Blame it on the Koreans – and just about everyone who’s caught on to the culture’s millennial ideals of beauty (which, going by the proliferation of stars ranging from boy band BTS to Irene Kim at events spanning Fashion Week to the American Music Awards, means practically just about everyone). So thanks to Song Hye-kyo and co, we discovered the youthful appeal of coral cheeks and thick, straight brows, but their greatest contribution to today’s beauty conversation is arguably an implausibly clean, fresh glow.
The variations that they’ve come up with (which have, in turn, ignited frenzied obsessions) call for their own glossary: Honey, Porcelain, the infamous Glass, and even Watermelon (the fruit’s a power soother and rich in amino acids). The mass renewed focus on wellness and natural beauty has further made mattecomplexions feel increasingly (and ironically) retro.
In a recent feature on the trend, The Guardian pointed out that “the word ‘glow’ appears in descriptions of more than 300 products on Net-a-porter’s beauty site, relating to everything from body oil to blusher”. This year, multi-label beauty giant Sephora has brought into Singapore a host of products that promise to help impart an enviable (faux) glow – from Cover FX’s Glitter Drops (mix with a base or use alone to lend a glamorous sheen), to Marc Jacobs Beauty’s Coconut Fantasy highlighter, eyeshadow and bronzer that promise a sophisticated, sun-kissed visage.
Once dominated by shine-free complexions, the runways are also championing the look. At Balenciaga and Louis Vuitton this S/S ’18, models strode out alarmingly bare-faced yet radiant (all thanks to nothing more than moisturiser for base) – the neo-Asian glow, if you will. The girls at Issey Miyake and Victoria Beckham sported stronger highlights on the nose bridge and Cupid’s bow, but otherwise looked equally fresh. And over at the buzzing Fenty x Puma, copious amounts of highlighter were dusted over cheekbones for a modern, highly editorial take on Malibu Barbie chic.
Which brings us to a reality check: Sure, good skin helps (a lot – we won’t lie), but achieving an effortless-looking glow can often also be as much about using the right makeup. Here, three modern interpretations on the look, and what you need to create them.
The Asian Glow
So named because it originated and is fanatically popular in this part of the world, or more specifically Korea. Achieving this all-over supple, dewy finish (as seen here at Loewe S/S ’18) takes time, effort and patience – because a solid skincare routine is crucial. Try Su:m37˚’s Water-full Radiant Hydrating Glow Cream ($178), which not only hydrates, but also helps brighten with a host of exclusive active ingredients. And get a lightweight yet effective cover-up, like Cle de Peau Beaute’s Concealer SPF25/PA+++ ($105), which glides on evenly, covers hyperpigmentation and fine lines, and leaves a soft, natural finish.
The Accent Glow
A modern take on a full-on dewy complexion with only targeted parts of the face – namely the inner corners of the eyes, nose bridge and Cupid’s bow – given a sheen. (On the right here is Givenchy’s version.) Start with a luminous base like Lancome’s hydrating Absolue Cushion ($140) compact, then work that highlighter (we recommend the fuss-free Urban Decay Disco Queen Holographic Disco Stick, $39) on said areas.
The Sun-kissed Glow
Aka The Gigi (as in Hadid, with her gloriously tawny yet radiant, Californian beach babe skin, and emulated opposite at Jason Wu S/S ’18). You don’t – and shouldn’t – have to soak up the sun to get it though. What you do need: a good illuminator like Shiseido’s Synchro Skin Illuminator ($48), which has water-based capsules to reflect light off one’s complexion, and a highlighter such as the Marc Jacobs Beauty Dew Drops Coconut Gel Highlighter in Fantasy ($69).
More products to help create that (faux) natural glow
#1: Urban Decay Sin Afterglow Palette, $62.
Inspired by the brand’s best-selling highlighter shade, this highlighter-and-blush combo (three of each) face palette offers lasting glow – for up to eight hours.
#2: Diorskin Mineral Nude Glow, $80.
This mineral powder contains pearls that capture light to boost skin’s radiance, while its active ingredients protect skin from external aggressors.
#3: Nars Highlighting Powder, $62.
It features the brand’s Seamless Glow Technology, which combines micro-spherical powders and pearls that reflect light to enhance skin’s natural glow.
#4: Fenty Beauty Killawatt Freestyle Highlighter in Trophy Wife, $50, Sephora.
Packed with superfine shimmer, this highlighter has an ultra-smooth, creamy texture that melts into skin – perfect for that sun-kissed glow.
#5: Nars Reve Sale Cheek Palette, $80.
An exclusive water-activated formula blends seamlessly with skin’s surface to give you a natural glow.
#6: Chantecaille Future Skin Foundation, price unavailable.
This provides adjustable coverage, and has light-reflecting pigments to minimise the appearance of imperfections for a natural, flawless finish.
#7: YSL Beaute Touche Eclat Glow Shot, $50.
Infused with golden pigments and ultra-fine illuminating micro pearls that lend a subtle glow, this is available in three different shades to suit various skin tones, from light to deep.
#8: Kose Infinity Cushion Serum Glow, $60.
Formulated with opal glow oil and powder, this 80 per cent serum cushion compact restores skin’s radiance and increases its translucency.
This story first appeared in Female’s April 2018 issue.