How to wear illuminating make-up, with Instagram beauty expert Nam Vo

Nam Vo Instagram Inspiration for youthful skin
Cassie Steer,-Beauty Editor at Large

Dewy, glowing, youthful skin? You just need the right highlighting products and a few insider tricks. Make-up artist Nam Vo shows us how...

When it comes to the perfect glow, there’s arguably no one who does it better than Instagram’s most-hallowed highlighting queen and professional make-up artist Nam Vo. Her beautifully executed make-up masterpieces are a lesson in soft, seamless highlighting. In fact, so covetable are her glowy creations, they’ve earned their own #namvoglow hashtag.

Speaking of hashtags, New York-based Nam shot to Insta-fame when she first coined the term #dewydumplings – a make-up complexion trend that proceeded to go viral. For the uninitiated, ‘dewy dumpling’ refers to the juicy, glowing finish that you might recognise as a more wearable version of ‘glass skin’.

‘[Dumplings] are cute, moist, plump and delicious – just how you’d want your skin to look,’ explains Nam. How to create your own make-up masterstroke? Nam shows us how:

Prep like a pro

Glossy, glowing make-up starts with healthy, hydrated skin. According to Nam, you don’t need to have a flawless complexion to use illuminating make-up, but you do need to ensure it’s not dry.

‘I’m totally obsessed with skincare and do about seven steps as well as masks and peels. My parents are Vietnamese and I think Asian women just have a different outlook on skincare. I’m obsessed with masks and carry some with me whenever I travel. Exfoliating your skin is key to getting “the glow” as you have to slough off dead skin first if you want to achieve a dewy dumpling complexion.’

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Go with the glow

People with oily complexions often steer clear of illuminating make-up, but according to Nam everyone can sport a healthy glow. ‘We’ve been programmed to see shine as a bad thing and have got used to seeing matte, powdered skin as the norm. We’re taught to apply foundation first then loose powder on top. This means we get used to seeing ourselves a certain way, so it can take a little bit of transitioning. For me, precision powdering is the key. I like my cheeks to be shiny and moist – I don’t even care if they’re oily – then I just go in with a small eyeshadow brush and apply powder to the sides and tip of my nose, my chin and the middle of my forehead. I keep everywhere else really shiny and dewy.’

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Sculpting class

‘I actually do a lot of contouring, even on my most natural looks,’ says Nam. ‘People think of contouring as hard stripes, but to achieve a glow I’ll start by going in with a brown or caramel to chisel in the forehead, cheeks, nose and jawline before applying the highlight.’

If that sounds a little too complex for every day, Nam notes that you can cheat the dimensions of your face using highlighter too. ‘It depends on which of your features you want to accentuate – for wider faces, I’ll place the highlighter across the cheekbones at more of an acute angle, while for narrower faces I’ll angle it out more towards the temples.’

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Lighten up

How to proceed to Glowsville? ‘Before you start, you need to ask yourself, are you being photographed? Are you going to the office? Are you going to a dinner at night? This will affect how much you need to amp up the glow,’ says Nam. ‘For example, if you know you’re going to be photographed, you need to intensify things a lot.’

According to Nam, which highlighter you choose, whether it be shimmery, creamy or liquid, depends on your individual preference (she’s been known to mix things up, using up to six different types of highlighter per look). ‘Some people aren’t fans of shimmer and may prefer to do a sheer mist or a little glowy balm on the highs of the cheekbones, for example.’

Where to apply? ‘My favourite place is the high of the cheekbones. And then it’s down the bridge of the nose, the bow of the lip and I love to highlight the inner corner of the eyes as I just think it makes the eyes look more open and starlit.’

And when your skin is less than perfect? ‘You have to look at your target areas. For example, if I’ve broken out on my cheeks, that’s not where I’m going to put shimmery blush – instead I’d move the glow to the height of my cheekbone as pretty much no one breaks out there. Even if you’ve broken out all over you can still do a beautiful highlight on your lips or under your browbone – there are so many other points that you can highlight. And for more mature skin, I’d go for a liquid highlighter instead of a shimmery powder one.’

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Nam’s glow-to products

Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Champagne Pop
‘I use a lot of Becca – the Champagne and Prosecco Pops are good go-tos and suit most skintones.’

Giorgio Armani Neo Nude A-Highlight
‘This is another highlighter that’s just really beautiful. Liquid highlighters are great for achieving my dewy dumpling look.’

Dior Rosy Glow
‘Dior do some stunning highlighting palettes but I also like using blush to amplify glow. It’s the second largest place to illuminate after the highs of the cheekbones.’

Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation
‘If you feel you need more coverage, start with this perfecting foundation – it’ll give the illusion of a radiant complexion.’

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