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Makeup dos and don’ts in your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s

Shiny silver eye shadow and creamy blush may look fresh and fun when you’re 20, but the wrong makeup look can instantly age you as you grow older. Makeup artist Tracey Zenatti from Napoleon Cosmetics gives advice on using makeup to play up your best features, regardless of age.

In your 20s…

Taylor Swift


  • Go bold. “The 20s are all about making a statement!” says makeup artist Tracey Zenatti, national creative team member at Napoleon Cosmetics. So smokey eyes in popular shades of dark chocolate brown, gunmetal grey or midnight black are ideal. “This style is perfectly paired with a nude lipstick in shades likes caramel, pale pink or peach,” Tracey says.
  • Add drama with false lashes at night. “A woman in their 20s without a faux lash is like a pump shoe without a heel — it’s necessary for support! Whether the lashes are individual or strip, adding a set to a look can enhance any eye.”
  • Strip back your look during the day. “Warm, earthy eye shadows to contour and shape the eyes are favoured, while loads of mascara is applied to lashes to add length and definition, and lips are kept nude for a modern feel.”


  • Overdo the shimmer. Excess metallic eye shadow can overpower your entire look and appear “a tad dated”, Tracey says, so dust only a small amount of shimmer over the eye and stick with matte, nude tones on the brow bone.
  • Wear dark lips. “Keep away from dark brown or plumy tones, as they can make women in their 20s appear older,” Tracey warns.

In your 30s…

Rachel McAdams


  • Continue with smokey eye. “It remains popular for women in their 30s, however, the intensity is lessened. Soft to medium tones in brown, pewter, olive or terracotta are better,” Tracey says.
  • Use mascara religiously. It’s essential for women in their 30s as it helps to lift the eyes and add definition to the lash line.
  • Focus on foundation. “For many women in their 30s, fresh, radiant skin is the crucial key to maintaining a youthful appearance,” Tracey explains. “It is most important to keep skin hydrated using plenty of serum and primer for the perfect foundation base. Using light to medium liquid foundations will help with coverage whilst keeping the skin looking fresh.”


  • Over-powder. “This is a huge no-no for women in their 30s! Only powder where needed, on the eyes, nose and lips), as excess powder on the “high points” of the face — the top of cheekbone, forehead and chin — can emphasise unwanted fine lines,” Tracey explains.
  • Wear heavy eyelashes. Women in their 30s should avoid strip lashes that are too dramatic and long, as they appear heavy and unnatural, drawing the eyes down. “Keep to individual lashes as they are light-weight and will always help to create a lifted appearance,” she says.

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In your 40s…

Tina Fey


  • Lighten up. “Women in their 40s should begin to really embrace a lighter coverage, as using less foundation and powder will create a more natural appearance,” Tracey says.
  • Embrace colour. Just because you’ve celebrated a few more birthdays, that doesn’t mean you should rule out coloured eyeliner all together! Tracey suggests shades of teal, navy blue, copper or green applied to the top and lower lash lines for a subtle pop of colour.
  • Use a lipliner. “Always line lipstick last, as the consistency in the pencil will assist in creating a barrier for lipstick to help prevent colour from smudging or bleeding,” she advises.


  • Wear shimmery blush. “In many cases women in their 40s will develop oily skin, which can lead to enlarged pores,” Tracey says. “Try and avoid blush that contains too much shimmer or luminosity as it can show up the texture of skin and appear unflattering.”
  • Over-apply concealer. “The under-eye becomes a delicate area for women in their 40s and it is important to avoid over-powdering or concealing around this area. Try using a finer loose powder and gently dust around the eye to prevent creasing,” she suggests.

In your 50s & 60s…

Judi Dench


  • Prep first. “Fine lines and wrinkles around the mouth can appear more prominent in women over 50, so to prevent lipstick from bleeding, apply a touch of concealer around the outer edge of the lips prior to the lipstick application — and remember to line the lips last!”
  • Wear light foundation. The “less is more” approach definitely applies when it comes to base. You may want to consider moving to a tinted moisturiser to even out the skin tone instead of a heavy foundation that highlights wrinkles and lines.
  • Focus on cheeks. “Create an instant cheek lift by applying blush higher than the cheekbones using a matte blush in shades of rose, peach or terracotta,” Tracey says.


  • Over-emphasise lashes. “They can drag the eyes down and make them appear smaller,” Tracey says. “To create subtle definition and lift, apply a few individual lashes at the outer corners of the top lash lines.”
  • Go glossy. “Gloss over a lipstick can look inappropriate on women over 50; instead, opt for a matte lipstick to achieve a classic opaque finish and longer lasting results.”

More makeup tips

Makeup tricks to make your eyes pop
Does your makeup have an expiry date?
Makeup staples you should always have on hand

Photo Credits:, FayeVision /, Alberto Reyes /,  Ian Wilsin /

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