The 17 Very Best Foundations for Mature Skin

Photo: Marcus McDonald

Just as the moisturizer you used in your 20s and 30s likely needs an upgrade once you hit your 40s and beyond, the same is true of foundation. “As we age, our skin becomes drier and thinner while also losing collagen and elasticity,” explains makeup artist Gita Bass (whose clients include Toni Collette, Laura Dern, and Debra Messing). “That, combined with the long-term effects of gravity and sun exposure, causes sagging, fine lines, as well as hyperpigmentation.” Makeup artist Sandy Linter adds that in light skin colors, the complexion may become sallow due to changing undertones and loss of color.

Luckily, a plethora of foundation options exists to accommodate these mature-skin needs. The picks below, recommended by a panel of makeup artists, include a variety of formulas, from lightweight, hydrating liquids to mattifying powder compacts to creamy sticks. While the way you apply your chosen foundation — with your fingers or with a brush or Beautyblender — really comes down to personal preference, there are a few cardinal foundation rules to keep in mind. First: “No matter how you apply it, keep the product sheer and blend, blend, blend, making sure you get into the folds around the nose, under your eyes, and between the brows,” says makeup artist Tamah Krinsky. And start small: “A dime-size amount is usually more than enough for the whole face … you’re not trying to cover your face in makeup; you’re evening out your skin tone.” Finally, every expert we consulted here stressed that it’s key to start with a well-moisturized face: “If your skin is dry underneath,” says makeup artist Fulvia Farolfi, “there is no foundation that will work.”

The finish of a foundation refers to the way it looks when it dries down and how it appears on the skin. Effects range from matte to dewy to natural, and what you choose comes down to personal preference and how you’d like your skin to look. Skin type can also factor in: People with dry skin may opt for a foundation with a dewy, glowy finish, while someone with oily skin might opt for one that’s more mattifying.

Coverage is also a personal choice, and depends on what you’re going for. Coverage levels vary, ranging from a tinted moisturizer, which evens out the skin tone without really covering anything up, to a full-coverage foundation that masks blemishes, discoloration, and imperfections. Some foundations are buildable. Regardless of which coverage level you choose, our experts recommend starting sheer and building up coverage a little at a time. This avoids cakey-ness and helps to create a skinlike finish.

Finding the perfect shade match can be tricky because it depends on a few factors. Firstly — your general skin tone. Then, your undertones, which can vary from warm to cool to neutral. The name of the game here is trial and error, but the more inclusive a shade range is, the more likely you are to find one that works for you.

When shade matching, it’s never a bad idea to visit a store in person to test the product on your skin or have an expert point you in the right direction. But if you’re planning to purchase your foundation online, there are also digital shade finders that can help you on Sephora and Ulta.

Finish: Dewy | Coverage: Medium to full | Shade range: 40 shades

Designed to mimic the feel of silk charmeuse, Giorgio Armani’s Silk Foundation is a mainstay that makes your skin look like a filter, perfected but not covered. Although at $69 it’s certainly pricey, our experts emphasized the quality ingredients in the formula, which they say are more important to invest in as we age. Ultimately, the gorgeous feel and finish make this foundation worth its hefty price tag. While mature skin types are often steered toward matte finishes and fuller coverage, the Armani is a bit more buildable and has a dewier, natural finish. This is ideal, because it offers flexibility: Too much dew can be toned down with powder or left on its own for a luminous finish. The color match is also impressive. With 40 different shades to choose from, Luminous Silk gets it right on a range of skin tones — from neutral deep brown to cool-toned pale hues. It’s why makeup artists like Bass say it’s the “holy grail of foundations for all skin types, but particularly for mature skin.” That’s because it hits all the foundation marks: “It has a gorgeous, lightweight feel, it’s easily buildable where you need more coverage, and it creates a radiant glow without a greasy finish,” she explains. Makeup artist Lucky Bromhead calls out its weightless texture and the way it never settles into fine lines, and makeup artist Fiona Stiles loves that the luminosity draws attention away from any wrinkles or imperfections. Beauty expert Dawn Davis is also a fan and uses it for special occasions. “There’s just something so fancy and elevated about it,” she says. “It always looks like real skin, but can cover everything and anything.”

Finish: Natural | Coverage: Medium | Shade range: 47 shades

On the more affordable end, L’Oréal’s True Match is a great accessible option. It’s the foundation my mom used for years, and was one of the first foundations I picked up when I started experimenting with makeup. I like that it’s comfortable to wear and doesn’t completely cover the skin. It provides medium coverage, so unique-to-me features like my beauty marks and freckles still peek through. You don’t need a lot to get the best results — a little less than a dime-size amount on the back of my hand is enough for the first layer — and I rarely go back for a second. Readily available at every drugstore, it comes in 47 true-to-skin shades (though they’re not always the easiest to find, especially in darker tones), and it’s very hydrating, a must for mature skin foundations. It’s also oil-free, making it good for most skin types. It comes recommended by makeup artist Oseremi Egure, who likes the buildable, blendable coverage. “It’s really smooth,” she says.

