A Makeup Tutorial for Mature Skin That Breaks All the Rules

Editorial makeup artist Ricky Wilson has wanted to do a beauty shoot like this for years. “I’ve done makeup on women of all ages. What I’ve learned is that women over 40 have been fed a lot of false makeup ‘rules’ about what they should or shouldn’t do,” he tells me. “It’s my mission to break them.”

“Will this work on more mature skin?” is a question that has appeared in more than one comment sections underneath Man Repeller stories about skincare or makeup. According to Ricky, the answer is yes.

“The widely-circulated notion that you have to ‘cake’ makeup on mature skin to make it look good? That’s just false,” he says. “And the idea that once you reach a certain age you can’t pull off a dramatic eye and lip at the same time? Also false.”

To dispel these myths, Ricky shared his techniques and product recommendations for creating a fresh, cake-free makeup look on mature skin. He then explained how to transition the look from day to night with the addition of a smoky eye and red lip.

Our model, Jacky O’Shaughnessy, made headlines three years ago when she appeared in a lingerie campaign for American Apparel at the age of 62. “I’m comfortable,” she told Elle. “I don’t feel that any of this is inappropriate. When people talk about age-appropriate hairstyles, and age-appropriate dressing, well, whose age? And who are you?”

Ditto for “age appropriate” makeup.

Step One: Complexion Perfection

“The ‘less is more’ approach is so important here,” says Ricky. “A lot of women lose color in their faces as they age, so there’s an impulse to pile on foundation, but heavy foundation is more likely to settle into lines and wrinkles and accentuate them. I like to use a foundation that’s almost transparent, like Dior Dreamskin Perfect Cushion, plus a little concealer in certain areas to get more coverage.”

To combat under-eye puffiness, he recommends choosing a concealer shade that cancels out discoloration. “A common misconception is that you need a brightening concealer to counteract puffiness, but I’ve found that actually just draws attention to it,” he said.

Step Two: Sculpting

“A little bit of sculpting can ‘lift’ the face and add dimension,” says Ricky. He cautions against using a contouring color that’s too dark for your skin tone. “You don’t want too much of a contrast.” When in doubt, a shade just a touch darker than your face usually works best.

“Something I learned from doing Sharon Stone’s makeup is that you can use sculpting to outsmart gravity. In other words, put everything half an inch higher than you think it should go.” He demonstrated by brushing a sweep of blush *above* the apples of Jacky’s cheeks, closer to her under-eye area than her actual cheekbone.

As for eyebrow sculpting? “Try not to drop the ends of the brows too low when you’re shading them in — it can make your eyes look sleepy,” Ricky says. “I also recommend using a shade lighter than your actual brow color to keep things soft.” On Jacky, he used a NARS contour powder and a brow pencil from Anastasia Beverly Hills.

Step Three: Smoky Eyes

Ricky poo-poos the idea that metallic makeup only looks good on women in their twenties. “A lot of magazines will tell you to keep things totally matte past a certain age, but I’m all about a little shimmer. Anything in moderation,” he says. Ricky used a few shades of deep, warm-brown eyeshadow in Jacky’s creases to create depth, plus a touch of metallic shadow on the lid. “A brown smoky eye is a great option for women who are intimidated by a traditional black smoky eye.”

Ricky doesn’t skimp on the eyeliner and mascara, either. “Women with mature skin are told all the time that they should never put anything underneath their eyes, but I disagree.” After applying Makeup Forever waterproof pencil liner in black on the top of Jacky’s eye and in brown on the bottom, he applied a generous coating of mascara to create what he calls his signature “femme fatale clump.”

Step Four: Red Lips

To prevent lipstick from bleeding into lines or wrinkles around your mouth, Ricky advises applying a lip liner on the edges of your lips and only putting lipstick in the center of your lips, at least an eighth of an inch away from your actual lip perimeter. “Use the side of the pencil — not the point — to keep things soft,” he said. As a finishing touch, he dabbed highlighter on the corners of Jacky’s lips to lift up her smile.

Et voilà!

Now it’s your turn to talk. What other kinds of tips or tutorials for mature skin do you want to see on Man Repeller? Tell me in the comments. I’ll meet you there with a shiny sledgehammer (you know, for all the rule-breaking).

Photos by Edith Young; makeup by Ricky Wilson; modeled by Jacky O’Shaughnessy of IconicFocus Models. Jacky is wearing a Tome shirt and Monica Sordo earrings.


Harling Ross

Harling is a writer and was most recently the Brand Director at Man Repeller.

More from Archive