If you were to have asked me back when I was a gung-ho little squid in my twenties with nay a face crease to be seen, I would have bellowed YES and then roughly thrust several (Benefit High Beam etc) in your face and told you what a moron you were not to use them everyday for all-over glow and delight.
NB: I am referring not to concealing illuminators, such as YSL’s Touche Eclat, but rather the tinted, gleaming skin luminising variety that are used all over the face, or for spot highlighting on cheekbones etc.
But now, as a more mature llama in her early thirties I am a little more reserved on both my use and endorsement thereof. For while liquid illuminators and highlighters are indeed a delicious way to achieve a flawless dew and gleam to the skin, they are not for everyone.
WHAT ‘NOT FOR EVERYONE’ MEANS:
- Those with large pores, fine lines/wrinkles, scarring or blemishes. This is because just like anything with shimmer, no matter how finely milled, it will exacerbate these things. (This is why you need to get your mum/granny off shimmery eye shadows, by the way.)
- Those with oily or sheeny skin: you should stick to cream or powder illuminators instead.
- Those with a lot of hyperpigmentation will need to fully conceal this before applying illuminator, as illuminators will (some say unfairly) highlight the uneven skin tone.
- Those who cannot be trusted to be light-handed. This is not body glitter, and this is not 1998.
– Those who have a habit of not blending thoroughly, or taking the time to check their makeup in a truth mirror before leaving the house.
However. When used correctly, skin illuminators can be a marvellous thing. Just ask one Cate Blanchett who is rather fond of them, and who has no qualms whatsoever using them on her (admittedly flawlessly smooth and event-toned) skin, and fierce cheekbones in particular.
They can make the skin appear to be well-rested and full of gorgeous, arrogant health, and glow in a way that is usually reserved for several high-strength peels, or taking a new lover. They create fantastic effects in photos, even if you choose to then filter the shit out of them for Instagram.
THE BEST WAY TO USE YOUR LIQUID ILLUMINATOR:
1. Added to moisturiser or primer for a subtle and believable ‘skin-level’ radiance. Be sure you choose the right tone for your skin, so that it looks like your skin, not something you have put on your skin. Alternatively, choose more of a ‘moisturiser’ style illuminator for this purpose, like MAC Strobe Cream. Just on primers, they are a terrific idea when using liquid illuminators, which have a habit of racking off after a few hours. Also a light dusting of loose powder to finish is not the worst thing you could do. Especially if you feel a bit too … gleamy.
2. Apply one part illuminator with two parts foundation for all over glow. I recommend this as a night time look only, just in case you look a bit too sparkly during the brutal light of day. Having said that, Armani Fluid Sheer is not too shimmery for day, as is hailed as the king for this.
3. Bronze illuminators are a wonderful way to get your face up to the tan level of your self-tanned body, and achieve a soft tanned glow. Apply gently all over the face underneath your foundation. (After primer if you’re using it.) You can also use these buffed gently onto areas you would normally use bronzer after having done your makeup, but be sure to only use over liquid foundation (always keep textures with like textures), be very light handed and if possible, use a cheek stippling brush (like the wonderful MAC 188 brush below) which buffs liquids and creams into the skin perfectly.
4. Use on top of blush. Adding some pinky luminiser on top of creme blush gives the best – and most long-lasting – result. Illuminators by themselves are usually not pigmented enough to act as blush. And nor should they be – their job is to throw light, not colour. This is me with Revlon Photoready Skinlights in Bare Light gently dabbed over my cheekbones, on top of some creme blush. Lovely subtle glow innit.
5. As a finishing product, illuminators beautifully highlight and skim the top of cheekbones and brow bones. Be sure to warm up the product thoroughly in your hand before applying, and it’s best to use a foundation brush for precision, although fingers will be fine, too. If in doubt, apply in a boomerang shape, starting under the highest point of your eyebrow and dabbing down around underneath the eye along the top of the cheekbones. Also on the top of the cupid’s bow. Adorable.
6. As a guitar pick.
LIQUID ILLUMINATORS I AM RATHER FOND OF.
Revlon Photoready Skinlights – They took them away from us years back, but thankfully the original skin illuminator is back. There are only three shades this time around (bronze light, bare light and pink light), but I find the bare light the perfect shade for my warm skin tone, (go for pink light, fair-skinned babes) and I happily dab it onto the high points of my face as a finishing product. It’s probably a bit to shimmery for me to blend with my foundation day to day, but if I’ve just had a facial, or am having a great skin day, or am heading out for an event, then I might add a drop (A DROP) into my foundation.
Tom Ford Skin Illuminator Fire Lust – a luxurious, sheer peachy-gold that is perfect for applying over creme blush, (I am not messing around when I say sheer, there is little point using this alone as a finishing product) or, if your skin tone is warm enough, added to your foundation for an all over gleam without any glitteryness or overt pearlescence, Just lovely good-skin-ness.God, Tom Ford is good. Someone let me know if he ever gets it wrong, won’t you? Annoying NB: This is out now but limited edition.
Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector – Wonderful as a skin-perfecting (hence the name) base underneath your foundation, and the perfect amount of glow but NOT shimmer to mix in with your foundation for a genuine your-skin-but-better look. Great too as a targeted highlighter, and I deeply enjoy using the tanned shade, Topaz, as a liquid bronzer on fun summery nights, and mixed with moistirser on my décolletage, or “booby area.”
Armani Fluid Sheer – The high priestess of liquid illuminators, this lush, makeup artist favourite does everything a grown up liquid luminiser should, from being used on its own or mixed with moisturiser for glow-from-within lightbulb skin, to the finishing touch on a perfectly dewy complexion. Shade #11 -a rosy, flushed hue – is extremely enchanting for cheeks and on pinker skin tones, while I love #10 for a more golden radiance.