BEAUTY

How to Choose the Best Foundation for Your Skin Type Over 40

Best Foundation Types for You

Choosing the right foundation can be as overwhelming as being told you can only buy one thing at a Black Friday sale. Where on Earth do you start?! With an overabundance of shades, finishes, formulas and coverages, choosing a foundation is just as personal as ordering your Starbucks coffee. That’s the precise reason foundation is one of the toughest makeup products to buy. The ultimate goal is to find a foundation that looks like your own skin, but better. You want to avoid the dreaded cakey look or the mask-like foundation line on your neck. In this post, I’m breaking down how to choose the best foundation for your skin type for us ladies over 40, simple tips, and some of my favorite foundation picks.

For some additional, fabulous makeup tips for women over 40, check out this post!

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Skin Type

We all know that the main skin types are dry, oily, and combination. On top of that, you might be dealing with more specific issues like redness, hyper-pigmentation, eczema, acne and sensitivity. You should identify your specific skin concerns first, whether it’s a dermatological issue like eczema or simply wanting your skin to have more glow. Dewy foundations tend to work best on normal to dry skin types. Matte foundations are usually more suitable for combination to oily skin types. Typically, a satin finish is preferred on mature skin since the matte look can emphasize flaws and wrinkles.

Coverage Needs

When choosing your coverage level, ask yourself how much you want your natural skin to show. If you hate wearing makeup, you’re going to think a full-coverage foundation is too heavy. And as we’ve already discussed, with more mature skin, too much foundation can settle in all the wrong places. Unless you have significant discoloration or scarring, it’s best to stick with a lighter touch and opt for a sheer light to medium coverage because it’s buildable. I personally use tinted moisturizer because it hydrates while evening out my skin tone. I’ll then spot conceal for more coverage in specific areas. I find this to be the best way to have a fresh, youthful finish.

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Skin Tone & Shade

How many times have you swatched foundation on your forearm, only to find that it’s all wrong when you get it on your face? That’s because this part of your body is a lot darker than your face. The best way to try to color match is to find a spot towards the center of your face and blend out towards the hairline so you match the sides of your cheeks. If you don’t want to test on your face, then apply potential shades to your chest. Don’t stress yourself out looking for an exact match, but always go with something slightly lighter because the color is going to shift throughout the day. Foundation oxidizes with wear and naturally gets darker with the mixture of elements and the oils on your face. Plus, you can always warm up your face with a little bronzer. Whichever method you choose, it’s important to test the foundation in good, natural lighting.

Undertone

Undertones are the natural colors underneath the surface of your skin which are either warm, cool, or neutral. Unless you want to spend a lot of time color correcting, don’t fight against your skin’s natural undertones. If you have a warm complexion, go with a shade that has yellow undertones, and if your complexion is on the cool side, a foundation with pink undertones is your best bet. I personally tend to go with neutral shades since my face seems to have a little redness in certain areas and a little yellow in others.

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How to Find Your Undertone

Look at the exposed areas of your body first. If your chest and shoulders tend to be more red and pink, it’s safe to say you have cool undertones. If you’re golden, peach, and yellow, you have warmer undertones. Keep in mind that this has nothing to do with how light or dark your complexion is. Another method is to look at the underside of your forearm. If your veins look more blueish, and you look better in silver jewelry, you’re probably on the cool side. If your veins have a greenish tone, and you look better in gold jewelry then it’s safe to say you’re on the warmer end of the spectrum.

Once you’ve identified your skin type, coverage needs, shade and undertone—you’re ready to choose a formula and application method. Keep scrolling for more information on that!

Do you have a holy grail foundation? Please share with us in the comments below! Don’t forget you can sign up for the newsletter to take advantage of some amazing resources here including a PDF with 20+ beauty tips to look younger! Thanks for reading!

Formulations

Finding the right foundation formula is a lot like shopping for jeans—you have to try on quite a few before finding one that's perfect. The most popular formula for all skin types is liquid foundation. It’s one of the most versatile and forgiving on mature skin. Cream foundations are great for mature skin that needs a little more coverage, but still won’t settle in fine lines and wrinkles. Powder formulas typically benefit oily skin types, but I would tread carefully when using them on more mature skin. Here are some favorites:
Charlotte Tilbury Beautiful Skin Foundation
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Vapour Luminous Foundation
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Ilia True Skin Serum Foundation
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N°1 de Chanel Red Camellia Revitalizing Foundation
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Kjaer Weis Cream Foundation
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BB, CC and Tinted Moisturizers

