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My Bad-Day Beauty Secret: Highlighter

The other day I was feeling awful. Dreadful. As in, don’t-talk-to-me-unless-you’re-willing-to-get-sucked-into-20-minutes-of-more-than-you-bargained-for terrible. So when an old friend told me I looked “radiant” that evening, I had to laugh.

“Radiant.” That’s the kind of compliment people get when they’re just-married or pregnant—not on four hours' sleep, fading fast and feeling like hell. I wish I could tell you that I've finally mastered the art of no longer wearing my feelings on my sleeve—or more accurately, my face—but it wasn’t that at all. It was the glimmering peach highlighter.

When the chips are down, I up the shimmer: In my experience, a luminous complexion belies whatever’s eating you inside. With their illuminating pearls, micro-shimmer pigments and light-refracting bits of heaven—beauty brands sound like Tolkien when selling this stuff—luminizers really do lend a soft-focus, almost idyllic glow to the skin, completely eclipsing any po-faced expression. And when your skin looks alive and glowing, no one will worry about you. Instead of casting sympathetic glances your way, they’ll be shaking you down for beauty tips and the name of your derm. The best part: You’ll be so surprised and flattered, you’ll almost forget what was bumming you out in the first place.

There are only two things to remember when it comes to luminzer. First, look for one in a warm, neutral shade—anything silvery is way too party-party for a daylight setting. And second, exercise moderation: Unless it's an illuminating moisturizer, relegate highlighting sticks, powders and creams to the cheekbones, brow bones and inner corners of the eyes. If you’re really feeling dismal, do what makeup artist Dick Page does—dab the tip of your nose with highlighter. It sounds kooky, but it gives your entire face a wonderful lift.

If you’re looking for a great luminizing product—some are better than others—check out the five I have in my arsenal.

This lightweight lotion gives skin a dewy look. Rather than wear it under makeup, I like to just add a little concealer where needed.

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