A Spotlight on Your Makeup

6th April 2018

Achieving a gorgeous ‘lit from within’ glow is much easier than you think, explains Lisa Botwright

I met up with an old friend in a wine bar a little while ago, a friend I’ve known for decades. As we chatted across a table full of flickering candlelight, I noticed something different about her. ‘Your skin looks amazing,’ I remarked, transfixed by the way the light was dancing off her cheekbones. “What have you been buying?,” I quizzed. The answer was a new highlighter – a simple addition to her evening makeup that had made such a difference.

Highlighters are definitely having a moment. There’s a bewildering array of all kinds of colours, from rose gold to champagne, and textures, from powder to liquid. There are highlighters to mix-up with your foundation, ones with applicators built-in to apply straight from the bottle and others to use with a brush. There’s an equally befuddling range of terms: strobing, contouring, highlighting – what’s the difference? But then there’s the alluring romance of the names: ‘Candlelight Glow’ (Too Faced) or ‘Ethereal’ (Hourglass Ambient Light Powder).

With uncharacteristic closed-mindedness, I’d completely dismissed it all as something for teenagers, or for people who spend a lot of time in front of the camera. If my 16-year-old wants to go out with vivid gold cheekbones, then that’s up to her. But I’ve revised my opinion. A little subtle application is all it takes to dramatically update and lift your entire look.

‘Contouring’ can be tricky to master, and means using dark and light makeup to enhance the natural light and shade of the contours of your face. There’s a really simple trick that a makeup artist once showed me, of using your usual bronzer (the best type is one without too much sparkle, a couple of shades darker than your own skin tone) and drawing an exaggerated ‘3’ down each side of your face. Start just above your eyebrow, move around the eye and under your cheekbone, then back again and finish along your jawline.
That’s contouring the easy way.

Highlighting, also known as strobing, is the yang to the yin of contouring, and focuses entirely on creating light and luminescence. It’s great for enhancing the cheekbones, certainly, but also to add light to the inner corners of your eyes, which will open them up, or to outline your Cupid’s bow to give the illusion of fuller lips.

The secret is to find a shade that works well with your skin tone – so in this way it’s just like finding the right foundation. You’re blending it with your base, so choose a liquid if you like a dewy finish, and a powder atop a matte powder base. Are you cool or warm toned? (If you’re not sure – ask yourself if, given the choice, would you suit a cool pink lipstick, or a warm orangey one?) Benefit’s High Beam is my new best friend, and its satiny pink radiance works well with my cool, fair skin. I put three or four dots along my cheekbones and tap into my skin with my finger to blend. The rose gold pigment of the Charlotte Tilbury Light Wand suits warmer and deeper skin tones and its sponge applicator makes it really easy to apply.

This isn’t about adding sparkle or unnatural shine, but using light-reflecting technology to bring flattering radiance to your skin. It’s highlighting for grown-ups, and I’m hooked.

Benefit High Beam £22 benefitcosmetics.com; Hollywood Beauty Light Wand £29 charlottetilbury.com

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