Best Makeup Tips and Tricks for Your 30s

Our 30s is typically the decade when we start getting it together. Things are becoming steady, relationships less dramatic, and our career paths started. But life becomes more taxing, as well. Many of us have young children and demanding careers, eroding sleep and increasing stress.

30+ skin is losing collagen and luster by the year (thanks natural aging process!) and this added stress doesn’t help matters. In other words, our skin is changing.

And using the same makeup application techniques as in our 20s only highlights aging skin concerns. Read on to discover the best tips and tricks for applying and wearing makeup in your 30s.

(In this article, I’ll be focusing on the face. Here’s where I wrote about eye-makeup application.

Before applying makeup, prep your skin

Make-up looks best on clean, smooth, and prepped skin. Of course, we all have bad skin days, and those days are made for foundation.

But, in general, we can’t slap foundation on any old way. Texture issues, clogged pores, and increasing fine lines can alter product performance.

So what’s a makeup junkie to do?

qrx labs skincare products
QRxLabs, my favorite skincare brand

Exfoliate your face to keep it healthy

Exfoliating is the process of removing dead skin cells. Removing dead cells makes skin appear more uniform and fine lines less obvious.

Exfoliation can be done with a chemical peel, granular scrub, or exfoliation tools/treatments.

Regular exfoliation:

  • Unclogs pores
  • Stimulates collagen synthesis
  • Prevents acne
  • Evens skin tone
  • Helps other skincare products penetrate more deeply
  • Increases cell turnover
  • Boosts circulation and lymphatic drainage

Gently remove makeup at the end of the day

Our skin becomes more delicate as we age, and must be treated gently.

Despite their convenience, makeup remover wipes aren’t made for over 30 skin. They’re too rough and don’t clean as thoroughly as a make-up removing cleanser.

Sleeping with a lick of make-up on is terrible for our skin. The longer gunk (dead skin cells, sweat, pollutants, and makeup) is on the skin, the bigger the pore.

The bigger the pore, the more foundation we need to cover it. The more foundation we use, the more we need a thoroughly cleansed face.

See how the cycle perpetuates? Cleanse thoroughly, but with care.


Makeup performs best on smooth skin. We’ve attacked texture issues with exfoliation, but for a smooth canvas, regular moisturization is necessary.

Serum can provide an extra boost to skin. Follow morning and evening cleansing with toner, serum, and moisturizer (and sunscreen in the mornings).

make up tips for your 30s
My makeup set-up isn’t this elegant (or sparse)

What makeup should I use in my 30s?

Where over-30 skin is concerned, think lighter and creamier. Products, that is.

With increasing fine lines and texture issues, pancake foundation days are over. Heavy foundation will crease over fine lines throughout the day.

This decade is the time to begin experimenting with CC Cream rather than a full-coverage foundation; light-reflecting rather than opaque concealer.

Swap out (not all at once, this can be done steadily) powder bronzers, blush, and highlighter for cream ones.

Makeup tips for your 30s

Some slight tweaks in makeup application and products will complement over 30 skin.

  • Use primer to fill in fine lines and pores
  • Shave or wax face regularly (hormone issues may bring facial hair, which makeup will only highlight)
  • No more slathering concealer all over the under-eye, spot conceal to avoid cakiness
  • Use powder sparingly (or skip it altogether and use blotting papers to control oil)
  • Apply concealer to nasolabial folds (uh, the two lines that run from the outer corner of the nose to the outer corners of your top lip)
  • Blend, blend, blend (harsh lines make older faces look more angular)
  • Our skin is just starting to lose firmness, provide structural support by contouring
  • Try peach blushes
  • Don’t highlight crow’s feet (the fine lines in corners of eyes); keep highlighter on tops of cheeks and temples only
powder foundation makeup for 30s
Just a dab’ll do ya

Makeup Recommendations for your 30s

These products work best for my aging skin.

(Disclaimer: these are my opinions. But they are very educated ones.)

My skin is combination; if your skin is extremely dry or oily, take these recommendations with a grain of salt.

Best Primer

e.l.f. Matte Putty Primer (comes in a “luminous” formula, too)

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This velvety, shine-free base fills in pores, imperfections, and wrinkles. The putty primer preps your face with a smoothing layer under a light powder application but is also the perfect prep for a fuller coverage makeup look.

It comes in a luminous formula, too, which is great when you want a dewy finish.

Best Foundation

Clinique Even Better Clinical Serum Foundation

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This weightless, medium- to full-coverage liquid foundation with up to 24 hours of wear visibly improves skin rapidly and over time. This clinical foundation has three serum technologies and an oil-free formula that includes hyaluronic acid, salicylic acid, vitamin C, and UP302 and leaves skin looking better than ever.

I’m sorry it’s so expensive, but it’s worth it. Check out my in-depth review for all the details.

Best Concealer

Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser Dark Circles Treatment Multi-Use Concealer

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Need a concealer that will help you fake a good night’s sleep? Look no further than this dark circle eraser concealer from Maybelline. Infused with goji berry and Haloxyl, this concealer helps to brighten and refresh the appearance of the under-eye area.

Revlon PhotoReady Candid Concealer

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Need a concealer for the rest of your face? This skin care-inspired concealer is ultra-blendable and buildable for creamy coverage. It’s also packed with antioxidants to help protect your skin from free radical damage.

Best Cream Contour

NYX Professional Makeup Wonder Stick

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This versatile stick can do it all when it comes to your complexion. On one end is a light, shimmery shade that’s perfect for highlighting the highest points of your face. The other end features a deeper contour shade that will help to sculpt and define your features.

Simply apply the highlight shade to the areas you want to bring attention to, then use the contour shade to create depth and dimension. Blend well for a natural-looking finish.

(Check out my full review here.)

Best Cream Highlighter

e.l.f. Jelly Highlighter

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This highlighter is unlike any other. The versatile jelly formula makes it the perfect multi-use product. It can be worn alone, over makeup, or mixed into foundation. You apply it wet and creamy, but it dries to a long-wearing, glowy finish. It’s the perfect way to get a natural, healthy-looking glow.

Best Cream Bronzer

Huda Beauty Tantour Contour and Bronzer Cream

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Best Powder

Lancome Absolue Powder

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Hey, just because we’re tired and stressed doesn’t mean we have to look like it. We can use new makeup products and application techniques to make skin look dewier and even, no matter how far we are out of our 20s.

These tips and tricks will suit the changes of over 30 skin so makeup looks best.

Happy glow-up!


megan imhoff


Megan writes everything on Ish Mom. She possesses a bachelor's degree in psychology, a flair for theatrics, and a whole lotta nerve. She lives in the Midwest (and loves it) with her wonderful husband and three young boys.

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