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How to Brighten Sallow Skin in Mature Women

By Suzanne Blons February 03, 2023 Beauty

We often think of aging as diminishing, and nothing could be further from the truth. Our spirits, hearts, minds, and skin can brighten and become more fabulous as shown in the below video with my vibrant friend Laura.

Her main complaints are a sallow complexion, a weak jawline, and bringing out her best features without looking overly made up. With that in mind, here are my top five inside secrets to brighten a sallow complexion on mature skin and look hot.

I may be a senior, but so what? I’m still hot.

—Betty White

#1 Use Vitamin C Serum

The two top ingredients every woman needs to nourish, hydrate, and brighten her skin are Retinol and Vitamin C serum. If you’re on a budget, spend the most on those two items and less on things like cleansers and moisturizers.

I recommend starting with a low dose of these active ingredients and work your way into tolerating a higher quantity, quality, and cost. With C serum, a good drug store brand for beginners is Vichy LiftActiv Vitamin C Serum 15%. This product uses L-Ascorbic Acid (a water soluble, common, and inexpensive form of topical Vitamin C) and Vitamin E for greater hydration. It is very affordable, so if you have a reaction, you can have a glass of wine and call it good.

If you want to step-up on your skin care, try Image MD Restoring Youth Serum with 20% Tetrahexydecyl Ascorbate, a higher value and less irritating form of Vitamin C than L-Ascorbic Acid. In nearly every instance, the more effective forms of Vitamin C are pricier, and the higher on the ingredient deck the ingredient shows up, the greater the efficacy.

Speaking of quality, if you want the more aggressive anti-aging big daddy of C serum, try Transdermal C Serum with 80% lipophilic (oil soluble) Vitamin C. It’s pricier because it’s a top form of vitamin C, and the quantity is the one of the highest on the market.

#2 Sheer to Medium Foundation

I’ve had on-camera talent walk into the makeup room with foundation the color they want to be, not the color they are, and it’s an absolute pain in the neck to correct it without completely removing all their makeup. Match your foundation to your neck, and then color correct with point number 3, but more on that in a minute.

Using a sheer to medium coverage foundation means that your skin will look like skin, and you won’t have the dreaded settling of foundation in your fine lines. To cover your problem areas like age spots, pigmentation issues, redness, or anything else you don’t like, use a good concealer. That way, your skin looks pretty and with an even texture and not like you hit the wine early.

#3 The Game Changer: Blue Tint

Skin tints are a little-known magical secret to brighten and highlight your skin. For example, to brighten sallow skin, use a blue tint, to diminish red skin like rosacea and sunburn, use a green tint, and to bring out areas like cheekbones, brow bones, and under eyes (as long as your under eye isn’t a browny shade), use a pink tint appropriate for your skin color.

In the video, I applied the Makeup Forever Blue Tint after foundation, but you can just as easily apply it with your fingers before foundation. Makeup Forever is a professional brand, so if you’re interested in checking this item out, look into NYX Blue Tint on Amazon. It’s an easy and noticeable way to brighten sallow skin.

#4 Use Rosy Lipstick and Blush

My friend in the video, Laura, was surprised when I reached for a rosy lipstick and blush, having used warmer tones thinking it blended better with her complexion. The truth is, using more rosy shades can really pop on sallow skin depending on the usage.

For example, I went for a browny-rose blush, as a bright pink blush would be garish. However, on her lipstick, I dove into a lovely raspberry color to bring out her smile, which is her best feature. This is not to say you can’t use warm tones on sallow skin, but in general, a rosy shade will work well and counteract your sallow undertones.

#5 Rosy Highlight

I love highlight, and use it to bring out certain features. What’s the difference between highlight and concealer, you ask? Concealer is made to cover things like dark circles, spots, and discoloration. Highlight is made to bounce the light. For example, once you’ve concealed under your eyes, adding highlight can make that area stand out more, thus enhancing cheekbones, browbones, and inner eye area. On Laura, I added it to all those areas and it’s gorgeous!

I know this is a lot of information about the color theory of makeup, so if you are confused, just have some wine and it will all make sense. Just remember Betty White’s words, that being a senior doesn’t mean your not hot! In fact, we are hotter than ever, even if that includes hot flashes, but then who cares. It’s all in the swagger.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

What do you do about sallow skin? Have you considered using blue tint? What is your favorite technique to conceal sallow skin?

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Sheri Smith

Hello, Can you recommend a good mascara for sensitive eyes that stays on and doesn’t run? I’ve tried so many and can’t find the one that doesn’t make my eyes water and burn.

Suzanne Blons

Hi Sheri, do you know what you are allergic to? Have you tried any non-toxic brands like Jane Iredale Beyond lash or Merit Beauty mascara? It could be a sensitivity to formaldehyde, which is used in most cosmetic brands.

Sheri Smith

Thank You, I will give them a go! Love your articles/videos!

Sheri Smith

Also, If you’ve ever thought of doing FaceTime consults to help us over 50 with our make up choices individually, I’d be in!

Suzanne Blons

I actually do consultations! Follow this link to my website, I have a 20 minute complementary session for product questions, etc, and a 45 minute, 90 minute, etc. for a fee. I love doing these and always enjoy meeting everyone!

Suzanne Blons

Thanks Sheri!


Really? Just buying all those products would age my skin 10 years..😄 Seriously, that is a lot of time, effort, money and patience. Do you have any suggestions with less products and less time? Thanks.


Hi Colette, I totally understand how you feel! In January I published an article/video on 5 Minute Rosy Cold Weather Makeup here on 60 and Me. It is a simple beginners tutorial that might be just what you are looking for. Also, just take what works for you from any makeup video; we all are at different places in our skill set so my challenge (as with all of us who do beauty tutorials) is to make it applicable to the broadest audience. Thanks for your input!


My skin has yellow undertones. What is wrong with yellow undertones?


Hi Faxon, there is absolutely nothing wrong with yellow undertones, the majority of people on the planet have yellow undertones. The issue comes in when someone feels that their skin is more on the sallow side and they want to brighten up their skin. It’s really a personal thing. I hope this helps!


Thanks.I enjoy makeup tutorials. I always liked my yellow undertones and just didn’t understand.


Thank you for these tips! Its so gray and rainy in Seattle it’s hard not to feel gray and saggy!


I’m from Washington so I know what your talking about! I live in Ecuador and it’s (sorry to say) stunningly gorgeous. It does rain quite a bit though……Glad the article was helpful!

Christine Kirkland

This was so helpful! Thank you Suzanne.


Thanks Christine! It’s such an easy trick to use blue tint, plus it’s very inexpensive. I love easy fixes!

The Author

Suzanne Blons, The Beauty Shaman, has been in the beauty industry for nearly 40 years. A former Revlon Charlie Girl, she is now a professional makeup artist and has worked with such luminaries as Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, and Arianna Huffington. Today, Suzanne shares her beauty secrets on her YouTube channel, The Beauty Shaman. Check out her store, blog, coaching, and beauty courses.

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