Wearing eyeshadow is a predynastic beauty ritual, and we plan to continue the practice of painting our lids no matter how many candles are on our birthday cake. However, when shopping for eyeshadow for older women, there are a lot of different factors to consider that may never have mattered before, such as how fine lines, wrinkles, and folds change how eyeshadow “sits” on the lid. 

To avoid calling attention to crepey lids, celebrity makeup artist Cat Mignano suggests building light coats of powder and cream eyeshadows, which reduces smudging and crease buildup. “I like to layer on mature skin—first with cream shadows and then your typical powder shadows,” she says. “Less is more, focus on enhancing the eyes. I stay away from chunky glitters and metallics as this can enhance fine lines.” Read on for our selection of the top eyeshadow picks for older women.

Our Top Picks

Laura Mercier Caviar Stick



Why We Love It: Laura Mercier not only caters to dry skin, (Its hydrating eyeshadow primer? Heaven.) but its extremely blendable formulas smooth over wrinkles and fine lines like a lightweight moisturizer. The Caviar Stick is as rich as the delicacy it’s named after—its creamy consistency swipes across textured lids and stays there for the 12 hours it promises. Beyond that, the satin finishes brighten eyes without packing on too much glitter, only a stunning pigment that won’t budge all day. 

Who It’s For: Who doesn’t want to get out the door faster? Swiping these creamy, non-tugging sticks across your lids requires zero tools or patience, and they’re great for on-the-go touch-ups, too. 

Formula: Cream | Colors: 22 | Key Ingredients: Vitamin E, beeswax | Finish: Shimmer, matte | Size: 0.05 oz

e.l.f Cosmetics No Budge Long Lasting Eyeshadow Stick


e.l.f. Cosmetics

Why We Love It: These sticks are highly pigmented, so a quick swipe is all you need to get plenty of payoff. Even better, you won’t need to repeatedly trace the stick onto your lid to get your desired shade, as the color is vibrant. However, some hues have more sparkle than others, especially when layered on (Rich Amethyst is one), so you may want to try a few different options. You can also buy this product in a matte formula, though most shades are a bit more unexpected, like lime green.

Who It’s For: Creamy and totally blendable, milky-colored shades brilliantly highlight aging, hooded eyelids without caking or creasing.

Formula: Cream|Colors: 8 | Key Ingredients: Meadowfoam seed oil, beeswax | Finish: Metallic | Size: 0.56 oz

NudeStix Magnetic Matte Eye Color



Why We Love It: Perfectly non-glittery but never boring, these universal neutral shades take the guesswork out of which color will look best on you—spoiler, it’s all of them. Yes, even the matte finishes. The silky cream texture blankets lids in a smoothing wash of color, beating out other matte formulas that crease between lines. 

Who It’s For: You don’t have to be skilled to use this swipe-and-go stick, although it’ll look like you’re a real pro. Its precise, sharp-pointed tip (Bonus: It includes a sharpener) doubles as an eyeliner pencil or even a contour stick

Formula: Cream|Colors: 21|Key Ingredients: Beeswax, carnauba wax | Finish: Matte, metallic | Size: 0.10 oz

Ami Colé Lid Joy Matte Liquid Eyeshadow



Why We Love It: Aside from its simple application—press the wide doe foot applicator on your lid and, presto, you’ve inked your lid in beautiful earth-toned nude or ‘90s sky blue–the Ami Colé liquid eyeshadow is a real card sharp. The first trick up its sleeve is its non-smearing liquid formula, which you can buff on and forget about—the longer-wear formula won’t budge. Secondly, it has an even, non-patchy matte finish you won’t have to worry about creasing on hooded eyes. 

Who It’s For: Anyone who’s wanted to dip their tool into the pool of matte formulas can safely do so with this nourishing formula. Skin-smoothing ingredients such as baobab seed oil, aloe leaf extract, and vitamin E prevent any typical patchiness. 

