How to master flattering make-up in your 60s

Bobbi Brown, centre, with two grey-haired models
At 66, beauty entrepreneur Bobbi Brown (centre) is the Queen of easy, effortless make-up, writes Haria

You’ll probably know the make-up artist Bobbi Brown from her namesake beauty range which she launched in 1991. The original master of the “no make-up make-up look”, in 2016, aged 59, Brown left what became a billion-dollar enterprise and returned to our make-up bags in 2021 with her new venture, Jones Road.

At 66-years-old, Brown is the Queen of easy, effortless make-up that takes the guesswork out of a highly saturated industry which can be challenging for everyday women – especially women over 60 – to navigate. From trying to find the right foundation for your skin type, or blush and lipstick colours that are impactful yet still look chic and grown up, it’s not always been easy to find makeup that isn’t just suited to the naturally smooth, glowy skin of a 20-year-old.

Bobbi Brown photographed in blazer and jeans
Bobbi Brown: the original master of the 'no make-up make-up' look

Even as a celebrated make-up artist herself, Brown has felt some of the same issues. “What I find now in my 60s is that it is about accepting you are fine the way you are, and it’s just about confidence,” she says. “I’m not saying ‘OK, let’s all stop shaving and all go wild’, I still colour my hair and most mornings put on a little make-up. The reason I wear makeup in my 60s is just to feel good, and if you feel good your confidence is stronger. It’s taken a long time to figure that out.”

There’s also the general assumption that to be good with make-up, you need to have a bag brimming full of products and lots of time on your hands to get ready. This is not the case for Brown, whose philosophy around make-up is that it should be quick, easy and leave you feeling better. “I like to make things simple. I am lazy,” she says. “I think there’s a nicer way of saying it – that I’m very low-key or low maintenance – but no, I’m lazy. So, I like to find solutions with my make-up.”

One of the 'I Am Me' kits from Brown's make-up brand Jones Road
One of the I Am Me kits from Brown's make-up brand, Jones Road

If you’re just as low maintenance, Brown has just launched the I Am Me kits, curated beauty sets for women who don’t know what to order from a make-up website. Otherwise, work with what you have with Bobbi’s tips on how to improve your makeup in your 60s – and the advice she really uses on herself.

Pay attention to your skin

For Brown, the first thing she does every morning before applying skincare or makeup is assess her skin and what it really needs. “Pay attention to what your skin looks like every morning, because each day is different,” she says. “For instance, today my skin is drier than yesterday because I didn’t put moisturiser on last night and I didn’t drink enough water yesterday, so I used more moisturiser today.”

If your skin is a little oilier, which can happen in the warmer months, you may just want to skip a moisturiser altogether and go straight to sun protection. The same skin assessment goes for make-up, too. “If you’re well-rested you might not need the extra coverage the next day, and sometimes you do,” adds Brown. The same goes for powder: look in the mirror and check if you really need to use it before applying.

Nail the perfect foundation

Foundations are a staple for many women’s make-up bags, but really divide opinion: pick the wrong texture and it can look cakey on the skin. And for Brown, that immediately looks ageing. “If you have a traditional foundation, try ‘thinning’ it out with your moisturiser to make it look more natural,” she suggests.  The shade matters too. “Foundation has to be the exact colour of your forehead and your cheeks, otherwise you’ll need a bronzer to warm it up.”

Fortunately, there are some excellent modern formulas that even out the complexion without the obvious look of make-up. The What The Foundation, £42 by Jones Road can be applied like a moisturiser for an even base. Shiseido’s Revitalessence Glow Foundation, £49, is also brilliant for 60-plus skin if you prefer a traditional liquid foundation, as it adds lots of hydration as well as coverage.

beauty products
beauty products

Revitalessence Glow Foundation, Shiseido, £49; What The Foundation, Jones Road, £42

Actress Julianne Moore, 63, strikes the perfect balance of even skin tone with lots of luminosity. If you’d rather skip foundation altogether, you can use a concealer under your eyes, around your nose if you have redness, or to cover sunspots. The Concealer by Cle De Peau, £55, is an excellent all-rounder.

