Middle Aged Women and Make-Up


Middle aged women and make-up? Come on now, why does the title seem so unsettling? Is it to suggest that:

  • Middle aged women can’t find the right make-up anymore to camouflage those wisdom lines (why don’t we just call them wrinkles?)
    • Since they’re middle aged, women need not wear make-up because no amount of goo will hide their wisdom lines (there, we said it again), expanding waist lines, and receding forehead (not to mention facial hair).
    • Make-up is only for the young (the young-at-heart don’t count).

We don’t mean to offend anyone, but the general feeling is this: as soon as you hit 38, you’re two years shy of 40 and you get to engage in an uphill struggle that will demand every ounce of your strength.

When a middle aged woman prances to a party teeming with 30 somethings, and she asks a younger man to dance, no one will mind – not even the girlfriend of her dancing partner because in all honesty, she’s no threat at her age. She can flirt with their boyfriends all she wants, the younger lassies will say, and it won’t bother them one bit. To these younger chicks, a middle-aged woman can hardly hope to compete. Her presence will be tolerated, because she’s a harmless piece of insignificance. The make-up she wears can’t hide the truth.


Girls in their 20’s have the fun of our lives bending over the make-up counter and mixing and matching colors, shades, daring to wear false eyelashes, dyeing our hair the flashiest of colors and pouting and pursing our lips to show off the cherry red bleeding from our mouths. Such helluva make-up days!

In their 40s, women are still bending over make-up counters and holding on to dear life, feeling dizzy from the sales girl’s perfume and her chatter about how Clinique or Estee Lauder created this incredible formula specifically for middle-aged women. When you ask her what formula that is, she answers with a strange look on her face, “why, anti-wrinkle serum of course. See this tiny bottle here? That costs $385.00 plus tax.” And you thought she was going to tell you about foundation and powder that won’t give your skin away under the most unkind glare of fluorescent lighting.

Lady, for $385.00 we can buy 21 shades of eye shadow, day-long waterproof mascara, foundation, blush on and lip contours and an expensive bottle of French perfume. Not to mention moisturizer, cream and lotion.

Serum – bah!

At twenty, we’d give anything to eliminate the oil from our faces – the same oil that kept our skin young and our complexions glowing. Now at 40 and 50, we’re fighting the same battle to keep the oil on our faces, because, well, our faces feel like sand paper. No matter how much time you spent at the esthetician’s, your skin still feels like sandpaper. “Do you think you could press on those pores some more?”

“Madame, if I did, you’d end up with a pock-marked face.”

“So what kind of make-up would you recommend for a middle aged woman?” we asked her, peeking at her 23-year old, no pores, no hair angelic face.

The esthetician bowed her head, unable to look at us and said, “madame, you know, plastic surgery is very safe these days. They can pull off at least 10 years from your face.” If she weren’t so respectful and so innocently honest, we could have smacked her good.

Given that beauty care is a billion dollar industry, marketers will pick on everyone, but their favorite target? You guessed correctly – middle-aged women. Is our desperation that visible?

Middle Aged Women and Make-Up: Our Humble Opinion

Most middle-aged women know that middle age has a way of forcing us to adjust to reality. One look at the mirror in the morning tells us plenty. If we’re still juggling a career and need to paint our faces for work, what kind of make-up should we be wearing?

Au naturel is good advice, but with all the imperfections of our middle aged skin, au naturel is best reserved for teenage skin. Once upon a time, we heard a comment from a friend who bumped into another friend at the supermarket and their conversation went like this:

“Hey, guess whom I ran to just five minutes ago”?

“Don’t tell me. Ellen DeGeneres?”

“No, silly. Betsy. She had no make-up. What was she thinking? She’s one of these women who just can’t afford NOT to wear make-up!”

Alright, middle-aged women have no business going facially bare, so what to do, what to do?

The experts have the answer:

  • Starting at the top: strawberry blond hair will only highlight your imperfections. The color will light up under the sun’s glare, and when you have the sun on your face, your pores and lines are magnified. Jet black hair – the extreme – could make you look like a severe headmistress, so go for hair color that’s middle of the road, will not attract too much attention, and one that’s close to your natural skin color.
  • Unless you can wear mascara with sufficient skill and your face does not sweat as much, keep mascara to a minimum. Remember that you want to highlight your eyes, not make it look like you artificially planted a hairbrush on your lids.
  • Go light on the foundation. Liquid foundation does not hide everything but it looks more natural. Cake foundation is a good camouflage but people tend to apply them too thickly, giving them a “caked” look.
  • Choose the right powder shade. Don’t use a color that is a striking contrast to your natural skin color.
  • Lipstick – this is tricky. Ruby red – unless you’re going for cocktails – is a bit too daring at your age. Although mind you, we’ve seen beautiful middle-agers wear bright lipstick with a lot of class. Purple lipstick is a big NO, unless you’re getting ready for Halloween.
  • On middle aged women and make up, would you at least agree with us that since we’ve hit the middle segment of life, we could take the middle ground with make-up and fashion? We think that’s advice that is fair and square. Besides, after a time, who cares whether or not we wear “gloop?”

Maybe natural is better. At least when we meet people, we won’t be misleading them into thinking that we’re two years younger (or ten years older, if we mishandled the applicator). Besides you can’t win. You wear no make-up, they ask if you’re not feeling well. You wear make-up, they ache inside trying to suppress a giggle.

Middle aged-women and make-up – we just read an article from Helena Frith Powell who was talking about women letting go of themselves. She quoted Michael Worton, professor of French Literature in London who supposedly said, “”The big thing in France that we don’t have so much in Britain is the idea of caring for oneself in every way,” he says.”This means both brains and looks. In other words, you can’t let yourself go physically and still be intellectually together.”

And Frith Powell adds, “to put it more bluntly, lose your looks and next thing you know you’re losing your marbles!” (Daily Mail, “Don’t Let Yourself Go Just Because You’re the Wrong Side of 30, February 2007)

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