An illuminating powder is a product that emphasises your facial features when applied. It is almost like a spotlight for your best features.
It allows your face’s natural features to shine through, in comparison to the concept of contouring and highlighting where you’re altering the shape of your features.
The mineral dust in an illuminator is designed to refract light. So when you apply it to your skin it will diffuse and soften problem spots and highlight areas that light falls on. This means that you can diffuse your dark circles whilst making your cheekbones pop.
The most important thing to remember is that this is not a substitute for your foundation or concealer. Definitely don’t apply an illuminator to your whole face as you might just look like a light bulb!
It is really a complimentary product, like a blush or contouring cream. When light hits the area you applied your illuminator too it gives a sense of depth, unlike bronzers and highlighters, illuminators are essentially an all-in-one subtle glow-ifier.
They are available in liquid, cream and powder. I suggest that if you have skin that tends to be dry, stick to liquid and cream versions. If you have oilier skin, settle for powder versions. If you encounter high shine because of really oily skin, try applying a mattifier or setting spray beforehand and then dusting the illuminator on top. This should reduce the shine, especially if the area of concern is your forehead. They also come in a wide range of colours from pearlescent colours for fairer skins to warm golden colours for olive and dark skin tones.
By applying an illuminator you can fake a dewy younger-looking skin or imitate a flattering diffused glow on any shape or type of face. Trust me, you will definitely become addicted to the way it makes your inner eyes or cheekbones pop!
Essentially, as you mature, it is best to avoid too much sparkle or shine as it accentuates wrinkles and imperfections. Illuminators only have a hint of a pearlized pigment, which makes them a key product to your makeup routine. The best thing I love about illuminators is that you actually can apply them with makeup or without, or even the bare minimum. They really do create a wonderful glow.
How to apply illuminators
The best way to apply a powder illuminator is by using a soft blush brush. Swirl the brush to pick up the illuminator, shake off the excess and swirl or buff in a circular motion until you are satisfied.
I recommend trying Too Faced Absolutely Invisible Softly Illuminating Translucent Powder in Candlelight, Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder, Milani Illuminating Face Powder and Kevyn Aucoin Celestial Bronzing Veil.
For cream or liquid illuminators, take a small amount and dab along the area you want to emphasise. Use your fingers, sponge or beauty blender to blend accordingly. My favourite illuminators are Nars Illuminators in Copacabana, Laguna and Hot Sand, as well as Revlon’s PhotoReady Skinlights Face Illuminator and Maybelline’s Dream Lumi Touch Highlighting Concealer.
I suggest applying an illuminator to the top of the cheekbone, the centre of your nose and middle of your forehead and chin. If you want to make your lips appear bigger apply a small amount to your cupids bow. Or if you want your eyes to look bigger try placing a small amount in the corner of your eye and on the brow bone. This is especially helpful if you have nude lips or minimal eyes.
How to combine illuminators with your other products
If you have fallen in love with your illuminator but are not sure how to apply it alongside your other cheek products, I suggest the following routine.
- Apply your bronzer or contour to the hallows of your cheek.
- Apply your blush.
- Then apply your illuminator, most importantly along the top of your cheekbones, just under your eye.
Do you use illuminators? Any products you like to recommend?
Kelly is 40+Style’s makeup and beauty expert writer. She is a professional makeup artist currently residing in Singapore. For more information or bookings contact her through her website.