I have a confession to make. I’ve been getting a ton of compliments on my complexion as of late, and friends are asking, “What are you doing to your skin? Did you change your diet? You’re glowing!” And, I respond with: “Nothing new. Just using my same old Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer ($43).” But the truth is, I’m adding a second, secret product to the mix and being mum about it: a rose gold highlighting powder. It’s magic. Okay, not really magic, but as close to magic as your complexion can get. I’m using MAC’s Extra Dimension Skinfinish Superb which is, sadly, no longer available.
A rose gold highlighter gives the most awesome shimmery, lit-from-within glow to the skin. I’ve been a fan of highlighters to “highlight” key points on my face for years, but it wasn’t until I switched to a rose gold highlighter that I received this onslaught of compliments.
Why is this? I’m not entirely sure, but here’s my educated guess: Champagne-hued highlighters offer a golden sheen, which looks great on tanned skin, but can appear slightly yellow and even sallow on a paler complexion. But rose gold is like an instant brightener for all skin tones – pale to tan. Unlike a white highlighter, rose gold blends into most skin colors. And it’s such a subtle shade that it’s not obvious you’re even wearing makeup (perhaps just a few misplaced flecks of shimmer?), hence the compliments on the natural glow.
But then there’s an added secret weapon that really sets the rose gold highlighter into the skin. It’s the Becca The One Perfecting Brush ($49), a multitasking powerhouse of a makeup brush that effortlessly covers large areas of skin with one sweep – or press – of the bristles. This brush has changed my makeup application life! I use it solely for my highlighting needs by creating the shape of a “t” on my forehead, pressing vertically onto cheekbones, dabbing onto chin and bridge of nose, and a light tap onto the nose labia, or folds that go from mid-nose to jawline. BUT, this brush receives rave reviews for applying foundation and powder as well. The secret lies in the brush’s length – about 3.5 inches – and non-porous bristles which allow powders and creams to sit on top rather than absorb into the brush. So, once you take brush to skin, the transfer of product is seamless and vibrant. If you’re a master with brushes (or painting), you can utilize the edges and corners of this brush to contour, swipe, wipe, define, and so much more.
So, there you have it. My secret to a natural complexion isn’t exactly natural. But I’m all for a few key products that give the illusion of seriously awesome genetics.
Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed in Rose Gold ($38) – MAC’s rose gold highlighter is no longer available, and this one matches shade for shade rather nicely.
Becca Limited Edition The One Perfecting Brush ($49) – The same great brush but with a limited-edition gold handle.
You may have heard the term “strobing” being thrown around in beauty articles these past couple of weeks. Strobing is certainly grabbing a lot of attention as of late. And for good reason: Strobing is all about getting attention. It’s sort of a fancy term for a strategic highlighting technique that literally highlights certain areas of your face (usually the high points), as a way to draw focus to those features.
Still don’t quite get it? We called on celebrity makeup artist Hinako, who has worked with Miranda Kerr and Leighton Meester, to explain further. “To me, strobing is all about ‘painting’ luminescent highlights on certain areas of your face, rather than contouring your face with light-to-dark shading. It’s like ‘painting the light’ on your face for a healthy, fresh, and radiant look.” Don’t worry, you’re not required to have taken art class to ace this technique. Hinako explains how to easily achieve the strobing effect:
How-To: “I prefer using a combination of both strobing cream and powder. First, apply strobing cream in the places where light naturally hits your face, such as your cheekbones, down the bridge of the nose, the top side of the chin, the brow bones and the corners of your eyes, creating a seamless blend to the adjacent areas. As I mentioned before, it’s like painting on or augmenting where light naturally hits your face – the highlight areas. Next, add luminescent powder on the same areas, creating shimmery highlights. It’s up to you to play with – and choose – the amount of shimmer that works with your face and what you’re wearing. Remember to choose strobing creams and powders that match your skin tone, and that they don’t contain any glitter.”
Hinako’s Product Picks:
Tom Ford’s Shade and Illuminate ($80)
Koh Gen Do Aqua Foundation Illuminator Sheer Beige ($39)
Nars Dual Intensity Blush in Jubilation ($45)
Charlotte Tilbury Wonderglow Instant Soft-Focus Beauty Flash ($55)
Jouer Highlighter in Champagne ($22)
Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Luminous Light ($45)
Final thoughts: “Strobing is a relatively quick way to give yourself a fresh look, so have fun with it.”
