Subtle illumination works wonders on the complexion

The interplay of light and shade is the stuff of great art and great makeup artistry. Even a basic ability to contour and highlight adds instant depth and drama to your makeup application - or simply use the tricks to give nature a helping hand. But for all the women who know where to apply their blush and bronzer, many come unstuck with illumination.

Not that long ago I saw a former top model with her cheeks glowing like a silvery full moon. Highlighted to the heavens, but to no real purpose. My own efforts tend to have the opposite effect, in being all but invisible, so it seemed timely to get some tips, especially given how many illuminating products are out there these days.

If you are not a big makeup wearer then an added layer of illumination will likely be a chore too many, but remember it can be as simple as a sweep of gold eyeshadow or a drop of pearly translucence in the inner-corner of the eye or above the cupid's bow. Shimmer powders can add an uplifting touch to cheekbones, but do avoid those heavy metallic finishes.

For something beyond these basics, it is best to ask a makeup artist to show you how to bring out your features. They're trained in how to wield a brush to slim down facial features and make certain areas recede or advance. Just look closely at most makeup advertisements and behind the model's genetic blessings and the airbrusher's "pore delete" button, you'll notice the well-blended work of a master illuminator.


Smashbox Photo Finish Luminizing Primer - $76

Get the base right to make building a light-reflecting complexion easier. This primer provides the perfect canvas for layered luminousity. Glides on easily and helps makeup stay put. (From Smashbox, Ponsonby Rd and selected pharmacies and stores, see

Bobbi Brown Brightening Finishing Powder in Porcelain Pearl - $110

Use all over for a silky finish with a brightening effect. This is the lightest of several shades and would look best on very fair skin, making it an option for women who shy away from pinker foundations or darker bronzers. It is infused with hydrating extracts ensuring skin stays fresh. For added glow try Bobbi Brown's multi-purpose Shimmer Bricks. The new Brighten, Sparkle and Glow collection pulls together handy illuminating ideas. ducts which is a great starting point for anyone wanting a makeup artist. (From selected department store and pharmacy counters or the Britomart flagship store.)

Jane Airedale 24 Karat Gold Dust Shimmer Powder in Gold - $25.10

Gild cheeks, eyes and lips with this gold-flecked loose mineral powder, which comes in champagne, bronze, rose and silver also, so you can find one to work with your skin tone. Mineral makeup brands generally do illuminators well; some overdo the sparkly bits, but not here thanks to a flattering finely milled formula. Apply with a fan brush. (From selected salons, for stockists see

By Terry Touch Expert Advanced - $89

Terry de Gunzburg, creator of YSL's Touche Eclat illuminator pen-brush, has seen her invention much copied, now she has taken the original idea a step further under her own brand with a new light-reflecting formula. The ingenious highlighting concealer comes in six shades giving full coverage to areas needing brightening. (From Mecca Cosmetica,