If your skin is feeling dull as dog shit, no matter how many times you exfoliate it or smother it in vitamin rich serums, then you might like to consider a liquid illuminator.

I have three on rotation in my makeup collection that I frequently call upon to lift my face out of the grey zone – one peachy, one bronze and one neutral.  Of course you don’t have to be a product junkie like me, one may be enough, so this review will hopefully arm you with enough advice so you can narrow down your choice.

When I was in the thick of my beauty career, I loved using liquid illuminators, especially on more mature women, ladies with dry skin and smokers – smokers need illuminating…and to quit smoking.  They can diffuse a multitude of shit you hate about your face and bring a healthy glow back to your skin, even if you are treating it horribly and making absolutely no effort to look after yourself.  While I’ve used a similar analogy before, you really can go from zombie to JLo, in one pea sized blob of liquid illuminator.  Even the already glowing, oily skinned among us, can benefit from a little pretend radiance, you just have to know where to put it.

One of my all time favourites for creating an everyday glow, with the added benefit of SPF 30+, was, and still is, Mecca Cosmetica In A Good Light Tinted Moisturiser.  With no big sparkly bits, but rather a subtle illumination in a tinted base, this was a BB cream before BB creams even knew they were BB creams – but even better.  Lovely on it’s own, worn under makeup or especially beautiful applied to the decolletage, it helps to improve the appearance of sun damaged skin, while preventing further deterioration.  For an added bonus, I used to mix it with Mecca Cosmetica Lit From Within Primer, another fabulous liquid illuminator, and it was women, not men, who couldn’t keep their eyes off my general bosomy region.  “My eyes are up here ladies”.  Geez.

Moving on from my time (and staff discount) at Mecca, I needed to find options that were a little more budget friendly – having said that, a bottle of In A Good Light lasts forever – I used to buy one a year, so the cost per use was pretty much negative, technically I was making money.  I’d had Mum addicted to Nars Orgasm Illuminator to enhance her already gorgeous complexion, so I felt like it was my duty to keep her in stock of the wonder product, or at least something similar at a more reasonable price.  Face of Australia had brought out pretty sweet dupes for the Nars Multiple sticks many years ago (they have recently updated them), so it made sense that they would have inexpensive and easily available alternatives for the new illuminators too.  Sure enough, all the colours were there – Copacabana, Orgasm, Super Orgasm and Laguna – only this time named, Mist, Blush, Flame and Glow.  Same same, but different.  The Face of Australia tubes are bigger, and most importantly, cheaper, much, much, cheaper.

Mineral Therapy Illuminator in Angel Blush, is the Face of Australia version of Orgasm, and it’s pretty spot on.  Erring on the peachy side of nude, with a very subtle pearl shimmer, it immediately lifts the skin’s tone like nothing else.  The finish is a sheen, not a sparkle, and would suit most skin tones, except perhaps the very pink or red.  I love this worn under foundation or mixed in with it, to add radiance and the illusion of hydration to parched or dull skin.   Other makeup artists may have a different opinion, but I’ve always found this kind of peachy shade, extremely flattering and dare I say, youthful, for mature skin, rather than foundation shades that are too yellow based.  Even if the actual skin tone and foundation is yellow, adding a bit of peach stops it from looking too sallow, flat or jaundicey.  Also, if your skin tone is on the peachy side, it can be really hard to find a foundation match, so blending a bit of this into a yellow based foundy, might help to get your match a little closer to perfect.

If using it all over the face seems a bit too glowy for you or you have quite oily skin that shines on it’s own, the Angel Blush illuminator is also lovely applied just as a liquid blush, taking it high on the cheekbones for a natural looking highlight (Angel Flame is a great colour for this).  For this purpose I like to use a Beauty Blender or similarly rounded off sponge, so you don’t get any sharp edges and the product melts into the skin rather than sitting on top.  Being a liquid is also a better option than cream blushes for oily skin, as it won’t feel heavy or grease up on your cheeks.

