‘Dim Lighting’ Is London Fashion Week’s Glowing Skin Trend

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London Fashion Week is notorious for two things: being the most exclusive event in the city's calendar, and eye-catching beauty looks that you can actually work with IRL.
New York's spider lashes and gold leaf facial adornments were certainly Instagram-worthy, but perhaps not the most wearable day to day. Though we're only a handful of shows in at LFW AW23, makeup artists are shining a light (quite literally) on something very simple: skin. From Paul Costelloe to Harris Reed, strategically placed highlighter saw models beam from the catwalks. But nothing caught our attention quite like the magical complexion work at the Fashion East show.
Models walking for Karoline Vitto had Terry Barber, MAC's director of makeup artistry and lead makeup artist at this year's show, to thank for their beautifully dewy faces. This isn't anything like the traditional highlighting technique of yesteryear, which often meant a blanket of frosty white powder atop the cheekbones. This season, skin is gleaming all over. It's much more natural and takes inspiration from the warm, muted and cosy glow you'd get from a crystal table lamp or a string of fairy lights. (No one has 'the big light' on these days. TikTok gets it, and so does Twitter.)
This isn't highlighting per se. Alongside Terry, we're coining it 'dim lighting' — and trust us when we say it's going to overhaul your natural makeup game.
"We're moving away from highlighter just on the cheekbones," Terry told R29. "This is an Instagram phase we've gone through in the past decade. Now, it's this all-over luminosity, which I'm not even calling a glow." Instead, much like last season's trend for 'laminated skin', Terry says the look lends a slight wet quality to the face, as though you've just applied lashings of rich moisturiser or used a facial steamer. It's a little futuristic and even latex-like in places, says Terry, and it's all thanks to a few simple complexion products.
First up, the new MAC Strobe Dewy Skin Tint, $59, which Terry says is like a tinted moisturiser (lightweight and hydrating) but a bit more luminous. Unlike highlighter, which is often limited to one or two shades, this product meant that all models could rock the incandescent look, particularly those with darker skin, whose warmth was accentuated by the ultra-fine golden flecks of shimmer. Refinery29 UK spotted makeup artists applying the tint with their fingers rather than a brush for more of a natural finish.
Terry explained that he and his team of pros went over the tint with a dusting of MAC Extra Dimension Skinfinish, $67, to achieve the soft lighting vibe. The key is not to highlight just the high points of the face. Rather, Terry gently tapped the glinty powder all over the bone structure (jawline, sides of the nose, brow bone, forehead and cheekbones) so that each model appeared to be bathed in low light. "It could be [like] dim light skin or even like a back light," said Terry as we tried to pinpoint exactly what it reminded us of. The two products combined add a hazy, soft-focus glow to the skin, almost as though it's slightly filtered or blurred.
If you like the natural makeup look, dim lighting is for you. Terry hinted that when the skin is luminous all over, rather than in just a few places, you can get away with far less coverage, like concealer. Simply embrace your skin texture. "With something like this, you're meant to see the skin," said Terry. If you're not comfortable without a base, Terry suggested mixing Studio Radiance Face & Body Foundation, $59, with the radiant tint. The addition of hyaluronic acid makes skin appear plump and healthy, adding to the muted luminosity.
On models who weren't rocking bold, black liquid eyeliner (which Terry brilliantly called "Winehouse Lite"), eyelids and under-eyes were dressed with a dab of pink cream blush for a "tired eye in a beautiful way" — the sort of skin nuance you'd spot in Renaissance paintings, which often champion low-key lighting. If you'd rather head in a grittier direction, Terry dreamed up the "raisin lip", which he created using MAC's Retro Matte Liquid Lipstick, $42 in shades Carnivorous and Caviar, with the Eye Pencil in Coffee, $38, as a lip liner.
If you want to spend less to achieve the dim lighting skin finish, try Vieve Skin Dew, $37.62, under concealer or foundation. Also try Saie Dew Balm, $31.68, mixed with your chosen base product, or e.l.f. Halo Glow Liquid Filter, $30, which has gone TikTok-viral for lending skin a believable, lit-from-within gleam. The chubby doe foot applicator is great for liberal, all-over application.
You heard it here first: dim lighting is the new highlighting. And with countless shows to come, including Emilia Wickstead, Richard Quinn and Erdem, we're sure this won't be the last we see of subtly radiant skin looks.
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