A 5-Minute Makeup Routine For the Non-TikTok Generation

It's quick and foolproof.

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An Easy, Everyday Makeup Look to Master if You’re 40+
Photo: Getty Images/InStyle

Recently, I was chatting with a group of women friends – all their 30s, 40s, or beyond – and a general consensus emerged: finding a simple makeup routine had become a struggle. Overwhelmed by Kardashian-like contouring, absurd TikTok trends, and video tutorials with a bajillion steps, we all felt like we were back at square one with makeup, even though we'd been wearing it for years, nay, decades. We wanted something easy, fast, and doable for everyday wear.

Luckily, this is something I have recently mastered, and I am here to share my secrets. On Forever35, the self-care podcast I co-host with my friend and fellow fortysomething Doree Shafrir, we start every episode with this reminder: we are not experts. And I come to you today proudly wearing the non-expert title: I am a 42-year-old mom of two who works from home and often does frowned-upon things like not showering after working out, using the same eyeshadow for five years (or longer!), and putting on makeup with my hands. I did not consult a single expert about this routine; no influencer has weighed in, no makeup artist has schooled me on the "correct" way to do things. This is a routine shared from one regular ol' gal to another, and frankly, that's why I think it's so effective.

A few quick thoughts before I give you the rundown:

1. I try to keep these items all in one place away from the rest of my makeup, so that I am not swayed to add to it. The goal is to keep these steps simple and quick; we're not spending 45 minutes on a smokey eye today. Select your starting lineup, and then separate it from – if you're anything like me – that overflowing drawer of products in your bathroom.

2. Get yourself a blender brush. It need not be expensive. Mine is this $6 beauty from e.l.f that I picked up at Target, but it truly does make a difference in application and I use mine for everything.

3. Do whatever works for you. I skip all eye shadow in this routine to keep things as easy as possible. But I do like some liquid liner to make my eyes pop! This might not be your thing. Pick your products and steps based on what you like to do.

Easy Makeup Look for Women Over 40
Courtesy of Kate Spencer

Alright, let's do this. The first step is obviously to cover your face in sunscreen. You didn't think I'd let you skip this, did you? I slather on sunscreen now matter how many of my products claim to also have SPF in them. Coola Refreshing Water Cream Sunscreen and Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence are in my current sunscreen rotation.

Next up is what I consider the secret sauce of this routine. I like some sort of primer, highlighter, brightening product to kick things off and give your face a little zhuzh. I love Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter. You can use it just to highlight specific parts of your face, but I like to dab it all over, blend with my brush, and move on to the next step. Other favorites: Pixi by Petra +ROSE Radiance Perfector and e.l.f. Cosmetics Poreless Putty Primer.

Then, I apply my favorite tinted moisturizer onto my face using my fingertips, and blend with my brush again. My go-to is Jane Iredale's Dream Tint, but I've had great results with Ilia's Super Serum Skin Tint, Pacifica's Alight Multi Mineral BB Cream, and Dior Forever Skin Glow.

Everything I know about applying concealer I learned from this viral TikTok video from over-40 makeup influencer Sonia Valencia. I follow her method exactly (you could definitely use a beauty blender here but I still use my blending brush!), and it really helps eliminate creasing and brighten the eye. Dab, blend, be on your way. My concealer of choice is by Fenty.

I always like a pop of color on my cheeks, and the fastest and easiest way I've found to apply it is with a blush stick. I suck my cheeks in like a teen big sister in an '80s movie, dab-dab-dab the blush stick on my cheekbones, and then blend. It takes two seconds and it is the moment my makeup really comes alive. I alternate between Westman Atelier's Baby Cheeks Blush Stick and Thrive Causemetics Triple Threat Color Stick, which can be used on your lips and body and comes with a built-in brush.

VIDEO: The Exact Order You Should Be Applying Your Makeup

Next, it's eye time, baby. I tend to skip eyeshadow all together, because frankly, who has the time? Perhaps if I have an extra 30 seconds to spare I will dab some Glossier Skywash onto each lid and blend with my fingers, but I normally don't even bother. For me, it's all about the lashes, and I like to do some very simple eyeliner to really make them stand out. Since I am prone to mess up eyeliner, I use Stila's Stay All Day Liquid Liner with the micro tip, which keeps the line small and thus makes it easy to fix mistakes.

Liner, combined with a great mascara, is my makeup dream team. If I have no time at all, I'll still do just these two things, and the payoff is huge. My mascara of choice is by Ilia, but I really feel like mascara is a deeply personal choice and I encourage you to go with what you already love.

I always give each of my brows a touch of Glossier Boy Brow, just to tidy them up, give them some shape, and keep them in place.

This brings us to the final step: lips. If you're keeping things super easy (which, as we've established, is the theme of this routine) just dab on something sheer and moisturizing. Dior's Lip Glow is great (I keep it by my computer for zoom meetings), but have you seen the magic one swipe of Burt's Bees Tinted Lip Balm can do? And at $5 a pop, you can buy a few and stash them all over.

Easy Makeup Look for Women Over 40
Courtesy of Kate Spencer

And that's it! This entire routine took me exactly four minutes and five seconds today. Please take it, run with it, and make it yours.

The New Age is a column about beauty over 40, written by women who are over 40. Revolutionary, when you think about it! Kate Spencer and Doree Shafrir are the hosts of Forever35 Podcast. Doree's memoir, THANKS FOR WAITING: THE JOY & WEIRDNESS OF BEING A LATE BLOOMER, is out now, and Kate's rom-com, IN A NEW YORK MINUTE, will be published in March. Learn more at doree-shafrir.com and katespencerwrites.com.

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