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Skin Enhancers: The Glow-Boosters Everyone Is Loving Right Now

Skin Enhancers: The Glow-Boosters Everyone Is Loving Right Now featured image
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If they’re not highlighter and not foundation, what are they? Skin enhancers are one of the most popular categories in makeup right now, and one of the easiest ways to boost your glow fast. Whether the formula is a sheer liquid that comes in a dropper format, or a richer, more pigmented cream, its versatility is what makes this type of product shine. It’s also a great option for summertime skin: that effortless, “no-makeup makeup” look, or an extra glow on top of full glam. Here, experts fill us in on everything to know about skin enhancers, including how to choose the right shade.

Featured Experts


What are skin enhancers?

In 2001, Kevyn Aucoin launched his innovative The Sensual Skin Enhancer, a first-of-its-kind product. Little did he know, it would become a makeup icon and still be a best-seller nearly 23 years later. Not a foundation and not a highlighter, the “complexion perfector” is incredibly versatile. “It can be used as a foundation, concealer, contour and eye brightener, providing all-in-one convenience in a singular product,” says Drita Paljevic, head makeup artist for Kevyn Aucoin Beauty. “Inspired by the flawless beauty of Japanese Geisha, it’s considered a staple for professional makeup artists and consumers alike.”

Most skin enhancers contain reflective pigments that allow them to add luminosity or shimmer to the skin. Celebrity makeup artist Natalie Dresher explains that some skin enhancers are also designed to customize your foundation or skin care to create a desired look. “There are glowy enhancers, bronzing enhancers, blushing enhancers and hybrids of all these. A skin enhancer is the best way to elevate your makeup look without technical skill.” If you decide to mix your enhancer into another product, Dresher says it eliminates the need to know where the product goes, because it’s mixed in with another product and applied all over your face.

The Kosas Glow I.V. Vitamin-Infused Skin Enhancer looks beautiful mixed with foundation. “It wasn’t designed as a replacement to our Foundation or BB Burst for coverage,” brand founder Sheena Zadeh says. “It provides a hint of tint for a lit-up glow that radiates from the skin. Use it alone under makeup, mixed in with makeup, or added on top for extra glow.”

How to Choose the Right Skin Enhancer

Choose a skin enhancer that will complement your skin type and tone, says Dresher. “If you have oily skin, a glowy enhancer may not work best for you. But, if your skin is very dry, a glowy enhancer will give you that healthy, lit-from-within look. If you have a very fair complexion, a bronzing enhancer may pull too orange on your skin tone. But, if you love a tanned look, a bronzing enhancer is a safe way to achieve that. A skin enhancer, for the most part, is universal. I personally prefer warmer tones on my skin, but others may prefer cooler tones. Picking a skin enhancer with cool and warm tones in mind is the best way to do it.”  

Paljevic says to choose a skin enhancer shade the same way you would choose your foundation or concealer. “If you are using a skin enhancer as an eye brightener, go two to three shades lighter than your normal concealer. If you are using it to contour, select from the darker shades that are similar to your go-to contour shade.” The Sensual Skin Enhancer can also be used as a color corrector. “In this case, choose from shades 5, 9 or 13, all of which have a peach undertone,” Paljevic adds.

How to Apply a Skin Enhancer

Application method for skin enhancers depends on the type of product you are using. Always look to the brand for guidance first, as they will recommend directions according to how the product was designed. To combine a skin enhancer with foundation or skin care, mix one to three drops (or a tiny amount) on the back of your hand with the product of your choice. “Then you apply it all over your face, and not in any particular, pinpointed area,” says Dresher. For some people, mixing a bronzing enhancer into moisturizer would create a beautiful, natural-looking glow. There are so many new bronzing drops hitting the market right now.

For The Sensual Skin Enhancer specifically, Paljevic says to begin with a small amount, about the size of a rice grain. “Make sure your skin is moisturized and prepped, and gradually add layers for more coverage, or as needed. Or, you can mix it with primer, moisturizer or highlighter to customize it.”

Zadeh recommends three main ways to wear her Glow I.V. “For an allover glow, apply it on hydrated skin using your fingers or a damp blender sponge. Or, you can mix it with your foundation or skin care and apply it with your fingers or a damp sponge. And lastly, for a targeted glow, apply your foundation or BB cream first, and then use Glow I.V. for a targeted highlight. Aim for where the light naturally hits: the high points of your cheeks, the bridge of your nose, your Cupid’s bow, and your brow bones.”

5 Skin Enhancers to Try

1 / 5

Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer ($37)

In addition to everything Paljevic describes above, this cult-classic comes in 16 shades and is fragrance-free, waterproof and sweat-resistant. In 2021, the brand relaunched the product with new packaging (clear glass jars) so you can now see each shade.

BUY AT KEVYN AUCOIN BEAUTY – $37

BUY AT SPACE NK – $41.50

2 / 5

Kosas Glow I.V. Vitamin-Infused Skin Enhancer ($38)

“I love how this product is so versatile, you really can customize to your own preference,” says Zadeh, noting that it comes in 10 shades. “I wanted to make a product meant for a glow that gets noticed, and I think Glow I.V. does just that. It also provides your daily dose of silicone-free, hypoallergenic, non-acnegenic, and safe-for-sensitive-skin nutrients, including glutathione and algae extracts.”

BUY AT KOSAS – $38

BUY AT REVOLVE – $38

3 / 5

Cover FX Custom Enhancer Drops ($42)

“I absolutely love these,” says Drescher. “There are seven shades covering almost every undertone. Blossom and Golden Bronze are my favorites, as I prefer a pinkier look and love a bronzed goddess look in the warmer months.” 

BUY NOW – $42

4 / 5

Tarte Key Largo Glow Bronzing Drops ($35)

“These are my favorite for bronzing and glowing,” says Dresher. “I love that they have different shade depths [there are four shades], so it’s great for everyone’s skin tone!”

BUY AT REVOLVE – $35

BUY AT TARTE – $35

5 / 5

Drunk Elephant B-Goldi Bright Drops 

“These are impeccable when the sun hits your face and subtle enough to wear barefaced just mixed in with your moisturizer or SPF,” says Dresher.

BUY AT SEPHORA – $38

BUY AT SPACE NK – $44.20

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