best in class

The 12 Very Best Foundations for Mature Skin

Including one that “blends like a second skin, blurs lines, and sets to a nice velvety finish, which helps avoid creasing.”

Photo: Marcus McDonald
Photo: Marcus McDonald

Just as the moisturizer you used in your 20s and 30s likely needs an upgrade once you hit your 40s and beyond, the same is true of foundation. “As we age, our skin becomes drier and thinner while also losing collagen and elasticity,” explains makeup artist Gita Bass (her clients include Toni Collette, Laura Dern, and Debra Messing). “That, combined with the long-term effects of gravity and sun exposure, causes sagging, fine lines, as well as hyperpigmentation.” Makeup artist Sandy Linter adds that in light skin colors, the complexion may become sallow due to changing undertones and loss of color.

In this article

Luckily, though, a plethora of foundation options exists to accommodate these mature-skin needs, as is evidenced by the following recommendations from nine makeup artists, which include a charmeuse-like liquid, a cushion compact, and a creamy stick. (Most of these run above $50, it should be noted, but our experts emphasized the quality ingredients in their picks, which they say are more important to invest in as we age.) While how you apply your chosen one — whether with fingers, brush, Beautyblender, or what have you — really comes down to personal preference (and, frankly, time), there are, according to makeup artist Tamah Krinsky (whose clients include Gillian Anderson and Keri Russell), a few cardinal foundation rules to keep in mind. First: “No matter how you apply it, keep the product sheer and blend, blend, blend, making sure you get into the folds around the nose, under your eyes, and between the brows,” she says. And start small: “A dime-size amount is usually more than enough for the whole face … you’re not trying to cover your face in makeup; you’re evening out your skin tone.” Finally, every expert we consulted here stressed that it’s key to start with a well-moisturized face: “If your skin is dry underneath,” says makeup artist Fulvia Farolfi, “there is no foundation that will work.”

What we’re looking for


The finish of a foundation refers to the way it looks when it dries down and how it appears on the skin. This ranges from matte to dewy to natural. What you choose comes down to personal preference and how you’d like your skin to look. Skin type can factor into this too. Drier skin types may opt for a foundation with a dewy, glowy finish, while someone with oily skin might opt for something more mattifying.


Coverage is also a personal choice, and depends on what you’re going for. Coverage levels vary, ranging from a tinted moisturizer, which evens out the skin tone without covering anything up, to a full-coverage foundation that creates one color all over. Some foundations are buildable. Regardless of which coverage level you choose, our experts recommend starting sheer and building up coverage a little at a time. This avoids cakey-ness and helps to create a skinlike finish.

Shade range

Finding the perfect shade match can be difficult because it depends on a few factors. Firstly — your general skin tone. Then, your undertones, which can vary from warm to cool to neutral. The name of the game here is trial and error, but the more inclusive a shade range is, the more likely you are to find one that works for you.


Best overall foundation for mature skin

Finish: Dewy | Coverage: Medium to full | Shade range: 42 shades | Price: 1 ounce (Approx. $44/ounce)

Designed to mimic the feel of silk charmeuse, Bass says this is the “holy grail of foundations for all skin types, but particularly for mature skin.” That’s because it hits all the foundation marks: “It has a gorgeous lightweight feel, it’s easily buildable where you need more coverage, and it creates a radiant glow without a greasy finish,” she explains. Makeup artist Lucky Bromhead (the personal makeup artist to Catherine O’Hara) calls out its weightless texture and ability to never settle into fine lines, and makeup artist Fiona Stiles (her clients include Gabrielle Union and Elizabeth Banks) loves that the luminosity draws attention away from any wrinkles or imperfections. Beauty expert Dawn Davis is also a fan and uses it for special occasions. “There’s just something so fancy and elevated about it,” she says.
“It always looks like real skin, but can cover everything and anything.”

Best drugstore foundation for mature skin

Finish: Natural | Coverage: Medium | Shade range: 45 shades | Price: 1 ounce (Approx. $5/ounce)

Another affordable formula — this drugstore foundation is a favorite of makeup artist Oseremi Egure (Lynn Whitfield is a client). In addition to being super-hydrating, it also comes in 45 true-to-skin shades. Oseremi likes the buildable, blendable coverage. “It’s really smooth,” she says.

Best foundation stick for mature skin

Finish: Natural | Coverage: Medium | Shade range: 39 shades | Price: 0.5 ounces (Approx. $176/ounce)

For those who prefer the ease of application that comes with a nonliquid formula, both makeup artist Sarah Uslan (her clients include Olivia Colman and Michelle Monaghan) and makeup artist Lucy Halperin are fans of Tom Ford’s Traceless Foundation Stick. “It’s so creamy, easy to apply, and has a great shade range,” says Halperin. Uslan loves the way it “glides” on and that you can use it sparingly (which is generally good advice for mature skin). “You can just spot-treat areas with redness or discoloration if you don’t want to wear foundation over your entire face.”

