Regardless of age, makeup is a wonderful form of self-expression and empowerment. But in the same way we adjust our skincare routine as we age, so too, our makeup choices. Most of us find the textures, finishes, and formulations we gravitated towards in our 20s or even 30s completely change in our 40s, along with our makeup goals. To find out more, I tapped makeup artist Jane Meng to share the best products along with some handy tips and tricks for applying makeup in your 40s.

We’ve all been there—we pop into the powder room mid-dinner date only to find our concealer has creased, further accentuating under eye wrinkles or that once-trusty powder you loved has settled into our forehead lines and is starting to flake. And let me remind you, this can happen at any age! When this happens, it’s time for an adjustment to your makeup routine.

Jane Meng
  • Makeup Artist
  • Instagram

Jane Meng is a freelance makeup artist. Over the past 13 years she has worked with celebrities, major brands, NYFW, and brides.

Keep reading for Meng’s tips for makeup in your 40s…

Make a statement.

Meng explains that makeup in your 40s should focus on making a single statement. That might mean a bold lip with a neutral eye or a dramatic eye with a softer lip. Try to keep things fresh and simple with a standout moment that makes an impact by accentuating one feature.

Take great care of your skin.

According to Meng, the number one thing you can do to prevent makeup from caking, flaking, or drying out is to take good care of your skin. Investing in a simple daily skincare routine with a great moisturizer, quality sunscreen, hydrating serum, and acids will create the optimal base for makeup. Your foundation should not look dry and cakey when you apply it. If it does, creator of Mixed Makeup and Naturium founder, Susan Yara says it’s usually due to a lack of hydration and moisture, and maybe a little exfoliation, too. Watch her very informative video on Instagram with some skincare tips that can help.

Makeup is always going to add texture to the skin, so remember: less is more! This means fewer products and thinner application as well to make it easier for the makeup to meld with the skin as opposed to settling into fine lines.

The 2 sunscreens Meng loves…

EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46

Protection to your delicate skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays with this hydrating. It includes lactic acid to refine skin, clear pores, and reduce shine.

EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46, $37

Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40

This weightless, colorless, scentless, oil-free formula leaves skin velvety soft, acts as a primer, and is perfect for all skintones.

Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40, $34

Incorporate colors

The key is to experiment and find colors that suit your skin tone and personality. You just might surprise yourself. For example, Meng loves a smudged purple liner. It’s sophisticated and brings attention to the eyes in a more interesting and softer way than black eyeliner would. Just be careful to not use too many pinks around the eye area, since these can tend to make you look tired or bloodshot.  

Don’t pile on products

Attempting to cover up perceived facial flaws will only create a mask-like appearance that will eventually settle, flake, or crease. Keep things simple and minimal.

Use a primer

Avoid having your makeup sink into pores as the day wears on by using a great primer. It helps to create a base for your makeup to adhere to and give it longevity.

Meng’s favorite primers…

Milk Makeup Hydro Grip Primer

This hydrating gel primer is made with hemp-derived cannabis seed extract and blue agave extract that soothes the skin. It is Meng’s go-to look for a dewy look since its hydrating but also tacky enough that makeup won’t budge throughout the day.

Milk Makeup Hydro Grip Primer, $34

Tatcha Silk Canvas Protective Primer

Meng prefers this velvety priming balm for a satin finish that prevents clogged pores and breakouts.

Tatcha Silk Canvas Protective Primer, $52

Smashbox Photo Finish Pore Minimizer Primer

Meng recommends this primer if you have large pores. You can use it on the areas where you need it and omit elsewhere.

Smashbox Photo Finish Pore Minimizer Primer, $14

Use an under eye color corrector

One of Meng’s favorite things about under eye color correctors is that it gives the skin a base that helps to prevent your concealer from creasing. Sometimes, a corrector is all you need, and at the very least it gives you the ability to use less concealer than you normally would. She likes to apply a thin layer of corrector (just to the areas that are discolored) with a fluffy brush to blend it out. She then applies a thin layer of concealer with another fluffy brush to shear out the edges.

The 2 color correctors that are always in Meng’s kit…

NARS Radiant Creamy Liquid Color Corrector

This lightweight color corrector is super easy to use and comes in multiple shades that can work for a wide range of skin tones.

NARS Radiant Creamy Liquid Color Corrector, $30

Charlotte Tilbury Magic Vanish Color Corrector

This balm-like corrector also comes in multiple colors for different skintones.

