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Trends come and go, some stay longer than others, and some beauty lovers keep those looks well beyond their public glory days. We have had bone matte skin for a long while, a subtle glow from within, and highlighters that can be seen from outer space, and now we are all looking out for a more glowy look.
When warm weather rolls around, we live on the more dewy side of things, and it has been quite a while since we are embracing not being matte for days. It gives way to different trends, trying out new products and varying the routine, and gives way to everyone with dryer skin not to dry it out even further.
But how can one achieve the glow of their dreams? Should it be a sparkly highlighter that can be seen from outer space or soft glowing from within?
There are plenty of steps and choices about how to make that happen: it can be through primers, concealers, foundation, and other face base makeup, as well as just giving an extra boost on the other items or using them for extra va-va-voom.
Makeup is whatever you want it to be. Some people follow specific rules and find it easier to get gorgeous looks that way, but at the end of the day, what matters is that we enjoy ourselves and what makes us feel good, whether this means glowing or matte skin. But if you want to hop on the glow trend or are looking for ways to revamp your usual go-to routine, here’s what you need to look out for! Let’s get glowing!
Bottom Line Up Front
Glowing up your makeup routine is all about teamwork and technique. With the right combination of primer, concealer, foundation, highlighter, and bronzer, the glowing look of your dreams is achievable.
I recommend a mix of MAC, Kiko Milano, Tarte, and Kylie Cosmetics products for a glowing routine, particularly the Kylie Cosmetics Lip and Cheek Balm and the Kiko Milano baked bronzers. Here are also my technique tips for getting the best out of these products.
Primers are the trickiest part of any routine, as no one primer fits all. Different people have different skin (oily, dry, mixed, acne-prone, sensitive, and other combinations) and different needs from their skin. Maybe they have large pores or want to hydrate their skin more or focus on a more anti-aging effect.
Recommending primers is not a simple affair. Primers deserve a more personal touch to see what works best for you. Some primers work wonders for some and do nothing for others.
I picked some familiar examples of primers that would give you a glow if you decide that a glowing primer is what you need.
The classic use of primer is the first step of your makeup routine. Even when buried underneath all the layers of foundation, concealer, blush, and anything else you love to use, a proper glowing primer will bring the whole look alive with that much-desired glow-from-within feeling.
Makeup would not be half as fun without some thinking outside the box. One of the best tips to get a radiant glow is to apply a thin primer layer at the end of your routine. Many products, like the MAC Strobe Cream we will get into below, double as a beautiful liquid highlighter thanks to their natural shine.
The MAC Strobe Cream is a classic choice worldwide. Some enthusiasts feel it lacks moisturizing qualities, so mixing in a moisturizer from the drugstore can help.
A similar product to the Strobe Cream primer is the Glamglow Glowstarter. After Glamglow exited the European market in 2023, many makeup lovers turned to the trusty old MAC primer. Sometimes brands can try to follow trends, but the public may want something different, so finding the perfect glowing primer may be tricky when there are so many to choose from despite primers not being the hottest item in the market right now.
The MAC Strobe Cream primer comes in three shades: pink, gold, and peach, making it adaptable to different skin tones. Makeup is all about playing and finding little secrets, so give this glow a go and enjoy yourself!
- Easy to find around the world
- Two sizes available
- Can be used without foundation or as a finishing touch
- May require a moisturizer if you have drier skin
- Start applying slowly, as more sensitive skin can be allergic to it
When it comes to foundation, the best glowing foundation on the market used to be the NYX cosmetics Born to Glow foundation. This gem recently got discontinued due to the oversaturation of products in the makeup industry.
I have an oily complexion, but the Born to Glow still worked for my skin type. I would have to remind myself that I look better in matte, but I always gravitated toward it.
When it comes to foundation, it is about finding the right one and matching it to your primer. For instance, if you have oily skin, you can opt for a matte primer which will keep the oil at bay, and then go for a fresh-faced look, a glowy foundation for the day and make you shine without in all the right places, without being bothered by oiliness.
Applying a glowing foundation is straightforward: put it all over your face and let the product do the magic. If you are relying on a primer underneath to give the shiny complexion, experiment with how many layers of foundation you need to balance out coverage and glow.
