As beauty editors, we’re constantly fielding questions about how to achieve—and maintain—a glowy complexion (join our Facebook group for some serious crowdsourcing on this topic).
Highlighting and strobing is nothing new, of course, but this year emphasis on gloss rather than glitter is a relatively fresh take. It’s all about about creating a translucent high-shine glow, and the key lies in capturing that super-healthy “just had my weekly facial” effect. Naturally there’s prep work to be done, but it’s far easier than you might think.
Keep scrolling for our step-by-step guide to nailing glossy skin.
Step 1: Cleanse and Tone
Good makeup always starts with clean, hydrated skin, and that’s especially true when it comes to getting your glow on. “When skin is dehydrated, it lacks elasticity; fine lines and under-eye circles often appear more pronounced, and skin tends to look flat,” explains The Harley Medical Group’s Justine Hextall, MD. “Hydrated skin just glows; it looks more plump and reflects light better, hence the term ‘glowing skin.’”
To get things started, give your skin a thorough cleanse; then follow with a balancing toner like Pixi Glow Tonic (£18), which does wonders for boosting your natural glow. If you’re feeling really fancy, here’s where you’d slip in a hydrating essence like the new Exuviance Probiotic Lysate Anti-Pollution Essence (£54). It’ll help seal in moisture and prep the skin for the next step.
Step 2: Mask it Up
Since moisture really is the key to radiance, take a tip from the K-beauty masters of flawless skin by following your cleanse-and-tone with a moisturising sheet mask like Saturday Skin’s Quench Intense Hydration Mask (£5), which comes packed with hyaluronic acid, watermelon and aloe vera to replenish dryness, soothe inflammation and refresh. After you’re done, massage in any leftover serum.
According to Francesca Neill, celebrity makeup artist and ambassador for Collection, this few seconds of DIY facial massage can reap huge benefits by relieving any tension in your face, and increasing blood and oxygen flow, which will result in a perkier, glowier complexion.
Step 3: Lock in Moisture
Time to lock it all in with a serum and moisturiser. Look for plumping, hydration-boosting ingredients like peptides, hyaluronic acid and lysine. We’re particular fans of the lightweight Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Pink Juice Moisturizer (£35), which floods skin with vitamins, antioxidants and amino acids, minus any heavy grease.
Step 4: Layer the Radiance
Glossy skin is all about the base, so start with a brightening primer like Benefit The POREfessional: Pearl Primer (£28). Makeup artist Katie Jane Hughes loves layering MAC Strobe Cream (£25) with just concealer where you need it for a serious glow-up.
Step 5: Keep Coverage Light
Like Hughes, Neill advises going light on foundation, applying coverage only where you really need it. “Your foundation should look light and dewy, not flat and matte, so steer clear of heavy formulas. Use the foundation to even out the skin tone and nothing more. If you have blemishes to cover, this is what concealer is for. Pick a concealer that blends well with the foundation, and be as targeted as possible—keep the full-coverage concealer to the blemish itself.” For a super-dewy finish, try La Mer Soft Fluid Long Wear Foundation SPF 20 (£90); if tinted moisturiser is more your thing, we recommend Lancôme Feel Good Foundation (£25).
Step 6: Glossy Highlights
Finish your look with a few super-glossy highlights along the brow bone, over the eyelids (a Katie Jane Hughes favourite—watch her Byrdie demo here), pressed along cheekbones and dabbed onto your Cupid’s bow. The products you can use for this are endless, from nourishing balms and dry oils to tailor-made glosses and liquid highlighters. To help you pick what’s right for you, we’ve rounded up a few of our favourite glossy highlighters below.
The core of hydrating oils in the centre of this creamy highlighting stick are what gives it such a dewy finish. While there are three shades, we recommend Moonstone for a translucent glow.
Good-old Bio-Oil is ideal for pressing over cheekbones and brown bones. As it’s a dry oil, it won’t interfere with your makeup too much either.
Leave matte setting powders out of the equation, and fix your makeup in place with this glowy setting mist instead. It comes in two shades—pearly Original and deeper Bronze.
Slick this over lids, lips and cheekbones and for a super-shiny gloss.
Blend this liquid highlighter under or over foundation for a juicy shimmer. It comes in seven shades, from neutral Pearl to lightly golden Prosecco Pop, universally flattering Rose Gold and deep Topaz.
Sensitive skin types, listen up: You know those rich ointments your dermatologist likes to recommend? They’re actually amazing highlighters. Cult balm Aquaphor is the perfect example of an ointment that’ll care for your skin while giving it some extra pop.