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30 Cosmetics No Woman Over 40 Should Ever Buy

Go ahead, start emptying your makeup bag.

While it makes sense to purge a lot of things in your 40s—toxic people, toxic partners, and toxic habits, to name a few—it's especially imperative to take a special look at your cosmetics. After all, your skin has different needs now than it did in your 20s and 30s, and the products that served you well in decades past may now leave a lot to be desired. 

That's why we've rounded up the products no woman over 40 should ever buy. From trendy lip colors and press-on nails to charcoal masks that will leave your skin drier than the Sahara, there's bound to be more than a few items you'll want to skip on your next trip to the beauty counter.

Matte Foundations


Now that you're 40, and likely not dealing with super oily skin, matte foundations will only make your skin look flat and lifeless. Instead, look for foundations with the words "luminous" or "glow" in the product description. They're much more likely to give you a youthful, dewy look.

Liquid Eyeliner

Makeup artist applies liquid eyeliner to woman's face

Liquid eyeliner is tough to apply in the first place. And if you're starting to notice fine lines and wrinkles around your eyes, you'll have an even tougher time getting it right. Not to mention, a bold cat eye probably isn't your most flattering look now that you're 40. Stick to pencil liners in shades like dark grey and brown. 

Shimmery Lip Glosses

Woman applying nude shimmery lip gloss

Lip glosses are all the rage right now, but that doesn't mean you need to join the party. Slapping globs of shimmer on your lips can look tacky and juvenile. If you can't let go of the glitter, choose a lip gloss with a slight sheen to it instead.

Bright Eyeshadow

Palette of multicolored eyeshadows, close-up

Bold eyeshadow looks are difficult to pull off. And often, they're better suited for teenage youngsters who are still experimenting with new trends. Now that those years are behind you, stick to neutrals in powder, cream, and stick formulas for a look that's classic and polished. 

Bright Lipstick

Beautiful woman applying lip liner to lips. Close up

A bold red lip is always a classic, but Barbie-pink and tangerine-orange lips can often be too much for women over 40. Keep your classic reds, but consider swapping the other brights for a rich mauve or red-wine shade instead.

Overly Shimmery Highlighter

woman applying makeup and highlighter on highest points of her cheeks

A bit of highlighter can do wonders for brightening up your skin. But as these products get sparklier and sparklier, you'll want to try them on before you commit. Choose one that adds a hint of shimmer to your cheekbones, but doesn't veer into any overly glittery territory.

Dollar Store Cosmetics

Cheap Dollar Store cosmetics can wreak havoc on your skin—plus, they tend not to look so great. Step up your game and head to your local beauty counter. Or at the very least, opt for a quality drugstore find.

Sickly Sweet Fragrance

woman spraying perfume floral

By 40, your taste in fragrances has hopefully evolved past overly fruity and flowery. But that doesn't mean you have to choose a musky grandma fragrance, either. You can still go floral and fresh—just make sure the scent is more complex than your teen's favorite Bath & Body Works spray.

Purifying Face Masks

best skin

Purifying face masks have a tendency to dry out the skin with their harsh cleansing ingredients. Over time, that could mean skin that feels irritated and uncomfortable. Choose a hydrating mask with ingredients like hyaluronic acid or shea butter instead. 

Matte Liquid Lipstick

makeup mistakes

Liquid lipsticks are popular for a slew of reasons: They're easy to apply, they don't budge, and they stay on for hours at a time. Unfortunately, no matter how old you are, they also settle into fine lines and have the tendency to quickly become cakey-and-flakey. Unless your lips are insanely well-moisturized, you'll want to avoid them now that you're 40. 

Body Glitter


This is another teen trend you should stay far away from. If you're looking for a subtle glow, try a body shimmer instead. That way your skin will appear extra luminous—and you won't be covered with glitter until the end of time. 

Drying Cleansers

best skin

Moisture, moisture, moisture—that's what your skin is dying for right now. Avoid harsh cleansers that strip your skin of its natural oils. (If your skin feels tight and itchy after washing, that's probably what's happening, write the experts at Stylecaster.) Cleansing balms, cleansing lotions, and oil cleansers are all great options for women over 40.

Crazy At-Home Hair Dyes

hair dye

We get it, dying your hair from a box is sometimes a necessity. But trying out a crazy, too-colorful, at-home hair dye can ruin your hair—especially since it's practically guaranteed you'll have to re-dye it a few weeks later. Go to the salon if you're in the mood for an intricate hair color, or stick to a color that matches your natural shade. 

Sea Salt Spray

best skin

Aging hair is already delicate and dry, and adding a sea-salt spray to it can make matters worse. If you want to achieve a beachy wave, try a curling wand and some texturizing spray. 

Press-On Nails

Nail Art, 40s

Now that you're 40, you've more than earned the right to head the nail salon and splurge for an actual manicure—so that's exactly what you should do. Press-on nails are too obvious and never last that long, anyway.