Charlotte Tilbury Magic Vanish Color Corrector, $32

Avoid setting your undereyes with powder

Meng finds powder often creates a heavy look in an area that usually needs to be brightened, and can also settle into creases throughout the day. A little color corrector and some concealer should do the trick!

The 2 concealers Meng always reaches for…

Estée Lauder Double Wear Radiant Concealer

This concealer gives you fuller coverage without being cakey, and can even double as a foundation.

Estée Lauder Double Wear Radiant Concealer, $30

Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser Concealer

This is a makeup artist favorite since it goes on sheer but is very buildable—and it doesn’t crease!

Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser Concealer, $7.99

Use your fingers

Meng likes to apply cream highlighters, blushes, and even some foundations with her fingers, since body heat warms the product and makes it easier to melt into the skin. You can always go in to buff and blend with a brush afterwards.

Meng’s top 3 beloved foundations…

Merit The Minimalist Perfecting Complexion Foundation and Concealer Stick

Meng uses this lightweight, medium-coverage complexion stick on oily skin. It has a dewy, natural-looking finish.

Merit The Minimalist Perfecting Complexion Foundation and Concealer Stick, $38

Cover FX Natural Finish Foundation

This is Meng’s go-to for dry skin. It’s a water-based, long-asting foundation with a natural finish and powerful antioxidant protection.

Cover FX Natural Finish Foundation, $42

Fenty Beauty Eaze Drop Blurring Skin Tint

Meng uses this one for combination skin. It has a beautiful finish that blurs the skin for a smooth, even appearance.

Fenty Beauty Eaze Drop Blurring Skin Tint, $29.50

Use very fine loose powders

If you still need a powder but are concerned about cakeiness, then Meng advises a very fine powder to achieve that velvety feel and finish. They can be pressed or rolled into the skin and fill in fine lines and pores. You can also strategically and only place powder where you need it and avoid creating texture where you don’t.

Meng’s go-to ultra-fine powder is…

IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores Airbrush Loose Setting Powder

This talc-free setting powder is infused with silk that mattifies, minimizes pores, and keeps foundation and concealer in place for an airbrushed look.

IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores Airbrush Loose Setting Powder, $30

Stick to cream highlighters and bronzers

Meng avoids powder highlighters and bronzers as much as possible so the skin stays moisturized without getting cakey. One of her favorite tricks for makeup in your 40s is to place a highlighter directly on the skin underneath foundation. It gives you a lit from within glow, but most importantly, doesn’t call attention to texture like it would on top of a powder.

Meng’s top 2 highlighter/bronzers…

Tom Ford Shade and Illuminate Palette

We love a duo! This baby contours and sculpts to bring out the optimal bone structure of your facial architecture.

Tom Ford Shade and Illuminate Palette, $88

MAC Cream Colour Base

Meng’s favorite shades are Luna and Hush. Both have soft finishes wihtout too much shimmer or glitter.

MAC Cream Colour Base, $25

Mix cream and powder blush

Blend out a cream blush and then add a bit of extra powder blush for more definition and staying power.

Meng’s favorite blushes…

Tata Harper Volumizing Lip and Cheek Tint

Meng is partial to this smooth, creamy, blendable formula that gives you a natural flush.

Tata Harper Volumizing Lip and Cheek Tint, $39

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush

This baked powder formula goes on super light, smooth and is one of Meng’s favorites.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush, $40

Use hydrating lipsticks

No one wants to deal with crunchy, dried-out lips, and the older we get the more we need to keep our delicate lip skin ultra moisturized. A hydrating lipstick will give you the color payoff of a lipstick with the feel of a lip balm. Dreamy!

Meng’s favorite hydrating lip product…

Bobbi Brown Crushed Lipcolor

As a makeup artist, Meng is drawn to this lipstick because the texture makes the application feel like a second skin which means touch-ups are a breeze—all while keeping your lips ultra hydrated.

Bobbi Brown Crushed Lipcolor, $29

Freshen up with a setting spray

Meng likes using setting spray as an extra layer of protection from the outside world. She especially recommends it if you’re doing your makeup in your 40s because it creates helps to fuse the look together for an overall hydrated, glowy appearance. It’s also great to keep on hand for refreshing your makeup look when it starts to settle or dry out, too.

Meng’s #1 setting spray…

Urban Decay All-Nighter Setting Spray

Keep makeup fresh, smudge-proof, and transfer-resistant with this cult-fave setting spray.

Urban Decay All-Nighter Setting Spray, $33

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