Dear Megan,

As I’ve gotten older, my foundation isn’t looking at good as it used to. It doesn’t seem to blend into my skin, but kind of sits on top of it. What am I doing wrong?

– Kim P.

Beauty is ageless. Unfortunately, the techniques used to achieve beauty are not. As you age there are certain things you have to adjust as your skin starts to change. (We all go through it, don’t be ashamed!)

Even if you haven’t hit a major age milestone yet, if your skin is anything like mine-which skin ranges from oily to dry all on one canvas thanks to a combination of oily skin and majorly drying dermatologist prescribed products (plus travel, diet changes, hormones… ugh!)–you will also benefit from the tips below.

“Applying foundation incorrectly can result in making you look much older than you are.”

The most common question I get from women who are older is how to apply foundation. Applying foundation incorrectly can result in making you look much older than you are. Although makeup application is a skill that seems like it be easily honed over time (especially if you’re wearing it everyday), it actually gets easier to apply foundation incorrectly as we get older, because the way we should apply foundation changes as our skin changes.

These are some of my favorite tips to help women with aging skin look their best!



First of all, drink water. Before I talk about expensive ways to hydrate your skin, let’s clear the basics. Keep a water bottle with you all the time. Follow every cup of coffee with a cup of water throughout the day. This is going to be the most basic, helpful tip I can give you for hydrating your skin. Now..

While women of all ages should be using moisturizer daily, it is especially important for women who are older. Properly hydrated skin is plump, glowy, and makes applying foundation so much easier. I like to use both a hydrating moisturizer and face oil (SHINE is a great face oil + natural UV protectant!) to get as much hydration as possible. You can also opt for a sleep mask, but personally I find they are too heavy and make sleeping uncomfortable.

In Asia, all of the women–young and old–have beautiful skin because they keep it properly hydrated.

In Asia, all of the women–young and old–have beautiful skin because they keep it properly hydrated. How? In China, at least, one of the first ten phrases you’ll learn is “drink more water”, so there’s that. Additionally, Asia currently has an obsession with face masks. The face masks in Asia are cotton or muslin cloth, pre-soaked with different ingredients, depending on your skin’s needs. You leave the face mask on for 30-60 minutes, then gently wash off the residue. EVERY Chinese movie will feature girls wearing a sheet mask.. it’s as much of a staple as toothpaste!

My Chinese friends have different skin than me, of course, but it looks so much better than mine because they put skincare first. They care about it much more than makeup, and they keep their skin ultra-hydrated for a fresh, young look throughout their entire lives. Of course Korean women are famous for their amazing skin care regimens, and the Chinese look to the Koreans for advice.

Face masks in China run from $0.80 and up (mine are about $1.60 on average), and are available literally EVERYWHERE in stores and vending machines–again, staple. Here in the states, you can pick them up at Sephora from top skincare brands like Tony Moly (seen above; $4-$8/mask), Bosica, Guerlain–basically every premium brand with a presence in Asia, for that matter–and Sephora even has their own collection at $6/mask. 

If you’d like me to bring you some home from my next trip in China, shoot me an email (seriously). Anything in the name of beauty!



On top of proper hydration you should also be exfoliating religiously. Exfoliation helps rid your skin of extra, dead skin cells thereby increasing skin cell turnover and preventing pore blockage. Plus, smooth skin is good skin for makeup application.

You can chemically or physically exfoliate. If you want to chemically exfoliate, you should choose an AHA or BHA depending on your skin type. For oily skin, choose a BHA (salicylic acid) lotion exfoliant like this one from Paula’s Choice (a brand by one of the most reputable skincare bloggers). For more mature or drier skin, try Paula’s Skin Perfecting 8% Aha Gel (here).

If you’re in-between, you might want to choose one like Murad’s combo AHA/BHA wash (here).

In terms of physical exfoliation, I am LOVING the ViaBuff right now (see here). They come in extra gentle and go up in “roughness” from there. I would suggest extra gentle for your face. After about 3 days of using the ViaBuff for gentle exfolation, I saw a huge difference in the smoothness of my skin–no more dry, flaky patches or random fields of comedones! YES.

After about 3 days of using the ViaBuff for gentle exfolation, I saw a huge difference in the smoothness of my skin.

