Beauty Over 50: The Purple Eye Shadow Debate

Recently, a woman at an event was staring at me…closely.. and it.made me a little nervous! I gave her a questioning look back and she said, “are you wearing purple eye shadow?”  I have written before about my eye routine…a base of Bobbi Brown Suede Shadow with a deep purple ( Jane Iredale) in the crease and finally purple eye liner (Bobbie Brown). I do pump up my eyes since I wear glasses all of the time.  Purple makes my hazel eyes green…and I love it. But, apparently I should have looked like this…

She went on to say that beauty rules stated women of a certain age should not wear colored eye shadow…and very little eye makeup.  She seemed to only be wearing a touch of mascara.  She asked me if I was going to discontinue the shadow as I aged.

I wasn’t sure if I should leave the event at that moment…a tainted woman.  But, I told her I believed it was a personal choice and I felt like it was appropriate and not too flamboyant though I am in my sixties (which surprised her…and that made me happy).  I think we all know when the time is right to retire a fashion or beauty choice…such as, I knew when it was time for stilletos to no longer be in my closet.  It is only important for us to look and feel our best …no matter how we decide to do it.  Please don’t stare at someone who is dressed or made up a certain way.  It’s freaky!

How do you feel about darker eye shadow on older women?  Is it a rule to take seriously or throw out the window?

Come back tomorrow when we talk more about beauty!!




  1. I agree with you, personal choice. If it feels right to you when you look in the mirror, go for it! Also agree that with wearing glasses you can highlight your eyes a bit more. You always look classy! Just a side note, glad she has a curiosity about life, but I find it so much more fulfilling to complement someone rather than questioning their very personal choices!

  2. Her initial question seems innocent enough but the follow-up seems rude & judgmental. Reminds me of my mother’s (and probably most mothers) “you can’t listen yourself into trouble.” Have a great day & keep purpling on!

  3. Oh, my…yes, we are supposed to wear less makeup as we age ( or so we have been told)but I think that means over-the-top glitter and things like that. You look wonderful – and I agree that combination brings out your eyes. Keep on being beautiful!

  4. It did sound a bit like my mother. I don’t think she meant to be rude, but it certainly can come off that way. Thanks Nancy…for now, I will purple on!

  5. Yes…I love to complement ladies when I am out and about. There is always something positive to say. Thanks for the kind words too, Rita.

  6. That woman was incredibly rude and inappropriate. I agree with Ann; you look great. Wear what you feel is right for you and ignore intrusive strangers.

  7. I wanted to focus more on her belief that this is inappropriate for older women. I think we live in a time when most of those old rules have become older than us. It is a person to person, personal decision. I agree with Rita that we should complement others first and then find grounds for constructive discussions. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  8. I agree with your last comment Pam. Why do we have to follow rules at this stage of our life? Haven’t we earned the right to wear what we like?

  9. There are helpful “guidelines” and I have learned to follow some of those, but it comes in stages as we experiment and step out of our comfort zones to learn what suites us best. Without glasses, I would probably tone it down a bit…but not because there was a rule! Just to communicate what I desire to say with my style about me!

  10. I’m wearing deep purple eyeshadow today so this made me smile. I’m so tired of the ‘shoulds’ and ‘should nots’ that some women come up with for the “rules.” And the one about less eye makeup as you age. Personally, I see women here at work who are my age who don’t wear much if any and they look a lot older, it actually ages them. Our coloring fades a little as we age, or is it just me? Eyebrows fade, skin fades…what is wrong with enhancing what we have? I’m not talking about clown makeup, just enhancing our coloring. That woman was inappropriate and your answer was perfect. It IS a personal choice and the “rules” are boring and tiring. Why should we have to fade into the background when we arrive at a certain age? I’m nowhere near ready to cut back on or give up on eye makeup. I’m 64 and I’m still making the most of what God gave me.

  11. Oh my! It would be a bit disconcerting to have someone stare! Wearing a specific makeup or clothing or accessory is what confidence is all about. It’s what each woman is comfortable with for herself. I think guidelines are helpful, but we are not obligated to adhere to them. I think that is what you are all about, Pam! You always look your best and have wonderful sense of style. Sounds like you were very kind to a not-so-kind person.

  12. I love wearing dark eyeshadow and will wear until I can’t hold the brush to put it on with. Ladies need to lighten up and stop being so critical of others. Each to her own

  13. How rude! Ya look smashing, Dahling – our make-up is to enhance what we’re left to work with at this age! Work that smoky eye, Sister!

