In Issue 137 of Make-Up Artist magazine, writer and make-up artist Ilise Harris talks about the renaissance of mature models in everything from print ads to runway collections. Here she breaks down exactly how to create the looks seen in our exclusive images.

I was fortunate to work with IconicFocus for this story. The models are in their 50s, had successful careers as young cover girls, built rich and interesting lives, and are now modeling again. Photographer Peter Freed was the perfect choice for this story. Freed has worked with many celebrities but is well-known for his book PRIME: Reflections on Time and Beauty (theprimebook.org) which features stunning make-up-free portraits of women in their prime, aged 40 to103.

I asked Peter what he would tell make-up people about working with mature women. He says, “Same thing I do with lighting and Photoshop: Embellish and stay true to the face. If the finished product doesn’t look like the person, then I’ve failed.” So, for this story, I stayed with Peter’s aesthetic, and did the most minimal make-up, then bumped it up a notch for an alternative look.

I asked our models, all from IconicFocus Models in New York City, for any advice they could give make-up artists with regards to working with mature women. These are their answers.

Cathy Fedoruk

Cathy Fedoruk for Make-Up Artist magazine, make-up by Ilise Harris

“Ask questions. Having a dialogue is a great way to bond and make a model feel at ease in your chair,” says Cathy. “Every make up-artist brings their unique approach. I personally enjoy hearing about new products and techniques. Don’t be afraid to ask for an opinion or assistance. I’m thrilled to lend a hand (my mascara application skills are excellent), or offer advice, especially now at 51 years old, as confidence comes with age.”

Karina Gomez 

Karina Gomez for Make-Up Artist magazine, make-up by Ilise Harris

“My advice to make-up artists with my mature complexion would be to enhance my features, of course, but naturally,” says Karina. “Too much make-up is aging. I believe a true artist can produce a better, improved, and glamorous you without looking painted and aged.”

Karen Williams 

Karen Williams for Make-Up Artist magazine, make-up by Ilise Harris_v2

“Skin should look healthy, radiant, glowing, hydrated. Use serums/oils, liquid foundation, cream/liquid blush or even a few dots of lipstick on cheeks. Limit powder, define brows, subtly contour with foundation and highlighting, moisturize lips,” says Karen.

Must-Have Steps

  • Consider that this individual has an identity of her own that is well formed and will likely have preferences with regard to her appearance. Be sensitive to all that before jumping in, and ask her if there is anything you should know about her likes and dislikes when it comes to make-up.
  • Take good care preparing the skin. Hydration is key to the appearance of the complexion, so start by offering some water to drink. Treat your subject to quality products that will make her feel pampered and confident before you even begin the make-up.
  • Mature skin loves serums and oils! I played around with several for this shoot, opting for bespoke and carefully crafted formulas from small boutique brands. I really loved them all. Boom Nectar was light and lovely with a delicate citrus aroma. Khus+Khus, a skincare company out of Denver utilizes Ayurveda, Aromatherapy and plant-based medicine in its formulations. Their Blossom Face Serum is like velvet on the skin. A truly rich and opulent face oil, Kypris Beauty Elixir I has in each bottle the essential oil of 1,000 organic Bulgarian roses. Add more moisture with a spritz of Khus+Khus Blossom Hydrolat, or Rosewater Aromatherapy Mist from Heritage Store.
  • Lips and body. Moisturize the lips before you begin the make-up. Khus+Khus Mint Lip Treatment takes effect immediately. An all-purpose body moisturizer for the whole body is Boomsilk. Especially perfect because it is unscented, which the wardrobe stylist will appreciate!
  • For this story I used Dior Backstage Airflash Foundations, over the Airflash Radiance Mist as a primer, applied with a brush then finished with a Beauty Blender. I like the sheer dewy application. For the minimal make-up looks, I relied on Boomsticks; the Color stick worked across the board for cheeks on all three complexions. The Glimmer stick worked as well for everyone’s eyelids. Mature lashes can be sparse, so I used M.A.C. Upward Lash Mascara because of the tiny brush. When we bumped it up, I jumped to false eyelashes from Ardell and Kiss. I used some spring colors but kept the look classic, with the face as the main event.
  • My go-to hair products on set are always Hairstory; natural, effective, chic.


Show us how you used these tips on your mature clients! Tag #makeupartistmagazine in your social media posts. For more on Ilise Harris, visit iliseharris.com.