I am not a one-highlighter type of girl. In a past life (two weeks ago) I was highlighting my face pre- and post-foundation. I would say it's all about the proverbial 'glow,' but what it really comes down to is this: I just want to look 'naturally’ dewy without having to put in the time or effort of actually being healthy (Is exercise the gods way of cursing the human race? Real Q.), and that can be hard if you're someone who wears a fair amount of foundation. But recently, I’ve revised my routine—it being A) very time consuming to highlight twice and B) summer and New York’s heat/humidity combo is wreaking havoc on my makeup. I’m doing away with both my primer and my highlighter and moving on to better things—dewier things...luminizers.
Like I mentioned, foundations can suck the life out of my complexion. They become a barrier between your face and natural light, but the oil-control measure in most foundations is a necessary evil. I say evil only because it can make skin look a little lifeless—a look that is somewhat excusable in the winter, but in the summer, not so much. This is where luminizer comes in. A good luminizer can breathe life into you again, it can brighten or bronze your complexion, soften problem spots, and optimize dewiness. The easiest way to understand the difference between a luminizer and highlighter is in their application. A luminizer usually comes in a pump, and you apply it to your entire face whereas a highlighter is applied to specific areas—cheekbones, nose bridge, Cupid's bow—to add dimension to your face. You can even think of it as a substitute for your primer. Nothing should be on your face before applying, and you'll want to apply evenly. Then comes the foundation.
Now that you've got the technique down, let's assess the options. Luminizers are like every other sort of makeup: There are too many options, and you might see the need for different versions on different occasions.
For a starter luminizer, Charlotte Tilbury's Wonder Glow Instant Soft Focus Beauty Flash is amazing. The consistency is really light and easy to play with. It has no hue or tint and is only ever-so-slightly sparkly. It also softens problem spots more effectively than Blanche DuBois' high jinks. Bonus points because it smells amazing.
If the above is appealing but you're like me and dream almost exclusively of Liberace and his capes, then try the Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Pearl. The first pump is intimidating—it comes out as an opaque, white glitter. Applied on bare skin, it's still intimidating. But once it's under foundation, you'll understand how a white glitter can become a “natural' makeup staple. It's like sitting on the brightness key on your computer. All of a sudden, everything looks dark in comparison.
If your complexion doesn't interact well with pearl or pink finishes, try Burberry's Fresh Glow Luminous Fluid Base in No. 02 Golden Radiance— it might be the universal remote of luminizers. There is no possible way you, or I, or even my 13-year-old self could screw this up. This probably has to do with it being all sheen and (almost) no sparkle. Then there’s the tint in the luminizer that bronzes oh-so-subtly. Play with this as you please; pile it on and go without foundation, or put it under your foundation, and then add a little more on top of your foundation—heck, put it on your collarbone...it's limitless.
Luminizers have also solved my bronzer conundrum. Trying to layer a powder bronzer over my liquid foundation is a nightmare—I just instantly become cakey. Bronzing luminizers are game changers. The Becca one—same formula as the above but in Topaz— is great because you can control its opacity. The perk of applying foundation after is that whether you apply it with a light hand or really build it, it will all blend seamlessly. No more seasonal foundations!
If you're here and have read this whole thing like 'I don't wear foundation,' let me introduce you to Guerlain's Météorites Baby Glow. Baby Glow is the cool, low-maintenance French girl of the pack. I'd only really suggest with a foundation if you really need to build coverage. Otherwise, wear it alone! It’s kind of like a more glamorous BB cream. When applied evenly over your face, it deposits a sheen-free glow—perfect if you’re afraid of crossing the thin line between dew and sweat. Either way, the result is the most “je ne sais quoi' dew you’ll find in a tube.
Photographed by Tom Newton. For a more concentrated glow, ITG's favorite highlighters are right this way...