This Is How I Get Glowy 'Instagram Skin', Without Using a Filter

Emily Algar Glowy SkinEmily Algar Glowy Skin

If beauty signatures were a thing (are they?), I like to think mine would be my glowy, luminous makeup aesthetic.

I’m certainly no pioneer, but it’s one sub-section of beauty I feel I’ve nailed down to a fine science (unlike winged liner, which is in the too hard basket for me). 

Scroll Instagram and you'll see selfie after selfie of people with ridiculously glowy skin captioned #nofilter or #nomakeup. But here's the thing - good lighting aside, I'd bet my highlighter that aforementioned no makeup look actually involved... several makeup products.

How do I know this? Because I’ve also spent a great deal of time perfecting the 'lit from within' makeup technique for that IRL Paris filter you can see below.

Emily Algar Golwy SkinEmily Algar Golwy Skin

I'm the first to admit, life isn’t a Maybelline commercial. I wasn’t born with it. Instead, I’ve got a finely-tuned set of products that deliver glowy, dewy radiance, but in a way that feels believable. Pores and all.

So, keep scrolling for my 'Instagram skin' makeup routine. There are a few steps, but I promise you the reward (glow) is worth it – even if just for the selfie.  

Firstly, What Is Instagram Skin? 

'Instagram skin' is a term I use loosely because it can feel problematic (I could write a thesis on filters, but we can save that for another day).

In the context of this article, my definition of Instagram skin stems from the countless DMs I’ll receive asking me how I get my skin so glowy whenever I post a shameless selfie.

Basically, it’s skin that glows, sans filter!

You can also watch Ruchi Page's glowy makeup video in our YouTube tutorial below!

My Glowy Skin Look.

First, here are the products you'll need:

Step 1: SPF Skin Prep.

Because we're here chatting on Adore Beauty, I probably don’t need to preach the benefits of wearing SPF daily (you can read more about it here if you need a refresher).

But personally, I find sunscreen one of the most effective ways to add luminosity to my skin, especially if the formula is super hydrating. 

Ultra Violette Queen Screen SPF 50+ Luminising Sun Serum has a creamy, emollient consistency and spreads over skin like a dream. Not only does it offer broad spectrum protection, but dewiness as well.

It’s a yes from me. 

Emily Algar Glowy SkinEmily Algar Glowy Skin

Step 2: Primer (Sort Of).

I am on the fence about primers. I find most are either too mattifying or so full of silicones they leave me looking flat.

I want pores. I want skin texture. I also want a tiny bit of sweat shine to come through as I power walk to the café to get a long black. 

Enter Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Hydrating Primer- it refines skin texture just enough to ensure my makeup doesn’t feel like it’s going to slip off.

My trick is to apply it with a flat foundation brush and really buff into the skin. 

Emily Algar Glowy SkinEmily Algar Glowy Skin

Step 3: Coverage.

When it comes to any coverage product, less is more in the context of glow (even on days when you want to dip your head into a bucket of foundation). 

For this, I like a lightweight foundation, tinted moisturiser or CC Cream. IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream SPF50 is great for the days I want a little more coverage, whereas M.A.C Cosmetics Studio Face and Body Foundation is the ultimate sheer tint. On a good day, I’ll go half/half with primer. 

My method is to take a small amount of product and apply to the centre of my face with a damp beauty blender. Sometimes, I skip my nose entirely.

This is a trick I learnt from French makeup artist @violette_fr – it gives the illusion that you’re not wearing foundation at all. For the outer peripherals, spot concealing is generally sufficient.

The goal here is coverage that’s imperceptible, so be sure to really bounce the product into the skin. 

Emily Algar Golwy SkinEmily Algar Golwy Skin

Step 4: Cheek Colour.

Cream blush is like caffeine, for your skin. It's the perfect way to fake looking vibrant, even when you’re feeling far from it.

I love the Napoleon Perdis Cheek Switch Crème Blush Stick in Save The Coral for a healthy, dewy flush. I just apply straight from the bullet to the apples of my cheeks and blend with my fingers. 

Emily Algar Golwy SkinEmily Algar Golwy Skin

Step 5: Highlighter.

Highlighter is an obvious inclusion but still a very important one. You want to pick something dewy and translucent for the most natural looking result. Anything overly chromatic will have a foil-like finish, which is great but not what we’re going for here. 

The Giorgio Armani Fluid Sheer Highlighter is magic: light, luminous but melts into the skin. I use my fingers to tap it across cheekbones, eyelids and the Cupid’s bow. Who needs a filter, anyway? 

Step 6: Magic Mist.

Emily Algar Golwy SkinEmily Algar Golwy Skin

Mist! Some might say they’re just good marketing, but I beg to differ.

I’ve been using M.A.C Cosmetics Prep + Prime Fix+ mist for years and there’s something special about it.

It has a soft focus effect on my skin that seems to set makeup without compromising radiance. It works brilliantly to prime skin too, but I prefer it as a final step.