How To Wear Eyeshadow Over 40

How To Wear Eyeshadow Over 40

I certainly enjoy my mid-forties – there’s a confidence that comes along with being a certain age and I celebrate the aging process as much as I can. Except for that little part of the aging process influenced by gravity. Um, can we opt out of that part?

As our skin matures, it gradually loses elasticity. Couple that lack of elasticity with the constant pull from gravity and we’ve got some loose, excessive skin issues.

Whereas excess skin on the lower eyelid can cause wrinkles, puffiness, and bulges, the upper eyelids are usually plagued with an extra fold of skin that hangs a little lower than the days of yore…sometimes even over the eyelashes. Rude, if you ask me.

Crepey skin, sagging eyelids, fine lines and wrinkles, dark circles…hoo boy, women over 40, your eyes are in for a treat!

Lucky for you, I’ve been cursed blessed with hooded eyes my entire life so I have been training for this moment for decades and I’m here to show you how to wear eye shadow when your lids have seemed to drop a bit. (Along with your breasts and knees. Again, gravity. *shaking fists at sky*)

How To Wear Eyeshadow Over 40

You Don’t Need to Pack It On

Just like foundation and concealer, your forties really isn’t the time to pack it on in terms of makeup. Skin texture and fine lines can be exaggerated when you have too much makeup on, thus aging the face even more. This goes for the eyes too – we want to help brighten and open up the eye area, and that takes surprisingly less eye shadow layering than you think!

(With that being said, there are no hard-and-fast rules here. If you love a seriously smoky eye and/or vibrant colors on your lids, YOU GO GIRL. Seriously, life is too short. Rock that look, woman! These are just tips that work for me in helping to minimze droopy, hooded eyelids.)

Placement, Placement, Placement!

In terms of hooded eyelids, it’s all about the placement. The most important eye shadow you can own is one that looks like your own crease color, but just a tad bit deeper. When you have a shade like that and use small, circular motions to apply eye shadow to the crease and slightly beyond, you’ll be shocked at how much the droopy skin will visually recede and allow your peepers to shine through!

More on that below in the tutorial video.

Brighten the Eyes with an Inner Corner Highlight

You’ve probably seen it done on social media or You Tube by folks of all ages, but adding just a bit of light-reflecting powder or cream highlighter to the inner corner of the eyes instantly makes eyes look bright and alert. It’s one of the easiest tricks in the book…just dab a bit of highlighter in the inner corners with a finger (I prefer the pad of my ring finger) or you can use a small fluffy brush.

Create Contrast with Brows and Lashes

Did you ever see the study that looked at participants in terms of perceived age and facial contrast? It is super interesting! Individual faces were perceived as younger when aspects of facial contrast were artificially increased, but older when aspects of facial contrast were artificially decreased. The findings showed that facial contrast plays a role in age perception and that faces with greater facial contrast look younger. Because facial contrast is increased by typical cosmetics use, we can infer that cosmetics function in part by making the face appear younger.

It makes sense when you think about it – younger faces typically have rosy cheeks, full eyebrows and lashes, and pigmented lips. As we age, we lose a lot of that contrast in our faces, so it’s great to help boost that contrast with mascara and brow products.

I’ve listed my favorite mascara and brow products below – in general, brow gels create a fuller, fluffy look while pencils create a more defined line. No matter what, don’t forget to work that product all the way through the tail of the eyebrow since that’s where we tend to get sparser first!

Don’t Give Up on Eyeliner

Many tend to give up on eyeliner because it’s far more difficult to apply when you can’t see as well as you used to. (Multifocal contacts, anyone?) But eyeliner gives a wonderful definition to the eyes. You can smudge a pencil for a softer look (which is practically fool-proof, no harsh lines!) or you can dab a damp angled liner brush in your favorite dark eyeshadow and apply to your lash line for a lovely look. The latter is my daily go-to method.

So! What’s my favorite eye makeup, you ask?

Best Eyeshadow For Women Over 40 (or any age!)

Beautycounter Lid Glow Cream Shadow, $24

I am so thrilled the Beautycounter Lid Glow Shadows launched this year. I love cream shadows on aging lids because they are creamy and super easy to blend out which is key. They also bring a luminosity to the lid that makes eyes look more youthful. I especially love that these shadows have a beautiful sheen, but no actual sparkle/shimmer particals that fall out on your skin. (Kosas eye shadows are too sparkly for me.)