  14. I have recently seen a lot of “advice” to wear less makeup as you age. Malarkey! I love wearing makeup and I think it enhances my face. I am very light complexioned and my features literally fade away if I don’t wear makeup. I pay no attention to this advice.

  15. I am a 59 year old woman who looks horrible without makeup. I say wear your purple eye shadow. That said Pam you might try bare mineral warmth all over. I use it as an eye shadow,very lightly in the crease and my hazel eyes pop. let me know if you try it.

  16. I have very green eyes and every consultant tells me that I should wear purple/and or brown eye shadow. Every single time I try it, I feel like it washes me out, and makes me look like a corpse, although I love it on other hazel eyed or green eyed ladies! I am sure that you know the verdict on wearing green or blue shadow is a “no no” for the most part, however; I wear soft blue/gray and soft greens (from teal to olive to light) and receive many compliments, as well as feeling “like myself.” That is my comfort zone. I am amazed at the way that person confronted you, and consider it rude and intrusive. One such example of those kind of encounters happened to me in Alaska, when on a cruise excursion, a “lady” stared at my soft leather flats, then blurted out in front of the group, “Don’t you feel out of place in those, and how in the world do you walk in them?” I glanced down at her clunky tennis shoes, that she had on with Capri pants (a look I hate) and said, “I walk much better in these than you appear to in yours.” Her husband just laughed. (That was unusual for me to give a confrontational reply) So rude, and what business of it was hers what kind of shoes others had on, or in your case, what color eye shadow?

  17. Definitely a personal choice. We all have different eye shapes and lids. As I’ve aged, I’m getting a droopy upper eyelid I never had when I was younger. I’ve had to adjust my eye make up and I do wear less, as it doesn’t attract as much attention to the eyelids. It is different for each individual.

  18. Oh my, I thought we were past all those rules. “A woman past a certain age should wear her hair short, very little make up, & no jeans, etc.” I think your look is very age appropriate & agree we should be building up each other no matter our age.

  19. I’m 70 and I still wear purple eyeshadow, even other colors! My Bobbi Brown representative always makes me look good. By the way, I still color my hair too. Perhaps the woman who approached you thinks we all must go gray at a certain age, too. We are all trying to look our best, and I appreciate your posts.

  20. Oh yes, shades of my mother! If I was to stare, it would be to only ask you how you make your eyes stand out so well. I too wear glasses but have never mastered eyeliner or eye shadow. Fortunately, I have naturally long eyelashes and I can manage the mascara wand! As far as rules go – who made them up anyway? No makeup as we age sounds Victorian. I admire women who know how to use makeup to their advantage so naturally I admire you!

  21. I, too am of the NO RULES persuasion. If you feel good and feel confident, wear it! Beauty is so subjective. Everyone can have their own ideas and opinions, but how about if we build each other up, rather than criticize someone else’s choices.

  22. Those old rules went out the window long ago! Along with the rule that we must cut our long hair short when we reach ‘that age’. Today there are no rules, we do whatever makes us feel attractive and good. You are beautiful Pamela, don’t change a thing!

  23. I wear purple eyeshadow sometime and line my eyes with a purple pencil. It makes my greenish/brown eyes pop, and since I too wear glasses all the time, I don’t think it looks garish. The only thing I do periodically is re-evaluate the formulas of products I use. I stopped using black liner and moved to a brown-black (when I’m not wearing purple) and I now use a black/brown mascara instead of pure black. I think women should do what they feel comfortable with – if it’s a natural eye look or an enhanced eye look. I’m 63 and I’m not yet ready to stop using make up.

  24. Wow – I think people need to check their filter a little more before speaking. I cannot imagine saying that to a person I don’t know ….You look great and I agree that eye makeup is important especially when wearing glasses – I don’t like to go out without wearing eye shadow and mascara.

  25. How rude! And, yes, at 60, I wear purple shadow! It doesn’t scream purple, but it’s there! No rules …

  26. Pooey on ALL guidelines! If you like, wear it! Whether it is a mini-skirt at 60 or purple eyeshadow at 70!!!! Let’s not perpetuate ageism anymore…let’s celebrate our uniqueness and our years. People always amaze me with what they will say and ignoring it can be very hard. I once had a new friend tell me I had the thinnest hair of anyone she had ever met. I just stared, mouth agape. Some people have no filter! Thanks for the fun, informative blog.