Sometimes we do not know which foundation to choose from the vast majority of products looking at us from the shelves. When I feel indecisive over which foundation to pick and want one which will defend me even in the hardest of times, I choose Clinique foundations. Clinique has been my primary foundation brand choice ever since I was a kid with acne. I remember my mom would always say how Clinique would keep the acne at bay and even fight against it, and she would apply it all over my face.
Clinique has been a staple in most iterations of my makeup collection. I have tried many of their foundations before and never regretted one, but sometimes the shades available in stores can be slightly too dark for my pale skin. At the same time, many companies run short when it comes to undertones, light and dark complexions as well.
The Even Better Glow foundation also comes with SPF 15. This is on the lower scale, but it never failed me, even though I can be prone to getting burned. Just use it all over your face, and you will look stunning and glow in the right places. You can never go wrong with choosing Clinique. Is it a safe option? Yes. But you will never regret it.
- Made for all types of skin, dermatologically tested through and through
- 15 SPF made for some summer protection and all year long
- You get what you pay for
- Sometimes you want to try something new, but Clinique is too ‘safe’
- Due to high demand can be hard to find the right shade
Personally, I either wear concealer or foundation unless I really want to cover my entire face. I tend to go for very heavy-hitting concealers or high-coverage foundations in my daily usage. When picking glowy concealers, there is good news for us all. I roll with the Tarte Shape Tape line for an extra glow with the concealer.
The Ultra Creamy version of Shape Tape is one of the best glowing concealers ever made. I know some might want more glow than ever I want. Both the Shape Tape regular and the Ultra Creamy versions are great, just that the OG Shape Tape has more of a matte finish while hydrating and fighting dark circles.
I recommend the Ultra Creamy version to my friends and anyone who asks. I understand that even though I have no problems with dark circles, life comes back to hitting me with oily skin. We need to know where to attack and where we can relax with our skin.
But since we are going for the glowing look to surpass all glow, we will dive deeper into the Tarte Shape Tape Ultra Creamy concealer.
Besides concealing blemishes, redness, and other imperfections, you can experiment with applying concealer all over the face. This is a common technique and skips the foundation step. If you do so, I recommend being extra careful with setting it properly with setting powder and not just the under-eye area but every area you decided to cover, or dab the powder all over the face.
This product is meant to be used by all ages. It hydrates, conceals, and pretty much covers any imperfection. If that was not enough, the Shape Tape gets the job done without settling into fine lines, which most competitors fail to do.
It does its job flawlessly, it may not be as known as the OG heavy hitter, but it is just as great. After all, beauty and makeup have many hidden gems. Just because the advertising team focused on something else or another product from the same line may be more of a one for all solution, the Ultra Creamy version has just as many different shades and undertones that will please many.
Tarte also offers the Shape Tape in white for those who enjoy completely whiting out their skin. This is a pleasant surprise as I enjoy toying with a ghostly white look occasionally, so I keep that in mind.
Remember, like with most Tarte products, one drop of this concealer under the eyes is more than enough. A little goes a long way
- Does not go into any fine lines or wrinkles
- Wide shade range available
- A little goes a long way
- The color for the OG may differ in this formula, so it is best to swatch beforehand
- A bit too thick
Setting powders is synonymous with keeping things matte and in place. Plenty of powders skip the mattifying part while settling your makeup nicely. This is perfect for those who love glowing as much as possible but still want to keep the makeup from transferring onto your clothes or around your face (if you encounter such problems).
Picking the best setting powder to glow up your makeup routine does not have to involve a setting powder per se. I thought of all the different setting powders and powder foundations I have used throughout my life for the best glowing option.
In this wide variety of products, many of them have been given the boot, while others are still on the shelves and probably will be after the apocalypse. So, I would recommend thinking out of the box as well. Trying new makeup routines is always trial and error, researching a lot, and finding out what works best for you and what you expect.
When it comes to powder foundation, I have been using it for a long while to keep my face either fresh, glowy, or matte, depending on where the trends sway and what I feel like.
Powder foundation or setting powder has become a staple in my makeup routines. I prefer to go outside with powder foundation or setting powder than nothing on my face.
Getting the most out of your setting powder hinges on using the right tools. Unless you are going for a loose version, setting powders shine best when applied using a brush made for them. If you check the MAC web store page for the setting powder recommended below, it will also suggest an excellent brush to go along with it.
