Get that enviable K-beauty glow without looking too shiny or oily.
Beauty products that promise glow fit right in with the virtue-signalling detox days of January. A glowing complexion belies the bloated, flushed memories of year-end feasting and partying.
But glow is problematic. What, after all, does it mean? Leaving aside philosophical questions about inner or outer radiance, is achieving glow about looking slightly shiny?
Glowing like a South Korean superstar is a gold standard for many, but the suggestion of faintly gleaming cream – strange in theory, luscious when done right – doesn’t work for brown Asian skin that may need a pop of blush.
I’ve even seen lipsticks advertised as “luminous”, so the definition of glow is open to interpretation.
Society’s rules mean that women are discouraged from being comfortable with showing obvious signs of ageing. Still, for many of us, it’s onwards and upwards in chasing the dewy dream. Frankly, I’d settle for the ageless, rich-woman skin of a socialite past her youth.
Countless beauty products claim glowiness, including moisturisers, serums, highlighters, foundations and powders. But many of the products I tested trod the line between making me look oily (too much shine) and turning me ghostly (too white).
Here are quicker ways to attain glow, which I’m interpreting as “my skin, but better”.
Avoid 14-step skincare regimens by using Dior’s Capture Youth range (photo 1). Who has the head space to remember which cream goes where in the morning? Instead of layering moisturiser upon serum upon essence upon toner, simply mix and match the elements using an eyedropper. Add a couple of drops of any of the five Capture Youth serums to a smidgen of the range’s Age-Delay Advanced Creme and smear it on. (The moisturising cream and serums cost $152 each, available at Dior counters).
I used the Glow Booster and Plump Filler serums with the cream and my skin looked clearer and more radiant after a few days.
Another product that makes me feel, satisfyingly, like an apothecary is philosophy’s the microdelivery peel (photo 2, $109, available at Sephora). This weekly treatment involves mixing a clear gel and a mustard-hued facial peel. White foam ensues and the potion heats up excitingly in my palm. It feels as if part of my epidermis has been sloughed off, revealing an improbably immediate rosiness.
Chanel’s Le Blanc Huile (photo 3), oddly translated as Healthy Light Creator Oil, is a facial oil that recalls the glow from a brisk jog before sweat takes over. It seems to gleam when applied on cheekbones, brow bones and other places that catch the light. It will be sold for $177 at Chanel counters from Feb 2.
Make-up is another way to glow, pronto. Try Sulwhasoo’s Multi Cushion Highlighter (photo 4, $48, available at Sulwhasoo counters), which can be used as a base for make-up or as a highlighter. Some of the instructions sound counter-intuitive, but I dab it on places such as my forehead and nose bridge as directed. Surprisingly, it works like it says on the box, which promises a pearly three-dimensionality. So few things do. I look as if I have a lesser species of Korean glow, which is as much as can be hoped for.
Another highlighter to try is Make Up Store’s High Tech Lighter in Moonlight (photo 5, $39, available at Make Up Store outlets). It looks an unpromising white, but lends a whisper of silver when applied. It can even double as eyeshadow, imparting a clean, no-make-up look. Its sheen is reminiscent of the runway fad in recent years, of using lip gloss on eyelids, but without the icky stickiness.
I like a bit of colour on my face. “Health, health, health, darling!” as Edina used to say on the immortal Ab Fab series. Try Too Faced Sweet Peach Glow (photo 6, $62, available at Sephora), which is billed as a palette with illuminating, blushing and bronzing properties. The long-lasting coral blush flatters my tanned skin, though pale and interesting types may prefer to go for pink. The champagne-gold shimmer lets me pretend I am tastefully backlit by candlelight. The twee scent of peaches, though, is my favourite thing about this product.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 12, 2018, with the headline ‘How to glow like Song Hye Kyo‘.