These formulas work for all skin types. The hybrid formulas of half skincare, half foundation originated in Asia and are now a staple stateside. BB (Beauty Balm) and CC (Color Correcting) Creams are loved for their ability to provide medium coverage while also offering skincare ingredients like antioxidants, sunscreen and hydration. Tinted moisturizers do exactly what the name says with a sheer, natural finish. These are some of my go-to's:
Saie Slip Tint Dewy Tinted Moisturizer SPF 35
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NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer
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Chantecaille Just Skin Tinted Moisturizer SPF 15
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Tower 28 SPF 30 Tinted Foundation
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Supergoop CC Cream SPF 50
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Application

The way your foundation looks is not just about finding the right formula. It also depends heavily on how you apply it. The same foundation on your face can look totally different simply by application method. Use a brush for more coverage and product, your fingers if you want it worked in, and a wet beauty blender to add moisture and sheerness. These are some tools you should have in your arsenal:
Beauty Blender Makeup Sponge
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BK Beauty 101 Contoured Foundation Brush
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It Cosmetics Heavenly Luxe Complexion Brush
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Pat McGrath Labs Skin Fetish Sublime Brush
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Amit Bloom, lifestyle writer Busbee Style
Amit Bloom
Amit is a loyal subscriber turned contributor from Miami, where she founded and edited an award-winning lifestyle magazine for over 20 years. The loves of her life are her husband and their two fiercely independent and creative kids. She has been known, however, to proclaim that her favorite child is their Shiba Inu, Zac.
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10 thoughts on “How to Choose the Best Foundation for Your Skin Type Over 40

  1. I live in Florida and have normal to oily skin. When I want a flawless look for work or an event I adore my BB Skin long-wear weightless foundation. I can apply just to areas that are a touch red and fan it out so it’s a lighter coverage it holds up in out humidity. For travel and in the run I love my Nars velvet matte shin tint. I often get asked what makeup I use as the color match is so good

    1. I also live in Florida, so I appreciate your recommendations, Lisa. I’ve been a Bobbi Brown and NARS fan for a long time, so it’s great to know that you’ve had success with these formulas. When there’s humidity, lighter coverage is key! Thanks! ~Amit

  2. I absolutely love Lisa Eldridge Seamless Skin foundation! I’m 59 and it looks flawless on my complexion. I love how she offers foundation samples to test before you buy.

  3. This is a really informative article. Would you consider doing another one about best foundation type for mature skin with acne scars? That would be very helpful for me. Thank you

    1. Hi Eileen – So glad you found it helpful. My first thought is to try the Bobbi Brown foundation stick which is really hydrating but still offers solid coverage. (I’ve found other sticks to be a little drying though.) Another great option is IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better Foundation. https://rstyle.me/+icHp747Qp7M1VNaoizqaUA But either way, look for a formula with hyaluronic acid for moisture/hydration. I’ve heard great things about The Hourglass Illusion Hyaluronic Skin Tint (though admittedly, I haven’t tried it.) https://rstyle.me/+grDR0njWgDLcBdWv1qJ1dg
      Let me know what you try!

      -Francine

  4. Thank you for this excellent comprehensive article. It’s the best I’ve read on how to decide which type of foundation I should choose.

    1. Hi Mary! So happy that you found it helpful! You’ll have to let me know what foundation is your favorite 🙂

      Francine

  5. This is so timely for me as I was about to refresh my make up essentials for the new year. Have you tested the Charlotte Tilburry Airbrush Flawless Foundation? If so can you tell me if you think it’s lightweight for late 40’s skin? I love the flawless filter from her line! Also, I have trouble finding the perfect under eye concealer. I have fine skin and dark blue veins. I’ve been using Tarte Facetape but it’s starting to have a creased look. Any suggestions or perhaps a whole post on concealers?

    1. Hi Lilian! Great idea on a concealer post! I’ll plan on it 🙂
      YES, I have tried the Airbrush Flawless. It’s definitely lightweight, water-based with a lovely finish. I tend towards the drier side (since I use Retin-A and AHAs), so I didn’t necessarily like how it looked later in the day. I have friends who swear by it, so if you’re normal/oily/combo, give it a try. (Try to get a sample from Nordstrom or Sephora!) Concealers…I really love Glossier’s stretch concealer (https://rstyle.me/+b-aZuEGNhp_NWbFmXHEa5Q) it’s so moisturizing! I use it everywhere, even under eyes. Our Busbee team member, Amit swears by Trinny London BFF Eye Serum Concealer, saying “It doesn’t settle into my fine lines and is not at all cakey!”

      Hope this is helpful!

      Francine

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