Best less-expensive foundation stick for mature skin

Finish: Natural | Coverage: Medium to full | Shade range: 19 shades | Price: 0.5 ounces (Approx. $24/ounce)

This richly pigmented foundation stick from BLK/OPL is also good for spot-treating and has a great shade range for those with olive undertones or deeper skin. It’s beloved for its ability to fully cover dark marks and hyperpigmentation, and if you’d like to highlight or contour, you can use a few different shades to do just that. The stick also contains shade-shifting technology that adjusts to match your skin tone.

Best full-coverage foundation for mature skin

Finish: Matte | Coverage: Full | Shade range: 56 shades | Price: 1 ounce (Approx. $32/ounce)

For a daily foundation that gives skin a lightweight, natural finish, Egure recommends Estée Lauder’s iconic Double Wear. The classic formula has an expansive shade range (56 and counting), is oil free, and dries down to a skinlike, matte finish. “I would use this for an everyday look,” says Egure.

Best less-expensive full-coverage foundation for mature skin

Finish: Matte | Coverage: Full | Shade range: 40 shades | Price: 1 ounce (Approx. $6/ounce)

This classic, long-lasting foundation works well at any age (it was my very first foundation), but has benefits that make it well-suited for mature skin. For starters, it’s a pore-minimizing formula. As skin ages, it loses elasticity, so pores can appear larger. This foundation — along with a good skin-care routine and proper prep — will help minimize the appearance of large pores as well as soak up any extra oil. And if you’d prefer something a bit more luminous, it’s available in a dewy finish too.

Best matte foundation for mature skin

Finish: Matte | Coverage: Full | Shade range: 8 shades | Price: .35 ounces (Approx. $83/ounce)

Finding a matte foundation that won’t cake up or look heavy can be challenging, but this powder formula provides full coverage and a shine-free finish without appearing masklike or drying out the skin. It comes with a dual-sided sponge for wet and dry application, with wet offering fuller coverage and dry giving skin a more classic, matte finish. It’s a favorite of Davis’s mother, who loves its buildable coverage and the fact that it doesn’t have a shimmery, dewy glow. “That’s only for young people,” she says.

Best glowy foundation for mature skin

Finish: Radiant | Coverage: Medium | Shade range: 42 shades | Price: 1 ounce (Approx. $54/ounce)

If you’re looking for something that will give you a bit of glow without being full-on dewy, there’s Dior’s Forever Skin foundation, a favorite of celebrity aesthetician Sarah Akram — whose client list includes Sheryl Lee Ralph and Mindy Kaling. “It goes on very smooth and lasts all day,” she says. The long-wear foundation (the brand claims up to 24 hours of color-true wear time) has a “radiant” finish, which falls between matte and dewy and is particularly good for mature skin. It’s also formulated with iris extract, a radiance-boosting ingredient that helps to prevent foundation from oxidizing and turning orange after a few hours.

Best hydrating foundation for mature skin

Finish: Dewy | Coverage: Sheer to light | Shade range: 6 shades | Price: 0.7 ounces (Approx. $110/ounce)

A longtime under-the-radar favorite among beauty-world insiders, Krinsky loves Koh Gen Do’s creamy formula — especially for mature skin that can often skew drier. “If your foundation dries you out even more, it will just bring out lines and wrinkles,” explains Nick Barose, a makeup artist whose clients include Kim Cattrall, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Lupita Nyong’o. “The hydration and moisture of this formula keep skin looking fresh.” To help foundation look even better, Krinsky suggests spending extra time on your skin-care prep: “Give yourself a little facial massage. It feels great, wakes your skin up, and gives your products time to absorb before you start your makeup.” If you want to go a step further still, invest in a great primer like Tatcha’s Silk Canvas Protective Primer — according to Bromhead, it “blurs fine lines, fills any large pores, and gives the foundation something to hang on to.”

Best less-expensive hydrating foundation for mature skin

Finish: Semi-satin | Coverage: Sheer to full | Shade range: 43 shades | Price: 1 ounce (Approx. $38/ounce)

Krinsky also loves this foundation from Exa Beauty, which she says “has major payoff but moves like a moisturizer.” Its lightweight feel makes it buildable, so you’re able to blend it in and make it sheer without sacrificing coverage. Ingredients like hyaluronic acid, maqui berry, and microalgae deliver skin-care benefits too and help to protect skin from environmental pollutants, which can accelerate skin’s aging. “The color range is wonderful too,” says Krinsky, “and the texture is a dream.” It also comes in 43 shades and is made with a pigment that won’t oxidize and dry darker or orange on skin.

