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The Best Ways to Apply Foundation, Blush, Highlight and Contour for Women 50+

Elise Marquam Jahns June 2020

Beauty Kuel Category Expert: Elise Marquam-Jahns

When we’re in our 20s or 30s, we are blessed with a “you can do no wrong” pass in the makeup application department. Our makeup glides effortlessly on to glass- smooth even-toned skin.

But, as we know all too well, all bets are off when we hit our mid 40s, 50s and beyond. That once smooth, even-toned surface has gone the way of VHS tapes and boom boxes. And, we sometimes can’t help wondering who that person is when we pass by a mirror.

But fortunately, there are application techniques we can use now for foundation, contour, blush and highlighter which can definitely “up our game” in the makeup application department to ensure a lovely, flawless look.


Let’s first focus on foundation. Then move on to contour, blush, highlighter, & powder.


“Exfoliating our skin really does make a big difference which I can certainly attest to.”

There’s one word that describes what’s essential to do before applying any foundation:  that word is prep! Preparing the skin first is really necessary to achieve our very best look.

The first thing to do in the prep process is to exfoliate our skin once or twice a week. In a previous video I did on skin care, I talked about the importance of exfoliating our skin regularly since exfoliation gets rid of dead skin cells which can make our complexion look dull and lifeless. If you missed that video, you can catch it here:   “6 Skin Care Musts for Women 50+ and 5 Game-Changing Skin Care Products”: 

Exfoliating our skin really does make a big difference which I can certainly attest to. Not long ago I went a number of weeks without exfoliating my skin and when I finally did do it again, I was amazed at how much brighter and better my skin looked. 

It can also be helpful to gently pat, massage or use a tool like a jade roller to gently stimulate the skin to get the blood circulating and flowing.  This can help add some glow to the skin.

If you use any special serums like hyaluronic acid or CE Ferulic Acid serum, they should be applied next . . . before moisturizer. The rule of thumb is that thinner products like serums should be applied to your skin before thicker products like moisturizers.

And, then comes one of the most important things we can do: the application of a good moisturizer all over our face since it helps make lines and wrinkles appear less prominent by plumping up the skin.

Before applying foundation, it can be very helpful to apply a face primer. Face primer helps prevent foundation from settling into fine lines, helps the foundation glide on more smoothly and evenly, and also helps our foundation not only last longer but also stay in place. It’s possible to use less foundation if we apply a primer first.

Primer can be applied just in certain areas of our face or all over our face. If applying it to a few areas, you may definitely want to apply it to the center of your face because foundation dissipates most quickly from this area and the primer can help the foundation stay in this area of our face longer. You can also apply the primer to fine lines and other areas that you wish to blur.

There are many different kinds of primer—ones that color correct, some that hydrate the skin or help fill in pores. If you have larger pores, you may want to consider a pore filling primer. Or, if you have drier skin, a hydrating primer might be the best choice. If you are dealing wiht larger pores, you can better understand how to minimize their appearance in this video: “Pro Makeup Artist Tips on How to Minimize the Look of Larger Pores for Women 50+”

Most of us prefer our skin to show through but still have enough coverage to even out our skin tone.”

Let’s now focus on the actual application of our foundation. Our aim with foundation is to get as good a coverage as possible with as little foundation as possible!  Most of us prefer our skin to show through but still have enough coverage to even out our skin tone. A satin or slightly luminous foundation formulation reflects light and can help diffuse imperfections. However, if you have oily skin you’ll want to pick a foundation specifically for oily skin which will typically have more of a matte finish.

The two best ways to apply foundation for mature skin are either with a buffing brush or with a sponge. The buffing brush is a dense, soft brush that really helps meld the foundation into the skin. By using a “patting” motion with the slightly damp sponge, you can not only create a soft natural look, but also add additional moisture to your face. (Please see the video above for a demonstration of using the buffing brush and the sponge).

Now that you’ve evened out your skin tone with foundation, you can add some interest by creating some depth, dimension and contrast to your face with contour, blush, and highlighter.


The next step is to apply a contour cream which is 2-3 shades darker than your foundation. First, apply the contour to the back of your hand and then firmly press a sculpting brush into the contour so the brush absorbs most of the contour cream. Then, apply the contour to your face with upward strokes.  Next, take your foundation buffing brush—which still has a little product on it—and go over the edges of the contour to soften and blur out the edges.


Use the same application method for the blush as you did for the contour. First, apply a cream blush to the back of your hand. Then, use a brush to really absorb most of the blush and apply a very light dot of blush onto the middle area of your cheekbones and blend in well. The final step is to take your foundation buffing brush and blend out the edges of the blush so it seamlessly blends into your foundation.

(Check out the video above to see the application of a blush from Ilia in the shade “At Last” which I used on one side of my face. I used Charlotte Tilbury’s “Glowgasm” in the shade “Pinkgasm” on the other side of my face since I wanted to check out how these two blushes compared.)


Next comes highlighter. Apply it with either a brush or sponge. (In the video I applied Kevin Aucoin’s cream Glass Glow Face Illuminator on one side of my face and on the other side I used Benefit’s “Watt’s Up” I applied them both with the brush I used to apply the blush after wiping off the brush.)


And last, if you have a T-Zone area that needs some powder, apply a small, strategic application of powder . . . just in your T zone area where you tend to get oily.

A good way to apply the powder is to take a small powder puff and gently press the powder into the T-Zone area of your face. Or, you could use a brush. Simply apply some powder to the side of the brush and gently press and roll the powder onto your skin.



About The Author:

Elise Marquam-Jahns is a professional, working makeup-artist who is passionate about helping women 45+ get their glow back. In addition to her work as a makeup artist for a major cosmetics line, she founded Boomer and Beyond Beauty and recently launched “Boomer and Beyond Beauty with Elise” –a makeup and beauty YouTube channel specifically for women 45+. Check out Elise’s YouTube makeup and beauty channel specifically for you:  “Boomer and Beyond Beauty with Elise.”  Elise is also an author and speaker and hosts Normandale Community College’s monthly Learning Well Edge Talk Radio show where she interviews experts in the field of health and wellness.