Top Six Questions I Get Asked About Skincare and Makeup for Mature Skin

Being a Hollywood makeup artist for 20+ years on major studio television and movie productions such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Parks & Recreation and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, I've had the privilege to work on people of all ages and skin types, from everyday people to Oscar and Emmy winners!! To be successful as a make-up artist, you have to become a skincare expert.

I recently had a fun interview with Elise Edwards, the co-founder of a new magazine called Pop & Cultured. She wanted to know what I've learned, and especially how perimenopause and menopause impact the skin. 

As women enter perimenopause around 42 years old, we are met with many challenges and skin issues are one of them.  Having experienced a difficult menopause and being unable to find skincare products that truly worked, I decided to create my own line:  Finlay+Green.
Over the years I have been asked many skincare questions, particularly about maturing skin. Top questions include “What are your favorite products?”, “What skincare mistakes am I making?” and “Should I change my skincare and makeup products?” I love getting these questions, so keep sending them my way!
For the abbreviated version of the interview head to Pop & Cultured. For the extended version, keep reading.
Here are the top 6 questions I get asked:

1. How does menopause affect our skin?
Understanding the impact of menopause on our skin requires more than just pinpointing a specific age. Menopause isn’t a sudden event at around 51 or 52.  It’s a gradual transition starting as early as 35 with pre-menopause, followed by perimenopause around 42, actual menopause around 51, and then post-menopause for the remainder of your life! Therefore, establishing a good skincare routine during perimenopause becomes pivotal.
During the menopausal transition, your skin undergoes significant changes, primarily due to declining estrogen levels. Estrogen plays a crucial role in skin health, and its decrease during menopause has a big impact on your skin. Many women report a sudden onset of skin aging several months after menopausal symptoms begin. Dryness, thinning, and itchiness become more noticeable (this is because our body retains much less water than it once did), alongside numerous skin issues including menopausal acne. With collagen levels plummeting by 30% within the first five years of menopause, skin loses its elasticity and firmness and becomes more prone to damage, increased wrinkles, and sagging. You may also notice an increase in skin pigmentation, especially in areas previously exposed to UV light over the years such as the face, hands, chest, and neck. An increase in melanin production at this time causes these brown spots and hyperpigmentation. Additionally, at around 50 years of age, the pH level of our skin changes, and our skin becomes more sensitive. 

2. How do you know when you're in perimenopause?

There’s not one test or sign. Instead, your doctor will determine this after considering a variety of factors such as your age, your menstrual history, and other symptoms you are experiencing.  It’s very important to seek your doctor’s advice to rule out other conditions.

3. How should our makeup and skincare routine shift when we hit perimenopause and menopause?
Adopting a gentler and more simplified skincare system is key. Gentle products don’t have to mean less effective. Seek out products tailored to this phase of your life to ensure your skin gets the proper care it needs. Less truly is more, after all, there is a limit to what the skin can absorb, so do away with ten-step systems. These routines only increase the risk of skin irritation and damage. Using fewer products ensures a better chance of absorption and effectiveness. Plus, what people don’t realize is that certain ingredients and products cancel each other out so much of the time you are just wasting your time and money. Consistently using the correct products is essential. Start your day and end your night with a well-rounded routine of cleansing, moisturizing, and protection.

4. For women over 40, is there a key ingredient we should look for in our beauty products?

There’s more than one key ingredient to keep an eye out for when it comes to perimenopause and menopause skincare. Look for products containing:
  • hyaluronic acid
  • squalane
  • ceramides
  • peptides
  • niacinamide

These ingredients not only hydrate and moisturize, but also aid in locking in and retaining moisture, protecting the skin barrier, and promoting smoothness and brightness. For instance, hyaluronic acid attracts moisture from the environment and seals it in. Plant-based squalane deeply nourishes the skin without clogging pores, while ceramides strengthen the skin’s protective barrier, regulating hydration levels. And niacinamide effectively treats dark spots and inflammation, while also boosting hydration, brightening, and promoting smoother skin.
However, finding products with these powerhouse ingredients at effective levels can be challenging. Many brands market their products with these ingredients, but often at insufficient levels to make a difference.  Essentially, it’s marketing hype where the consumer gets ripped off.  So, I would say, it’s important to start with brands you trust.

