Is there anything better than finding a foundation that makes your skin sing? Sure, matte finishes make you look fashionable, sheer is great when you’re going for the natural look and satin formulas are there for when you want something lightweight that won’t go cakey . But really, a foundation that peps up your face so you look dewy and fresh has got to be the holy grail, hasn’t it?
OK, I’m biased because I spend my life searching for products that make me look like I’ve buried my face in morning dew. And I get it, the thought of a glowy foundation can sound scary, particularly if you have oily skin or dry patches that you’re worried will catch in the luminous light of the freshest foundations. But I’m here to tell you that lit-from-within-skin can be yours.
Don’t believe me? Well, I’ve enlisted the help of three top makeup artists who have given the glow treatment to a host of famous faces that reads like a Madame Tussauds' wish list. We’re talking Bella Hadid, Keira Knightley, Lily James, Jennifer Lawerence and the ultimate glowing goddess Gwyneth Paltrow .
Get ready to glow!
Glowing foundation is all in the prep
“If your skin is hydrated enough, you don’t need much foundation,” says Chanel makeup artist Zoë Taylor. Who recommends applying a hydrating serum followed by a rich moisturiser before you go in with your foundation.
Ever wondered how A-listers on the red carpet always look so dam fresh-faced? Makeup artist and founder of skincare-meets-makeup brand Westman Atelier, Gucci Westman, has the answer (and she's prepped the faces of everyone from Demi Moore to Cameron Diaz). Before even thinking about makeup, she pops a face mask on ( 111Skin De-Puffing Facial Masks, £85 are a favourite) and combines it with some facial massage.
Westman uses Jonna Czech’s facial massager , £178 but your fingers can work just as well. This will help to rejuvenate lacklustre skin and is “great for boosting circulation and elasticity,” says Westman.
“To get a really glassy, glossy finish you have to have a smooth surface,” says celebrity makeup artist Caroline Barnes , who brushes the Revolution Pro Blur Stick , £11.99 over any areas where someone might have uneven skin or irregularity with your pores (this is often the T-zone area).
How to prep if you have dry skin
If you have very dry skin, or dry patches no amount of foundation is going to sit right. Don't despair though, you just have to address the dry patches first. Barnes suggests “using a daily AHA exfoliator very gently morning and evening,” this will alleviate the skin of those stubborn dead skin cells without causing irritation.
Foundation wise, cream and liquid-based formulas are your best friends. “Powder-based products have a tendency to enhance dry patches if they’re not used with a light hand,” warns Westman.
Prep for oily skin
Don’t be afraid to still do the hydration part of your skincare routine, if you cut it out “your skin will produce more oil,” notes Taylor, who recommends using an oil-free moisturiser like Hydra Beauty Micro Creme, £72.
Once you’ve finished your skincare prep, Barnes recommends using a mattifying primer all over your face, the Fenty Mattifying Primer, £26 is a favourite in the Get the Gloss office.
You don’t need a specific foundation for oily skin but Taylor does say that if you have really oily skin then it might be worth skipping foundation altogether and instead mixing a concealer with a moisturiser for a natural-looking glow that won’t melt away.
The pros are also in agreement that some extra aftercare will keep you looking glowy not greasy as you go about your day. Westman suggests “using a fluffy brush to lightly sweep a bit of setting powder along your t-zone,” while Barnes always keeps blotting papers to hand to dab away any excess oil that may creep up on you throughout the day.
Next, how to choose the right foundation formula
For that second-skin look, you can’t beat a cream-based foundation. “They provide a more natural-looking finish and they’re easier to build in the areas that need more refinement,” says Westman
If you’re finding that your foundation is still erring on the matte side, then Taylor suggests mixing it with your moisturiser to create something that’s tailored to you. Nothing says, your skin but better like a bespoke foundation, right?
Find your skin undertone
You’ve probably heard the term ‘undertone’ thrown around when you’re searching for foundation but you may have not given too much thought to how it affects the overall finish of your foundation. Your undertone is basically the permanent underlying colour that your skin casts out, it’s not as obvious as your actual skin tone but getting it right is key to achieving glowy, glossy skin. Why? Because if your foundation has the wrong undertones for you then it can deaden skin, making you look flat, not fresh, says Barnes.
The general rule of thumb: if you have pink or blue tones under your skin you probably have a cooler undertone, yellow or peachy skin tends to be warmer undertone and if you see a mix of both then you’ll be neutral, and lucky you can get away with most shades.
“Cool undertones tend to look beautiful in blue-based pinks and reds,” says Westman, while warmer undertones look better in golden or peachy makeup shades.
How to apply your foundation for the ultimate glow
“When you go to set your makeup, only use powder where you are likely to shine such as around the nose, centre of forehead and chin,” says Taylor. Contrary to popular belief, although a little shine down the nose can make you glow, “you should never put shine on the very end nose, as it makes you look more dolly than dewy." You heard the lady.
The best glowing foundations to choose from
Launching February Nars has always been masters at creating glow enhancing foundations (Nars Sheer Glow was my go-to for many years) and this one is unreal. It’s already becoming a firm favourite amongst beauty editors. It gives just enough coverage to cover up any bits you want to hide while having a sheer enough finish that your natural skin still shines through.
For 2022, Dior has revamped its iconic long-wear foundation 'Forever' into a cleaner formula with 86 per cent skincare ingredients and making it totally non-transferable – a bonus in the age of face masks. The Skin Glow version (there's also a classic and a matte) is so fine it's like a second skin, which you can apply lightly for a barely-there look or layer for medium-to-full coverage. As seen on actress and activist Yara Shahidi (main image, left and the face of the campaign), this is expensive-looking skin for a surprisingly reasonable price tag and one of our all-time favourites.
This is very light, and a favourite of makeup artist Caroline Barnes. If you’re not looking for much coverage but want a helping hand in the glossy skin department and SPF too, this one's for you.
The clue is in the name of this Max Factor marvel. It's full of great skincare ingredients such as antioxidant niacinamide and moisturising glycerin. For a sheer soft glow at an unbelievable price this is your pick.
You couldn’t have a glowing foundation edit without including a product from the self-declared ‘queen of glow’ Charlotte Tilbury. Beautiful Skin (as seen on Kate Moss, above) makes skin look almost multi-dimensional, light bounces off it in all the right places and you give off an almost translucent glow. Big fan.
Building your foundation is the key to a healthy glow and this is great for layering up until you reach your desired coverage. A top tip is to use this liquid foundation from Chanel's new No1 de Chanel sustainable range in just in the places where you need a little extra coverage, such as around your nose. It's packed with skin fixing and hydrating ingredients to fix what Chanel calls the five most common signs of ageing.
This is a bit of a cult classic when it comes to radiant foundations. It hits that sweet spot of giving great coverage while also leaving skin looking delightfully dewy. Great for full coverage and concealing redness. Those with rosacea-prone skins will love it.
This oil-free foundation is on the pricey side but you’re left with very expensive looking skin. It’s a runny skincare/foundation hybrid – there’s hyaluronic acid and konjac in there to hydrate the skin – and yes it really does make your skin look like it’s had a big drink of water. Makeup artist Florrie White is a fan. Read her tips for applying it and avoiding common foundation mistakes .
Another skincare meets makeup offering but this, unlike lots of other hybrids, gives pretty full coverage. I don’t know whether it’s the combo of cordyceps, ginseng, hyaluronic acid and vitamin E that leaves skin looking positively energised but this is one of the glowiest foundations out there. If you have oily skin, you’ll probably need a little setting powder to stop you from going into ‘wet look’ territory.
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