Finish: Natural | Coverage: Medium | Shade range: 20 shades

For those who prefer the ease of application that comes with a nonliquid formula, makeup artist Crystal Gossman is a fan of Merit’s Perfecting Complexion Stick. “I really love how creamy it is,” Gossman says. “There’s just something about the finish that gives this radiance to the skin. It’s glowy, but it’s not oily looking.” It comes in 20 different shades, and can be applied directly to the skin, then buffed out with your fingers or a brush. Gossman adds that the stick format is very user-friendly and easy to travel with, making midday touch-ups a breeze.

Finish: Natural | Coverage: Medium to full | Shade range: 23 shades

This richly pigmented foundation stick from BLK/OPL is also good for spot-treating and has a great shade range for those with olive undertones or deeper skin. It is beloved for its ability to fully cover dark marks and hyperpigmentation, and if you’d like to highlight or contour, you can use a few different shades to do just that. The stick also contains shade-shifting technology that adjusts to match your skin tone.

Finish: Matte | Coverage: Full | Shade range: 57 shades

For a daily full-coverage foundation that gives skin a lightweight, natural finish, Egure recommends Estée Lauder’s iconic Double Wear. The classic formula has an expansive shade range (57 shades and counting), is oil free, and dries down to a skinlike, matte finish. It’s also waterproof, transfer-resistant, and promises 24-hour staying power. Impervious to sweat, heat, and humidity, Egure says it’s a great everyday choice for the summertime or for those living in warmer climates.

Finish: Matte | Coverage: Full | Shade range: 40 shades

This classic, long-lasting foundation works well at any age (it was my very first foundation), but has benefits that make it well-suited for mature skin. For starters, it’s a pore-minimizing formula. As skin ages, it loses elasticity, so pores can appear larger. This foundation — along with a good skin-care routine and proper prep — will help minimize the appearance of large pores as well as soak up any extra oil. And if you’d prefer something a bit more luminous, it’s available in a dewy finish too.

Finish: Matte | Coverage: Full | Shade range: 11 shades

Finding a matte foundation that won’t cake up or look heavy can be challenging, but this powder formula provides full coverage and a shine-free finish without appearing masklike or drying out the skin. It comes with a dual-sided sponge for wet and dry application, with wet offering fuller coverage and dry giving skin a more classic, matte finish. Though it does have a more limited shade range, it’s a favorite of Davis’s mother, who loves its buildable coverage and the fact that it doesn’t have a shimmery, dewy glow. “That’s only for young people,” she says.

Finish: Radiant | Coverage: Medium | Shade range: 42 shades

If you’re looking for a bit of glow without going full-on dewy, there’s Dior’s Forever Skin foundation, a favorite of celebrity esthetician Sarah Akram (whose client list includes Sheryl Lee Ralph and Mindy Kaling). “It goes on very smooth and lasts all day,” she says. The long-wear foundation (the brand claims up to 24 hours of color-true wear time) has a “radiant” finish, which falls between matte and dewy and is particularly good for mature skin. It’s also formulated with iris extract, a radiance-boosting ingredient that helps to prevent foundation from oxidizing and turning orange after a few hours.

Finish: Dewy | Coverage: Sheer to light | Shade range: 13 shades

Koh Gen Do’s creamy formula is a longtime under-the-radar favorite among beauty-world insiders; Krinsky especially loves it for mature skin that can often skew drier. “If your foundation dries you out even more, it will just bring out lines and wrinkles,” adds Nick Barose, a makeup artist whose clients include Kim Cattrall, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and Lupita Nyong’o. “The hydration and moisture of this formula keep skin looking fresh.” Makeup artist Emma Elizabeth calls the foundation “breathtaking” for how it “wears so beautifully,” noting that it doesn’t settle into fine lines, doesn’t exaggerate any texture on the skin, and is a really light and layerable formula. She adds that the finish is very subtle and seamless: “It doesn’t look like makeup at all.” Its hefty price tag and limited shade range are definitely factors to keep in mind, however, so I would highly recommend testing the product in person before making the splurge.

Finish: Semi-satin | Coverage: Sheer to full | Shade range: 43 shades

Krinsky also loves this foundation from Exa Beauty, which she says “has major payoff but moves like a moisturizer.” Its lightweight feel makes it buildable, so you’re able to blend it in and make it sheer without sacrificing too much coverage. Ingredients like hyaluronic acid, maqui berry, and microalgae deliver skin-care benefits and help to protect skin from environmental pollutants, which can accelerate skin’s aging. “The color range is wonderful too,” says Krinsky, “and the texture is a dream.” It comes in 43 shades and is made with a pigment that won’t oxidize and dry darker or orange on skin.

