Whether you have 5 seconds or 5 weeks, here’s how to brighten your look

Whether you have five seconds or five weeks to spend on brightening your look, here are our top skincare and makeup hacks to get you there and to make the most of your time.


You don’t want to spend long because you’ve got things to do, people to see (online, or in limited numbers, of course), so it’s all about high impact, low effort here.

Reach for an easy-to-use highlighter that you can apply with fingers only – no tools needed! Swipe on Westman Atelier’s Lit Up Highlight Stick and tap it out to blend for a sheer, wet-look iridescence that will make your skin look ultra quenched. For powder formulations that can be swept over cheekbones (boom) or dabbed with a finger for a focused glow in the inner corners of the eye, try Jouer’s Powder Highlighter which is a unique, super soft and silky formula that’ll melt onto the skin, or Mecca Cosmetica’s Enlightened Lit From Within Powder, a high impact shimmery-not-glittery highlighter (and a MECCA favourite).

To amp up the intensity of the glow, use the MAC Fix + Magic Radiance mist to spray the brush before applying highlighter or eyeshadow. Plus, this mist is packed with vitamin C and hyaluronic acid for added skin brightening benefits and hydration.

The RMS Living Luminizer is another iconic highlighter at MECCA, delivering a satiny, pearly glow that looks like it’s part of your skin. For a highlighter hack to counteract dark, puffy under-eye circles (which, technically will probably take you slightly over five seconds but trust us, it’s worth it), pat on RMS Living Luminizer before layering your favourite under-eye concealer on top (here’s a list of our bestselling concealers).

If you’ve already highlighted or want to brighten your even more so, blush is the underrated and commonly overlooked step. As with the fingers-only formulas above, try the Ilia Multi Stick which is a cream-to-blush concoction. Buildable with a light level of sheen, it adds a natural flush of colour to wherever you need it on the face.

And, no brightening look is amiss without the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder. While it’s technically a setting powder, it almost feels like a disservice to call it just that because it does so much more – and all you need is a five second all-over dusting to look like you’re constantly bathed in the most flattering light because of the photoluminescent technology and multi-dimensional pigment.

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Primer is an other overlooked makeup step but taking the extra 30 seconds for it in your routine will pay back in dividends.

Since primers are closest to being the ‘skincare’ part of your makeup, it’s important to choose the right one for you, depending on your type of skin and the effect you want.

For those with oily skin who still want a (controlled) dewy look, try the MECCA MAX Bring on Bright primer. For a more subtle glow, go for the oil-free Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer SPF 15. For combination skin, turn to the award-winning Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer or the fan favourite Stila One Step Correct which is more suited for mature skin; its colour-correcting formula is the stuff of legends. If you’re after a hit of hydration while priming, the bestselling, water-based Too Faced Hangover Primer will deliver a natural skin radiance thanks to added probiotics.

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And because you have a bit more time to really go on the glow, it’s time to focus on the eyes. For a subtle hint of brightening, use the MECCA MAX Starlit Glow Pencil or the Urban Decay 24/7 Glide On Eye Pencil in white to precisely highlight the inner corners of the eye – you can also use these to detail the cupid’s bow.

For colour on the lids, at MECCA we love the Kosas 10 Second Eye Shadow. Shake well before use (it’s water-based and as with Kosas’ clean ethos, its products don’t use unnecessary stabilisers) and use this water-based eye product like a liner or blend it gently before it sets for a softer, watercolour-esque look. Likewise, the Ellis Faas Creamy Eyes is a liquid to powder formula infused with flower and coffee extracts that has long-lasting coverage with a featherweight feel. Made by one of the most influential makeup artists of her generation (dubbed by Vogue Paris, no less), Ellis Faas can always be depended on for high performing makeup.

A long-time MECCA favourite is the By Terry Ombre Blackstar which is an eyeshadow crayon with intense colour and light-catching pigment thanks to the inclusion of crushed Tahitian pearl extract. Scribble it on your lid and blend out with your finger. Or, use it to add colour exactly where you need it. It’s a multi-purpose eye product and can also be used to create a great base for a smokey eye. (How? We have a video here showing you how).

If you’re a fan of makeup which allows you to let loose and draw, the Laura Mercier Caviar Eye Stick is another one to try. Creamy and velvety, it’ll also stay on for 12 hours without creasing. With a slight sparkle to it, think of it as a souped-up eyeliner, perfect for smudging out.

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Vitamin C is a morning skincare necessity for brightening. The REN Radiance Daily Vitamin C Gel is a silky gel that absorbs quickly and is suited for more sensitive skin. For a more potent vitamin C choice, reach for the Perricone Vitamin C Brightening Serum which uses a stronger form of vitamin C, whilst also toning and tightening the skin. As always, don’t forget to apply SPF after your morning vitamin C skincare hit.

The Eve Lom Radiance Facial Oil does what its name says it will. Blending vitamin C with hydrating hemp, Abyssinian and avocado oils, this luxurious face oil nourishes the skin and imbues it with 12-hour plus glow; prolonged use will keep the glow going on (of course), calm and soothe skin and fight signs of ageing.

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You’re in it for the long haul, so let’s do it properly.

Combining traditional beauty rituals with cutting edge technology, Japanese brand Shiseido have nailed brightening skincare, which is a major concern in Asia. Their new Shiseido White Lucent Illuminating Micro-Spot Serum lightens spots and brightens skin with ReNeura Technology+™ and Sakura-Bright complex. 89 percent of subjects in a test noticed a difference after just one week.

For mature skin, the Chantecaille Blanc Gardenia Essence is a gentle yet effective addition to your skincare routine that prevents discolouration and makes skin appear more even. Botanic-based ingredients like garden cress and Chinese cabbage roots and stem cell extracts dissolves the look of dark spots whilst also firming and toning up the skin, while water lily extract minimises future damage.

The Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective Serum is a powerful targeted blend with results appearing in as little as two weeks; by eight weeks, 87 percent of women using this product “clinically demonstrated more uniform skin tone” and more clarity in the skin. It also protects the skin from further discolouration and unevenness and fades acne scars. Since it’s so targeted, be sure to only use this where scars and discolouration on the skin occur.

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