Formula: Liquid|Colors: 4|Key Ingredients: Baobab seed oil, aloe leaf extract, vitamin E | Finish: Matte | Size: 0.13 oz

Thrive Causemetics Infinity Waterproof Eyeshadow Stick


Thrive Causemetics

Why We Love It: While the brand’s growth lash serums may get all the hype, this long-wearing cream shadow deserves equal credit. The shadow stick features rich pigment that is both waterproof and smudge-proof once it sets. Pro tip: Use your finger or the generously sized sponge tip at the base of the packaging (there’s a sharpener hidden in there, too) to buff out the concentrated shades. In addition to the wide range of colors, we like how the shimmers have a luminosity to them rather than a harsh sparkle, so they just enhance the eye rather than drawing attention to any texture. 

Who It’s For: The brand infuses this cream formula with nourishing ingredients, such as sodium hyaluronate, aloe leaf extract, and ceramide to prevent eyeshadow from flaking off especially dry lids. 

Formula: Cream|Colors: 11|Key Ingredients: Aloe lead, ceramides | Finish: Matte, shimmer | Size: 0.5 oz

Pat McGrath Labs Mothership X Eyeshadow Palette: Moonlit Seduction



Why We Love It: Pat McGrath Labs formulas are known for their saturated pigments and these shadows fit the bill. Every shade can be used wet or dry, applied sheerly or packed on, depending on the intensity of the look you’re trying to create. Because of their soft, pigmented texture, they won’t skip across fine lines and make them stand out. The neutral matte shades in the palette are incredibly silky and flatter all skin tones, while the shimmers, metallics, and duochrome add a fantastic “pop” to the eye. 

Who It’s For: “This one is perfect for those who would like a beautiful palette with a perfect mix of matte, shimmer, and pure pigment that blends like a dream and looks luxurious,” says professional makeup artist Natalia Thomas. One more tip to avoid fallout: Use a slightly tacky eyeshadow primer or apply using a brush dampened with Visine. 

Formula: Powder|Colors: 10|Key Ingredients: Vitamin E, carnauba wax | Finish: Shimmer, metallic, matte | Size: 0.068 oz

Revlon ColorStay Crème Eye Shadow



Why We Love It: Choose between jewel tones, neutrals, dark hues, highlighting tones, mattes, and shimmers from this wallet-friendly range, all in a waterproof formula that can last up to 24 hours. Depending on how much product you pack on, they can create a sheer wash of color or a bolder look. You don’t even need to use your finger—the cap includes a hidden brush (which is a nice touch appreciated by those of us with longer fingernails). However, the cap can be very challenging to unscrew; if you have mobility issues or arthritis, you may have difficulty opening this product for the first time without help.

Who It’s For: Glitter eyeshadows are an intimidating option for anyone with fine lines (glitter tends to get trapped between crevices), but the sparkle in these shadows is subtle, so don’t worry about them making your lids look crepey.

Formula: Cream|Colors: 18|Key Ingredients: Isododecane, mica | Finish: Matte, shimmer | Size: 0.16 oz

Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Cream Shadow Stick


Bobbi Brown

Why We Love It: Our moms love this range just as much as we do, and the glittering shimmer, Golden Bronze, is an all-time favorite. (FYI: While this one has a shimmer, many others in the collection do not.) As soon as it’s applied, the formula is easy to sketch on and blend out with a clean fingertip or eyeshadow brush, or leave unblended for a more pigmented look. Be sure to work quickly if you plan on buffing it out, as it sets fast…We like wearing it close to the lash line for the day and all over the lid for evening looks. 

Who It’s For: Truly any eye color will dazzle under this trophy-hued shade. However, the way the shimmer brings out the golden flecks in our baby browns makes it one of the best eyeshadows for brown eyes

Formula: Cream|Colors: 25|Key Ingredients: Vitamin E, beeswax | Finish: Shimmer, matte, metallic | Size: 0.5 oz

Violette_Fr Yeux Paint Liquid Eyeshadow



Why We Love It: Most people are familiar with this formula, courtesy of the effortlessly cool matte navy blue shade, but this shimmering shadow is another must-try. Despite the rich pigment, it can be sheered out very easily, so long as you work quickly because once it sets, it doesn’t budge—even while you sleep (don’t try this at home). Our only gripe is that it’s packaged with a flattened-out doe foot, which picks up more of the formula than a traditional doe foot might, so you have to wipe off the applicator before using it. 

