If you've scrolled through Instagram at all in the past few days (okay, let's be real: hours), chances are high you've seen at least one shot of what we call "Instagram skin." You'd recognize it in a heartbeat: it's light-reflective and glistens from every angle, and the wearer's cheeks usually look akin to a glazed donut or dewy dumpling. Makeup artists like Katie Jane Hughes and Nam Vo have made it part of their signature artistry aesthetic, and all we can do is vigorously dab highlighter on our cheekbones to try and mimic their technique. But the thing about Instagram skin is that it's not just limited to your cheekbones. Something these makeup artists do is making their skin seem to glow from within, with dewiness emanating from every angle of their face. But try as we might to copy their glow (not least of which involves buying every product they recommend), most of the time we come up short. Thus, when Katie Jane Hughes herself stopped by the Byrdie offices and shared a primer technique called "killing the edges" that she swears is the key to luminescent skin, we immediately took notes.
Keep scrolling to find out the secret technique to getting dewy Instagram skin in real life!
Hughes, who has gained over 200K Instagram followers for her stunning makeup artistry and signature glow-y skin, told me that the key to getting Instagram skin in real life is all about your primer technique. She swears by Korean makeup brand VDL's Lumilayer Primer ($32)—a hydrating, pearlescent primer with a light, watery finish—but it's not just about applying the product before your foundation. She said that the secret is all about application: instead of rubbing the primer in vigorously like you would a moisturizer or skincare product, she prefers to apply it lightly on the skin to "kill the edges" (think of how you'd smooth out any harsh lines if you were painting a wall), but to leave a light layer on that sits on top of the skin.
"A lot of people will DM me asking why they aren't getting the dewy finish they see in my photos, even if they're using the right products," she explains. "If you rub the primer in all the way, half of it will end up on your fingers, and the rest will be in your skin, so you won't get the glow-giving effect." Instead, she demonstrated her preferred primer technique on her hand, where she applied a dollop, then lightly rubbed it in to smooth out any streaks (a.k.a. "kill the edges,"), leaving a light layer of the primer still glistening on her hand. After that, Hughes says you can either wait a few minutes for the product to sink in, which leaves a layer of the pearlescent finish on top of the skin or apply your favorite foundation directly on top. Another trick to getting that Instagram-skin sheen? Mix your favorite pearly primer with your foundation—Hughes says she uses a 60 to 40 ratio of primer to a foundation.
So, there you have it—the secret to getting skin like a glazed donut is all about applying your primer as lightly as possible and leaving a light layer behind. Your new makeup mantra: the lighter the hand, the dewier the skin.
Click here for 10 products that give you "mirror glaze" skin!