always ask for a sample (or better yet, multiple!) and look at yourself in daylight. It should look 100% seamless, and if it isn't, it's the wrong shade for you."

Tip #4: Don't Apply Foundation to Your Entire Face

"Only use foundation where you need it," Krinsky adds. "Use small amounts, and take your time to blend them into your skin. You don't have to apply a huge amount of foundation to your entire face. You should be using it to even out your skin tone—not to cover your skin."

Tip #5: The Right Primer Can Be a Great Sidekick

"I love to apply this primer from Hourglass after the moisturizer I applied has fully absorbed," celebrity makeup artist Quinn Murphy shares. "It fills in any texture issues like wrinkles, lines, and/or pores while simultaneously neutralizing excess grease and oil. It also reflects light in a beautiful way—almost like a blur tool."

Tip #6: Apply Concealer Before Foundation

"Concealer always comes before foundation and in a warm peachy shade," Murphy adds. "I apply the concealer in the dark areas under the eyes and over any redness too. Then, I pat on the foundation over the concealer. Using color theory—the opposite of purply dark circles is orange-salmon—is important. It cancels out the bruise-like tones so you don't end up overapplying foundation."

Tip #7: Forgo Powder or Apply It With a Beautyblender

Both Murphy and Chanel makeup artist Kate Lee (who counts women like Charlize Theron and Jessica Chastain as regular clients) recommend eliminating—or at least limiting—your powder usage since it can sit into mature skin's fine lines and make a person look older.

"If I need powder, I use a transparent HD powder on a dampened Beautyblender and roll it into the skin," shares Lee.

Tip #8: Know Which Products Should Be Luminous and Which Should Be Matte

Okay, there's some science involved here. While our makeup artists agree the best foundations for mature skin should be more luminous and dewy rather than matte, you don't want to verge shimmery, and certain complementary products (such as bronzer) should always be matte. 

"Concealer under the eye should be a light and luminous formulation, and concealer to hide blemishes or dark spots needs to have more pigment and coverage," Lee confirms. "Also, be very mindful of shimmer—it tends to bring attention to the texture of the skin, so it's not very flattering if it drops from the eyelid."

Tip #9: You Need a Specific Protocol If You're Shopping Online

"Let's be real—online swatches are never 100% accurate, and shade names aren't standardized, so it's best to tap into a brand's customer service or, in the case of Violet Grey, a trained makeup artist, whose job it is to know everything, from the curation of foundations to formulation to finish," explains Violet Grey's beauty director, Maureen Choi. "A quick email exchange or phone call with a trusted resource who understands your skin and makeup concerns can make all the difference in receiving the perfect fit on your doorstep.

"Sometimes you have to try before you buy, particularly when it comes to foundation. A good rule of thumb is to ask for samples in three shades—the one you've shade-matched to your complexion, then one shade lighter and one shade deeper. That way, you can test all three in broad daylight and get an accurate sense of what looks best. According to makeup artist and Violet Grey committee member Pati Dubroff, using two shades of foundation—a light shade down the center of the face and one a shade darker along the perimeter—is the secret to getting the most natural, subtly defined, second-skin look."

The Best Foundations for Mature Skin

This article was originally published at an earlier date and has been updated. 

Next: 14 Hydrating Face Primers for Glowing Skin and the Foundations to Pair Them With

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.