Who It’s For: The formula’s reflective effect reminds us of a clear night sky: It twinkles without a harsh intensity. However, everyone may not like the way the added sparkle looks on mature lids.

Formula: Liquid|Colors: 12|Key Ingredients: Vitamin E, lecithin | Finish: Matte, shimmer | Size: 0.10 oz

Armani Beauty Eye Tint Long-Lasting Liquid Eyeshadow



Why We Love It: Available in shimmer, metallic, and matte finishes, this liquid shadow from Armani is one of Thomas’s favorites. Her top shade is Rose Ashes, a beautiful rose gold that creates a sheer wash of color that looks delicate and natural on the lid without exacerbating the look of lines. We’re also a fan of the spade-shaped doe foot, which makes it easy to apply the product in defined lines or broad strokes. One suggestion: If you want a high-impact look, try doling out some of the product onto a palette, and then using a brush to apply.

Who It’s For: Our counters are littered with trillions (barely an exaggeration) of products, so we always appreciate a multiuse tool. The matte formulas make for a lovely contoured eye look and some can even double as brow colors thanks to their lasting wear. 

Formula: Liquid|Colors: 15|Key Ingredients: Caprylyl glycol | Finish: Shimmer, metallic, matte | Size: 0.13 oz

Ilia Liquid Powder Chromatic Eye Tint



Why We Love It: Ilia is known for its clean formulas, and we’re fans of this one in particular. Its cream-to-powder texture glides beautifully onto the lids without dragging (a must for aging lids) and quickly sets in place. We’re particularly fond of Cork, a multipurpose mid-toned taupe, Glaze, a luminous pearl that’s great for browbones, and Hatch, a wearable sage green with subtle gold pearl. The trick to this formula is not to use too much; wipe a bit off the applicator before slicking it on. If you apply with abandon, you risk shorter wear time.

Who It’s For: We believe sensitive eyes should never have limited options. This clean formula is available in neutrals, unexpected pastels, shimmers, pearls, and mattes.

Formula: Cream|Colors: 16|Key Ingredients: Horse chestnut flower, glycerin | Finish: Matte, metallic | Size: 0.12 oz

Jones Road The Best Eyeshadow Powder Eyeshadow


Jones Road

Why We Love It: This powder shadow collection from legendary makeup artist Bobbi Brown (who has always developed formulas for skin of all tones and all ages, FYI) is one of our favorite Jones Road products. Brown’s signature is neutral shades, and these are spectacular, ranging from cool grays and pewters to warm terra-cottas and deep browns, all with rich pigment in a soft texture. You have your choice of shimmer or matte, too. While the packaging is a little flimsy (their pans pop out of the compacts), it doesn’t impact the quality of the formula.

Who It’s For: Neutral eyeshadow palettes are great for creating a wide range of looks, but if you typically just gravitate toward one or two shades, these individual compacts are some seriously stunning and flattering browns and beiges. Worth noting, many of these eyeshadows are modeled on older women.