5. Do you have any makeup tips for women over 40? 
I sure do! Here are some key areas that I think you should focus on as well as products I think you should try and why:

  • Start with well-prepared skin. By that, I mean clean, well-hydrated, and well-nourished. This is the foundation for a great makeup look. Look for high-quality clean products that offer buildable moisture like Finlay+Green.
  • Use cream makeup products with a hint of luster/a soft sheen. These are best. Not only do these products reflect light and therefore diffuse and diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, but they’re also easy to blend giving the skin a healthy-looking glow. Matte products accentuate those little imperfections we may wish to hide, plus they flatten out our features when we should be accentuating them.
  • Look for ‘buildable’ foundations. Try Giorgio Armani’s Luminous Silk which comes in lots of different color options and gives light to medium coverage. Or a cream stick foundation such as the one by Westman Atelier. As with all cream sticks you need to apply it straight after moisturizing so it’s easier to blend.
  • Try cream eyeshadows. Cream eyeshadow sticks such as those by Bobbi Brown are great as they come in a myriad of color options. They’re super easy to use. They are great for both day and night as you can use them sparingly for a pretty sheer look or heavier for a real pop.
  • Go for multitasking products. These products save you time and money and are great when traveling! I particularly love Burt’s Bee’s All Aglow Lip & Cheek Stick for a pop of natural color on the cheeks. It’s great value and has a lovely dewy finish. And RMS’s Buriti Bronzer not only gives an authentically natural sun-kissed glow, it also can be used as a contour.
  • Try contouring – As we mature our facial features can lose some definition so lightly contouring the face can make a difference. Try Victoria Beckham’s Contour Stylus slim sticks which are a fool-proof way to apply contour for both pros and novices alike. Watch Victoria’s great how-to video.
  • Look out for pro-aging brands. Like Finlay+Green, pro-aging brands Rumi Cosmetiques and Revant have specifically developed their products for women 40+ and 50+. For example, Rumi’s LushLine+ eyeliner has been designed for drooping/hooded eyelids which can become more prevalent as we age.
  • A little highlighter is fun. A smidgeon of something like RMS’s Luminizer on top of those pesky fine lines around the outer corners of our eyes can help hide and diffuse them. And a little dab on the tops of our cheekbones can add life and is great for an evening look.
  • Define your lips and eyebrows. Use a pencil or powder matching your brow hairs. If in doubt go for a shade lighter. I love Senna’s Lip Liner pencils as they come in a variety of lovely neutral shades. If you find your lip color bleeds/feathers then try Dior’s Universal Contour lip liner. It’s completely clear and applies effortlessly without dragging. A cheaper option is Kiko Milano’s Invisible lip liner which works and gets the job done far cheaper!

Woman putting serum on her face

6. What are the biggest mistakes you see women making in terms of makeup and skincare as they age?

I do feel that people overuse harsh active ingredients. It’s not their fault, it’s the cosmetic industry that pressures women to look a certain way and to use certain products, including those with harsh actives claiming great anti-aging benefits. However, a lot of these ingredients aren’t necessarily safe for all skin types or for over-the-counter use and should be used with caution due to the high risk of misuse. In short, you could be doing more damage than good.
For example, glycolic or salicylic acids used for exfoliation are notoriously tricky to use correctly. This can result in serious skin irritation and damage, resulting in dullness and increased sensitivity to the application of subsequent products.  Over-the-counter retinol cosmetic products, often hailed as the gold standard in anti-aging, carry a significant risk of misuse and are not suitable for everyone. Retinol products render the skin hypersensitive to UV rays and other environmental aggressors such as pollution and cigarette smoke, potentially exacerbating damage to the skin barrier and yielding unintended consequences such as the inability to retain moisture, or sun damage. There’s a growing number of experts who believe that the long-term risks of retinol could outweigh the benefits and that these products should only be used under the care of your doctor. The European Union has even gone so far as to limit the maximum concentration of retinol in over-the-counter products for fear of over-exposure to vitamin A. Furthermore, there is very little clinical evidence supporting the efficacy of these over-the-counter retinol products.


NOTE: This blog is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice. It should not be relied on as health or personal advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.