Julianne Moore attends the UK Premiere of "Mary & George" at Banqueting House on February 28, 2024 in London, England
Julianne Moore balances skin tone and glow - Getty

Correctors are your secret weapon

“If you have really dark circles you need to get a corrector,” explains Brown, who refers to correctors as neutralising pencils because the aim is to neutralise shadow and darkness under the eye first, before applying concealer. “Not everyone needs one. But if you do – and some people really need to – they can make everything look so much better,” adds Brown, who reaches for a corrector whenever she needs to look more “awake”.

Correctors often have a more orange or peach-based tone to them to counteract shadows and give a more balanced, even skin tone. The Neutralizer Pencil, £24, by Jones Road is incredibly easy to use and light enough to layer under a concealer (Brooke Shields is a fan). The Radiant Creamy Color Corrector by Nars, £26.50, is a very good option, too. Gently pat it under your eye wherever you see darkness and correctors will immediately brighten.

beauty products
beauty products

 The Neutralizer Pencil, Jones Road, £24;  The Radiant Creamy Color Corrector, Nars, £26.50

Frame your face with good brows

“Once you start doing your brows and you see what it does to your face, you just can’t not do it,” explains Brown. The first step to better brows is to use an eyebrow brush with no colour and just brush them out to groom them. Once you brush up the eyebrows you can see where you need to fill. “Your eyebrows should start in line with your tear duct. It shouldn’t be closer and it shouldn’t be farther away,” she adds.

As for the arch, it should be three-quarters of the way along your brow. “As we get older, it is even more important because it gives you the illusion of a face-lift,” says Brown.  Finally, place a pencil from the corner of your nose to the outer corner of your eye, and where that line hits your brows is where they should end. Actress Angela Bassett, 65, has the perfect example of a well-sculpted brow.

Angela Bassett attends the Los Angeles premiere of National Geographic documentary series "Queens" at Academy Museum of Motion Pictures on February 08, 2024 in Los Angeles, California
Angela Bassett knows a thing or two about well-sculpted brows - Getty

If you have grey hair and brows, there’s a solution: Brown developed an eyebrow pencil in a grey shade because, working with so many grey models, she found that even light, ashy brow pencil colours can look a little warm. The Brow Pencil, £22 by Jones Road has no warmth in it, so it works really well if you’ve got grey or silver hair, or if you’re a cool blonde. As for how to apply a brow pencil, “always use gentle pressure,” says Brown. “Apply it with short, feathery strokes and look for a formula that has added fibres within to help add volume to the brows.” If you prefer a brow gel, try the Tinted Eyebrow Sculpting Gel by Beauty Pie, £9.

beauty products
beauty products

Tinted Eyebrow Sculpting Gel, Beauty Pie, £9; The Brow Pencil, Jones Road, £22 

Colours that suit grey hair

If your hair is grey or white, you might have to change up the colours of makeup you wear to really help the grey ‘pop’. Case in point is Andie MacDowell, 65, who masters bright, flattering make-up with grey hair.

“White or grey hair can make your complexion look a little dull, so it’s important to find your ‘nude’ colours in lipstick and blush that aren’t just browns and beiges,” says Brown. Her advice is to opt for a rosy pink or peach colour on cheeks and lips to add vibrancy to the face.

Andie MacDowell speaks onstage Pasadena, California, 2024
Andie MacDowell matches colourful make-up to her grey hair - Getty

“A pinky rose blush works for everyone to make your skin look more vibrant,” says Brown. But there’s no need to shy away from bright lipstick. “If you love red lipstick, that’s fantastic – I love the look of white hair, blue eyes and a red lip,” she adds.

The Soft Pinch Luminous Powder Blush, £26, by Rare Beauty is a hybrid blusher and highlighter that adds a real glow to the skin – the shade Joy is a beautiful suits-everyone coral. If you love the look of red lipstick but find it tricky to wear, the Lip Tint in Ruby, £26, by Jones Road is a beautiful formula: creamy, wearable with just the right punch of colour.

beauty products
beauty products

Soft Pinch Luminous Powder Blush, Rare Beauty, £26; Lip Tint in Ruby, Jones Road £26