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A Guide to Choosing the Best Mascara for Older Women

Middle-aged women are forgotten about by retailers. I offer help with clothing choices, skincare, and healthy eating for the mature woman.

Mascara for Older Women

Mascara for Older Women

Mascara for Older Ladies

Recently, I had a woman email me asking for my advice about mascara for mature women. She contacted me after reading an article I had written about eyebrow pencils for gray hair and was curious about the rest of my eye makeup routine.

I had to stop and think about whether I had changed my makeup over the years without realizing it. It turns out, I had. Sometimes these choices were subtle and other times quite drastic. When I began thinking about how aging changes our face, I realized it isn't just a change of color we need to make—there is much more to consider.

Eyelash Curler

Eyelash Curler

Should You Curl Your Eyelashes?

Like most women, I always wanted long lashes that curled up and framed my eyes, but I didn't have those. Mine are straight and blonde at the ends. In other words, they aren't framing my face; they are just there doing their job of keeping dust and particles out of my eyes.

My Experience

I will tell you, when I go out, I curl my lashes. There are some drawbacks, though. One thing I have always hated was the look from the side. It created a sharp angle that looked unnatural. From the front, it looked great. The lashes fanned out, which was the look I was after. Of course, I could never get both eyes to look the same. Perhaps, it's the same for you. When I was younger, I used a sewing pin to separate the lashes. That was pretty dangerous, and thank goodness nothing happened. Now my hands aren't as steady. Whether it's my coffee consumption or just a sign of aging, I'm not sure. I no longer use a pin, only the tip of the mascara brush or a lash comb.

Eye Lifts

Although I currently curl my lashes, I can see that this may have to change as I age. As we get older, our skin loses its elasticity and begins to sag. Gravity is a bitch! Wouldn't you agree with this, ladies? You may think that this has nothing to do with using an eyelash curler, but it does. The skin on the upper eyelid below the eyebrow begins to droop. It may also fall at the sides. A friend of mine had her eyes lifted, saying it interfered with her driving. I questioned that, but it is what she told her medical insurance company, so she decided it was an okay reason to give me. I don't know why some women make themselves feel guilty about having cosmetic surgery. Everyone is conscious of the way they look, and if you want something done and can afford it, do it.

If you have deep-set, drooping, or hooded eyes and try to curl the lashes, they touch the skin above. Not only is this uncomfortable, but it also leaves smudges where the mascara is rubbing. Even if you look down until your mascara is dry, you'll get a dirty smudgy line by the end of the day. I've included a video further down the article where a woman with hooded eyes demonstrates her makeup routine.

Drooping eyelids

Drooping eyelids

False Eyelashes

In my family, false eyelashes seem to have jumped a generation. My mother loved them and so does my daughter. Perhaps they weren't the 'in' thing when I was growing up but they are once again popular. They are also more accepted now.

There are different types, some you can wear for a few weeks, and others should be removed at the end of the day when you remove the rest of your makeup.

If you have problems wearing mascara, give false eyelashes a try.

Colors of Mascara

When the woman I mentioned in the first paragraph sent me the email, I had to stop and think, had I changed my mascara. Yes, I have, and although I thought this was because I was trying different brands, it was more than that. I was altering my look to suit my age. When I was younger, I wore black to give myself a dramatic look. Now, I prefer a brown as black looks too harsh on me. As we age, our skin color changes and becomes less rosy and more ashen. Black mascara can give us a hard unappealing look. It may work for Morticia in The Addams Family, but less is more for the rest of us.

Although you may think there are just variants of black and brown, there are several mascara colors, for example, blue, pink, and white. In my opinion, garish colors should be left for the younger crowd.

Sometimes it can be challenging to change as we have become comfortable with our look and continue to use the same product just because we have in the past.

Sensitive Eyes

If you've noticed your eyes are now more sensitive than they once were, you may opt for mascara specifically for sensitive eyes. Choose one that has been humanely tested and won't irritate. The irritation in mascara can come from a few different areas. It could be the mixture of ingredients or even fibers. Avoid mascaras with fibrous particles in them that attach themselves to the eyelashes, thus building volume. These tend to flake off during the day and fall into the eye or onto your cheekbones.

Ethically Produced

The cosmetic industry has seen the market for ethically produced makeup. These might include ingredients that are organic or have not been used on animals. Some of these may be from well-known large manufacturers and others from companies that specialize in only ethically produced products and may have branched out and begun making cosmetics.

