Saturday, January 28th, 2012

By Nita J., Virginia, Makeup Artist

Nita J is a strong advocate that true beauty lives in each and every individual. To her, makeup just enhances beauty and should never be used to mask the beauty that a person was born with. With her knowledge of makeup, cosmetic brands, marketing and the beauty industry, Nita J hopes to contribute as much as she can and instill in the minds of others that confidence and true beauty is soul-deep. You can check out her portfolio and her blog!


Transform Your Glow by Mixing Illuminators with Foundation

No matter what time of year it is, I find that most clients always want to accomplish a natural “glow” with their look. I personally have always liked a nice healthy, glowing complexion when doing my makeup on a daily basis, so I love trying out new products that would be me achieve this. An awesome tip that I tried once, fell in love with and kept it within my normal routine, is mixing a good illuminating product with foundation.

When you think of “glow,” most would reach into their beauty bag for a bronzer, which is perfectly fine. I tend to use an illuminating lotion rather than a bronzer because, for one, it blends into your foundation for a more seamless glow, and two, it looks more natural and tends to look a little more radiant.
When choosing and illuminating products, it’s best to use something that is sheerer (so that it doesn’t alter the color of your foundation), light, and doesn’t have a ton of shimmer, to give a more natural effect.

Think about it; when you “glow” naturally, your skin doesn’t produce large particles of glitter, right? Something with just a hint of shimmer will do the trick. There are many products out there that would help with this trick, but after trying numerous products, there are two in particular that I just love and can’t get enough of:

Smashbox Artificial Light Luminizing Lotion ($26.00) comes in three shades: Diffuse, which gives off a nice pearly effect, Flash, which has a hint of soft pink, and Glow, which is a soft, golden bronze. These are all great shades because of the lightweight feel and consistency of the lotion.  They also do not change the color of your foundation. I have found that “Flash” works on many of my clients, no matter their skin tone, and I reach for it all the time. All you need is just one to two pumps of the product and you get an awesome glow. I like to mix the lotion with foundation before applying to the face. This is definitely something that I keep in my personal kit as well as my professional kit.

This is another great product that will beautifully transform your foundation and give you a subtle glow, but make a great statement. This NARS Illuminator ($29.00) comes in four shades; a soft pearl shade called Copacabana, Laguna, which is a soft brown with golden shimmer, the best-seller, Orgasm, which is a peachy-pink lotion with a little shimmer, and Super Orgasm, also peachy-pink but with more of a golden, shimmery finish. All of these are great, but I have discovered that Copacabana and Orgasm looks amazing on just about anyone I apply it to. Just a very small amount of this product is needed to achieve a beautiful glow. Again, mix with foundation before applying to the face for maximum results!

With all of the illuminating products out there, what are some that you have tried and fell in love with? I’d love to know!

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36 thoughts on “Transform Your Glow by Mixing Illuminators with Foundation

  1. Selena

    Thank you for this post. I personally use Le Blanc de Chanel infused into Olay tinted moisturizer. And does two things: lightens up the TM and give a subtle glow to my face. I have very pale skin so I somewhat kill two birds with one stone here.

  2. Andrea

    Girl meats pearl by benefit is amazing!

  3. Andrea

    Benefit’s girl meats pearl is amazing! :D

  4. sunny

    this is a great post.

    i absolutely adore MAC lustre drops. I use the one in sun rush to attain a beautiful glowy bronzy finish. Will definitely try the Smashbox next =)

    For a more cheaper alternative, try the Boots illuminating lotion which you can purchase at Target! I love that, as well.

  5. Edelmc

    Love this post- I am a highlighting addict! I often mix strobe cream with my foundation but I am thinking of trying something with a thinner consistence as my foundation is liquid (mac face and body and Bobbi brown skin). I will defo try your recommendations- I love nars multiple in Luxor for a great cheek highlight. Something I tried recently is mac prep and prime skin enhancer in illuminate- great for multi tasking- primer, glow and SPF in one!

    • Em

      Go for Strobe Liquid. It’s the same as Strobe Cream, except it’s obviously thinner since it’s in liquid form.

  6. Thanks for your review! These sound lovely and. as an ‘older’ person, I’m looking for a highlighter (cool-toned, probably pink) that will give a soft-focus effect, rather than highlighting my pores and lines! I use mineral powder foundations, which I buff into my skin with a kabuki brush – would these highlighters be suitable for use with this type of foundation, or can you recommend something that would be? Thanks xxx

    • Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Pami Pami

      I’ve started using Guerlain Meteorites 01 Teint Rose over mineral makeup (I’m fair to light, cool toned with pink undertones), and I think it gives a lovely soft-focus effect. A less expensive option is Smashbox Soft Focus pressed powder.

      For liquid illuminators, I like LM’s (Laura Mercier), and Benefit High Beam. I haven’t tried Benefit’s Girl Meets Pearl yet, but it sounds like I need to! ;-)

      When I mix a liquid illuminator with foundation, I get the best application results by tapping (stippling) it on with a duo-fiber/skunk/stippling brush.

  7. Dana Almarri

    happy to be the first 1 to post…
    I usually mix Stila illuminizer tinted moisturizer with my foundations which are either NARS sheer glow or Bobbie Brown foundation SPF 15.. that always gives me the glow from within and transform my foundation from (light to medium) coverage to light coverage instantly..

  8. Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Dee GUSnail

    Thanks for the tip! This is something I’ll definitely have to try.