These shadows are one-and-done and can be applied and blended with your fingers and dry down beautifully. No transfer or creasing at all. It just doesn’t get any easier than that, folks!

Another very popular one-and-done eye cream shadow formula are the Ilia Liquid powder Chromatic Eye Tints. I posted about them here, but my eyelids started to itch after using them for a couple of weeks. Those with sensitive eyelids, proceed with caution. However, I have no sensitivity at all with the Beautycounter shadows.

My four favorite shades are Aura, Sepia, Ember, and Dusk. You can watch me apply the Aura shade here. I love it!

top: cloud nine, angelic, charmed middle: grace, wisdom, pretty purple bottom: magnetic, transcend, blue wonder

Kjaer Weis Pressed Eye Shadow, $20

If you want a pressed powder eye shadow, you just can’t beat the Kjaer Weis Pressed Eye Shadows. I think I own about 10 shades and if you have light/medium skin, the shade Charmed makes the perfect crease color. Also, the darker colors work beautifully as eyeliner.

You can purchase the eye shadows as refills and store them in a Z Palette. It saves you money and involves less packaging. (Yay for sustainablity!)

Right now, my easy everyday look is Charmed in my crease and Aura on my lid.

Best Eye Products

Ilia Limitless Lash Mascara

Ilia Limitless Lash Mascara is the best. Long, full lashes with absolutely no flaking or smudging. Do I need to say more? It truly is the only mascara I wear.

Fitglow Vegan Eyeliner

If pencil liners are your thing, the Fitglow Vegan Eyeliners are THE BEST. They stay put, but you can also use a soft eyeliner brush to smoke them out. I create a lovely soft wing with these liners and a brush.

I adore all three shades and use them daily!

psst – You can buy the trio for a discount (3 for the price of 2) and be sure to use WHOORL15 for an additional 15% discount!

Kjaer Weis FeatherTouch Brow Gel

I adore the Kjaer Weis FeatherTouch Brow Gel for creating natural-looking, full brows. It thickens, fills, and sculpts brows into place. My brow tutorial is here! (I wear medium brown.)

KJH Brush Set

I bought this 11-piece set created by Katie Jane Hughes (love her!) this year and I might not use any other brushes again. (Wellllllll, with the exception of my two complexion workhorses, the Clove+Hallow Precision Buffer Brush and the Perfecting Buffer Brush.)

11 brushes too much for you? She also created a 5-piece set for eyes!

An Angled Liner Brush

This is important for eyeliner application with gels and/or pressed eye shadows. I use the one from the KJH set, but I also like the Jenny Patinkin Liner Brush and the Antonym Angled Liner Brush.

My Eyeshadow Tutorial for Mature Eyes

Finally, here’s my step-by-step tutorial on how I use eyeshadows to help brighten and visually lift my eyes.

Other Posts You Might Like:

My #1 Makeup Tip for a Youthful Look

The Best Clean Skincare for Ladies Over 40

  1. Althea

    August 22, 2021 at 12:50 pm

    Thank you so much, at 50 I am definitely noticing a change in my eyelids, I do have a question though, I am prone to oily lids that cause creasing with most all eye shadows….do you have any eye primer recs. (currently use the standards like Urban Decay and Too Faced)….

    • whoorl

      August 22, 2021 at 1:11 pm

      Yes! I think you would love the one by Alima Pure – it’s the perfect clean dupe for Urban Decay. https://shrsl.com/34lp8

      • Althea Bauer

        August 23, 2021 at 12:05 pm

        OH Thank you so much for the rec!!!!

  2. Jill Peterson

    August 23, 2021 at 11:46 am

    Thank you for this! What product do you use to highlight your inner eye corners?

    • whoorl

      August 23, 2021 at 1:03 pm

      You are welcome! This pencil is the best for an inner corner highlight.


      I have a code for 15% off – it’s SARAHJ15

      • Jill Peterson

        August 23, 2021 at 5:35 pm

        Appreciate the recommendation!

  3. Amanda

    August 23, 2021 at 12:34 pm

    I too love the Ilia Limitless Lash, but I am intrigued by the new Ilia Fullest Volumizing mascara. Have you tried that one yet?

  4. Claudia D

    August 25, 2021 at 10:24 am

    Hi Sarah, Thanks for all the great info! Which is your favorite undereye concealer? I’ve been using Kosas Revealer Concealer. Just wondering what you use.