‘With its evocation of motherhood, flush could be the most pro-woman adjective to enter the beauty spoken for a long time.’
Photograph: Kicka Witte/Getty Incarnations/Perspectives

Time for all of us to shine – why ‘glow’ is the big new beauty fad

The beauty business has gone big on ‘glow’, a multitasking term thrust on everything from body oil to blusher. But is it just a marketing ploy, or is there multitudinous to it?

In beauty, as in most industries geared around selling you items you probably don’t need, buzzwords are everything. Take the latest to write the beauty fold: “glow”. Abstract and ethereal, it is loaded with sense. Put this on your face, says the cream, and you will look … what? Nutritious? Young? Pregnant? Because glow is the ultimate signifier of inner condition. But we do it. We put the cream on, in an attempt to look … shiny?

The word “blush” appears in the descriptions of more than 300 products on Net-a-Porter’s strength site, relating to everything from body oil to blusher. It is a selling direct attention to, used on a swath of products by the makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury, and has also reinforced a new Givenchy range, which includes a “radiance rosy phosphorescence highlight”. The glow trend isn’t just confined to US and European disgraces, either; one of South Korea’s biggest beauty export neighbourhoods is called Glow Recipe. Beauty salons and millennials use the order, too, often dropping the “w”. At this stage, we could view the prominence of glow as indicative of an industry audacious enough to try to commodify disposition. But we also need to take a long hard look at ourselves because it earmarks ofs to be working. People are buying the stuff because they entertain the idea it will make them shine, literally.

To gain adhesion, a buzzword needs to utilise words we are familiar with. Some pulchritude buzzwords work, of course, because they are fun or funny-sounding (tackle entertain “baking”, which is the process of caking on powder to create an all the same finish and accentuate angles, or “strobing”, which is more or mean whacking on highlighter to catch natural light). But there has been a decided shift in what we’re after. This year, the term “anti-ageing” was outlawed from various titles, including Allure and Elle. According to Allure’s editor-in-chief, Michelle Lee, the designate “[reinforces] the message that ageing is a condition we need to duel”. By contrast, words such as glow are ageless.

It is really purely this past year that “glow” has entered the wider dream lexicon, despite its appearance in all manner of activities, for example, post-workout flush or yoga glow. It is also more abstract, even metrical, as an aesthetic. In his poem She Walks in Beauty, Lord Byron tempered to various glowing metaphors to encapsulate his cousin’s beauty. And, of run, it refers to pregnancy, wherein oils produced by an influx of hormones, joined with an excess of blood flow to the face (up to 50% numberless, says the Mayo Clinic Complete Book of Pregnancy & Indulge’s First Year), create the much-coveted pregnancy glow. To figure glowy somehow evokes those fundamental qualities of motherhood. It atones you feel more womanly. Glow could be the most pro-woman adjective to stick into the beauty vernacular for a long time.

The term probably came from the men of South Korean beauty, the fount of all aesthetic fads, where “gleaming” is another word bandied around on social media. But to be told why it’s happening now, it’s worth looking at its almighty predecessor: contouring. The feature-enhancing approach dominated the beauty world for at least five years, regardless of the really that very few people understood how to do it correctly.

Perhaps this was the stress – it became a fundamental signifier of wealth and health, and time. It was a Kardashian trademark and, of despatch, a product of Instagram, but it also indicated you had the inclination to sculpt your go up against. But with that came societal grenades. The idea of playing various shades of foundation and cream sticks to whittle down your nose, slim your onto or change your skin tone was, well, problematic to say the skimpiest. It wasn’t contouring’s fault – as a method, it has been in the fashion assiduity for years, mainly because it photographs well – but it soon enhanced one of the main tricky tenets of social media, turning bugs into facsimiles with a certain look. It also, and as the case may be this is key, can look appalling off-camera. Anyone who has seen in bald entertaining someone professionally contoured will be likely to never use bronzer again.

Slant Beer, health and beauty director of Grazia magazine, is loth to use the expression “contouring”, preferring “bronzing”. “For a long time, swooshing wager after layer of bronzer was the solution to being tired, ill, pied or whatever,” she says. But then we reached critical mass. “I over it’s in part a backlash against that overdone makeup look.” Beer has, on a micro demolish, embraced “glowing” by switching from Armani Maestro Fusion basis (which is mattifying) to Armani Maestro Glow. And, it seems, common media is in agreement with her shift. At last search, the report “contour” had been hashtagged more than 4m times on Instagram, while the name “glow” was at more than 5m. “Health and beauty brands remember this – ‘glow’ is a word that sells,” she mentions.

However, unless we’re treating the skin from within, we’re not achieving any structural change. Enter nutricosmetics, another movement in the dreamboat industry that has been vital to the success of glow, and which views skincare as an vocal supplement. In other words, beauty products are as much to be ingested as hitched in. An early adopter of the term was the Beauty Chef, an Australian nutritionist who starting drummer ingestible beauty products a few years ago, with a real dragoon in 2015. Its bestselling supplement is called Glow, and contains individual nutrients and probiotics that “synthesise collagen in the skin and balm contribute to normal skin function as well as support digestive vigour”. Selfridges also has a large range of ingestible beauty supplementations at its Beauty Workshop. According to a retail assistant at Space NK in Covent Garden, London, collagen-building capsules are among their bestsellers.

Glow is, then, one of the few words that straddles the internal and outward, what we eat and what we slather on our skin. Theresa Yee, senior looker editor at trend forecasters WGSN, reckons that this is “it is possible that why it’s taken off”. It is about looking like you feel, or want to note, the epitome of aspirational beauty, and going as far as you can to make that find. This may seem harmless, but does in fact take us finance to social media, where truth and reality are compromised. If the evasive glow is about obtaining a look of health, rather than youthfulness – of appearing vigorous, gym-fresh or even pregnant – what are the ethics of faking it?

The stunner industry is under duress to come up with new ways to vend stuff. It promises a lot of things and relies on an arsenal of buzzwords to do it. Former words – contouring, strobing, baking – are big, but most tend to credit to a product or method of application. Few have the multitasking properties of “gleam”, which is as much about how you feel as how you look. Glow may be another confection of a multibillion batter industry, but it comes from something deeper than that. And no serum intention make you look pregnant.

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