Some of the mascara ingredients can cause the glands to dry up, causing dry eyes, especially in women over 50. It's worth looking at the list of ingredients to be sure you're not sensitive to them.


Wearing Glasses

If you wear glasses, applying makeup can pose a few problems. It can be difficult when applying eye shadow and mascara. If your eyesight prevents you from safely applying mascara, try using a magnifying glass. I have seen, as I'm sure you have, those glasses that flip down to allow makeup to be applied. I've never tried them but would be interested to hear if you have, and how well they worked for you.

The other consideration is the length of your eyelashes, especially if you wear false eyelashes. Check that your eyelashes aren't going to hit the lenses or the upper frame. For reading, I wear narrow glasses and have noticed when I look up, my eyelashes hit the frame. For me, it isn't a big problem as I only wear my glasses at night for reading and I always remove my makeup before going to bed.


If you don't feel your mascara has enough impact if it isn't black and heavily applied, consider eyeliner. Both the liquid and the pencil are great alternatives if you don't want to or can't wear mascara. It still can draw attention to the eye. Now, however, at our age, our eyelids aren't as smooth as they once were. It's like painting on crepe paper!

Avoid the desire to straighten out the skin by pulling on the eyelid. Instead, use your non-applying hand to lift your eyebrow. Goodness knows we don't want to be making more wrinkles than is necessary. Here too, heavy eyeliner can be aging, so go easy on the amount you use.

Eyeshadow Colors for Mature Women

Your makeup colors are your own choice but if you're revamping your mascara, now may be a good time for a total change. If you love the color you use, perhaps a toned-down shade. Browns, creams, and peach work well together. These are the colors I choose now where I used to wear charcoals, grays, and muted white.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: I keep hearing that, for mature women, you should not put eyeliner on the bottom. Is that true?

Answer: I believe people are referring to the inside edge of the lower eye. I know women who do this, and I personally don't think it is a good idea. I am referring to the area between the eyeball and the lashes, not below the lashes.

Using liner below the lashes, isn't a problem except that it can get caught in the wrinkles and folds, and gives an aging look.

Question: I wanted to clarify about hooded lids, I’ve always called them German eyes, it is true they can droop enough to interfere with vision. My mom had the surgery years ago for that reason. Second, question - why different brands? Example the eyeliner. As a 61 year young women who has never been much good at makeup, I value your opinion.

Answer: Regarding the different brands, I use products I like and that work well for me. I am definitely not a 'brand groupie'. If I find a product I love, I stick with it. However, I do like to experiment with other manufacturers.

Question: What mascara is easiest to apply for mature women with limited sight?

Answer: I can't recommend a brand that I feel is better than others but I do have some ideas that you can try. Opt for a short mascara brush and one that has a short handle. If the handle is long, move your hand nearer to the brush. The shorter the brush the more control you'll have. Using a lighted magnifying mirror is helpful.

As I mentioned in the article, don't use a mascara with fibers, you don't want the irritation of a fiber in your eye.

Instead of moving the brush to the eye, rest your elbow on a table if possible and move your face forward. Blink over the mascara brush. Slowly move your head while keeping the brush still. You'll be less likely to have an accident. Relax and take your time.

© 2018 Mary Wickison


Elizabeth Valentine on November 26, 2019:

I find using mascara that make lashes curl up shows pink waterline not a good look.

Mary Wickison (author) from USA on February 13, 2019:

Hi Audrey,

I think we are both in the same boat, straight and short. You're right curling them and applying mascara can really open them up.

Thanks for the share.

Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on January 23, 2019:

Thanks, Mary, for this helpful hub. What an informative guide on makeup for older women. My eyelashes are straight and short. I curl them which really does give my eyes a better look.

I'll be sharing this article with other women.

Mary Wickison (author) from USA on January 21, 2019:

Hi Linda,

You're more than welcome. I too like to use an eyeliner, as you say, it helps create a better look, especially as our lashes begin to thin.

Great to hear from you. Thanks.

Linda Chechar from Arizona on January 15, 2019:

Thanks for these great mascara tips. My lashes have thinned and they're not nearly as long as they were. I continue trying different mascaras. I have started using eyeliner which does enhance the look of my lashes.

Mary Wickison (author) from USA on September 04, 2018:

Oh Shauna, I feel for you.

