There have been some seriously wacky beauty trends in the past couple decades. Orange faux tans? A bad look. Overplucked eyebrows? Many still rue the day. And don’t get me started on lining the lips with black liner.
More recently, there’s been contouring — that Kim Kardashian mainstay of shading and highlighting to create more definition in the face. Done right (and seen in the right light), contouring is supposed to give you razor-sharp model cheekbones and that coveted V-shaped jawline. Done wrong (and let’s face it, most of us do it wrong), you end up looking muddy at best and, at worst, like a paint-by-numbers gone bad. We may be at the tail end of the contouring trend, but I’m going to go out on a limb and call it — contouring is going to be one of those beauty trends that we look back upon and shake our heads at.
Thankfully, makeup artists have been championing a more modern way to shape and define the face. Strobing, essentially another word for highlighting, emphasizes the high points of your face, like the cheekbones, temple, forehead, bridge of the nose, tear ducts and cupid’s bow. So instead of darkening the hollows of your cheeks and jawline, you’re spotlighting areas of the face where light naturally hits. Think of it as a fresh, more youthful antidote to contouring.
Of course, highlighters have their perils as well. Powder highlighters can come off too frosty on camera and cream or liquid versions don’t work well with powder bases. But why bother with a makeup product when you can achieve that strobing effect simply with your skincare?
After all, Korean women have been pretty much strobing with their skincare for the past decade. Sure, that dewy, hydrated look called mul-gwang got a bit out of hand at its peak, bordering more on oily and greasy than glowy, but in recent years it’s been pulled back to a more lit-from-within look (sometimes called sok-gwang*), more akin to the dewiness of strobing. And Korean women don’t rely on just makeup to achieve that highlighted look — they strobe with skincare or skincare-based products.
So how to achieve strobing with skincare? Just follow these steps.
- First, moisturize well. Like all Korean skincare, you want to “layer” your products for best results, so a healthy, hydrated base is going to help you optimize that natural strobing effect. J.One Jelly Pack is a “jelly” textured morning mask, treatment and primer that immediately liquefies on the skin. Apply it to the cheekbones for an instant hit of hydration, as well as a lifting and firming effect. (They don’t call this a “corset mask” for nothing.) It also leaves a nice little sheen on your skin, so even if you don’t do anything else, you’re already strobing!
- If you do wear foundation, try this makeup artist secret: Mix a couple drops of LJH Vita Propolis Ampoule into your foundation for a naturally dewy finish. You can also tap on top of cheekbones after you apply your foundation for a subtle strobe.
- Looking for a stronger strobe from your skincare? Then Primary Raw Soy Milk Bio Lumpoule & Multi Balm is your go-to product. This genius 2-in-1 fermented soy bean serum (fermented for even deeper penetration) comes with a portable balm that is not only good for dry patches, it can be applied to the tops of your cheekbones and other areas where you want that luminescent, highlighted look. So not only are you strobing, you’re also nourishing your skin with rice bran extract and sealing in moisture. Use it on the go whenever you need a little extra glow.
- Another way to get your strobe on throughout the day is to spritz with a hydrating mist, like Whamisa Organic Flowers Olive Leaf Mist, a 2015 Refinery29 Beauty Innovator Award Winner. Because the actives aren’t diluted in this waterless mist, all you get is a burst of hydration and a nice, dewy glow — focus the mist on forehead and cheekbones for maximum strobe. Or use the mist to do double duty, using makeup artist Kira Nasrat’s secret: Spritz the mist (instead of water) on a beauty blender and tap on the high planes of your face for a mul-gwang Then use the beauty blender to fix or refresh makeup.
Our friend @thegreylayers getting her glow on with grey (charcoal) #rubbermasking 😉 #Repost @thegreylayers ・・・ My most glammed self yet.😂 #nocakeup Fell in love with the most amazing mask. Think @bioreus strips but mask form with moisturizing effects! Right ?? It literally took out my whiteheads along with my dead skin that's been screwing up my makeup. Remember that you can't get your make up right if your skin isn't at its best. It's @glowrecipe 's Lindsay all natural mask and it's the next best thing your skin has been needing and never even knew it. #glowrecipe
- Once you’re home, prep your face for another good skin day by mixing and matching face masks. Mix half of the Lindsay Modeling Rubber Mask – Vitamin and apply to your forehead and cheekbones, then mix half of the Lindsay Modeling Rubber Mask – Charcoal and apply to the jawline and chin. (You can save the rest in a plastic baggie or reusable container for next time.) The vitamin C and niacinamide of the vitamin mask works to brighten skin, while charcoal draws out dirt and oil from pores, leaving skin deep cleaned and tightened. So you’re already halfway there to a natural strobe in the morning.
Because while you may look back one day and cringe at your ombré dye job, naturally highlighted, hydrated and glowing skin will always be in style.
Get your glow on,
*Mul-gwang literally translates into water-light. This is the umbrella term that refers to the dewy, super hydrated, water-sheen-like skin Korean women favor. Within mul-gwang, there are gradations of dewiness that range from super glossy, almost Vaseline-like to a more subtle, lit-from-within glow. Here, a little glossary:
- Kkul-gwang: a hyper-glossy, almost greasy shine, like you spread honey all over your face (kkul means honey).
- Chok-gwang: a juicy, almost wet shine to the face.
- Yun-gwang: also known as 3D-gwang, this is the most similar to strobing, with a strategic sheen on the high planes of the face.
- Sok-gwang: a lit-from-within glow, like the healthy glow you get from drinking lots of water and eating tons of veggies.
Anna M. Park is the editor of beauty and travel blog Styleunderpressure.com.