  27. Firstly,how rude for that woman to stare like that and make you uncomfortable and then be so self-righteous about what make-up you wear on your eyes.Who made up this stupid rule?
    You’re lucky that you’ve found the colour that makes your eyes pop……maybe that’s why that lady was staring!

  28. Pamela, you always looks so chic and put together; I can’t fathom why that woman would question your choice of eye makeup. I, too, get tired of hearing about rules and guidelines for older women. Just today, I saw something on my news feed about how we should stop wearing jeans after age 53!

  29. Rude, rude, rude … why are women so mean to one another??? This whole thing sounds like a “Mean Girls” sequel.

  30. LOL…I don’t think it was quite that bad. But, I was surprised at how direct she was.

  31. What??? Well, I am not going to give up my purple eye shadow or my jeans yet. I cannot see me ever giving up my jeans! Thanks for your sweet words, also, Kathy.

  32. First she was rude. Second, her rules are so outdated. I think you (and all women) should wear what feels flattering and makes one feel confident.

  33. I think somehow she thought she was helping…not sure. I also think in this world of social media some have become comfortable at speaking their opinions in public.

  34. I don’t think I scream purple either, Deborah. But, after this happened…maybe I do. Thanks so much.

  35. Well no…not suggestions…at least I want people to stop. And there are some very helpful fashion guidelines. But they are guidelines…not hard and fast rules. Like when to wear white…some women still follow the old guidelines..some do not…both are fine.

  36. I just think our culture now has given some the freedom to speak without the filter. But, I laughed and tried to be good humored about it. Thanks Katie.

  37. I really don’t understand anyone commenting in a negative way about anyone’s personal choices for make-up, clothing or hairstyle. When you see something you like in another person, compliment away! We all love to hear some nice compliments. But why in the world would you have a negative opinion and voice it without being asked?
    I wear mostly neutral eyeshadows. I find they best compliment my brown eyes. I used to use more colorful shadows but really have limited myself to all shades of beige and brown. I use dark brown liner and black mascara. A few years ago I had someone do my make-up and they used a dark green liner, which looked great but when it ran out I never bought another…lol!

  38. My Bobbi Brown rep also helps me alot…I love to go to the counter to learn new thinks. Thanks Gail!!

  39. Yes, we should…and I never could buy into the short hair rule either. I guess I am just a tad rebellious!!

  40. Good point about the shapes of our eyes and the different issues we all have, Diana. I know many women with the droopy eyelid issue.

  41. I think I will always wear some…though it might change a bit in the next 15 years. Yes to your Malarkey!

  42. Well I’m 73 and I wear purple eyeshadow and I also wear purple jeans! Do what is right for you and forget about her. When people say things like that I ask to see their Fashion Police Badge

  43. I like this post. I know women of a certain age seem to be targeted with the concept of overdoing makeup. I think for the most part that trend went out 50 years ago as women are so much more intuned to “good makeup” routines at any adult age. My teenage daughters wore too much eye makeup in the eighties and they evolved into beautiful women who laugh at their dark eyes, four inch high bangs pictures from middle school. I tried the “a bit of blush and mascara” about five years ago because I kept reading we would look younger at my age. Not so for me. I looked like a bag lady who lost her mirror. I like color in my wardrobe, wear a little color in my eye shadow, soft blush colors, and quickly went back to some foundation to even out my skin tone. I had some bad fashion and makeup experiments in my youth just like my daughters, but I’m older, wiser and I hope my “look” is acceptable because I’ve grown fond of it and sticking to what makes me feel good.

  44. You go girl! I think you are right, Nina…these rules have evolved and changed with the times…though some women do not know that. I remember a couple of my older teachers with bright red cheeks…but I do think of them fondly. Glad you liked the post and the discussion after it!

  45. I agree with all the other posts. Wear what looks good and makes you happy. For me, I have purplish circles under my eyes so purple shadow only makes that worse. Otherwise I would wear it. The only thing I think most of us would prefer to stay away from is lots of glitter!

  46. I wear all colors of eyeshadows and I’m 61. I do tend to wear mostly mattes, but a deep colored eye crease combined with a -tiny- bit of shimmer at the center of the lower lid helps with the hooded eyes I and many women have. I would not wear a bright purple, but wear eggplant and plum regularly. Everyone who enjoys makeup should check out all the you tube tutorials on how to do eye makeup on hooded, aging eyes. You can see the various techniques and decide which ones suit. Another great tip that really brightens your eyes is to use a whitish (or very light nude pink) soft liner in the lower waterline. It makes you look awake.