MAC has a paradoxical reputation where many influencers think they do not sell anymore. If you ask a professional makeup artist or avid enthusiast, you will be swarmed with different MAC product recommendations. MAC products work and have been with us since the dawn of time, though not all of them have stayed in the market as long as we wish (Asian Flower lipstick, RIP, forever in my heart).
MAC’s Mineralize Skinfinish Natural is a baked powder. It can be used to contour, bronze, set foundation, or be worn by itself. This is a pretty versatile product, which is something I thoroughly enjoy. I discovered this setting powder in the glory days of makeup on YouTube, as Patrick Starrr would rave about it. If you want a good glimpse of timeless classics, check what more handy gurus daily.
MAC may not be every influencer’s cup of tea, but it will always have a stable place in my heart. I always run around a MAC store checking everything until I leave happy and my wallet lighter.
For all the effort in making your skin radiant, a baked powder is perfect as it will give you that glowy oomph you need. The MAC Mineralize Skinfish Natural comes in many different shades (albeit not many dark ones, so heads up). You can also use this powder for highlighting and contouring if you have the right shades.
- One unit will last a long while
- Very versatile product
- Stood the trial of time
- Barely any dark shades
Oh, blush. I have been on a blush journey for quite a while. I love all sorts of blushes, and one of my favorite ones is those that can be used as highlighters. I love swatching them and adding too much to my face, even if it makes me look flushed. After trying countless brands, I discovered that most blushes I love are from cheap, drugstore brands. Blush items tend to last a long while, so do not fall for huge product boxes meant to last longer, like Benefit always tries to sell.
I own a gorgeous Benefit Dandelion mini blush I have had forever. It does not meet the glowing-up standards we are here for today, so here is my favorite blush for an unlimited glow.
There is the blush-on-the-nose trend everyone else is going crazy over, even if it is not my cup of tea. I prefer to drag my blush further up to my temples (AKA “Kandy Muse style,” named after a drag queen known for her blush-applying technique) from the apples of my cheeks or keep it sharp and still drag (no pun intended) it up.
I personally have two of these in my arsenal. I use the 09 shade nearly daily because it is so vibrant and gives a very bright glow that can blend in with my highlight to make me glow from outer space or tone it down with some subtle highlighting powder (like the essence brighten up! Banana powder is my current vice). The 09 is a very vivid pink which I believe would work on most skin tones, but keep in mind that it will look intense if your skin is very fair.
I also have the shade 11, and I love them both, but I vary from one to another depending on how much drama I feel like.
I have undying love and admiration for Kiko Milano, so I can confidently go into the store and see which items appeal to me. I rarely have regrets about Kiko products. While some types can be inconsistent or go through a rough patch, the blushes have always been steadily amazing.
I also have a scarlet red blush called Smart Colour Blush in 08, which is matte, and I keep it for very artistic looks. Kiko Milano Blushes and I have been having a long-term romance.
- Wide variety of colors for creativity
- Can be buildable opacity
- Comes with mirror
The colors on the website look different from their real counterparts
Not enough options for darker skin tones
I thought for a long time about which product to suggest, as I also enjoy different highlighters. There is a wide variety of highlighters these days. While most new releases are champagne-colored, we have dipped back into pink ones. I was starting to get tired of gold and champagne tones.
There are also the liquid Rare Beauty ones, which rose to fame because of the drama. I have not tried them yet and need to see how well they work on my skin type and whether I would recommend them.
The Catrice mineral powder highlighters lead the pack by a decent margin, but they are not my top choice today. Many years ago, Jeffree Star Cosmetics had highlighter palettes that were the most luminous things, with shades like Hypothermia and the Northern Lights palette. Those days are long gone, but those who got to experience it remember how intense these highlighters glowed.
When your complexion is glowing how you want it to, highlighters must work extra hard to shine through. Whether you go for a conventional option or an out-of-the-box one, dab some highlighter on the higher point of your cheeks and, if you feel like it, a little bit on the nose. This will bring out your features without stealing the show from the rest of your makeup.
