How to Apply Natural Looking Make-up Over 55

Most women over 55 grew up in an era that expected a woman to “fix her face” before going out. When I was younger I would NEVER leave the house without make-up, even to go to the beach or the gym! 

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It’s good to see this trend fade. Most women today wear little to no makeup unless they’re going to a gala event.

My No Make-Up Experiment

It wasn’t until the pandemic hit that I first ventured out with a “naked” face. It felt soooo strange. I was super self-conscious.

Guess what happened? Nothing! People were still nice to me, cashiers were polite, my day was exactly the same as if I had applied makeup. 

Not one person said, “Oh, my God; how could you face the world with all those imperfections showing?”

Noone turned away in disgust.

It was incredibly liberating! I could grab my bag and hit the store, or the gym or visit a friend without taking the time and effort to paint my face. Freedom!

However, for us mature women – at least for me – old habits die hard. I still feel more comfortable with a little enhancement to my face when I face the world. And I can’t make myself go to work without a minimal makeup routine.

That’s what I’m going to share with you today: my basic 5-minute make-up routine. The goal here is to blur, not mask imperfections. Doing so leaves you with a much more natural effect rather than a cakey-looking mask that is so easy to get with older skin.

Me and My Many Imperfections

As a pale-skinned white woman who loved the beach (still do) I have extensive sun damage. My skin is and always was, ruddy. I had acne as a teen and have telltale scars. Some wrinkles have set in. And the eyelids are getting rather hooded. Did I mention I have some broken capillaries in some spots?

Dang, aging sucks! On the other hand, my body and mind still work. If I don’t look in a mirror most days I feel like a 27-year-old. So I practice my gratitude and limit the number of mirrors in the house. Then it’s all good.

Here’s The Plan

What I’m going to do is apply my natural, every-day makeup routine to half of my face and take a picture for each step. That way, you can see how much impact each application makes (or not). 

Warning: It’s just me and my cell phone, so I’ll do my best to make the photos clear.

How to Set the Foundation

The “foundation” routine does not include any actual liquid foundation. I found that foundation almost always looks made-up, often leaves a demarcation between the face and neck and should be saved for evening events. It also fades very quickly in warm weather.

Instead, try a tinted moisturizer with sunblock. It’s sometimes called BB cream, which stands for beauty balm. In one step you are protecting your skin from the sun, moisturizing and adding a smidge – and I do mean a smidge – of foundation.

Bare Minimum Skin Routine

I’ve used many BB creams and like most of them. Today I’m using Maybelline Dream BB Fresh in light/medium. In the summer I go up a shade and use medium.

Step 1: Apply a generous amount of BB cream all over your face, including eyelids. I use approximately ½ a teaspoon. It’s super sheer so don’t worry about using too much, just blend it in. If your face is too wet blot with a tissue.

Step 2: Using a medium-sized soft brush apply a sheer powder foundation. I use Neutrogena Mineral Sheers in Natural Beige. I also have BareMinerals Barepro in warm natural. It’s a little heavier, so I apply with a lighter hand.

If you have some spots you’d like to cover hit them with a smaller brush adding a little more of the powder.

Those 2 steps should take about 2 minutes. You can stop here. This routine will result in sun protection, moisturization and a blurring of your skin imperfections. Most people will not know you’re wearing any makeup at all.

Suggestion: If you decide to stop here, jump to Step 4 and apply a setting spray.

Time to Contour

The next step involves using a bronzer. I only discovered this in the last few years, but it’s a game-changer. A little bit of a natural-looking bronzer adds depth and nuance to your face. Without it, your face can look flat and pale. 

Step 3: With a medium brush lightly apply bronzer under your cheekbones, and to your forehead, chin and the sides of your nose. Lastly, put some on your lids in lieu of eyeshadow.

My go-to bronzer is a contour pallet, Maybelline Mastercontour by FaceStudio in light to medium. I tried the medium and it was WAY too dark for me. It includes 3 colors, a bronzer, blush and highlighter. Most days I only use the bronzer (you can see in the photo it’s half gone compared to the others)

The Most Important Step of All in Your Natural Looking Makeup

I’m not exaggerating when I say this was a game-changer for me. One problem with light, natural makeup is that it fades away before the end of the day. Before I discovered this next product I would look at a makeup remover sheet at the end of the day and there wouldn’t be anything on it. My face makeup was gone:-(

Enter L’Oreal Paris Infallible Pro-Spray & Set to the rescue! This stuff is awesome! It sets your makeup and leaves a dewy finish, all in a simple spritz.

Step 4: Close your eyes and hold the setting spray about ten inches from your face. Spray liberally (I use at least 6 spritzes). Let dry.

Be sure to apply the setting spray BEFORE mascara or you’ll have a raccoon-face mess on your hands!

Marvelous Mascara

There are many days that I stop before Step 5.  By brushing on some powder foundation, contouring a bit with bronzer and setting it all with setting spray I definitely get a fresher look that filters many of my skin problems.

But I have small eyes. A friend’s mother years ago randomly said to me,

“You have those beady kind of eyes”

Unnamed friend’s mother

Thanks, I love you, too! Very diplomatic of her. It’s funny how you remember tiny passing comments many years later. 

But, she’s right, I have small eyes. And now that they’re becoming hooded it doesn’t help the situation. So if I put on mascara I think it helps a lot. I would still not go to work without mascara (don’t want to scare my students).

Step 5: Apply a liberal coat of mascara to upper and lower lashes. I have tried MANY and right now L’Oreal Paris AirVolume Mega Mascara in black is my favorite. 

As you may have noticed, I use drug store brand make-up. It hurts my soul to pay $40 for mascara!

I have a friend who is a makeup consultant at an upscale department store. One day I’ll have her do half my face with premium makeup and I’ll do the other half with drug store stuff. We can see if the investment is worth it. That would be a fun experiment. Stay tuned.

Optional Steps that Add Ooomph

The steps above are my complete routine most days. On the weekend I often skip the mascara. Some days I want to feel like a natural woman and only complete steps 1 and 2. In total, I average 5-6  minutes to complete my makeup.

Occasionally I will run a touch of eyeliner under my eyes and/or dab a bit of blush on the apples of my cheeks. 

Step 6: Eyeliner can help to define your eyes. As we discussed earlier, my eyes need defining! It only takes 20 seconds to apply an eyeliner pencil to the wet line under my eyes and a dab to the outer corner of my lids. 

Many pencils are too dry and difficult to apply. I found Revlon Colorstay in black works well; it glides on nicely and has a blending tip on the end which is helpful.

Step 7: Adding a pop of blush to the apple of your cheeks (just smile big, the circle created below your eyes is the apple) makes a big difference. Go sparingly though, it’s easy to look like a clown!

I like blush, but it definitely takes away from the natural look. Many women swear it’s the most important step. I guess it depends on your face. Once I add blush I always end up with, “Joan’s done her makeup” look. Which is not bad, just a different look.


As you can see in the before and after picture the results are not dramatic. But that’s the point, it’s supposed to be NATURAL!

I think women are so lucky to have the makeup option. Imagine being a guy, his only options are face hair or no face hair. We get to go out in the world bare-face, made up or anywhere in between.

I have friends who LOVE makeup. It’s a fun hobby to try different colors and ways of applying it. Other friends almost never wear any. 

I’m somewhere in the middle. I do feel more confident when I partially cover some of the imperfections. So give my routine a try. The beauty of makeup is that you can wash it off if you don’t like it!

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