We all crave that lit-from-within glow that mimics an angel basking in the light of her halo. Very, very, very few people actually have this glow genetically (Cate Blanchett excluded), so we are forced to fake it. Thankfully, there are a plethora of illuminating products on the market that highlight our high points (i.e. cheekbones, brow bones, bridge of nose, cupid’s bow), resulting in dewy, glowing skin that looks as though it’s lit-from-within.
When it comes to illuminizers, there are a variety of formulas and applicators to choose from: You can go with a powder for sparkle that sits on top of the skin. Try a cream for a more dewy, precise application. Then there’s liquid for all-over glowiness, to be worn alone or added to a moisturizer or foundation.
Josie Maran has taken their cult-classic Argan Enlightenment Illuminizer ($26), repackaged it and repurposed it into a creamy wand, the Argan Enlightenment Illuminizing Wand ($28) and a sheer powder compact, the Argan Enlightenment Illuminizing Veil ($30). Each formula and applicator can be used for different areas of the face and to achieve different results, depending how you like your glow. The wand is ideal for on-the-go spot treatment, the powder offers a more subdued lustre, while the liquid is a go-to for the entire face and can be worn alone to up-the-ethereal-ante. All of the formulas create a healthy champagne sheen on the skin, and each is made with Josie Maran’s star ingredient, Argan oil, to nourish and brighten.
If you can’t choose between the three, do as I do and combine them: Liquid mixed with foundation for that inner glow, spot treat with the cream wand on specific areas like brow and cheekbones, and finish it off with the powder which locks it all in for a sheer, silky finish.
*For tricks on highlighting, click here.
One of the trickiest beauty application techniques to learn is that of highlighting and contouring. Over my almost ten years as a beauty writer, I have had the opportunity to interview some of the most important makeup artists in the business and I am always fascinated with their ability to transform the shape of a face. Create cheekbones, thin a nose, raise the eyebrows – with makeup, not surgery. Of course, sculpting and defining is quite complex but here are my favorite basic tips that I have acquired – and use – to contour and highlight.
1. Start by priming your skin. Click here for all of the reasons a primer is necessary but a quick recap, a primer will keep makeup on longer. This is key to creating your flawless complexion. Primers to try: Joey New York Correct-A-Line ($36); Clarins Flash Balm ($45); Nars Pro Prime Oil-Free Pore Refining Primer ($34)
2. Use a BB cream, tinted moisturizer, or foundation over the entire face. Apply with a sponge or foundation brush to give skin a more airbrushed, natural look. I’m really loving BB creams for coverage and color correction. Try Amore Pacific Color Control Cushion Compact Broad Spectrum SPF 50+ ($60); Kiehl’s Actively Correcting & Beautifying BB Cream SPF 50 ($37)
3. Skip powder and go directly to your bronzer. Using bronzer as your contour, or dark shade, gives the technique a very fresh and natural look. But make sure the bronzer is matte.
In an interview I did with Josie Maran (read here), she offered up the best trick for applying bronzer. “Make the number 3 from your temple down to your chin. So with your bronzer brush, start at your forehead, curve into your cheekbone as if you were writing the number 3 and then curve under your chin. Apply on both sides, so a backwards 3 and a regular 3, on each side of your face,” explained Josie. I use this every time I apply bronzer. Some favorite matte bronzers: Tarte Matte Waterproof Bronzer Park Avenue Princess Matte ($29); Serge Lutens Blusher ($160)
4. I read somewhere that the trick to highlighting is all in the application. An easy and fast foolproof technique is to create a heart shape with your fingers. Line up the top of the heart just above eyebrows and the bottom, or tip, of the heart at your cupid’s bow. Inside this space is where you apply highlighter. It works so well with Josie’s “3” bronzer application technique. You are basically highlighting bridge of nose, cupids bow, brow bone, and cheek bone. I suggest using a powder highlighter with this technique. Try Stila All Over Shimmer Powder in Kitten (I use the lightest shade in the duo) ($22); Dolce & Gabbana The Illuminator Glow Illuminating Powder (I suggest Eva, which is a sheer, colorless shimmer) ($50)
5. Now you just have to go over your work. Sculpt a bit, if you will. A Make Up For Ever makeup artist once gave me the best advice regarding sculpting cheekbones. She said to think of your face as having peaks and valleys. The peaks, like mountains, are the high points of the face – cheekbones, top of forehead, nose, tip of chin. The valleys, or low points, are any area that curves inward, like directly under your cheekbones (the hollow of your cheeks), sides of nose, the area between your under eye and your cheekbone. Contour, or sculpt, the valleys with your dark shade, highlight the peaks.
