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The Makeup Maniac: Is strobing the new contouring?

February 4th 2015 / Anna Hunter



Complexion perfection no longer entails changing your face shape to leave the house. Lighten up with one of SS15’s freshest trends

Put the ruler down- severe contouring and razor sharp angles have softened up for the coming season. Consider instead presenting your features in their best light; it’s time to get strobing. If ‘strobing’ sounds a bit 80s disco dancefloor, you’ll be relieved to know that there’s zero glitter involved. It’s the makeup equivalent of throwing the curtains open and dusting off dull winter cobwebs- think gleaming skin, glossy cheekbones and bright eyes. Strobing is more than a simple bare face; skincare is still paramount, but a little craftiness is required on the cosmetics front, as makeup artist Alex Box highlights:

“Executing such radiance is rather less pure and simple: layering myriad weights of reflection- shine texture, cream and powdered pearl, gloss and veils of pale, matte shades- requires real technical prowess.”

Luckily, space age products and nifty know-how allows you to create (or in a hurry, imitate) sheeny, high-shine model skin at home. Here’s your ultimate 5 step strobing strategy:

1. If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times- good makeup starts with good skin. For ultra-reflective skin that glows of its own accord, take your skincare seriously. Global Liz Earle Skincare Ambassador Abigail James has some hard and fast radiance rules:

“Throw out the face wipes and use a proper facial cleanser, double cleansing in the evening, the first time to remove makeup and the second to really massage cleanser into your skin to ensure that it works effectively. Massage is hugely underrated- it will really plump the skin.”

“A mask is the power house of your at home routine; fruit acids, enzymes, witch hazel and white clay will all bring a glow to the complexion. Use a mask twice a week and you’ll see the difference almost immediately- I love Liz Earle Brightening Treatment Mask, £16.”


2. Don’t separate makeup and skincare- try merging the two for supreme dewiness. At Donna Karen Charlotte Tilbury buffed concealer and moisturiser together onto skin to even tone, finishing by pressing moisturising cream onto cheekbones ‘for a plastic, shiny effect’. Wearing moisturiser over your makeup may seem a little bonkers, but as a hydrating highlighter, a multitasking cream or balm achieves a transparent, luminous glow without the need for bronzer, or indeed any colour at all. Prep skin with MAC Mineralize Charged Water Moisture Gel (a backstage staple), £28, and dab good old Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Skin Protectant, £26, over high planes of the face for a moonlit, multidimensional glimmer.

3. On the subject of colour, strobing shades are not one size fits all (makeup rarely is), as MAC makeup artist Terry Barber explains. What lights up an English Rose could well make an olive girl look ashy:

“Creating light in the complexion starts with selecting the appropriate tone to brighten its undertones. This could be anything from pure white through to a deep gold or pewter. The important thing is that the result is a porcelain, rather than tanned glow.”


It’s hard to go wrong with the appropriately named MAC Strobe Cream, £24.50, but for a truly tailored, twinkly finish, Nars The Multiple, £29, comes in a wide range of shades and can be finger painted on at every angle in seconds. For creamy, all over lustre, Armani Fluid Sheer, £36.50, also blends beautifully into moisturiser and can transform foundation from flat to full of light and life- it’s especially suited to those with darker skin tones.


4. For wannabe strobers, gloss is boss. Just listen to Barber:

“There is little more beautiful than natural skin enriched with clear shine.”

Makeup magpies will love this look- if it’s shiny (holographic, even), it goes (everywhere). Bobbi Brown Crystal Lip Gloss, £15, will bounce off light wherever it’s applied, and if you’re yet to try glossing up your lids, now is the time. Be on the lookout for Paul & Joe Eye Gloss in Secret D’Or, launching mid-February in Selfridges and online at Asos and Beauty Bay. It’s gleamy, glimmering and will help you to achieve non-weepy, wet-look eyes in a flash. For a less PVC finish, opt for RMS Cream Eye Polish in Lunar, £19, and if pocket money’s an issue Maybelline Baby Lips Balm Hydrate, £2.99, smeared over lids will transford tired, dry eyes. We spied makeup artists doing the same at more than one SS15 catwalk show.


5. Don’t forgo powder altogether in the pursuit of beaming beauty- finely milled, luminscent powders add the perfect finishing touch, blurring textures together and adding dimension. Chantecaille HD Perfecting Powder, £62, was designed to be invisible to the eye (and the camera), yet somehow veil imperfections and create simultaneously velvety yet radiant skin. For yet more tricks of the light, sweep Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder, £38, over the face with a fluffy powder brush. Pick a shade that closely matches your colouring and bathe in the glow of Photoluminscent Technology.

The final frontier of strobing? Bleached brows and bare lashes. Here’s the logic according to MAC makeup artist Lyne Desnoyers:

“Removing every single defining frame of the face really amplifies its brightness.”

I dare you…

Will you be swapping contouring for strobing? Tweet me @AnnaMaryHunter or Instagram your strobing efforts (@annyhunter)

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