Makeup Bag Must-Haves in Your 30s

“In your twenties, you can get away with looking like a hot mess. In your thirties—not so much. People expect more of you,” says Wende Zomnir, founder of Urban Decay Cosmetics. So if you’ve been lackadaisical about wearing makeup—or taking it off—it’s time to grow up and get grooming. Now, no one’s saying you have to spend hours primping, but a more polished appearance tells the world, “It’s time to take me -seriously.”

By Genevieve Monsma
todd huffman
Photograph: Todd Huffman

Here’s what you need to get started:

1. Tinted Moisturizer
“Most women in their thirties have pretty good skin and can skip foundation,” says makeup mogul Bobbi Brown. However, unless you’ve been blessed with a completely flawless complexion, you’ll probably still benefit by evening things out with a tinted moisturizer. We like Lancôme Bienfait Multi-Vital Teinté ($45; lancome-usa.com) or Bare-Minerals Advanced Protection Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20 for Combination Skin ($30; bareminerals​ .com). If you prefer a little more coverage, go with a sheer foundation that can be layered as needed. Try Giorgio Armani Face Fabric (shown at left in shade No. 2; $49; giorgioarmani​beauty-usa.com).

2. Concealer
If you’reone of the lucky few, the tinted moisturizer that’s evening your tone will also adequately camouflage dark circles and blemishes. The rest of us will need a more opaque option, says makeup artist Mally Roncal. For spots that require spackling, she suggests a cover-up that’s emollient enough to blend easily but dry enough to avoid looking dewy (especially if it’s adult acne you’re covering). We like LauraMercier Secret Camouflage ($28; lauramercier​.com) for under-eyes and Shiseido Corrector Pencil (shown at left in shade No. 3 Dark; $18; shiseido.com) for pimples.

3. Eyeshadow Primer
“Most women in this decade are ridiculously busy and really can’t be bothered to take the time to touch up their eye makeup throughout the day,” says Zomnir. So, to ensure that your lids look as polished at 7 pm as they did at 7 am, she suggests adding an eyeshadow primer to your regimen. Try Kimara Ahnert Eye Fix (shown at left; $27; kimara.com) or Clinique Touch Base ($15; clinique​.com), which comes in six skin-toned shades.

4. Brow Gel
“Since your goal is to look pulled together, combing your brows is a step you really shouldn’t skip,” says Zomnir. To keep your arches in place all day, she recommends brushing them with a setting gel. Try Mally Beauty Brow Gel (shown at left; $20; mallybeauty.com).

5. Edgier Eye Makeup
Your lids are smooth and your eyes almost free of fine lines, so you can still rock shimmery eye makeup and bolder colors, says makeup artist Kimara Ahnert. “To be age appropriate, though, don’t smear sparkle all over your lid,” says Zomnir. “Line the outer third of your top lashes with a glittery pencil instead.” Or tap a shimmery shadow in the center of your eyelid, on top of a matte powder in a complementary color, suggests makeup magnate Sonia Kashuk. Try Urban Decay Heavy Metal Glitter Eyeliner ($18; urbandecay​.com) or Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill Intense Eye Shadow (shown at left in shade No. 11; $32; giorgio​armani beauty-usa.com).

6. Mascara
Your lashes are still pretty lush, so Brown suggests playing them up with a formula that enhances their volume and length. We like Benefit BadGal Lash Mascara (shown at left;$19; benefit​cosmetics.com) or L’Oréal Voluminous Million Lashes Mascara ($9; drugstores).

7. Bronzer
Most thirty-somethings still have skin that’s radiant, so wearing blush is optional, say the pros we consulted. Ditto shimmery bronzer, though you may want to seize the opportunity to wear it while you can. In your thirties, bronzer leaves your skin looking sun kissed (and you well rested), whereas in about a decade, it can accentuate sun damage, making you look older than you are, warn some pros. For the most flattering results, keep coppery color around the perimeter of your face: your hairline, jawline and back toward the ears. Try Physicians Formula Mineral Wear Correcting Bronzer (shown at left in Light; $14; drugstores).

8. Gloss
You needn’t do much to make your lips look good—they’re still full, and the color’s still pretty deep, says Roncal. A gloss or sheer, shiny lip color is enough to play them up—and not compete with shimmery or bold eye makeup. Try Sephora Hot Hues Neon Lip Balm (shown at left in Hot Pink; $10; sephora​.com) or Laura Mercier Lip Glacé (shown at left in Bonbon; $22; lauramercier.com). 

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