If there's one look in particular that celebrity makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury is world famous for, it's her mesmerising, otherworldly glow. While most makeup artists play around with dewy skin, hyperreal foundation and perfectly placed highlighter, no one gets it quite as right – or Instagram-worthy – as Charlotte.
Ahead, the pro and her expert team reveal how to achieve that signature radiant finish in just five simple steps – and it doesn't involve frosty highlighting powder, a gallon of face mist or any glitter.
Skin prep starts with the right cleanser
All makeup artists will advise starting on fresh, clean skin, but the type of cleanser you choose can make a big difference to how your makeup looks.
"Treating your skin always comes first and Charlotte believes that cleansing is part of the makeup ritual," explains Charlotte Tilbury senior lead makeup artist, Bruno Dinora. "A balm cleanser is rich enough to cleanse deep down but it won’t strip your skin, and you can use it in the morning as well as in the evening. Then, I'd suggest applying a rich moisturiser, such as Magic Cream, £49." Backstage makeup artists also rate Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré Nourishing Moisturiser, £13, for achieving a dewy base.
The perfect finish also lies in your application technique. "The best way to apply moisturiser pre-foundation is to dot it on to your forehead, cheeks and chin and use your fingertips to really massage it in using circular motions," said Bruno. "Then, sweep up and out. Another trick for plumping up the face and making your skin look youthful is to pinch your chin and jaw for a contouring, de-puffing effect and using your knuckles to very gentle massage your cheekbones outwards. Not only does this help with product absorption, but it brings the blood to the surface and makes the skin look alive."
Choose makeup with skincare benefits
At a recent makeup masterclass, Charlotte extolled the virtues of hybrid makeup – makeup filled to bursting with skincare ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid. "To maintain a youthful glow, I'd suggest keeping your skincare to a minimum and that includes primer," advised Bruno. "That way, your makeup will look natural and more like actual skin."
"Choose a medium to full coverage foundation with a focus on skin ingredients and it'll go a really long way," added Bruno. Try Charlotte Tilbury's new Airbrush Flawless Finish Foundation, £34, (available on 22nd August), which plumps lines and hydrates like a serum. R29 also rates Ciaté's Extraordinary Foundation, £28, with hyaluronic acid and squalene to provide moisture, lending an impressive, radiant finish, and Perricone MD's Foundation Serum, £45, which gives just the right amount of coverage and smooths out lines with a dose of peptides.
Again, the way you apply your foundation matters. "Rather than your fingers, try using a fluffy brush to buff foundation into the skin," advised Bruno. "The trick to nailing that airbrushed look is to brush the product downwards," as this will help minimise the appearance of pores. "If you want slightly heavier coverage, simply tap the product on to your skin. And always choose long-wearing products that melt into the skin. That way, you can avoid setting spray."
Switch to blush
To achieve a youthful flush, Bruno suggests swapping bronzer, which can make cheeks look too sculpted and intense, for blush, as it lends more radiance. "I really like the Cheek to Chic in Pillow Talk, £30, because it makes you look like you’ve just come in from the sun. For the ultimate glow, I would add just a touch of colour to the apple of your cheek and blend outwards toward the hairline." Charlotte's top trick? Don’t suck in your cheeks. "Only do that with bronzer," said Bruno, "so keep the blush quite high up. Using a brush, buff on the colour really gently so that the finished result is a subtle, convincing wash of colour."
Choose liquid or cream highlighter over powder
While powder highlighters may provide you with more of an intense gleam, liquid or cream versions are more believable. "Highlighter should sit just above your cheekbone on the highest point of your cheek," advised Bruno. "A trick we swear by is starting at the temple and tapping the product downwards, stopping where the outer corner of your eye begins. Extend this to the brow bone in a C-shape, but try not to apply any product underneath the eye as it could make skin look oily."
And if you're prone to oily skin, Bruno suggests avoiding applying highlighter on your nose, chin and forehead. "If your skin is on the drier side and you want to give it a little more dimension, go for it. You might also want to tap a little on your Cupid’s bow to give you a pouty lip. This makes the highlighter look real, like skin, and balances the radiant touch on your cheeks."
Think about your lips
A luminescent, radiant finish isn't all about the skin. "I would always suggest a gloss to complete the look," said Bruno. "Firstly, line your lips with a nude lip liner (I like Lip Cheat, £16), and use your fingertip to feather the line slightly, so that it isn’t too harsh. Then, swipe a little nude gloss in the centre and press your lips together."