Until that redness on your eyelids goes, you're right not to wear any makeup. It could be an allergy, or a type of contact dermatitis. That could be caused by a reaction to a change of face soap, shampoo, laundry soap etc.

I have noticed dark circles from too much computer time.

The lady who does the hooded eye tutorial, explains her technique well.

Thanks for reading.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on August 17, 2018:

Mary, in the last couple of years my eyes have gone from big and bright to hooded. I hate it. My eyelids are also now pink (have no idea why!). I haven't worn eye shadow in years, but until a few months ago, I'd wear mascara and maybe some eyeliner on the lower lid. I've even cut that out now because I seem to have a problem with my eyes becoming red and irritated on a regular basis. I know it's a combination of age, droopy upper lids, and working on a computer 40 hours a week. I also wear glasses now.

I never wore a lot of makeup when I was younger, with the exception of eye shadow and mascara. Now I don't do my eyes at all. I wear Almay pressed powder on my face, blush and pink lipstick. That's it. On weekends I go bare-faced.

I'm definitely going to watch the hooded eye tutorial. And yes, getting older is a Bitch. Why can't our skin and bodies keep up with our minds?

Mary Wickison (author) from USA on June 05, 2018:

Glad you enjoyed it. The woman in the video isn't me, but I felt she explained it so clearly, I felt it would be a benefit to the readers.

Thanks for reading and your comment.

Gribbie on June 03, 2018:

The video of you applying makeup to hooded eyes is the most informative and sensible one I have ever watched. ***** to you.

Will buy the products you named as I need a better look. Thank you.

Mary Wickison (author) from USA on April 28, 2018:

Hi Angie,

I'm glad you found it useful. Thanks for reading.

Christine Watson on April 28, 2018:

Hi Angie

Thank you for the tutorial for hooded eyes. I will be trying the tips. Great video.

Mary Wickison (author) from USA on April 16, 2018:

Hi Audrey,

What a great tip, I will have to try that. I am finding it more difficult to curl my eyelashes as I get older. I also like the idea the woman in the video mentioned about curling it twice to make it look more natural.

Great to hear from you, thanks for your comment.

Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on April 15, 2018:

Thanks, Mary, for these helpful tips. I am in the group of aging women who qualify for the "over-the-hill" group. But what a marvelous climb it has been. I love this hub and I'm all for curling the eyelashes. Mine are naturally straight. I apply a little heat to the eyelash curler, using my hair dryer. It's helps the lashes to curl faster and holds the curl longer.

Super hub!

Mary Wickison (author) from USA on April 13, 2018:

I do wonder who comes up with such wacky ideas. What good is such a long wand?

I think you'll like the one from Ecco.

Thanks for sharing your experience.

C Garcia on April 03, 2018:

Great tips but I was also looking for a mascara recommendation. I have been waiting for my Estee Lauder (Sumptuous Extreme) to run low so I can switch. The wand is tooooooooo long (don't know what they were thinking!), the wand is heavy and the mascara flakes and smudges easily.

I'll give the Ecco Bella a try. Thanks.

Mary Wickison (author) from USA on March 16, 2018:

Hi Dianna,

I think the adage about teaching old dogs new tricks is wrong. I love discovering new ways to improve. If I can find a way to do something better, I am up for the challenge.

There are so many talented ladies who have found a life hack for making the eye look lifted.

I'm so pleased you enjoyed the article. Have a wonderful weekend..

Dianna Mendez on March 16, 2018:

You have made my day! I am on the hunt for a good mascara and I will try the Ecco Bella brand next purchase. As I age, I am finding makeup to enhance the process but you must know how to apply it properly. Thank you for the helpful suggestions.

Mary Wickison (author) from USA on March 15, 2018:

Hi Audrey,

Isn't it funny, the more comfortable we are in ourselves, as we age, the less makeup we use.

I just wonder if it is in fact, a mask we wear. You're right, keep it simple.

Thanks for your comment.

Audrey Howitt from California on March 12, 2018:

I use less and less makeup--even when I makeup at all--I need to use it for professional reasons, but a little mascara and lip gloss is about it for me--good ideas here Mary! Thank you!

Nikki Khan from London on March 10, 2018:

Your daughter is right regarding extensions, may be I should wear them occasionally to get used to them.And hopefully would find some great mascara as well.Thanks for the extensions tip dear.

Mary Wickison (author) from USA on March 10, 2018:

Hi Nikki,

We have to love the products we use, so keep looking and I am certain you'll find one that's perfect for you.

