It's so nice to meet you!
Get to know Kay...

Makeup Bag Essentials for the Over 40 Woman

May 28, 2018

Makeup Essentials for Women Over 40

What’s in your makeup bag? If it’s the same cosmetics and tools you were using in your 20s, it might be time to add a few essentials for the woman over 40. I’m a creature of habit myself, and sometimes it takes a little persuasion from someone else to help me try something new. A couple of years ago my photographer friend Hannah Whaley, who takes a lot of the beautiful photos you see here at Dressed for My Day, gave me a little makeup application lesson from a photographer’s perspective. That lesson opened my eyes to a few tools and products that have really changed my makeup bag contents. I thought I’d share some of those with you today.

These are not all the products or tools in my bag, but I think they’re the most essential to the more seasoned woman. That would be me. These are products that help my makeup go on well and stay put. They’re also products that play to a few of the particular guidelines the older woman is smart to follow for a more natural, fresh appearance. Let’s get started.

Makeup Primer

A good makeup primer goes on your face after your moisturizer (a skin care essential for older women) and before your foundation. This product creates a smooth and flawless canvas for your foundation. I was amazed the first time I tried a sample of primer at how beautifully it went on and left my skin feeling like a silk canvas.

Essential makeup primer

I first used this Estee Lauder primer and liked it perfectly well. Not only does it create a smooth, flawless canvas for your foundation, but it also diffuses light to minimize the appearance of pores and imperfections. It goes on like a cream and leaves your face feeling just slightly tacky after application…ready for your foundation. I really like this primer.

But somewhere along the way I switched to Lancome’s La Base. It’s oil-free but it feels like a luxurious oil and applies beautifully. It diffuses light and helps minimize wrinkles. And then recently I tried a test tube of MAC Prep and Prime Skin Base Visage. I like it, too. So I can highly recommend any of these three.

If you check these products out you’ll notice that they are not cheap. But you use a very small amount with each application and a container of any of these would last me six months easily. In fact, if you do buy one, start out by dispensing the smallest amount possible and smoothing it lightly over your face. You don’t really want to rub this product in; you just want to rub it on. Make sense? Really, I probably use less than a pea-size amount each time I use it.

The Beauty Blender

Maybe we’ll talk foundation another day, but today I want to skip over it and mention this beauty. The beautyblender, that is. In this previous post I talked a lot more about this amazing foundation application tool, so be sure to check it out if you didn’t get to read it already.

Essentials the beautyblender

I use the beautyblender simply to finish off my foundation application. I don’t actually apply my makeup with it. But after your foundation is smoothed over your entire face or just the areas where you want a little added polish, simply bounce the dampened beautyblender over the area to create a smooth, porcelain-like finish. If you’re like me and can’t really see very well anymore, put those reading glasses on and look at the difference before and after bouncing. This little tool really does the trick.

Again, the beautyblender isn’t cheap (and don’t settle for any of the cheaper knock-offs!), but with proper care you’re beautyblender will last months and months. I talk about using and caring for this tool in my previous post.

Eye Shadow Base/Primer

As we age, the skin around our eyes becomes even more delicate and prone to wrinkle. Duh. But proper cosmetic application can help minimize the aging effects around our eyes. Because the skin on our eyelids (where we want to apply eye shadow) is often thinner and a little more wrinkly (I’m so sorry. This is as painful for me to write as it is for you to read!) we need to first apply a product that will help our eye shadow go on more smoothly and stay put throughout the day.

Essentials Eye shadow base

I’ve not tried the MAC Prep + Prime 24-hour Extend Eye Base, but if it works as well as the skin primer it’s probably very good. Besides keeping your shadow from creasing or fading, it promises to help colors stay truer throughout the day. It’s lightweight and is supposed to help your shadow stay put for 24 hours.

I use the Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-In-Place Eyeshadow Base, and I’ve used it for years. It’s a creme, but not very creamy, if that makes sense. It’s a hard creme. At any rate, I use a wide brush that is often used for applying foundation or under eye cream to apply it over the entire lid area of my eyes. I just apply a thin coat from lash line to brow line. Remember, I’m going to apply colored powder shadow afterwards. This base comes in three shades for various shades of skin, and can be worn alone…although I don’t think I’ve ever done that or ever would. I always let the application dry a little before applying my regular eye shadow. In fact, I usually hop out of the shower and get dressed, then apply my moisturizer, some eye cream and then my Double Wear Stay-In-Place Eyeshadow Base. Then I finish getting dressed before continuing with my makeup application.

I haven’t used the Clinique Touch Base for Eyes, but it is significantly cheaper, so it might be worth a try. But then again, this is a product that lasts a long time. You apply only a very little bit to each eye.

Matte Finish Eye Shadow

I know this is a matter of opinion, but I just really believe it’s time to put away the frosty eye shadow ladies. My daughter read that sentence over my shoulder as I typed it and protested, “What’s wrong with frosty eye shadow?” Nothing…for her. She’s 24. But as we get older the sparkle in frosty eye shadow actually accentuates wrinkles. For the most part, it’s just better for us older gals to stick to matte finish shadows. Now if you want to add a touch of pearl essence in the evening or for a special occasion – maybe when your face is mostly lit by candle light, fine. But otherwise, we’ll appear younger, fresher faced and more current if we attempt a more natural look with matte shadows.

Essentials Eye shadow

That’s why I love It Cosmetics’ Naturally Pretty Essentials Matte Luxe Transforming Eyeshadow Palette. These shadows are made from anti-aging, talc-free formulas infused with collagen and real silk. They go on easily and beautifully. The six shades are ones you will actually use, too. I hate it when I buy a palette of eye shadows and end up using just one or two of the six. But I’ve used at least the first five shades equally in this pretty palette. And if you have darker skin, you’ll probably use the sixth shade more than me. And here’s the cool thing. With just a dab of your applicator into the bonus Transforming Hello Light shade (the large shadow on the far right of the palette) you can transform your matte eye shadow to a soft satin finish.

