When I turned 40, I started thinking more about the kind of makeup I used. I noticed that I couldn't go full-glam with full-coverage foundation anymore, because as my combination complexion got dryer with age, it made my skin look cakey and unnatural. The liquid formulas I'd always sworn by stopped working the way I needed them to, so I decided to go against the advice of pretty much every makeup artist on the planet and give powder foundation a try.
Powder foundation can admittedly be tricky to use on mature complexions, like mine, because of the changes our skin undergoes as we get older. Our bodies' natural production of collagen and elastin slows down, resulting in more visible fine lines and wrinkles, and as estrogen levels start to decline around menopause, skin can appear drier and duller. Plus, if you're using retinoids as a part of your anti-aging routine, it can make your complexion even drier and more flakey than normal.
Considering powders are inherently mattifying, it makes sense that makeup artists tend to steer the 40+ crowd away from using them. "With powder, you have to be aware that the formula can settle into fine lines and give the skin a dry appearance," Trish McEvoy, a makeup artist and founder of her eponymous makeup line, previously told Well+Good.
But I've found that with the right product and proper skin prep, these types of formulas can be exactly what mature skin needs.
How to find the perfect powder foundation for mature skin
First things first: You want to look for powder foundations that contain hydrating ingredients, like hyaluronic acid and glycerin, which will keep them from drying out your skin even further. Antioxidants are also a great addition, as they help to protect your skin from external factors like pollution and UV damage that can further exacerbate signs of skin aging.
Ingredients aside, lightweight formulas are key. "Less will generally be better," says makeup artist Dakota Alexandra, adding that building light layers (instead of caking on a heavy product) is the best way to enhance our features as we age. She recommends using finely-milled pressed powders in lieu of loose powder, as these types of products are less likely to settle into fine lines, and notes that powders with a sheer finish will blur imperfections better than anything full-coverage.
The best way to apply powder foundation on mature skin
Proper skin prep starts with a clean, dry face. If your skin is on the dry side, add in some hydration with a hyaluronic acid serum and a moisturizer; if you're oily, you may want to apply an oil-absorbing powder or primer to soak up excess oil. Either way, let these products sink into your skin for a few minutes before moving on to your makeup routine.
Use a large, fluffy brush to pick up your powder, and be sure to tap off any excess before using large sweeping motions to apply the product evenly across your face. You may need to build up the coverage in certain areas—you can either dust on more product with the brush or use a damp sponge to get the job done—but be careful not to cake on the powder. Remember: a little bit goes a long way! You can also apply a light dusting of powder over a skin tint or tinted moisturizer for increased coverage and a dewier finish.
Once you've applied your powder, Alexandra recommends using your fingers to tap over any fine lines and wrinkles, which will help keep the product from settling. Then, you can spritz your skin with a setting spray, which will help create a smooth, natural finish that will last all day.
5 tried-and-tested powder foundations I love for my mature skin
This foundation is a great option for anyone dealing with redness or discoloration. It has color-correcting swirls baked into its pigment, which help to even out blotchiness and dark spots. It’s a medium-coverage foundation, and I love that I don’t need to use a color-corrector with it to tame my redness.
This foundation claims to provide medium-to-full coverage, and it definitely lives up to that promise. It seamlessly covers flaws and redness, and a light layer is all you need to smooth out your complexion. I’d recommend using a fluffy brush to get the most out of its semi-matte finish, as a dense brush may give you a little *too* much product that’s more likely to settle into fine lines.
This foundation is my favorite, especially when I’m traveling or on the go. It’s medium coverage, but buildable, and comes with a dual-sided sponge that helps you fine-tune the finish you’re looking for (the white side is for sheer coverage, the black side is for full coverage). It does a great job blurring pores, and offers a breathable, “no fade” finish for 12+ hours.
This medium-coverage foundation is lightweight and long-lasting, and delivers a whole lot of bang for its under-$15 buck. It’s a matte formula that stays natural-looking on my combination skin, likely because it was designed to deliver the look of a liquid foundation in powder form. All in all, this finely-milled powder rivals some of the higher-end options I’ve tried.
With the word ‘aqua’ in its name, you can be sure that this powder lives up to its hydrating hype, but what really makes it so special is its skin-nourishing ingredients. Among them? Moisture-inducing cactus flower, anti-inflammatory chamomile, and collagen-boosting chlorella. I personally like to use it when my skin feels especially dry and flakey, and apply it with a damp sponge for a dewy, natural-looking, full-coverage finish.
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