Natural Beauty is Back: The Foolproof Guide to Strobing

highlight cupids bow

Tired of heavy-handed contouring dominating your Instagram feed? Craving fresh, radiant skin that actually looks real rather than like a mask? Us too. And we’re not alone – glowing, “non-touring”, strobed skin dominated the runways at this season’s fashion weeks. Although this trend for extra sheen has been around awhile now, it’s really come into its own in the past year. It’s all thanks to a growing cultural fatigue with overly contoured looks, combined with the desire for flattering, luminous skin that looks naturally beautiful.

International makeup artist Carly Hobbs agrees. “Contouring is an old-school technique that’s gotten out of hand in the modern makeup world,” she explains. “Yes, it works on screen, in photos, at the theatre and in drag – which are the exact beauty backgrounds where it came from – but that’s where it should stay!” she says.

Here’s how to get a more natural look.

STEP 1: Go back to basics
Don’t skimp on the skincare. “Skincare is everything,” proclaims Hobbs. “Ensure you have a hard-working and hydrating routine before you even go near your makeup bag. If skin is primed to perfection, it will look more radiant, plus products will stay in place thanks to the high moisturized levels.” After cleansing and toning, treat your face to an intense dose of vitamin-rich SHISEIDO Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate. This helps to strengthen your skin against day-to-day environmental assaults.

STEP 2: Create a flawless canvas
Wait five minutes then work SHISEIDO Glow Enhancing Primer across the cheeks, temples and down the nose. “This gives a little gleam to the naked eye, but does its real work almost invisibly,” says Carly. “It sits beneath your foundation and beams through, giving skin a real, yet flawless, 3D-style finish, thanks to those helpful light-reflecting particles.”

Next, use a light-reflective foundation over your primer to give a subtly strobed effect all over your face. Try SHISEIDO Synchro Skin Luminizing Fluid Foundation, which gives a naturally fresh-faced look. “Remember, less is more,” advises Carly. “The coverage and SPF protection in this is amazing, so you do only need a little. Apply from your nose outwards, using a stiff brush, and following with a blending sponge to give a lived-in finish that still gives you complexion perfection.”

STEP 3: Contour subtly
When done well, contouring can partner with strobing to sculpt and define the face. But go easy. “Everyone’s face has its own unique shape, and this should be celebrated and flattered,” says Carly. “Yes, try a little shading to carve out cheekbones or skim a jawline, but use as little as possible and blend, blend, blend.” If you’re looking for a more natural, healthy finish, then skip the contouring altogether and add just a hint of blush to the apples of your cheeks for a pretty, flushed complexion.

STEP 4: Try strobing
“The sheeny sister of contouring – strobing – and the accompanying fresh skin finish, shows off the high points of the face,” explains Carly. This flattering highlighting technique emphasizes your best bits and lifts the face, making you look younger and prettier. Carly suggests using the lightest shade from the SHISEIDO Face Color Enhancing Trio and sweeping it across the temples and cheekbones. “Only do the very tops of the cheekbones and take the sheen no lower than in line with the pupil of the eye. If you go further, it might look sweaty not sexy!” she warns.

Highlight and contour makeup

“Apply the highlighting color, tap off the brush, then buff over the edges so the effect is subtle,” Carly advises. Add this sheeny shade to the inner corners of the eyes, under the brow arch and above the Cupid’s bow.

STEP 5: Get your gloss on
For an extra sheen that looks healthy and Insta-worthy, gently press a tiny amount of oil into the tops of your cheekbones, like our makeup artist did on the shoot. Try SHISEIDO Future LX Replenishing Treatment Oil, which is formulated with six rich oils that blend instantly into your skin.

The combination of powder products with iridescent particles, such as the SHISEIDO Face Color Enhancing Trio, and the tiniest dab of facial oil will add a gorgeous sheen. “The reflecting particles mean that the light bounces off your face to blur imperfections and draw attention to your best bits,” says Carly. “This is exactly why real skin, prettily strobed, is so hot right now.”

Makeup Strobing

STEP 6: Lip service
To add a polished touch to your natural look, swipe on SHISEIDO Lacquer Rouge BE 306 in Caramel. Inspired by Japanese lacquerware, just one coat provides a silky smooth, intense color that doesn’t bleed. The high-shine effect is the ideal complement to your glowing skin too, while the formula moisturizes dry lips.

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