Get Your Glow On
I have never been a huge makeup wearer. Pancake foundation and the Cleopatra-Kim-Kardashian eye just aren’t my cup of tea. I wish I can say it’s because I’m naturally beautiful or I’m really earthy, but that isn’t true. I’m just lazy when it comes to cosmetics. I can’t be bothered dedicating even a minute to a flawless concealer application or selecting the right eyeshadow shade on a daily basis.
Granted, I never had the kind of career (or lifestyle) that called for it. I was not destined to be a model, makeup artist, or entertainer. Regardless, I’ve always harbored just a fraction of self loathing when it comes to this.
Don’t be fooled. I am a tried and true girlie-girl. My wardrobe would be considered feminine by most, I love pink and lace and accessories, too. My nails are always manicured, and I do them myself (thank you very much). As for makeup, I have been a committed lipstick and mascara wearer since high school Freshman year. And I have the big makeup guns on hand because every once in a while an occasion does call for more effort. Shimmery liners, cream shadows, heavenly rich lipstick; I have them all. A few times a year they are called to duty if I have an event to attend, or an upscale date with my husband rolls around. But I feel like a complete disaster whenever that time comes. I am always afraid of overdoing it.
In the past year, I’ve been a bit hung up by the signs of aging. I’m spending way too much time in front of my bathroom mirror, paying particular attention to dullness and discoloration. Basically, I’m feeling really self-conscious about my skin. I never had an acne problem (thank God), but the emerging fine lines and occasional dullness have compelled me to try a little harder most days of the week.
I got brave recently and added a new product to my meager makeup repertoire: tinted moisturizer. Basically the sheerest base you can find, and so light in its coverage there is plenty of room for error. This is necessary for me and my perceived skill level. I love how there is no obvious color difference between my neck and face. And I have to admit, I look so much better with my skin evened out just a bit. And it is super lightweight, also necessary for me. There is nothing worse than a thick layer of foundation. It can feel like a mask. Who wants to run to the mirror all day long to see if everything is in place?
I love the dewy, just-a-bit-of-shine-on-my-skin look. While I have found a low maintenance foundation I can live with, the powder product I need to set it with has been elusive. On me, most powders look phony. And until now I hadn’t found the powder product to get the job done. The perfect formula to set the little bit of foundation I may apply, and give me that just right hint of a glow, without looking too Las Vegas showgirl. That something I can wear confidently throughout the day without feeling like a slave to it. Or a clown for that matter.
I have finally found it, the Holy Grail!
If mascara and lipstick are the reliable players in the dance, then shimmer illuminating powder is the undisputed belle of the makeup ball. One flourish across each cheekbone and you go from so-so to positively lit-from-within, and all in a matter of seconds. It just pulls it all together so beautifully.
For all the fashionistas and cosmetic aficionados out there, Guerlain’s Spring 2012 Limited Edition Cruel Gardenia proved to be the must have item of the year. An absolutely sublime shimmer powder, presented in the sleek black packaging Guerlain is known for. But alas, it quickly sold out everywhere. I contacted all high end retailers and Guerlain’s headquarters. All confirmed it is no longer available. Of course some are selling it on Ebay at ridiculously high prices, in some cases quadruple the $67 price. I did see a few international sellers asking for a more reasonable $85-$95. Still, in my opinion not worth it when there are many quality products out there to try.
I decided to start my quest by finding an illuminating powder under $20. I was doubtful. In my twenty plus years of experience wearing makeup to some degree, higher end products have always proven to be a bit more pigmented, and therefore had better staying power. But I would give it a go.
I am familiar with Avon products, and given the affordability of their makeup, the smart move was to begin there. The company’s Mark line is for the younger and more hip set, and I was excited to find out it has two illuminating palettes available.
The first one I tried is Mark Touch & Glow Shimmer Cream Cubes All Over Face Palette, which can be yours for only $16. Nine shimmering “cubes” of gold, peach and bronze, and varying shades of pink comprise this product. Individual cubes can be used with a precision brush to sweep the creamy formula across eyelids for a pretty look. Or with one swirl of a kabuki brush, all shades can be blended and swept across the cheekbones and forehead for a glow suitable for all skin tones.
The other is Mark All The Highlights Soft Glow Illuminator, also $16. This is very much a powder formula, combining four shades: a light shimmery peach, a darker bronze-y peach, a pale and muted pink, and a subtle plum. Like the Touch & Glow, individual shades can be used for highlighting, or a sweep across all four shades produces a universally flattering light veil of shimmer. The bright pink butterfly in the center is merely an accent; its pigments are only on the surface. It is easily brushed away to reveal the four shades which comprise the palette.