Finish: Matte | Coverage: Full | Shade range: 44 shades

“I could go to a 20-hour event and it would look just as good at the end of the night as it did when I first applied it,” says Davis of this foundation from Charlotte Tilbury. The stay-all-day formula comes in 44 shades and contains ingredients you might find in your skin care like peptides and pollution-fighting antioxidants. The brand claims continued use will smooth wrinkles, and while we can’t confirm that’s the case, it’s a solid foundation whether it’ll give you a crease-free forehead or not. Davis says it’s a bit more blurring than our best overall pick — Armani Luminous Skin — and “wears incredibly well.”

Finish: Natural | Coverage: Medium to full | Shade range: 30 shades

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by foundation choices, Bass’s advice is to look for keywords like “hydrating” or “luminous,” which are a boon for skin at any age, but especially when you’re older. “Formulas with words like these tend to help bring back the glow that we lose over time,” says Bass. But to nail the illuminating effect can mean sacrificing longevity, which makes NARS’s Radiant Longwear Foundation a real unicorn. “It has the most amazing staying power and gives a gorgeous radiant finish,” adds Bass. To even further seal the deal, you might want to consider dusting on a powder for the final touch, ideally with a fluffy brush to help disperse the particles evenly.

Finish: Radiant | Coverage: Sheer to light | Shade range: 30 shades

“If I have a more mature client in my chair, nine out of ten times I’m going to use M.A.C’s Face and Body on them,” says makeup artist Natalie Dresher. “It has a beautiful sheer coverage that makes my clients look lit from within.” Elizabeth is also a fan of this barely there formula, describing it as “the most lightweight coverage foundation that you can get. It’s extremely radiant and almost glossy on the skin.” The foundation’s consistency is so light “that it almost feels like water,” but it doesn’t settle or sink into fine lines: “It’s really good for someone who’s dealing with dryness or dullness,” Elizabeth explains.

Finish: Natural | Coverage: Light to medium | Shade range: 10 shades

For a drugstore option, this skin tint from Neutrogena is packed with hyaluronic acid and has a water-gel consistency. The breathable formula doesn’t feel heavy and helps to hydrate skin for up to 24 hours. Though it only comes in ten shades, a skin tint allows for more flexibility than a foundation when it comes to shade-matching since they tend to sheer out more.

Finish: Natural | Coverage: Light to medium | Shade range: 16 shades

Although only offered in 16 shades, if it works with your skin tone, RMS Beauty’s ReEvolve Foundation is packed with nourishing skin-care ingredients such as aloe and squalane to deliver deep hydration, as well as Tightenyl, a natural retinol alternative that firms, smoothes, and tightens for an anti-aging effect. “It’s moisturizing and doesn’t settle into fine lines and wrinkles. It’s a really great option for someone who’s really invested in their skin care,” says Elizabeth. Gossman adds that the foundation’s natural finish “looks stunning on anybody’s skin, but on mature skin, it doesn’t crease. It just leaves the skin glowing and flawless.”

Finish: Natural | Coverage: Light to medium | Shade range: 10 shades

If you’re looking for ultralightweight coverage that is still buildable, this BB cream foundation from Nu Skin combines the pigment of a traditional foundation with the skin-care benefits of tinted moisturizer, including cacao-seed extract, a natural antioxidant. It comes recommended by Davis, who uses it daily. “I always get compliments when I wear it,” she says. “It’s totally weightless yet also moisturizing, and it doesn’t settle into lines or pores.”

Finish: Natural | Coverage: Full | Shade range: 30 shades

“I use concealer in lieu of foundation all the time,” says Farolfi. “I’m European, so foundation is like a five-times-a-year thing, but concealer is a must every day.” For those less-is-more days — and less is often more for mature skin, since heavier makeup tends to settle into fine lines — makeup artist Lucy Halperin loves this long-wearing concealer with an easy wand application. “Apply it under the eyes and the T-zone, and blend it out to even the skin tone without using too much coverage,” she says. Halperin also gives Dior high marks for its extensive shade range.



17% off



5% off

• Sarah Akram, celebrity esthetician
• Gita Bass, makeup artist
• Nick Barose, makeup artist
Lucky Bromhead, makeup artist
• Dawn Davis, beauty expert
• Natalie Dresher, makeup artist
Oseremi Egure, makeup artist
• Emma Elizabeth, makeup artist
• Fulvia Farolfi, makeup artist
• Crystal Gossman, makeup artist
Lucy Halperin, makeup artist
Tamah Krinsky, makeup artist
• Sandy Linter, makeup artist
• Fiona Stiles, makeup artist

The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

This post was originally published on this site