Holiday Shimmer: Be a Vixen, not a Vamp (Part I: Face)

By Voxy  

sparklers by jenny downing (r&r).If ever there were a time to pull out your shimmer, your glimmer, and your sparkle, the next two weeks are it, baby. New Year’s Eve in particular is a great time to add some shine to your regular ‘do — but since I assume you don’t want to look like an 8-year-old who dumped glitter all over her face, it would probably be a good idea to take a look at some shimmer options that are holiday-festive but also sophisticated, subtle, and sexy. (If you do want to look like an 8-year-old who dumped glitter all over her face, I would like to gently suggest to you that you may be reading the wrong blog.)

The advantage is that pretty much every cosmetics line on the market makes something shiny or glittery. Some of these products are lovely and sophisticated on their own, and others can be worked with to adapt them to your desired level of shimmery gorgeousness. Before you do any work with shimmer products you should make sure that your skincare and foundation products have left you with a matte or satin finish; shimmer does not go on well over oiliness.

Smashbox Soft Lights ($28) are very, very nice finishing powders that give you anywhere from the subtlest sheen to a healthy glow, depending on how much you apply. I use these as a finishing powder year-round, but they’re particularly nice in the summer. Use a very, very light touch to start and add more just a bit at a time. If you have good brush skillz, you can use a blush or powder brush (a real one, not one of those ones that comes in a drugstore powder blush compact), but using a fan brush helps make this pretty idiot-proof because it only allows you to pick up a tiny bit of product at a time. These come in three regular shades, all of which I own: Shimmer, which is a very light champagne-neutral shade (and the most shimmery of the bunch; requires an ultra-light touch); Prism, which is the shade shown in my photo — it looks very bright in the container but goes on sheer and delicate and girly pink (this is my favorite one); and Tint, which is a warm golden coral shimmer. In the summer, I use Tint almost like a bronzer, since traditional bronzers don’t really work on my very pale skin. There are also a variety of “fusion” Soft Lights compacts, which feature a pie chart of different shades all in the same container; I don’t like these as much because it’s so hard to predict what color you’re going to actually end up with on your face, and it’s unrealistic to think that you’re going to be able to just get at one of the colors in the container. However, if you do find a composite color you like, the quality is as good as the other Soft Lights powders.

If you like, you could use Prism or Tint as an all-over face color (again, use a VERY light touch), or you could use any of the three as a finishing highlighter. Where exactly you choose to apply a shimmer or highlighting product will depend on your bone structure, but in general the areas to look at are the top outside areas of the cheekbones, just below the brow, on the temple, and on the bridge of the nose. Start with the top of the cheekbones and then see if you need to add more. If you like it other places, by all means feel free to add it there too; I sometimes do a bit on my forehead right up against the hairline or a very light swish on my chin.

Although it’s not on my favorite-product list, NARS The Multiple ($37) is a cult-favorite stick highlighter that can be used on cheeks, lips, and eyes. It comes in many shades; all of them are too shimmery to work on me, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention it. (NARS Orgasm blush is another cult-favorite product, and likewise, I find it too shimmery for me.)

Unfortunately, many of the sparkly cosmetics products out on the market are pretty much straight-up glitter, which is neat-o for Halloween or special effects but which makes them virtually unusable on their own for those who want a more subtle effect (and for anyone over the age of eight). The good news is that lots of these can be successfully combined with other products to create something that’s more usable.

For example, a few years ago I ended up with a full-size container of Bare Escentuals’ All-Over Face Color in True ($18). I think it was a gift with unrelated purchase; honestly, at this point I don’t even remember. According to the Bare Escentuals website, “True All-Over Face Color is a complexion chameleon, adapting its sheer, coral pink glimmer to any shade of skin — no matter how tan or fair.” This is true (no pun intended), if by “chameleon” you mean “Gila monster” and by “sheer, coral pink glimmer” you mean “raspberry glitter that you could see from Mars.” The product on its own did not work for me at all; it was impossible for me to apply it lightly enough that it did not become blotchy and unblendable. However! Since it’s sometimes hard for me to find a good mineral powder foundation shade — most of them are too yellow for me — I often buy several shades and make myself a custom blend, which then lasts me quite a long time. I did like the pink color of the Bare Escentuals product, but it was way too strong to use on its own. So I put a few shakes of it into my custom blend, which is now just a tiny bit pinker than it was before and also has a subtle glimmer that I really like.

Along the same lines, I recently received this miniature Tarte Glistening Powder in Sugar Daddy as a free sample with another Tarte purchase. (I can’t link you to the product directly, since it seems to only exist as part of a holiday kit, but here’s that link.) On its own, this is much too shimmery for me; while there is some base color, it seems to disappear from my skin quickly, leaving me with what looks like bare skin on which I’ve spilled some glitter. But when mixed with a little liquid foundation or tinted moisturizer, it adds a really pretty glow, and you can adjust the amount of shimmer you want every time you use it. Never be afraid to get creative with your products! Many things that initially seem unworkable might be able to be beaten into submission cajoled into loveliness when combined with another product.

Tomorrow: Holiday Shimmer, Part II: Eyes, Lips, Body

Provenance: Smashbox Soft Lights: purchased; Tarte and Bare Escentuals: gifts with purchase. I do not own NARS The Multiple.

Photo: / CC BY 2.0

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