Type: Powder|Colors: 15|Key Ingredients: Rice extract, sorbic acid | Finish: Matte, shimmer | Size: 0.10 oz

What to Keep in Mind

  • Cream vs Powder Formulas: Our experts recommend a blend of the three most popular types of eyeshadow formulas: Powder, liquid, and cream “I personally love a mix, using lightweight cream shadows first and then setting with a shadow powder,” says Brittany Lo, founder of the vegan skin care line, Beia. “If either is too heavy of a consistency, it tends to crease, which we want to avoid.” However, a cream formula will likely be a fail-safe option when in doubt. “Cream eyeshadows are ideal for mature skin due to their smooth texture—they can minimize the chance of settling into fine lines and wrinkles, especially the ones that double as a shadow primer,” says celebrity makeup artist and visionary behind some of Gwyneth Paltrow and Dianna Argon’s most iconic looks, Lisa Aharon. No matter what formula you use, use a light hand—start slow, let the applicator and the formula do the work, and don’t pack it on too quickly.
  • Color: “If you’re looking to enhance your eye color, try shades complementary to your eye tone on the artist’s color wheel,” says Thomas. “For example, rusty tones make blue eyes pop.” We recommend gold, peach, green, and plum shades for brown-eyed beauties, and brown, gold, rose gold, gray, or taupe shades for those with blue eyes. Gold, plum, pink, and brown hues unfailingly look stunning with green eyes. Generally speaking, however, you can’t go wrong with neutrals.
  • Matte vs. Shimmer Finish: Generally, a smooth matte finish is less likely to draw attention to fine lines. “Matte shades are also a good option as they offer a soft, diffused appearance without highlighting texture,” says Aharon. But that doesn’t mean you should completely rule out sparkles—apply them strategically to make the most of your shimmery formulas. Thomas recommends using a cream-to-powder formula, which tends to help shimmer better adhere to exactly where it’s been applied, although it’s best to go in with a light hand, says Nick Lujan, celebrity makeup artist and Director of Artistry & Education at Kevyn Aucoin, “avoiding shimmer in the crease or anywhere you want to add depth, like the lash line.”

Your Questions, Answered

How do you apply eyeshadow to older skin?

Lujan likes to use powders, and recommends contouring the crease of the eye with a matte, medium-toned neutral shade while the eye is open. “This will help to push back any hooded lid space,” explains Lujan. 

Alternatively, Thomas likes using long-wear cream-to-powder formulas on her mature clients, which she says are highly effective and efficient. “I love using products that I don’t have to fuss with too much or touch up throughout the day,” she says. “Staying power is important for mature clients.” After blending out the shadow, she’ll add an extra pop by applying a more pigmented shadow on top.

How do you get eyeshadow to stay?

Before you even select an eyeshadow formula, Lujan recommends starting with a base, which can be in the form of a primer, or even a tacky foundation or grippy concealer. “Use a color that is as close to skin tone as possible,” he says. “This will brighten the lids, reduce the appearance of redness and help hide visible veins.” 

Next, Lujan recommends setting the base with a matte neutral powder or setting powder. “You can also use an eyeshadow primer, if that’s what you prefer, but make sure that it’s not too heavy, which will not only call attention to texture but also creases,” says Lujan. 

What color eyeshadows are best for older women?

“It’s less about the coloring and more about the placement,” says Lo. “I suggest using a darker shade along the crease or slightly above to lift the eyes versus accentuating the skin too much.”

Don’t forget to have some fun with it! “You can never go wrong with neutrals, beiges, browns, or grays—and soft purples also look great on anyone!” says Lujan, before adding that it’s important to consider both your eye color as well as the undertone of the shadows you’re planning to use.

“Blue eyes can really be accentuated with any shade that has a warm copper base,” says Lujan. “Green eyes will really stand out with anything in the pinky-purple family. If you’ve got brown eyes, good news: You really can’t go wrong.” 

Why Shop With Us

Irene Richardson is a beauty and fashion commerce at InStyle. She tapped insight from celebrity makeup artists Cat Mignano and Lisa Aharon. She also relied on previous reporting from Emily Orofino a freelance writer, editor, and consultant who interviewed professional makeup artists and industry experts, including:

  • Natalia Thomas, who has worked with stars like Zazie Beetz and Karlie Kloss.
  • Brittany Lo, who founded an on-demand makeup artistry service Beautini and skin care line Beia. 
  • Nick Lujan the director of artistry & education at Kevyn Aucoin, who has worked with Beyoncé and Kim Petras, among others.