Here’s how I do it: I apply a very small amount of my dark shade to the tip of my forehead, tip of my chin, and directly on my cheek bone (feel for where the indentation begins, apply on the bone starting from your hairline and going inwards to about the outer corner of your eye). Make sure to blend the dark shade! Then apply your highlighter above the cheekbone, directly under your eyes (outer corner only), brow bone, cupid’s bow, and you can even do a small amount above your brow bone as well. Try Make Up For Ever Sculpting Kit ($48). It comes with the two shades – dark and light – and you can choose from 4 options, Tom Ford Beauty Shade and Illuminate ($75), another duo that has the dark and light powders combined in one compact.
6. Now you can use a liquid or cream highlighter for an extra dewy kick, but apply sparingly. If you’ve truly sculpted your face with the powders, you really only need a bit on the edge of your cheekbones, brow bone, and cupid’s bow. My absolute favorite cream highlighter is RMS Living Luminzer ($38). It provides the perfect dewiness to the skin and the formula is all-natural (I use it on my eyelids too for a glossy look!) and works for all skin tones.
On my July 4th Beauty Essentials post, I discussed the importance of a highlighter to take your look from day to evening (recap here). With the 2012 S/S runways showing off dewy skin as the trend du jour, highlighting is no longer limited to the brow and cheek bones, it has become a product staple and a beauty technique worth mastering.
Highlighting is, perhaps, one of my favorite beauty secrets that I’ve picked up through working with makeup artists. It really can change an entire look, inject life into an otherwise lifeless face and give you an inner glow, an extra few hours of sleep, more accentuated cheekbones and even wide set eyes in a matter of minutes. These days, highlighters come in a variety of formulas – from liquid to powder to cream to highlighting cover-ups, and each has a specific purpose.
Here is my crash course in highlighting:
Liquid Highlighters: I like to use liquid when I want an all over glow. This consistency is easiest to use if mixed with a tinted moisturizer or foundation and applied to the entire face and décolleté. Rule of thumb: use 1 part liquid illuminator to 2 parts foundation. You can also spot treat with liquid, but be careful to first work the substance around in your hand and fingers before lightly dabbing on your face.
TRY: Burberry Fresh Glow, the best dewy skin in a bottle that money can buy; Benefit High Beam, great for spot treating cheek and brow bones.
Cream Highlighters: This consistency is like a solid liquid and is perfect for applying with fingers to bridge of nose, inner and outer corners of eyes (gives the illusion of wide set eyes), above the bow of lip, and brow and cheek bones. It keeps with the dewy trend and works best when applied at the end of makeup application.
TRY: NARS Copacabana, a stick of shimmery champagne; RMS Living Luminizer (I use this on my eyelids for a glossy eye too!); Jouer Highlighter in Camellia, the perfect multipurpose illuminator.
Powder Highlighters: Powder is great to layer over either a liquid or cream highlighting product, but use this last. Apply with a big brush and you can either lightly dust all over the face and décolleté or focus on cheekbones (which is what I prefer. Rule of thumb: When a powder is applied over a cream, makeup application will last longer! Then I’ll usually dip my finger into the powder and dab onto my brow bone for extra illumination, therefor accentuating my arches.
TRY: Stila All Over Shimmer Duo in Kitten, two colors that swirl together for varying degrees of pinky shimmer.
Highlighting Cover-Ups: The most famous illuminating stick is most certainly YSL’s Touche Eclat. Since its growing popularity, brands have been trying to duplicate the pen-like applicator that spills out part highlighter and part cover-up, perfect for awakening tired eyes and lining lips to accentuate the cupid’s bow (I also use this when applying a bold-hued lipstick so that the color won’t bleed or feather). These “pens” are also ideal for lightly highlighting the bridge of nose and even a dot on the chin to open up the face.
TRY: Dior SkinFlash Radiance Booster Pen (I like 002), my absolute favorite highlighting pen (love it even more than YSL’s Touche Eclat). Bright eyes in a swipe plus more!
*image: Oscar de la Renta S/S 2012