The Eternal Battle: Glow vs Shine

The Eternal Battle: Glow vs Shine

With 2023 being one of the warmest years ever on record and Wellington coming out of a very hot weather moment, let's talk about shine.

We’re big fans of glowing skin at Iris. And big fans of brands who are big fans of glowing skin. But there is a fine line between glow and shine and riding that line through a full, hot day of being a person can be a lot. In my experience* the best way to avoid excess shine is to pare back what you are using on your skin. The fewer textures you layer, the less it's likely to move around.

As with everything skincare-makeup-beauty adjacent there is a lot of "it depends".
It depends on the state of your skin.
It depends on the products you are using (skincare and makeup).
It depends on the environment your skin is exposed to during the day.

There is much nuance, and I will never be the person to go full rulesy on you.

So, let's start with skincare - If you are layering multiple serum/s, moisturiser and a sunscreen in the morning, you're likely to feel sticky and look shiny (formula dependent of course). If your skin is an oil slick by mid-morning, try paring back your skincare. You may just need a hydrating serum and a sunscreen. You may want to use a lighter weight moisturiser when it heats up but give your skin a great whack of hydration with a beautiful balm at night to replenish it. The one non-negotiable is not scrimping on sun protection. Please find a sunscreen that feels good on your skin and use it liberally, always.

If your skin naturally veers toward oily, don't fall into the trap of holding back on oils. As much as you might think this will help control oily skin, it's a dangerous game. Skin needs oil to do its good work, and if you're fastidious with cleansing, plus you're exfoliating with BHAs (as is all the rage atm) but then withholding replenishment (both oil and hydration) your skin may start producing more oil to try to rebalance itself.

If you fall into the dry or very dry skinned camp, use your ultra moisturising products just where you need them - usually cheeks and perhaps a touch on the forehead and chin, before applying sunscreen all over.

Moving onto makeup – Again let's try to reduce some of the layers and thicker textures or coverage. Can you go without foundation and use a light textured concealer that has awesome pigment just where you feel you need it to give you a bit more coverage. Can you use a tinted moisturiser to give you some evenness with a concealer?

Apply your base and leave it to settle while you do the rest of your makeup, and check in with your glow before you leave the house. Is it too much? Does your skin feel wet or sticky? Then, and only then apply a very, very light powder through your t-zone (forehead, nose and chin) to keep the shine in line. When you’ve spent an amount of time finding the perfect base products to keep your skin looking like skin, the last thing you want to do is apply a powder with more coverage and adding texture to the skin. Reapplying a powder onto sticky skin during the day can make your makeup go a bit south. If you feel like you need to freshen up your base use a blotting paper to remove excess oil. Then come in with the tiniest bit of concealer where needed.

So why not just use a powder foundation? There are skins which will work really well with a powder foundation, but they do need to be applied all over the face to look normal, they're not as easy to apply only in certain areas where coverage is needed. So you're starting out with more makeup and texture on the skin when our goal was to reduce the layers.

Then of course, there are shine reducing primers and makeup setting sprays that lock everything in. There are a time and place for these, but I'd tend to tweak the other layers you’re applying before adding in another product. Primers are fantastic if you’re wanting a band aid, an instant result – say when your skin is looking dull, and you need glow NOW. An anti-shine primer may be a final option for someone who is very oily and finds that no tweaking of their skincare or makeup works. Or who is happy with their overall glow but whose nose tips over to shine by 10am. Use these kind of primers only where you need them (nose, chin and maybe forehead). 

So, how do we stay on the right side of glow?
It depends on your skin, your products and your day.
Reduce the texture you're layering on your skin.
Be thoughtful around why you are applying each product and where your skin needs it. 

If you need some help navigating the nuance of skincare and makeup, reach out to us at or pop into store to see us. 


*20 years as a working makeup artist

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