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Dress Your Age? 3 Beauty "Rules" to Ignore (And What You Should Do Instead)

Beauty over 30 shouldn’t be a minefield.

They say age is just a number, but unfortunately, that’s not always the case. While ageism affects people of all genders, women tend to be hit particularly hard — in fact, being perceived as “old” can even affect their careers and financial futures. As if dealing with gendered ageism isn’t enough, women are constantly having to avoid a minefield of unwritten “rules” about how they should act, speak, dress, and express themselves at various milestones in their lives.

Guess what? It’s 2022, and those rules were made to be broken. We’ve rounded up some of the worst offenders and replaced them with new recommendations for self-care at any age.

Rule to break: Smother those wrinkles in foundation

Sure, we all wish we could have baby-fine skin forever, but the truth is that wrinkles can start popping up as early as your 20s. There’s an instinct to cover those fine lines with foundation in order to blur them out, but according to makeup artist Josephine Fusco, this can actually make wrinkles more pronounced. Avoid using heavy products that will settle into the creases on your face; if you’re really concerned about wrinkles, go back to basics.

Do this instead: Invest in a nourishing skin care regime

Makeup artists recommend using lightweight foundations and BB creams, but if you really want to enhance the look of your skin, you need to start at the source. Start with a gentle cleanser and follow it up with an antioxidant-rich moisturizer. Introducing retinol serums into your routine can help enhance cellular turnover, which starts declining rapidly when you’re in your 40s. Dermatologist Dr. Corey L. Hartman calls retinol “the holy grail” that “does everything,” including brightening skin, negating breakouts, and minimizing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Also, make sure to incorporate some SPF, whether it’s in your moisturizer, primer, or BB cream. Finally, look for eye serums with vitamin C, which will help reduce signs of aging. Beyond the surface-level benefits, a more thorough routine ensures that you’re actually taking care of your aging skin, rather than just covering up the parts you don’t like.

Rule to break: Cover up your gray or white hair

It should go without saying that people of any age should feel free to dye their hair any color that best suits their personality, but women of a certain age often feel pressured to color graying hair to avoid looking “old.” As one 39-year-old woman put it, “I don't want to be an invisible, middle-aged woman! I want to still be a little bit young and vital.” Ignoring the fact that being 39 does not make one old, thank you very much, beauty should never feel like an obligation or a chore. Additionally, as influencers like Lynn Shabinsky (better known as @whitehairwisdom) are proving, there’s no reason why aging hair can’t be just as beautiful and striking as any other color.

Do this instead: Enrich your evolving hair color and texture

If you’re ready to embrace your graying or whitening hair, you should know that you may have to adapt your routine. As hair loses its original color, the texture can change, making it brittle, dry, or frizzy. On the plus side, it may gain some volume, as Shabinsky reported. Stylist Tom Smiths also recommends using gray-hair-specific shampoos and violet toners to keep that gray hair bright and “neutralize any unwanted yellow and dull or brassy tones.”

Rule to break: Avoid bold makeup after 30

We’ve all heard it: Once you reach a certain age, it’s time to “grow up” and put aside the bold, glittery, statement-making outfits and makeup. On the contrary, 30 isn’t some deadline for when you need to switch over to a beige color palette for the rest of your life. Don’t toss out those colorful palettes yet!

Do this instead: Embrace glitter, vivid colors, and graphic eyeliner

Think women over 30 — or 40 — or 50 — can’t rock vivid styles that look straight out of Euphoria? Think again. This roundup of stereotype-defying makeup looks shows that bright yellow shadow perfectly complements gray hair, glitter still looks good when you’ve got wrinkles, and a bold red lip never goes out of style. Remember, you’re never the wrong age to express yourself.

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