Remarkably, both are oh so versatile, flattering all skin tones, leaving a soft luminescence. All The Highlights is a limited edition product. I plan on getting my hands on as many of these as I can. Yes, I love it that much. And I say the same about Touch & Glow (one of Mark’s all time best sellers, by the way). Both leave a dreamy candlelight shimmer on my skin. I just feel pretty. Of the two, Touch & Glow is the creamier formula, while All The Highlights has a more powdery feel to it. Both are buildable, too. A light sweep of your brush may give you what you need for a daytime look, with a few more sweeps creating a more dramatic look reserved for evening.
Both have notable staying power, wearing well all day. I thought my face looked great even eight hours later. It is worth noting that my skin is neither oily or dry.
The verdict? With each costing a mere $16, what a real bang for the buck! I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the pigments. Both made me feel beautiful and confident, and have found a home in my makeup bag.
Continuing my experiment, I decided to go a step up price-wise and checked out Benefit’s line of powders, which can be had for $28. Some may call this product a blush. With the hint of shimmer and subtlety of it I would consider it an illuminator. While any one shade will not flatter all skin tones, they have over eight shades with catchy names. You are sure to find your fit. For the gals who are into pink tones, try Sugarbomb (a brighter pink), Dandelion (my favorite, a light pink with a hint of shimmer), Hervana (two deep pink shades mixed with a pale shell and peachy tone) and 10 (a pale shimmery pink with a light bronze for the perfect contour). For the ladies with warm based complexions, we have Coralista (a warm orange tone and hint of shimmer), Dallas (a beautiful bronze rose), and Hoola (a true bronze to give you that sun kissed look, more mattifying than shimmery).
Taking my skin tone, and the look I wanted to achieve, into consideration, I decided to test drive Dandelion, the pretty sheer ballerina pink. Given the pale pigments, I figured there would be room for error. While I did find this product flattering (it left a slight shimmer on my cheekbones, and I did feel feminine and pretty wearing it), after trying Mark’s two palettes, Dandelion just didn’t have that za-za-zoo I was looking for. Given the difference in pigments and the much lower price, for me Mark comes out on top here.
It was time to try something new, and move up on the price scale a bit. I wanted to try one more quality product that would not break the bank. I settled on the quite divine Shimmer Brick compact by Bobbi Brown, which can be yours for $39.
This compact comes in seven different shades to satisfy all skin tones. I purchased Pink Quartz, which would best flatter mine. When I cracked open the compact for the first time, all I wanted to do was ooh and aah at the five shimmering, delectable shades staring back at me. I swirled my brush across all five, and very lightly swept it across my cheekbones. I am glad I wasn’t heavy handed. The beautiful, light color and shimmer left on my cheeks was substantial. It created a much more dramatic look with one application, compared to Mark and Benefit.
It has been widely reported the newly minted Duchess of Cambridge, Catherine Middleton, applied her own makeup on her big day last year, and did so knowing she would have a worldwide audience of over a billion people (if that doesn’t scream confidence, I don’t know what does). It was also reported she was instructed before the wedding by Hannah Martin, one of Bobbi Brown’s veteran makeup artists, and the Duchess selected Ms. Brown’s products for herself and her sister, Philippa. While the actual products used that day have not been officially revealed, Ms. Brown herself has suggested Shimmer Brick Pink Quartz adorned the cheeks of the future Queen. Her sister Philippa chose Shimmer Brick Bronze for her own gorgeous glow. Each sister dusted their shade of choice over the blush already applied to complete their perfect look.
The result? Ethereal, picture perfect luminescence.
Shimmer Brick has found a home in my product stash, though I will probably reserve it for a more dynamic, evening look and either Mark palette can be my go-to for day. I love my Pink Quartz so much, I just might check out the other shades, too, and add one more to my arsenal when my budget allows. Perhaps the Rose Gold or Bronze for summer, or maybe the more subtle Beige will be my choice. We shall see.
What I love most about these products is how they can really pull together a low maintenance makeup application. All I need is a bit of my tinted moisturizer, a few sweeps of powder, a coat or two of mascara and a quick dab of lipstick. I feel pretty, even date worthy, without fussing with complicated eye makeup or other heavy products. A perfect solution, too, for the upcoming spring and summer, which can call for a lighter look.
Some of us out there may feel that shimmer, even a mere touch of it, is reserved for the youth. Absolutely not so! Just a few sweeps can make your cheekbones appear more prominent, your skin healthier, and you will feel ridiculously pretty. Also, instead of the pinks or bronzes we typically gravitate toward (depending on skin tone), try a palette with a hint of peach. It is the color of health. It goes on light, wakes up the skin, and looks great on everyone. Add a gorgeous illuminator to your makeup bag today.