Fun fact: The subtle “wet” sheen everyone and their mother’s so K-razy about these days hails from what’s referred to in K-Beauty circles as Mul-Kwang-Pi-Bu, or “water glow” in Korean. Now you know!
But here’s the thing.The delightfully dewy complexion so coveted in today’s K-Obsessed world can be problematic to pull off in Singapore’s searing weather.
Take it from an expert: “A full face of shine can be very challenging to execute in real life,” notes makeup artist Larry Yeo. “I usually advise my clients who insist on dewy skin to let humidity do the work.” He’s jesting, of course, but the key takeaway is this: There’s an exceedingly fine line to tread between glowy and greasy, especially in Singapore’s clime.
If you absolutely must ape the complexion of your favourite K-Pop idol, here are a couple of “illuminating” tricks to try:
TIP #1. Prime time (but minus serum!). First things first. Get your fundamentals right by prepping your skin with a luminising base and “top coat” duo like say, Shu Uemura’s sensational Stage Performer Glow Creator and Lightbulb Fluid Foundation – but there’s a catch.
“When you’re using a highlighting product, avoid layering a rich serum underneath because that will be overkill,” advises Dollei Seah, creative director of Makeup Entourage. My suggestion: Pair your pearlescent primer with a watery day serum for maximum hydration and minimum heaviness.
TIP #2. Train the “spotlight” on very specific areas. Modern makeup isn't about blanket coverage. Instead, think of yourself as a cinematographer and your face as the frame; the secret to great-looking skin, then, is knowing where to direct your audience’s attention – or where to “place” the light, essentially.
As per Larry’s advice: “If you have great skin, a tiny bit of Nars Multiple shimmer stick on the higher points of your face could work, as would any area where light hits: Think nose-bridge, cupid’s bow and such. If you ‘die-die’ must have an all-over sheen, try smoothing in M.A.C’s Prep + Prime Natural Radiance or SK-II Auractivator CC Cream.”
That’s all well and good, but here’s the kicker: There are a few hot spots that don’t necessarily look good when shiny. Steer clear of – and jot this down, please – the sides of the nose and between the eyebrows: “No woman will ever look good with a dewy nostril or any sort of shine between the eyebrows, because the light will actually distort the face.”
TIP #3. Mix, matte and match. Now that you know where the no-go no-glow zones are, here’s how to, as Larry Yeo very cannily puts it, “look dewy at strategic spots and matte at the right places.” For this purpose, bespoke blends are the way to go. Mixing different textures together for a tailored fit is a favourite trick of backstage professionals, and it isn’t all that complicated.
Here’s how. Start with a light-reflecting fluid foundation by way of say, Astalift Lighting Perfection Moist Pure Liquid UV SPF25/PA++. Blend well with a fluffy foundation brush, then switch to a matte-finish concealer to “spot” correct any pimples peeking through your base.
You can also consider concocting your own custom illuminator for use on the aforementioned higher planes of the face. My recipe: One part M.A.C’s Mineralize Moisture SPF 15 to one part VDL Lumilayer Primer. Use this extra-moist custom “highlighter” on your cheekbones for a sexy, out-of-the-shower look.
Beauty Bonus: If you’re going for broke, top up with a pen-type formula like YSL’s legendary Touche Eclat: Simply swipe along the nose bridge and under the eyes to draw attention to the middle of your face; dot on your cupid’s bow to give your puckers a poutier appearance; and finish with a dab in the middle of your chin. Easy-peasy.
Time for a quick recap, then. First, prep with a light serum under a glowy primer; then mix and match your foundations and concealers: Luminous first, concealer later, and avoid highlighter between the brows and around the nose. Other than that caveat, go right ahead and light up to your heart’s content.
Follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way to looking like one of those ruddy-cheeked, K-Drama lasses caught in a gentle garden drizzle – fresh, flirty and very Mul-Kwang-Pi-Bu!