Regarding the extensions, according to my daughter, the more you use them, the easier it gets.

Thanks for reading and I hope you find a great mascara.

Nikki Khan from London on March 08, 2018:

Some great tips Mary to wear mascara, I have one from Mac but I am not really satisfied with it.Need to try some other brand and may be colour.

I am not very good with extension lashes, so just wear them sometimes.

Mary Wickison (author) from USA on March 08, 2018:

Hi Thelma,

I think many of us have changed our daily routine with makeup. When I was younger, I didn't want to go to the shops unless I had my 'face on'.

I'm pleased you found the information useful, great to hear from you.

Thelma Alberts from Germany on March 07, 2018:

Great and very informative hub. I seldom wear mascara and have not used eyelash curler in my life. It is indeed difficult to apply mascara as I get older. Thanks for sharing Mary. I have learned a lot from this hub.

Mary Wickison (author) from USA on March 07, 2018:

The key is to go subtle. Toning down the colors and opting for demure instead of dramatic. I think we get into a routine where it is easier to not wear it, but if we make a little effort, we can get back into the habit. I always feel more confident when I have makeup on.

Give it a whirl again and see how you go.

Thanks for reading.

Jo Miller on March 06, 2018:

I haven't used eye makeup for years. I just think it is unbecoming as we age. This article makes me want to try some again, though. Thanks for all of the information.

Mary Wickison (author) from USA on March 01, 2018:

Hi Dora,

Regarding the sagging, I have found if I wear a high bun or ponytail, it is amazing how many years i can remove.

Great to hear from you.

Mary Wickison (author) from USA on March 01, 2018:

Ouch, that has to hurt!

If you're wearing contact, then definitely look for a sensitive mascara. Also avoid ones which are beginning to dry out, you don't want bits falling into your eye.

Thanks for reading.

Natalie Frank from Chicago, IL on February 28, 2018:

Great article. I haven't considered whether I need to change mascara as I get older. I still use blackest black and liquid eyeliner. But I do have trouble applying it as I wear glasses and with my contacts I need magnifying glasses which makes it tough to apply. The number of times I have stuck the wand in my eye is frustrating - I never though of a simple magnifying glass! Plus the mascara for sensitive eyes - I haven't even seen it but will be looking for it. Thanks for the article.

Mary Wickison (author) from USA on February 28, 2018:

Hi Linda,

I think we can get so excited about a new shade or the hype surrounding a product, we forget to delve a bit deeper.

For so many things we have always done without thinking, we need to slow down and reevaluate what we are doing and using.

Maybe this is the wisdom that comes with age.

Thanks for your comment.

Mary Wickison (author) from USA on February 28, 2018:

Hi Ruth,

I think it's all about staying adaptable and doing what we feel is best for us.

I agree with the curler, they do pull. I once had an unexpected sneeze when I was curling, nearly ripped my eyelashes out!

Thanks for your comment.

CaribTales on February 28, 2018:

Mary, I agree that the sagging and the drooping is against us. I admire you for keeping up and sharing all these beauty ideas.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on February 27, 2018:

Thank you for sharing the makeup tips and for reminding us about safe ingredients and the use of animal testing, Mary.

Ruth Coffee from Zionsville, Indiana on February 27, 2018:

Good info. Everything changes as you get older. I stopped using mascara altogether around 50. My lashes aren't as thick and it just didn't seem worth it except on a special night out. However, I did start using eyeliner (which I didn't really use when I was younger) and I wear it only on my top lid. Love it. Love not having to pull on my lashes with a curler too.

Mary Wickison (author) from USA on February 27, 2018:

Hi Jill,

We all seem to be aware of the additives in food but not in our cosmetics. We disagree with animals testing but don't look into what is being used that needs testing.

It's especially important when we think it is being put near our eyes.

Glad you liked the video. Although it's quite long, I felt she made some valid points about possible problems and finding a work around solution.

Thanks for reading.

Mary Wickison (author) from USA on February 27, 2018:

I'll bet you never knew how much we women have to consider when choosing our makeup. Guys just throw on a shirt and jeans and they are ready. Not so for us women.

I do, however, appreciate your support.

Jill Spencer from United States on February 27, 2018:

I hadn't thought about the additives. Thanks for a thoughtful article. I liked the video tutorial, too.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on February 27, 2018:

Not in this lifetime for this guy. Just stopping by to wish you a great week.