How To... Use Luminizer

Luminizer...Highlighter...Illuminator...Shimmer -- What are these things and why on earth would I want to use them? Luminizer/Highlighter/Illuminator/Shimmer (turns out they are all essentially the same thing) is a powerful addition to your beauty arsenal and one you definitely want to learn to use.

Whatever name they go by, the secret ingredients in these products are minerals that, when ground up, add an opalescent, light-reflecting pop. Minerals like mica, iron oxides or carmine catch light and draw the eye in, thereby adding a slight shine and radiant quality wherever they are placed. The genius is that they give that warm, glowing, lit-from-within appearance without being overly greasy or glittery. These products can typically be applied over other products like foundation, powder or blush, but because of their luminescence, they don't look caked or heavy.

Luminizers come in a wide variety of formulations: powder, cream, liquid and solid. Some might have some advantages (liquids might last a bit longer), but they all pretty much work the same way. Confused about where to begin? The face is a natural place to start experimenting with the wonders of luminizing.

- The easiest trick is to apply some luminizing powder or liquid to the very tops of the cheekbones (above and slightly to the side of the area where blush is typically placed). This gives the skin a fresh, dewy appearance and calls attention to killer cheekbones. Try Benefit's HighBeam ($24) or MoonBeam ($24) or, on the cheaper side, Wet n Wild's MegaGlo Face Illuminator.

- Another classic idea is to highlight the corners of the eyes. Conventional wisdom dictates that this opens up the eyes, making you appear more awake and alert. This can be helpful on days when beauty sleep is lacking. The hands-down, cult fav is YSL's Touche Eclat ($40) which is also commonly used over concealer to brighten up the under-eye area as well.

- Now that you have the hang of it, try placing a small amount on the Cupid's bow of your lips. This will slightly accent the contour, making them look ever-so-slightly fuller. Try fresh Satin Luster Face Palette ($45 and shown above).

- For an advanced maneuver, try placing a thin, very thin stripe of highlight down the bridge of the nose. This acts to draw the light to that area and can give the illusion of a narrower nose. Take care, however, because if done in a heavy-handed way, the result is a big, shiny nose.

- With finely ground shimmer, dust over the entire face for an especially ethereal look. Try Sole Beauty's The Illuminator ($36), helpfully sold with its own kabuki brush, or Almay PureBlends Loose Finishing Powder ($14).

- Similarly, mix some liquid highlighter with your regular foundation or tinted moisturizer for the same effect. Generally a mix of three parts foundation to one part highlighter works well. MAC Strobe Cream ($30) is a favorite of professionals for this purpose.

As in all things makeup, less is more. So keep the highlight shimmer to a few strategic places, not all of them. Stay tuned for even more uses for highlighter coming up!



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