  47. I agree, Pam…we need to look at the entire eye area before deciding what is best and that is why we all will have a different combination of makeup just for us. And ….lots of glitter has never been an option for me…even when I was younger!

  48. So true, Linda. Youtube tutorials are great help…thanks for bringing that up. You were full of good help here. I am a huge fan of eggplant purple and that is the only color I wear on my eyes…as well as my body. It perhaps my favorite color and I love it on my nails…wearing it right now!

  49. Yes! For the record, I have dark brown hair, green eyes, wear glasses and wear PURPLE EYESHADOW …and yes purple eyeliner too. It is not garish or aging and I love it! It makes my eyes pop and I have no plans on stopping at this point. I’m 58 and fabulous! I’m with you sister!

  50. My twin!! Glad to have so much support and see so many enjoying the world of feeling great on the outside and inside.

  51. My husband just “barely” gets away with the staring – “What are you wearing?!” He can do it because I know he loves me and wants me to look nice when I leave the house! I see so many “ladies” my age and older (almost 60!) that would benefit from a little MORE makeup! After years of “fun in the sun” my skin is not leaving my house without foundation, blush/bronzer and doing my “eyes”! Not a “full makeup, we’re going to a wedding” application, but a “I want to look nice for myself” effort. As for that lady that approached you in the manner she did…Bless.Her.Heart!

  52. I have highlighted blonde hair with dark brown eyes and fair to medium skin. Beauty consultants suggest brown, coral/peach, and olive eye shadows. I usually stick with neutrals with just a touch of beige glimmer in the middle of my eyelid right below the crease. I would love to wear a blue or a purple tone sometimes but they make me look like I have a black eye. I think you are lucky to have green eyes! Heck, if I were you, I would add a subtle auburn tint to my hair! You only live once!

  53. Hmmm…I will have to think about that one, Marcia. My daughter has auburn in her hair and it is beautiful… you might be on to something. Thanks!

  54. Speaking of mothers- my mom would ALWAYS say to me every time I saw her, ” Marcia, put on some lipstick- you are too old not to wear lipstick in public. (I was 40.) after hearing that 100 times, I learned to apply lipstick before I saw her! I sure miss her!

  55. You were a lot more polite then I would have been! I know I should never lower myself to others standards, according to my mother, but it is very difficult at times. I too have hazel eyes and wear glasses all the time and color is a necessity if I don’t want to disappear into the walls. Purple and pink are great for hazel eyes!

  56. Thanks Sandi! I just try to give blessings for insults and then not worry about them again! I need to try pink…haven’t done that. Thanks.

  57. So sweet that you miss her…that kind of mother/daughter relationship is so special…keep putting on that lipstick!

  58. I had to laugh at this one. Why you may ask? Because as of late I have been lining my eyes with purple shadow. I think I started it because you, like me, have hazel eyes and I think I read on your blog that you do that. So I tried it and I love it. I’m 59 and I can’t imagine not wearing eye shadow. Not yet anyway. Your eyes are lovely by the way.

  59. I wear purple eye shadow all the time! I have medium brown eyes and the purple lightens them up and makes them stand out more. I recently had my makeup done at a cosmetic counter, and the woman there chose purple for my eyes as well. I will say that I had my makeup done because my skin has changed over the past year and I wanted to find something that would even out my skin tone, but I do plan to use makeup indefinitely.

  60. So who died and made her the eyeshadow police?! You just right on ahead and “own” your purple eye make up. I think the photo poses you used to illustrate your blog post were totally cute.

  61. This type of conversation you had with this woman always floors me. How is this any of her business? What prompts someone to provide unsolicited advice like this? I have belonged to Facebook groups for transitioning to grey hair (I stopped colouring my hair 15 years ago, but I like to support the transitioning ladies) and the number of times women post about conversations such as yours is astounding. “You will look old” “Why are you giving up on yourself?” and the like. For someone who has made herself vulnerable by going against societal norms, these comments can be devastating; hence, the Facebook groups. Okay, I totally didn’t directly answer your question LOL Rock the purple, baby!

  62. LOL…I will rock the purple and someday join you with the fabulous gray hair. So sad, you need a Facebook group to keep it positive. Why have we all become so critical? Thanks for being here Eliza!

  63. I’m 62 with hazel eyes. I only started wearing makeup 3 years. (In my teens, my nana told me to wait till I was older when I needed it. Is 62 old enough? ?). I tried neutral colors and they did nothing for me. Then I tried purple shadow and liner. What a difference! You go,girl!

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