I also like to mix it with body lotion to tone down an overly orange fake tan or add a little life to pale, ‘never seen the light of day’ skin.  It gives the legs, arms, chest or whatever you’re flashing, a lovely shimmer without looking like you’re covered in body glitter for Mardi Gras weekend…not that there’s anything wrong with that.  This also helps to use up a bit of product, as you get heaps in the 50ml tube.  As Rachel from Redcliffe Style suggests in her highlighting and contouring tutorial, “It will probably last your entire life, and then you’ll have to will it to your children.”

Another fabulous liquid illuminator that I’m unconditionally in love with, is the Natio Instant Bronzer.  I discovered this little treasure when I needed something to add to my foundation to deepen the shade for when I’m tanned, rather than buying an extra foundation.  I used to have a whole foundation wardrobe, but since I use it rather sparingly these days, this was a much smarter option.  The initial selling point for me was the smell.  The cream gel is full of my favourite essential oil blend – sweet orange, ylang ylang and lavender.  It’s so beautifully intoxicating, lifting my spirits while making my skin look a million bucks.  Just like the Face of Australia illuminator, I either apply it under or mix it into my foundation, as well as using it on my body.  The sheer, slightly shimmery liquid allows your skin to show through, leaving it a believable shade of glowing bronze, not like you’ve rubbed yourself in a mixture of Milo and curry powder.  This makes it a great option if you’re needing a bit of colour during the day, especially in unforgiving full sun situations and a perfect choice for fair skinned beauties.  I also like to rub a bit over the top of my Bondi Sands Instant Tan, if it’s looking a little too flat.

The way I like to use it the most, however, is over the top of my makeup.  Yep, when I’ve finished my face, and I feel like I need a little extra colour or radiance, I reach for my miracle liquid, rather than applying more powder bronzer.  I squeeze the tiniest amount – half a pea – into my palm and rub my hands together till it’s almost rubbed in.  Then I press my palms, not fingers, over my face so the pads and heels of my hands sit into the contours of my face.  There is so little product, that you can’t overdo it, and the warmth of your hands melts the bronzer into the skin.  All you’re left with is a subtle warming glow, that looks beautifully natural rather than overly made up.  I even break a big old makeup rule by applying a liquid on top of powder, but because it’s just so lightly applied, it doesn’t mess with your finishing powders or mineral makeup.

OK, if you’re still with me (I know this is a long post), I have one more to tell you about.  The Nude By Nature Soft Focus Illuminator came into my life just recently, as a little bonus in the gift bag from the Fox In Flats night of nights.  To say I love it so much that I want to have it’s babies, would be an understatement.  I would birth octuplets for this stuff…full term and naturally.  If you find you’re hating life when you look in the mirror, just put some of this on and try not to wink at the hottie looking back at you.  It is the definition of ‘instant gratification’.  I’m currently using it everyday underneath my Zuii Powder Foundation, with the Natio Instant Bronzer over the top.  My skin looks freaking awesome and it takes bugger all time to do.  No fancy blending or contouring required, just rub it in and let the magic happen.  The result is very natural looking, but unbelievably glowing skin.  I’m sure I’ll find other ways to use this one too, but for now I’m sticking with this winning formula.  If you’ve never tried an illuminator before, consider this one.  The neutral base and very subtle shimmer, makes it a pretty foolproof option for beginners.

Thanks for staying with me to the end of this epic post.  I hope my waffle has been interesting and informative.  It’s not important or meaningful news, and I know makeup isn’t going to save the world, and sure, these are just little tubes of lies, but what beautiful tales they are telling.

Kind Beauty Points : All brands featured are cruelty free and Nude By Nature is natural.  You can buy all featured brands except Mecca Cosmetica from Priceline through Shopnate, and help out your favourite charity.  Mecca Cosmetica supports charitable organisations like The Hunger Project and Women Donors.

LISTEN : EVERCLEAR  So Much For The Afterglow