It Cosmetics has some larger palettes of matte shades, too. I haven’t tried them yet, but they’re pretty. And I did find this trio palette that would work great as well.

Eyebrow Enhancement and Definition tools

Have you noticed that as you’ve gotten older your brows have thinned? I sure have. As a true blonde, I’ve never had dark or dense eyebrows. But with age my brows have become even more sparse. The fact is, sparse, light and disheveled brows age us. Thicker and more defined brows are a characteristic of youth. So most older women need to do a little cosmetic work to their brows.

Essentials the brow box

Yes, there are semi-permanent procedures you can have done to your brows like microblading, which is a tattoo type of artistry which includes infusing ink below the surface of your skin with manual brushstrokes of a fine blade. I’m not opting for that, but you certainly may. If, like me, you prefer to simply apply a little makeup to your brows, I’d like to suggest the Urban Decay Brow Box. This little “box” actually contains ALL the essentials for amazing brows. Each set includes two shades of silky brow powder, perfecting/setting wax, high-quality metal mini tweezers that remove the tiniest hairs, a mini angled brow brush, a mini spoolie, and two mirrors (one of them magnifies so you won’t miss a single stray!).

I was using an eyebrow pencil until just a few years ago. I remember when my mother-in-law told me that she used a powder on her eyebrows and I looked at her like she was crazy. Her brows looked perfectly lovely to me, but I just couldn’t imagine how she could possibly use a powder where I had always used a crayon-like pencil. When my brow pencil gave out on me one day, though, I had to dip into some brown shadow I had on hand in order to create a pretty browline (y’all! without a little help, my brows are so blonde it looks like I don’t have any!). It turned out she was right! I loved the effect I was able to create with the powder and an angled, stiff brush. And, as she had pointed out, a brush is so much gentler on my few fragile eyebrows than the pencil had been. So I made the switch.

I generally mix the two shades a little or I might use the lighter when I’m going for a more natural look and the darker when I’m applying heavier makeup. But with a little practice I’ve learned to apply just enough shading to create a pretty brow line…on most days! It did take practice, though. So hang in there. Use a gentle hand and don’t complicate it. Generally a clean brow line with a bit of an arch toward the outer portion of your brow is a good rule of thumb for older women.

If you already have a suitable brown shadow to use, you may just need to purchase a good eyebrow shaper brush and an angled eyeliner brush for application.

So those are the essentials in my makeup bag that specifically help me achieve a more youthful appearance. Or at least I hope they do. I like to think they do. Ha!

  • a good foundation primer
  • the beautyblender
  • an eye shadow base or primer
  • matte eye shadow in natural shades
  • brow shadow and tools

I’ve supplied you with one more shopping widget with most all of the products I’ve mentioned above for your convenience.

What other essentials would you add to my list? Or do you have a different primer, eye shadow base, eye shadow palette or brow tools to share with us? I’d love to hear from you.


Did you enjoy today’s post? I hope you’ll stick around and be part of the Dressed for My Day community. You can learn more about the benefits of joining our mailing list here. Also, don’t forget to join me on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook.
I’d love it if you’d pin today’s post to one of your Pinterest boards. Just click on the Pinterest button that appears when you hover over the lead photo in this post.

Blessed for My Day

Today on Memorial Day we pause to remember those who have given their life for our country. As we remember and pause to be grateful for those who have died in battle and service, let’s also remember that even today families all across our country still feel the sting of such loss. Let’s thank God for their sacrifice, pray for continued healing, do what we can to step in with support and affection where appropriate and be citizens worthy of their gift. I am grateful and amazed at the valor and sacrifice shown by so many to preserve the country we call home.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. ~ Romans 12:15

Spread the love
xoxo, Kay
Join the Conversation

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

8 thoughts on “Makeup Bag Essentials for the Over 40 Woman

  1. Really enjoyed reading this Kay and may need to rethink some my current products. What do you recommend in the way of lipstick for the seasoned woman? Thanks again for this informative blog! I have learned so much and have a lot of fun reading your posts.

    1. Thanks, Annie. From what I’ve read and experimented with, it seems to be best to wear color on the lips rather than nude shades. However, most advice says to keep the color soft or light rather than too dark or bright. So soft pinks, plums and cherry shades rather than bright pink or dark red. And soft corals rather than bright or dark orange. The darker shades tend to show bleeding around the lip line more and draw more attention to wrinkled, thinned lips. (Ugh, I hate typing those words!) So glad you’re sticking around!

  2. All your post are so good and informative that I have created a “Kay “ file so I can refer back as needed . Thx

  3. Kay … I’ve just recently discovered a brand of lipstick that addresses this issue … The name is “Color The World … they are made with natural ingredients and each purchase benefits a different charity … I have three different colors, and they all work quite well.

  4. Thank you for these excellent tips! I purchased the it eyeshadow palette and love it!! Still experimenting with the colors and the bonus transforming item, but already see a difference compared to my other shadows. Thank you!

    1. Oh, I’m so glad you’re enjoying the eye shadow palette. I just love it. I’m about to have to buy my second. Originally, when I bought the palette, the salesperson told me the bonus shadow was to lighten the other shadows. But later I read that it actually pearlizes them. So, I really haven’t used it much. But I’ve used most of the other shades equally, except for the blackish one. You just have to play around with them. And remember you can blend them, too. Enjoy!