How To Wear Shimmer and Glitter, the Grown-Up Way

We're going for "glowy and sun-kissed," not the Kesha look.
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Rikki Ciminsky
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We're going for "glowy and sun-kissed," not the Kesha look.
Kesha glitter

People like Kesha here probably have you thinking that wearing sparkles on your skin is way too over-the-top, if not downright gaudy and cheesy—and that we should leave the glitter for kindergarteners to play with.

I have to admit, when I came across this picture, it made me question my own sparkle usage. Did I look this tacky when I whipped out my sparkly makeup palettes?! Granted, I had never before placed individual chunks of glitter onto my chest or drawn glittery tentacles around my eyes (I know, whut?!)... but you could see how a girl would begin to doubt her makeup choices!

Well, I am here to make sure you don't go running to your makeup bag and bathroom cabinet to toss out these shiny, happy things. I, for one, LOVE sparkle, and refuse to give up on it!

The difference between glitter and shimmer

Sparkle doesn't have to be tacky. You just have to make sure you pick the products that aren't glittery, but rather, shimmery. 

Look at it this way: shimmer is the adult version of glitter. It consists of tiny, barely detectable micro-light reflectors that give you a natural-looking glow. See, look how flawless Jessica Alba's skin looks here:

Jessica Alba body shimmer

Totally NOT tacky, right? If you use it properly, sparkle doesn't have to make a bold, disco ball-esque statement—it can just transform your skin into glowy perfection.

And it just so happens, I have a few personal shimmer favourites. Whether you prefer a spray, a lotion, or a good ol' pressed powder, there is definitely something that will work for you.

Shimmer spray

I discovered The Sparkler back in December at The Body Shop's holiday event; it's reminiscent of an old vintage perfume bottle and for that reason has earned a spot atop my dresser for display.

The Body Shop The Sparkler

The Body Shop The Sparkler All Over Shimmer, $24.00

At first, it seemed to me more like a product that should have been launched in the summer. The gold- and copper-toned shimmer is absolutely perfect for enhancing a sun-kissed glow. Don't get me wrong, I totally understand the sparkle aspect of winter (HULLO, NEW YEARS EVE), but I just couldn't quite wedge it into my winter makeup regimen. Now that summer is here, I am—oddly enough—rocking this and totally loving it.

When you squeeze the pump, a cute little puff of air shoots out, along with a super-fine shimmer in either gold or copper. The Sparkler makes lighter skin look fresh and healthy, and gives tanned skin a wonderful extra glow. I swear, Beyoncé must have used some Dazzling Copper here:

Beyonce with body shimmer

Added Bonus: The makeup artist at The Body Shop event told me that you can also spray The Sparkler into your hair after your hairspray or dry shampoo. It’s a quick and simple way to add a little shine to your hair for a night out.

Shimmery sunscreen and moisturizer

Another great option is the Shimmer Effect collection from Hawaiian Tropic, which includes sunscreens in varying SPF levels and an After Sun Moisturizer.

Hawaiian Tropic Shimmer Effect

Hawaiian Tropic Shimmer Effect Sunscreen, $9.99, and Hawaiian Tropic Shimmer Effect After Sun Moisturizer, $7.99

I discovered this from one of my closest friends, who is a moisturizing lotion connoisseur. She has a different lotion for each body part and meticulously moisturizes head to toe after every shower. One day, I noticed how extra-glowy and amazing her legs looked, and it was this sunscreen—so I knew we had a shimmery lotion winner on our hands. I really hate the smell and texture of sunscreen, but now I have the Shimmer Effect collection in my sunscreen basket.

Protected and luminous skin? Yes, please!

Brush-on shimmer with bronzer

The Body Shop's Honey Bronze Brilliance Powder gives shimmer with a bronzed tint—which is great, but my love for it is mainly because of its brilliant packaging:

The Body Shop Honey Bronze Brilliance Powder

The Body Shop Honey Bronze Brilliance Powder, $22.00

The loose, shimmery pigment is right inside the handle of the makeup brush! As you sweep it across your skin, it's released down the handle, through the bristles, and onto your face. I have NO idea how the brush knows the exact amount of product it should dispense, but it just does. #makeupmagic.

If you look closely at this picture of Olivia Munn, you can totally see the shimmer that was swept along her shoulders and upper arms.

Olivia Munn shimmer shoulders

I like to think brushing this product over my shoulders causes people to confuse me for Olivia Munn.

Just kidding. But really, I like to use this product on my decolletage and shoulders (and if I'm tan enough, my face). Which brings me to my next point. Unfortunately, I can only use this product in the summer. The dark shade of the loose pigment gives skin quite a bronzed look, so if I'm not tan enough, the product is a little too dark for me.

Brush-on shimmer sans bronzer

Speaking of tans, you don't need to have one—at all—to wear shimmer. You just need to choose a shimmery product that doesn't have any bronze elements, like Hayden Panettiere did here:

Hayden Panettiere shimmer

If you are looking for just a straight-up shimmer, please meet my FAVOURITE highlighter of all time. We go way back.

Sephora Collection Microsmooth Luminizer in Light Beam

Sephora Collection Microsmooth Luminizer, $15.00

At the beginning of high school, I decided that if I needed to get my ass out of bed for first period Math for the next four years, I better get a highlighting product that would make me look awake—since the course content sure wouldn't be keeping me alert. I waltzed into Sephora and grabbed the first shimmery highlighter I saw (back then it was called Highlighting Compact Powder in Pink). Since then, they've re-worked their pink-tinted compact highlighter many times with different formulas and different names; some I liked, some not so much. But, it just so happens, this current one is the closest it's ever been to the original that I fell in love with many years ago.

It's my fave highlighting powder for my face (although it's also great to brush onto your chest for a night out). This product is perfect for winter when I ain't so tan, and know that a shimmery bronzer just wouldn't look so natural (read: Oompa Loompa central). The Microsmooth Luminizer doesn't add any colour, but rather, makes skin look luminous and fresh with micro-sparkles. (I'm warning you though, get ready to really glisten in the light if you use this! Those micro-sparkles mean SERIOUS BUSINESS.)

So, my point is: sparkle does not have to be gaudy and trashy. It's all about the kind of sparkle you use. Which, let me reiterate, is shimmer, not glitter.

And, my other point? You don't need a tan to have perfectly luminous skin. All you need are the right shimmer products. Have you read about Fiona Locke yet? Her JOB is all about giving celebrities really fresh, healthy-looking skin... which no longer requires bronzed skin, or even bronzer!

I'm saying, let's use sparkles wisely. Let's stock up on the shimmer, and leave the glitter for the pre-schoolers. Well, except for our nails.

Do you agree: shimmer, not glitter?
Do you ever enhance your skin this way—face, body or both?
What are your favourite illuminating products?