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The Violet Files

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Dewy, sexy, lit-from-within skin, in a flash.

Written by:
Sarah Brown & Lena Raff
Guide To Glow

Photographed by Chloé Horseman

The Goal: Golden Hour Glamour, 24/7
The Tools: All that shimmers
The Question: What to use—where, when, and how

There is an inordinate amount of beauty products out there in the world all devoted, broadly, to creating glowing, radiant skin. The kind of complexion that smacks of health, happiness, and outdoor leisure pursuits. We all want this skin. What we do not want is to have to wade through a shimmer-drenched mountain of products in order to find the very, very best items by which to achieve said incandescence. Fortunately, you have us for that. Here at VIOLET GREY, we try everything so you don’t have to—including the most refined glow-givers, which you will find below. As for the remaining question—what to use when, and where, and how?—we asked our esteemed brand-founders and all-star Committee members to break it all down.


WHY: When you simply can’t be bothered with artistry or technique, fluid highlighters are, hands down, the easiest way to get some glow. They also make a great base, and you can always add cream or powder later for more oomph. Consider them ideal essentials for the no-makeup-makeup, or the literally no-makeup, person. As for sparkling body oils, they’re just sexy.

WHERE: All over—face, body—for subtly glowing skin, or strategically dabbed for a sheer yet precise twinkle. For her brand-new Westman Atelier Liquid Super Loaded drops, makeup artist Gucci Westman created something she could use all over her face “without looking too pearly, sparkly, or glowy. It gives you a perfect finish because there is no color in the base,” she explains. “It’s a unique formula—the color comes from the micro-pearl, which makes it a very delicate radiance. It allows you to wear it all over without looking makeup-y, giving an ethereal finish to your skin.”

HOW: Mixed into moisturizer (or even sunscreen), tapped on top of foundation, or applied to bare skin, luminizing drops create the impression you've just had ten hours of sleep and a shot of espresso. Tap with your fingers; massage in with your hands. Yep, that’s it.


WHY: Precision, control, and a versatile, skin-like finish that looks polished, but not too perfected.

WHERE: Creams require ever so slightly more nuance than liquids, but the gleam you get on exactly the right spots—those high points of the face that catch the light—can be so worth the extra 30 seconds you’ll spend placing and pressing these rich formulations onto the skin for occasions that call for a little extra glamour. “You really want these on the outer perimeter of the face,” instructs master makeup artist and VG Committee member Sam Fine. “It's the cheeks, the crest of the forehead, the bridge of the nose, the cupid's bow. Those are the spaces on the face that move. So as you move, they catch light.”

HOW: Tap and press with your fingers. The warmth of skin-on-skin will melt in the product, making makeup look seamless and like the glow is all you. Makeup artist and RMS founder Rose-Marie Swift recommends using her molten gold, candlelight-in-a-jar Master Radiance Base anywhere you see fit—from cheekbones to eyelids (“use it as an eyeshadow—it looks amazing,” she promises), and even blended into lipstick.


WHY: For a glow that’s more dew than shimmer: juicy, hydrated, glass-like skin. Balms achieve a finish that can appear more natural-looking than powder or cream; application is more strategic than a liquid.

Ami Colé’s translucent Light Catching Highlighter, for example, is speckled with light-reflecting golden particles that let your natural complexion shine through, giving the impression that you just emerged from a tropical paradise (or the gym).

WHERE: The highpoints of the face as you would a cream—the tops of cheekbones, bridge of the nose, cupid’s bow, etc.—plus Swift has a sexy trick that takes advantage of balm’s dew-factor:  “Put a little bit on the center of the eyelid, a little dot just above the lash. It catches the light and makes eyes look twinkly and wet… sensual.”

HOW: Wear alone on bare skin for undone French girl luminosity, or popped on top of foundation and cream blush as a finishing touch and extra shot of sheen. Dab on with fingers.


WHY: They’re impeccable. As with, say, exquisite tailoring, powder highlighters make you look finished—deliberate, purposeful, polished. “They look a little more like makeup,” notes Fine. And sometimes, when au naturel is not de rigeur, makeup is befitting.

Powders are also terrific if you have oily skin and prefer shimmer to shine. If too much glow is a real concern, we love Westman Atelier’s Vital Pressed Skincare Powder because, as Gucci says, “it sweeps away excess oil while maintaining the radiance.” We are all about maintaining the radiance.

WHERE: Brow bones, tops of cheekbones, bridge of the nose, inner corners of the eyes, collar bones, shoulders.

HOW: For a diffused look that allows you to control the placement, dust on with a brush that isn’t too dense, like this highlighter brush or this fan brush.