Got perfect skin? Then a flat, matte look achieved with foundation and powder might work for you. But for the rest of us—women who are starting to see fine lines, uneven texture, sallowness, and the loss of firmness that often come with aging—that matte effect only serves to amplify our imperfections. That’s why luminizers are such hot cosmetic products: They make less-than-flawless skin look nearly perfect! Here, a comprehensive guide to luminizers.
What Luminizers Do
A luminizer, found most often in stick or liquid form, is a shimmery product that’s applied to the skin. Luminizers can diffuse light to make skin look softer and younger; add shimmer to highlight certain areas of the face; or add a soft glow to other parts of the body. Newer luminizers—like Bare Escentuals Mineral Veil ($19), are popping up in pressed powder form.
How Luminizers Work
Look closely at the ingredient list of a luminizer and you’re likely to see one or more of the following: Mica, iron oxides, and carmine. Mica and iron oxides are minerals found in soil and rocks; when ground to a fine powder, they shimmer and shine iridescently. Carmine is made from an acid released by an insect, and has a characteristic red color. All three, after being properly ground into powder, are mixed with other ingredients to make an easy-to-apply liquid, stick, or powder. The particles within these products produce the characteristic shine you get when you use a luminizer. And like today’s popular mineral foundations, because luminizers are made largely of ground minerals, the luminizing ingredients themselves won’t clog your pores or harm your skin (watch the ingredients with which the mica, iron oxides, or carmine are mixed—if a product contains mineral oil, for example, it will likely clog your pores).
How to Use a Luminizer
The great thing about a luminizer is that it’s applied over your regular face and body products—so you can use it practically anywhere! Here are some places where luminizer works well:
Cheekbones: Adding a few dots of luminizer to the tops of your cheekbones will help them appear more defined, and will give your skin a dewy appearance. For the face, we love powder bronzer, since it’s quite unlikely to give you breakouts. Use a small brush—one for eye shadow will do well—to dot luminizer onto tops of cheekbones. Then use your ring finger to lightly blend into skin.
Legs: When you’re not up for wearing stockings, but your legs look too pale and pasty to go bare-legged, luminizer can help. Its ability to put skin in soft focus will give your legs polish. Choose a liquid bronzer for your legs, since it’s in a moisturizing base and will help add hydration as well as shimmer. Smooth onto skin in long, broad strokes.
Shoulders and decollete: For the times you wear shoulder- or neck-baring tops and dresses, a soft swipe of luminizer on shoulders and chest makes skin look sexy and touchable. Try using a stick bronzer for this area, as it’s large enough to cover lots of skin, but is manageable enough in its application to spot apply where you need it. We love the look of luminizer rubbed into the backs of shoulders and dotted (then blended!) down your decollete area, right into your cleavage.