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How to Adjust Your Makeup When You Decide to Go Grey: 6 Pro-Tips

Today’s story is about how to adjust your makeup when you decide to embrace your grey hair. The author, Elise Marquam-Jahns, is a professional makeup-artist who is passionate about helping women 50+ get their glow back. Enjoy!

honey good makeup with grey hair

I embrace my grey locks, and so can you!

6 Pro Tips on How to Adjust Your Makeup When You Decide to Go Grey

The enduring visual image I have when I remember my maternal grandmother is her stunning white-grey hair. Even when I was just 10-years-old I remember hoping that someday I too would eventually have that gorgeous hair. But alas, that gene didn’t make it into my DNA.

Making the decision to go grey is not an easy one for many of us. After all, we’re really letting go of a piece of our identity. For years every form we’ve ever filled out has included that ubiquitous blank where we needed to fill in our hair color.

Once we have made the decision to let our hair go grey, there’s also the question of whether we need to make changes to our wardrobe and makeup. As a makeup artist who specializes in helping women 50+ look their best, I’m often asked whether it’s necessary to make changes to our makeup if we decide to take that leap. And my answer is always a definite “yes.”  To look our best when we go grey, a few tweaks are in order, so I hope these six tips will help you navigate the process.

Do you have a girlfriend who has embraced her grey hair? Make sure to send her this story full of great makeup tips for grey hair!

Tip #1 Choose Contrast in Makeup with Grey Hair

If you’re a brunette, redhead, or have black hair, going grey will mean that you have far less contrast between your hair and your skin. If you’re blonde, the loss of contrast won’t be as great, but you will still have some loss of contrast.

So you may be wondering. . . is this loss of contrast really important? And actually. . . yes, it’s very important and here’s why. A recent research study determined that what makes us attractive to other people is the amount of facial contrast we have. The more facial contrast we have, the more attractive we are to other people.

But as we get older, we start to lose that facial contrast: our skin gets lighter, our lips get paler and our eyebrows get lighter.   So if we decide to go grey, we’re creating even less contrast between our hair color and our skin.

So, we definitely need to create more contrast by steering away from very neutral makeup colors—which tend to make our face and hair look all one color– and steering toward slightly stronger colors.

gray curled hair makeup for gray hair

Tip #2 The undertone of our skin is more important when adjusting makeup for grey hair

As mentioned above, we need to steer toward slightly stronger colors with our makeup. . . but they need to be the right colors for our skin undertone. . . because the right colors for our skin undertone will make our skin come alive so it looks absolutely beautiful and radiant.

Each of us has a warm, cool or neutral undertone to our skin. Many of you probably already know the undertone of your skin, but if you don’t, there are nine questions you can ask that will help you determine the undertone of your skin. I’ve gone over these nine questions in a previous YouTube video, so if you’re not sure what your skin undertone is, here’s a link to that video which I hope will help!

If you have a warm undertone to your skin, you’ll want to stick with the warm family of blush and lipstick colors: peaches, corals, tangerines, oranges, or orange-reds. If you have a cool undertone, focus on pinks, raspberries, plums, or blue-reds. Or, if you have a neutral undertone, you can go with either warm or cool colors, but probably not to the extremes of either warm or cool colors. So, in other words, you may want to go with a peach tone rather than a bright coral or a soft or mid-tone pink rather than bright fuchsia.

Tip #3 Fill in your eyebrows to create more contrast

When going grey, many women find that a taupe eyebrow color or dark blonde color can add more contrast but still look soft and natural. Other women might want to consider a grey brow color or to mix the grey with a taupe shade. Have fun experimenting to see what looks best on you. Here is more information about having the best brows after 50.

And just a note, not all makeup brands carry grey eyebrow products, so you may need to check out a few different makeup counters to find brands that do carry them.

Tip #4 Definitely consider using eyeliner

Eyeliner will definitely help make your eyes stand out with grey hair. Since black eyeliner may be too strong a contrast and perhaps look a bit harsh, you may want to consider using browns, plums or navy.

If eyeliner is challenging for you—for whatever reason—you may want to avoid liquid eyeliner since if you don’t apply liquid eyeliner perfectly the first time, you pretty much have to start over. Instead, consider using an eyeliner pencil or an eyeshadow as eyeliner and applying it with an angled or flat top brush. Using a brush makes eyeliner application far easier. You can rub the brush against an eyeliner pencil to get enough color or use a cream eyeliner or eyeshadow as eyeliner.

And don’t worry about applying your eyeliner perfectly—just apply it as close to your lashes as possible (and even between your lashes) because you can always use a smudger (which can often be found on the other end of an eyeliner pencil)—or a Q-tip—to smudge out the eyeliner so it looks great and even more natural.

how to adjust your makeup after you go grey

I love to wear red lipstick and high contrast makeup after going grey.


Tip #5 Choose a strong lip color

When adjusting your makeup for grey hair, choose a lip color that is perfect for your skin undertone and is perhaps slightly stronger than what you’re used to wearing.

Once you have grey hair, you’ve created a clean palette so you can take a little more risk with your lip color.  Experiment a little and go slightly brighter than you may be used to wearing.  It’s always challenging when you try a new lipstick and then look in the mirror and see yourself looking very different than you normally do, but take a “selfie” so you can go back later to see how you feel about the color when you can be more objective.

If you’ve never tried red, here’s your chance. Go for a blue-red if you have a cool undertone and an orange-red if you have a warm undertone. Read more about wearing red lipstick as a woman over 50.

Tip #6 Bold blush color for contrast

Just as with lipstick, choose a blush color that is perfect for your skin undertone and is perhaps slightly stronger than what you’re used to wearing.

Choosing a stronger or brighter blush color than we’re used to wearing can definitely feel a bit scary to many of us since we all have images of blush gone way too strong and wrong.  But try experimenting with rosy colors if you have a cool undertone and peachy/coral colors if you have a warm undertone.

Be sure to check out Elise’s YouTube channel which specifically focuses on makeup tips, techniques, and product reviews for those of us 50+. Don’t forget to subscribe!

Elise Marquam-Jahns is a professional, working makeup-artist who is passionate about helping women 50+ get their glow back.  In addition to her work as a makeup artist for a major cosmetics line, she founded Boomer and Beyond Beauty and recently launched her “Boomer and Beyond Beauty with Elise” YouTube channel for women 50+.  Elise is also an author and speaker and hosts Normandale Community College’s monthly Learning Well Edge Talk Radio show where she interviews experts in the field of health and wellness.

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Do you have a girlfriend who has embraced her grey hair? Make sure to send her this story full of great makeup tips for grey hair!

March 26, 2024

beauty, Makeup Tips

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  1. Sue says:

    After 30 years of dying my hair warm brown with gold highlights, I am now Snow White/ silver. This was so helpful in helping my decide how to change my foundation.

  2. Susan Millard says:

    I loved the information you generously shared! I found it to be very helpful!

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