Best blurring foundation for mature skin

Finish: Matte | Coverage: Full | Shade range: 43 shades | Price: 1 ounce (Approx: $46/ounce)

“I could go to a 20-hour event and it would look just as good at the end of the night as it did when I first applied it,” says Davis of this foundation from Charlotte Tilbury. The stay-all-day foundation comes in 43 shades and contains ingredients you might find in your skin care like peptides and pollution-fighting antioxidants. The brand claims continued use will smooth wrinkles, and while we can’t confirm that’s the case, it’s a solid foundation whether it’ll give you a crease-free forehead or not. Davis says it’s a bit more blurring than our overall pick — Armani Luminous Skin — and “wears incredibly well.”

Best long-wear foundation for mature skin

Finish: Natural | Coverage: Medium to full | Shade range: 34 shades | Price: 1 ounce (Approx. $49/ounce)

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by foundation choices, Bass’s advice is to look for keywords like “hydrating” or “luminous,” which are a boon for skin at any age, but especially when you’re older. “Formulas with words like these tend to help bring back the glow that we lose over time,” says Bass. But to nail the illuminating effect can mean sacrificing longevity, which makes NARS’s Radiant Longwear Foundation a real unicorn. “It has the most amazing staying power and gives a gorgeous radiant finish,” adds Bass. To even further seal the deal, you might want to consider dusting on a powder for the final touch, ideally with a fluffy brush to help disperse the particles evenly. (Uslan is partial to Laura Mercier Shine Control Pressed Powder “because it’s transparent and very soft and light.”)

Best lightweight foundation for mature skin

Finish: Natural | Coverage: Light to medium | Shade range: 20 shades | Price: 1 ounce (Approx. $43/ounce)

For anyone with mature skin, Stiles steers clear of foundations with too much pigment: “They just sink into lines and accentuate pore size, making the skin look even more mature.” Her favorite feather-light option is Make Up for Ever’s Water Blend because “it’s thin but still has just the right amount of coverage.” To allow the foundation to look that much more skinlike, Stiles says it’s all about choosing the right moisturizer as a base. “If someone has oily skin, I recommend a very light, or even matte, moisturizer (like Matte Moisturizer from Ernest Supplies), so you aren’t adding oil to the skin. And if someone is dry, I’ll use an oil (like Serum No. 1 from Vanderohe) to give a luminous, glow-y base,” she says.

Best less-expensive lightweight foundation for mature skin

From $10

Finish: Natural | Coverage: Light to medium | Shade range: 10 shades | Price: 1 ounce (Approx. $7/ounce)

For a drugstore option, there’s this skin tint from Neutrogena, which is packed with hyaluronic acid and has a water-gel consistency. The breathable formula doesn’t feel heavy and helps to hydrate skin for up to 24 hours.

Best BB cream for mature skin

Finish: Natural | Coverage: Light to medium | Shade range: 15 shades | Price: 1 ounce (Approx. $44/ounce)

If you’re looking for something with ultra-lightweight coverage (but is still buildable), there’s this BB cream foundation from Nu Skin that combines the pigment of a traditional foundation with the skin-care benefits of a foundation, including cacao-seed extract, a natural antioxidant. It comes recommended by Davis, who uses it daily. “I always get compliments when I wear it,” she says. “It’s totally weightless yet also moisturizing, and it doesn’t settle into lines or pores.”

Best concealer-as-foundation for mature skin

Finish: Natural | Coverage: Full | Shade range: 30 shades | Price: 0.4 ounces (Approx. $90/ounce)

“I use concealer in lieu of foundation all the time,” says Farolfi. “I’m European, so foundation is like a five-times-a-year thing, but concealer is a must every day.” For those less-is-more days — and less is often more for mature skin, since, as we said, heavier makeup tends to settle into fine lines — Halperin loves this long-wearing concealer with an easy wand application. “Apply it under the eyes and the T-zone, and blend it out to even the skin tone without using too much coverage,” she says. Halperin also gives Dior high marks for its extensive shade range.

Some more Strategist-approved products for mature skin

Our experts

• Sarah Akram, celebrity esthetician
• Gita Bass, makeup artist
• Nick Barose, makeup artist
Lucky Bromhead, makeup artist
• Dawn Davis, beauty expert and executive director at Vox Media
• Oseremi Egure, makeup artist
• Fulvia Farolfi, makeup artist
• Lucy Halperin, makeup artist
Tamah Krinsky, makeup artist
• Sandy Linter, makeup artist
• Fiona Stiles, makeup artist
• Sarah Uslan, makeup artist

The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

The 16 Very Best Foundations for Mature Skin