Body Scrubs

energy before noon

When your skin is dry, it might make sense to try and exfoliate some of that dryness away with a body scrub. But in general, most scrubs will just strip away much-needed moisture and leave your skin drier than before you hopped in the shower. Avoid exfoliating more than three times a week, and when you do, stick to scrubs with gentle ingredients, such as shea butter and nut oils. 

Light Body Moisturizers

Woman caring about her body legs and feet putting hydrating cream on it

Moisturizing the body is essential for women over 40. And it's always better to choose a moisturizer that does too much rather than one that doesn't do enough. Thicker creams will offer more moisturizing benefits than their lighter counterparts. Look for ones with glycerin or hyaluronic acid. 


Asian woman plucking eyebrows with tweezers using eyebrow tweezer at home in bathroom makeup mirror. Closeup of a girl's face while she is removing her facial hairs. Eyebrows beauty car
Shutterstock / Maridav

Step away from the tweezers! Now that you're over 40, you've probably noticed that your hair doesn't grow as fast and isn't as dense as it used to be. That's especially true with the hair on your eyebrows. Avoid plucking too often, or you risk never having luscious brows again. 

Unicorn Highlighter

Beautiful fashion model girl whose makeup artist apply makeup, eye shadow, on a white background

Applying rainbow shimmer to your cheeks as a grown woman? That's something you'll want to avoid. This highlighter trend isn't flattering on anyone, so don't buy into the hype. Stick to classic highlighters that actually match your skin tone. 

Blotting Papers

Woman Removing Oil From Face Using Blotting Papers. Closeup Portrait Of Beautiful Healthy Girl With Nude Makeup Cleaning Perfect Soft Skin With Oil Absorbing Tissue Sheets

Now that you're rounding the corner toward middle age (statistically speaking!), you most likely don't suffer from super oily skin. And that means you can leave the blotting papers at home. This product is better suited for acne-prone teens than mature women. 

False Eyelash Strips

Close-up of false eyelashes being put on woman's eye

Some eyelash strips are okay, but applying super thick, outrageous lash strips can look tasteless. Apply individual lashes instead, or treat yourself to eyelash extensions—they last four to six weeks and look incredibly natural.

60-Shade Eyeshadow Palettes

Professional makeup palette; neutral colours

You're probably never going to dip into that neon yellow or granny apple green, right? And if that's the case, it doesn't make much sense to spend a ton of cash on a palette you're only buying for one or two colors. Show the color you like to a sales associate, and he or she will help you find a single-shade item with the color you're interested in. 

Wacky Lipstick

Blue skin circulation issue

Lipsticks in colors like black, green, and electric blue have been huge hits this year. But just because you see them all over your favorite beauty blogger's Instagram doesn't mean they should have a place on your vanity. They're hardly ever complimentary, and will only make it look like you're trying too hard. Pass!

Charcoal Masks

Young beautiful woman is having a black charcoal mask on her skin. Skincare and spa treatment

Charcoal masks are supposed to be purifying, but they also tend to dry out the skin. Plus, they're difficult to remove, which means you'll likely have to scrub them off. Ouch!

Metallic Makeup

A light metallic eye can be totally flattering, but incorporating metallics onto your lips, cheeks or brows might make you look a bit washed out. Stick to colors that enhance your natural features, and avoid ones that are better suited for New Year's Eve. In this case, a little goes a long way! 

Neon Nail Polish

Disorganized bottles of nail polish, makeup

By the time you turn 40, your hands have probably started to show signs of aging. And if you're looking to deflect attention away from those signs, you're better off avoiding neon nail polishes. Opt for a classic pink or red and stay away from colors that will draw attention as soon as you enter the room.

Makeup Remover Wipes

things women don't understand about men

You probably already know that makeup remover wipes aren't the best at actually removing makeup. But it gets worse: They can irritate and inflame your skin, too. Many wipes contain not-so-great ingredients, like formaldehyde-releasing chemicals, solubilizers, surfactants, and emulsifiers, which means that if you don't wash your face after using the wipes, you're at serious risk of inflammation, Dr. Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital, told Glamour

Lip Stains

Makeup artist working on a young blonde woman applying a lip stain

Lip stains are tough for women over 40 because they often seep into the wrinkles and fine lines around the lips. If you do use a stain, apply a touch of lip liner beforehand to prevent bleeding.

Acne Products

Close up Girl applying aloe gel to problematic skin with acne scars, Health care products at medical industry. girl gently touches her forehead with pimples on her skin.

It might seem proactive to include an anti-acne face wash in your morning routine. But unless you actually suffer from adult acne, you're better off avoiding them. These acidic products are some of the most drying items in the skincare aisle. 

Bath Bombs

Bath Bombs Dorm Room

Some bath bombs are classy, but others are just childish and funky smelling. Plus, who wants to clean up a stained bathtub with glitter all over it? You're too busy for that. And for more amazing beauty advice, learn all about the 30 Worst Beauty Tips of All Time.

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