What Women In Their 40s Look Like With And Without Makeup

A lot of us find ourselves more dependent on makeup as we grow older, but is that really necessary? Aging is a beautiful thing; it means we have survived. Maybe we have a few battle scars along the way, but we are the better and stronger for it.

So while a lot of us are probably better about wearing SPF and primer (and hydrating!) as we get older, do we really need to be wearing a ton of makeup? Not really. And a lot of women over the age of 40 are realizing that and sharing how amazingly confident and good in their own skin they feel as they get older — with and without makeup.

Here’s what eight women over 40 look with and without makeup … and how they feel about it.

1. “I’d rather put on creams that repair my skin.”

women over 40 with and without makeupPhoto: Minsun Park

“My makeup philosophy is like my home decorating preference: Minimalist. I’d rather spend my money on repairs and maintenance like sunscreen and vitamin C serums. Unless the foundation is healthy, no amount of spackle can cover up damage. Makeup’s fun, but 90 percent of the time, I’m makeup-free and sunblocked.” — Minsun Park, 46

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2. “I only use eyeliner and mascara.”

women over 40 with and without makeupPhoto: Susan Buzby Barnes

“I’ve always been a pretty natural girl. On most days you’ll find me sans makeup; working from home helps with that. But if the mood strikes, I’ll put on a bit of eyeliner and mascara, and a few swipes of a tinted lip balm, for more of a polished natural look. I do feel more put together when I have a little bit of makeup on, and sometimes I wish I was interested in doing more, but that’s just not who I am.” — Susan Buzby Barnes, 45

3. “I keep my face fresh.”

women over 40 with and without makeupPhoto: Kim Lasusa

“There is a power in wearing makeup, but I finally feel the same power NOT wearing it. This is my face, this is ME you see. I go more days without makeup than with. It’s freeing to feel just as confident (more so, actually) without makeup on.” — Kim Lasusa, 45

4. “I avoid makeup so you can see my freckles.”

women over 40 with and without makeupPhoto: Debra Locker Griffin

“When I’m bare-faced, I look younger. I have freckles, which are easy to see when I’m clean-faced. People often comment about how cute they are; I equate cute to young; therefore, it’s why I feel young when I’m not wearing makeup! The made-up version of me is the more professional and glam one. When my makeup is on, I feel as if I need to be dressed up with hair done. This is the ‘me’ most people see, but the bare-faced version is less serious and, probably, more fun!” — Debra Locker Griffin, 46

5. “The most I wear is a small amount of concealer and some eyeliner.”

women over 40 with and without makeupPhoto: Samantha Slaven-Bick

“I don’t wear a lot of makeup really — concealer and a smudge of eyeliner, and when I’m fancy some tinted moisturizer and Glossier lip color. I wear glasses, which I use a bit as a shield. But regardless, the little bit of makeup makes a difference. I feel prettier when I’ve made an effort.” — Samantha Slaven-Bick, 46

6. “I’ll only wear eyeliner and mascara to make my eyes bigger.”

women over 40 with and without makeupPhoto: Paula Wade

“The older I have gotten, the less makeup I wear. I chalk that up to a great skincare routine and a distinct lack of caring what other folks think! I do regularly wear eyeliner and mascara only, but that is because I think it opens up my eyes. Otherwise, I am usually barefaced. I will do a full face for special occasions, or when I need to be a bit more dressed up, but even then I keep it fairly light. I feel like my skincare routine has definitely taken over as my primary face routine instead of my color cosmetics as the years go by.” — Paula Wade, 46

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7. “Just a bit of tinted moisturizer and I’m ready to go.”

women over 40 with and without makeupPhoto: Mimi Banks

“I have always felt more confident with makeup on; however, truth be told that in the past few years, I wear less makeup. I am more comfortable in my skin and stick to tinted moisturizer, bronzer, eyeliner and lipstick at night for a pop of color.” — Mimi Banks, 40

8. “Wearing lipstick is my idea of getting dressed up.”

women over 40 with and without makeupPhoto: Robyn Ruffo

“While I enjoy wearing makeup, I enjoy not wearing any! I know my face feels clean and free. This is a 43-year-old face, so mascara is a must when working or going out. My lashes are long and blonde and don’t do me any favors. My eyes look so tiny without mascara. When I was in the Air Force, I hardly wore makeup to avoid being girlie in my male-dominated career field. I feel more beautiful without a cake on my face. Plus, when I was single I thought it was better to look close to what I looked like when I woke up to be fair to a guy. Makeup isn’t necessary; however, getting dressed up and wearing lipstick makes me feel beautiful as well.” — Robyn Ruffo, 43

9. “I rarely wear makeup and I feel confident with myself.”

women over 40 with and without makeupPhoto: Kim Hayes

“I work from home so I spend most of my day (who am I kidding — most of my life!) makeup-free. Now that I’m 40, I just don’t care much about people think. I like myself and how I look. It’s nice knowing that the people I see know what my face really looks like. I’d rather them be surprised by how good I look when I do wear makeup than shocked when they see me without it.” — Kim Hays

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10. “I feel incredibly vulnerable without wearing any makeup.”

women over 40 with and without makeupPhoto: Marie Roker-Jones

“I grew up with a mom who believed that lipstick makes every woman look better. When I was younger, I wore makeup for fun. Now, that I’m older, I feel vulnerable if I’m not wearing makeup. My husband tells me I’m beautiful without makeup but I’m not ready to give it up.” — Marie Roker-Jones

11. “Makeup lets me decide which version of myself I want to present to the world.”

women over 40 with and without makeupPhoto: Dixie Gillaspie

“This whole makeup debate has become one more way for women to judge each other and I want nothing to do with that. It’s part of my free will — to makeup or not makeup. Some days I’m minimal, some days I’m full out. Some days I’m polished; some days I’m trendy. No days does someone else get to decide which I’m going to be. What I want to see in the mirror depends on the day, the mood, the occasion, the outfit, the ME I want to show to the world. Which has NOTHING to do with what anyone else thinks I should be.

Makeup is the one visual art I’m good at. Can’t draw or paint, but give me a face and free rein at the makeup counter and I’m an instant artiste. I love doing stage makeup, and I love doing makeup no one would ever notice. But I also love the freedom to not do makeup. It took a lot of years, and a lot of lines on my face and silver streaks in my hair to learn to say, ‘This is my face — deal with it.'” — Dixie Gillaspie

12. “I don’t need it, but society seems to think I do.”

women over 40 with and without makeupPhoto: Joanna Schroeder

“The hardest thing about makeup is when you first realize that you ‘need’ it. That happens for different people at different points in life. If, like me, you didn’t feel this until you were 38 or so, consider yourself lucky. Certainly we’ve always understood that we need makeup for weddings and bar mitzvahs and first dates. But there’s a new feeling of insecurity that comes with being aware that not putting on makeup is the difference between ‘she’s naturally pretty’ and ‘she’d be so much prettier with a little makeup’ — and it’s that awareness that is jarring.

But it’s important for me to bear in mind that society has made me privileged by the ability to even consider makeup an option, which I always have. Other than my mom’s theories that lipstick and blonde highlights could fix almost any malady, I didn’t have to think about makeup much until recently. And maybe I don’t now, even. It’s just that now, when I don’t, I’m undoubtedly going to be met with at least one, ‘Are you sleeping well? You seem tired.'” — Joanna Schroeder

So, while these women without makeup after 40 feel confident in their skin now, it’s important to embrace the beauty you have inside. Because, after all, looks aren’t everything.

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Aly Walansky is a NY-based lifestyles writer. Her work appears in dozens of digital and print publications regularly.

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