Just check it out. ViaBuff has an awesome, knowledgable founder who also worked with a dermatologist before and after the product launch to make sure that the viabuff was legit. The duo buff is just $19 (A STEAL I TELL YOU!). I use the purple/green duo for my face and body respectively. A 3&4 or 3&2 combo might be good for someone with mature or dry skin. You can decide for yourself! There’s a ton of info on their website that can point you in the right direction.


Anyway, I’ve tried tons of “exfoliating scrubs” and would never recommend a single one. I have yet to try a chemical peel (coming soon I suppose), and forever I toted around silicone scrub brush. This tops all. Viabuff fan for life! Now if they could just make the purple viabuff resistent to bleach.. My derm-prescribed facewash bleached that puppy a nasty brown color the first time I used it. Oh well! I still use it. ?

As for how often to exfoliate, I normally recommend people who are younger to only exfoliate once or twice a week but as you age it’s a good idea to start doing it more often. Obviously, I already said that I do it daily and if I remember correctly, that’s what viabuff recommends if you’re using their product.

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If I am being completely honest, I don’t think primers are necessary for women under 40 (unless they have severely dry or oily skin).

Is priming necessary for me, personally? YES yes and yes. I prime before I apply makeup every single time. Why? Because I have oily patches, dry patches, sweat a lot, and touch my face a lot. Does it sound like a mess? Because it is. The truth is, priming is my safety net for my makeup. Before I started priming, my makeup was gone within an hour or two. Messsssy.

Older women can benefit from primers as they prevent foundation from settling into fine lines.

Older women can benefit from primers as they prevent foundation from settling into fine lines. Bonus: you can even find primers with additional hydration benefits! You may also find that you love the way a primer looks, sans foundation. So next time you’re at your local Target or Sephora, be sure to invest in a great primer! It can make a world of difference.

My favorite primers recently are:

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Now let’s get to the good stuff. Product recommendations! After lots of trial and error I have found the best foundations for aging skin, at every price point.


Maybelline Instant Age Rewind

One of the best drugstore foundations for aging skin! Ingredients include goji berry and caffeine, both of which Maybelline claims will “firm up” skin. This foundation works best for women who are looking for light to medium coverage. You can check it out here, so you know what to look for in your local drugstore ? It usually ranges from $7-$10 per bottle.


L’Oreal Visible Lift Serum Absolute Advanced Age-Reversing Makeup

Another fantastic option from the drugstore is the L’Oreal Visible Lift Serum Absolute Advanced Age-Reversing Makeup! This is a medium coverage foundation that gives the skin a dewy finish. It’s a perfect choice for women with skin more on the dry side. You can find it here for ~$10.


Lancôme Rénergie Lift

The best of the best for aging skin. While it is on the more expensive side, this foundation is able to provide a medium to full coverage without settling into fine lines. As a bonus, it also includes SPF protection which is something that people of all ages need! It’s a little pricier, at around $50/bottle, available as eye candy here.


Estee Lauder Re-Nutriv

The most expensive product on the list, but worth the price tag. This foundation is loved by many older women for good reason! It’s smooth, and leaves the skin looking like it’s been air brushed. Be warned this is a full coverage, heavy foundation (you can tell by looking at it here) so if that’s not what you’re looking for I would recommend skipping this one.

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One of the best pieces of advice I can give women of any age is this” never let anyone tell you you can’t wear something because of your age!

Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things, even as you age. Doing the same old thing doesn’t always work, because we–and our skin–are always changing. Embrace the process.


* This post was part of our Beauty Q&A series, where our founder Megan answers your beauty questions every Tuesday and Thursday on the Amalie blog. Submit your beauty question to [email protected]*

This post contains affiliate links.


Dr. Vanessa Rodriguez is a board-certified general practitioner with more than 15 years of patient care experience. She takes an integrative approach to patient care that considers the whole person – mind, body, and spirit – and is deeply committed to assisting her patients in achieving and sustaining optimal health. Dr. Vanessa is also a skilled writer and medical reviewer, specializing in preventive care and health promotion. Her articles are written in an approachable manner that is simple to comprehend and implement in one’s own life. Dr. Vanessa’s mission is to equip her patients and readers with the knowledge and resources necessary to live their greatest lives.

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