OK, I know what you are thinking. But, despite the divisive opinion of the Kardashian-Jenner clan, this product made me bite the bullet and try Kylie Cosmetics. It was an instant sell for me. I still have it ever since it was released. I love it when brands do some risky or nearly risky new product.
The clear version never caught on, up to the point that some makeup lovers suggested just putting Vaseline instead, which made me laugh. I get many compliments when I bring this highlighter out, and I love it. It can be used for lips, cheeks, and the highlighter to give a perfect glow to the points you want to accentuate.
The Kylie Cosmetics Lip and Cheek Balm come in different shades, but I prefer the clear one. The other colors can be found elsewhere, while the clear one was the one that caught my eye. I can wear it all summer long, and I love that they kept it in stock instead of just doing it as a limited edition product (which was the original plan).
For bonus points, the packaging on this balm is adorable and beats most competitors by far.
- The clear one will work for any skin tone
- Lasts very long
- Hydrating properties and ingredients
- Very few colors
- Not very sturdy magnetic packaging
I only have a few bronzers because I prefer to contour my face with a mixture of colder contouring shades or use a Kiko Milano bronzer. I also have a few other ones, but they do not stick out to me as great as the Kiko Milano one makes me look.
Bronzers usually come in large packaging, making it hard to run out of them. A well-made bronzer will last very long, so pick quality over quantity. Budget is not an issue here, thanks to many great low-cost bronzers for every skin tone and type. I personally prefer baked bronzers.
Bronzers can be easily overdone, and many people are guilty of it. Even if you enjoy bronzing your face, you should know your shade, how to place it, and how to contour with it or use it beneficially for your face rather than just randomly placing it. Many people contour with bronzer because these two products overlap so much they become interchangeable.
This is where it gets tricky to recommend a specific Kiko Milano bronzer. Usually, their best-baked bronzers are limited edition. The good news is that they rehash them every few limited edition collections, and the formula stays the same.
I cannot recommend a specific name, as the one I love is from a previous collection. I can guarantee you that when you go to their store or website, you will be able to find a limited-edition baked bronzer that will be rather big and dome-shaped inside. You will probably have it forever and love every moment of it. The Kiko baked bronzer formula works wonderfully, blends like a dream, and keeps you glowing and sunkissed all year.
They have one baked bronzer in their permanent line that comes in a smaller square size. If you can, avoid that one instead of the limited edition section. That is where you can grab the holy grail of all bronzers. I hope you will enjoy these products as much as I do because they will last forever.
- Lasts a long time
- Sturdy packaging
- Many products per price
- Not available in many shades
- Hard to find due to constant name changing of product
Question: What are the main product types that help glow up your makeup routine?
Answer: It depends on what you want to highlight on your face. Focus on nailing down your base, be it foundation and concealer, a mix of liquid and powder foundations, or some highlighter to help you glow. You need to mix and match, but the base products are the most important.
Question: Are drugstore or high-end products better to get glowing skin?
Answer: People often think high-end products perform better, but that is not always true. Find out what works for you and maybe be a bit more brand concentrated, as some brands will not work for a person no matter how many times they try, while others can be a match made in heaven. These brands can be across any of the price spectrum. Then there are products and dupes which would work better in specific situations, so keep an open mind.
Question: How to make glowy makeup last all day?
Answer: People tend to think that making makeup matte makes it last longer, but that is not the case. You can keep a glowy look and not become an oil slick. That is why finding the best finishing powder or foundation like the MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural matters. Products like these hold up all day and keep you looking gorgeous.
How to Glow Up Your Makeup Routine: Final Thoughts
Many products will give you the glow or glowy look you need, whether it is for summer or you feel like making an amped-up look that will wow you and others.
We covered most of the products and techniques here, but there are still many more to consider. Everyone sees a glow from within differently, but this is what works for me. Your look does not have to be all of these products at once, so do not be afraid to combine and find different ways to work with them, replacing this with that and seeing what works for the day.
Makeup is fun and creative, and I enjoy pushing the boundaries and trying trends even when I am the only one following them.
I would highly recommend the Kylie Cosmetics Lip and Cheek Balm in Off The Clock if to choose one product. The Kiko Milano baked bronzer is a must-have for me, which stands out in all of these and is easy to find online and in-store. Once you have an arsenal of glowing products, practice to get the most shine out of them. Glowing has never been this easy!