  9. Cherokee

    I live in NYC and our winters can get brutally cold. I don’t play cute when it comes to cold and always wear a hat in frigid weather. I normally wear powder foundation on a daily basis. However in the winter I don’t wear any foundation and I tend to get pale. I am an NC45 in MAC. My current routine is moisturize (of course) and my favorite illuminator is Revlon Age Defying Face Illuminator in Gold Light. I conceal, illuminate (just under the eye and on the temple) and use Hard Candy’s Heat Wave bronzer on the cheeks. I have been getting compliants at work. The other day someone asked me if I was in love because my skin looked so pretty and glowing.

  10. Cherokee

    The Revlon Age Defying Face Illuminator has a brush attached to it. I cut the bristels off to avoid wasting product. I cut it all the way down so you can actually see the opening to where the illuminator comes out.

  11. Jieun

    I love Becca shimmering skin perfector in pearl to mix with my foundation. It’s lightweight and has an incredibly refined shimmer that melds with your skin to make you look healthy. It’s also a really versatile product for me since the shimmer can be built up to highlight cheekbones or applied sheerly as a moisturizing base on its own.

  12. Hmm I really want to try this technique now. Sometimes I feel like foundation ends up rather flat on my face. I’ve never tried mixing illuminators into my foundation though

  13. I too mix Smashbox Luminizing Lotion with foundation for my clients! The results are really stunning on camera. :)

  14. Brooke

    I use the Estee Lauder DW Lite whenever I go to work since I do 12-16 hour shifts and though I like the staying power, I find it can look a bit flat and matte for my liking. So I looked around online for a good illuminating product and found the Face Atelier brand. It was difficult to get (for some odd reason seeing as how I live in the US) but I love it! I mix one half a pump of the Face Atelier Ultra Sheer illuminator in Champagne in with my foundation before applying with a damp beauty blender sponge and VIOLA! I get so many compliments on my complexion when I do this! It’s also great as a cheekbone and browbone highlight and is sheer and natural! Check it out (:

  15. Em

    I use MAC’s Strobe Lotion for this purpose and it is beautiful. It truly gives me a glow and sheen to my face–no shimmer or glitter.

  16. Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Melissa divinem (Melissa)

    I always mix a little MAC Strobe Cream in with my foundation. It gives a luminescent look without making me look like a disco ball.

  17. Becky

    L’oreal’s new MagiLumi is a really great drugstore option. Also, Sleek’s Glisten Me in Empress. (:

    • marci

      I have been doing this for a long time. I bought LM illuminator and it was too much glow for me being 54 so I started adding it to the top of my hand with another drop of another foundation I had and voila it looked beautiful and is now apart of my daily makeup routine.

  18. Carolina

    Hi Nita! :)
    I am really looking forwars to get this NARS Illuminator as well, and I can’t decide with shade: if Copacabana or Orgasm!
    Which of them do you recommend for a fairer skin?

    Thank you, and also thanks for the post!

    • Hey Carolina!! I think for fairer skin, I would go with “Copacabana”! If blended properly I think that shade looks great on everyone! Let me know how it turns out =)

  19. Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Carolina Carolina

    Wow, what a great tip. I’ve never been a fan of foundation, because no matter how well it was matched to my skin tone, it always looked flat, compared to my naked skin. So yeah, I always thought my naked skin, even with imperfections, looked better than with foundation and with the imperfections covered (!!).
    Recently while at the dermatologist (actually for my hair loss), he mentioned I had the type of skin a lot of fair women would kill for, the “Mediterranean glow” he called it, in which your skin has a tanned tone and glows, but without being oily or porous. I was quite pleased (and surprised) with the unexpected comment. :D
    From what I’ve seen in comments, MAC Strobe seems to work really well, so I’ll give that a try right away. I’ll go to my MAC store this week, I swear to God! :) (None of the brands you recommend are available here.)

  20. Liz

    I love Benefit’s Girl Meets Pearl. I mix it with my foundation all the time!

  21. My favorite is a little bit of MAC’s Strobe Cream mixed in with MAC’s Mineralize Satinfinish foundation! Super glowy, but not crazy frosty!

  22. Smashbox Luminizing Lotion in flash is my favorite too! It’s a beautiful peachy-pink shade for a subtle glowy effect.

  23. Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Aimey Aimey

    Since I’m pretty pale and colorless, I’m pretty self-conscious about how drabby I look. I’ve discovered the wonders of blush and want to get around to trying products like bronzer and highlighter. I’ve heard great tales of Nars Laguna, the bronzer, but not much about the highlighter. Thanks for the tips!

  24. Lark

    Oh thank you! I have some Smashbox Luminizer but the directions say nothing about mixing with foundation, just putting it on top. Which doesn’t work. Neither have any of the other ones I’ve tried but then none of these ideas came up.
    This is one of those columns to pirate and e mail, lol. PDF in the Make Up vices folder. I have a lot of friends with a glow product but no clue! And this time of year one needs a little something.

  25. Kathy

    I recently began mixing clarins instant light complexion perfector with my foundation, currently Cover FX although I have tried a sample from Clarins and may buy it when I next need to. I use a primer then mix 1:3 ratio and it is terrific. I am in my 40’s and this really takes age away! I believe the product comes in 3 shades I got the lightest as am fair. I use a pinky undereye concealer as well and blend. Also my absolute favourite eyeshadow primer is Lise Watier. It keep makeup on no creasing less crepiness all told the best and I have tried quite a few.

    • Kathy

      I just wanted to add that I am from Canada and I know their are some differences, Lise Watier is a Canadian company and had excellent cosmetics, havent used a lot of their skin products. As far as the shadow base their are two. The one to get is antiwrinkle eye primer not the product for eye and lip, just wwanted to comment as it is so great!!

  26. There is no other good things than having a clear glowing skin. Having a nice skin is a pride, it makes women even more beautiful, more attractive, and being attractive could boost confidence.