Beauty Clinic: Please explain strobing to me?


Q. I keep hearing the word ‘strobing’ and wonder what it means in make-up terms? I associate it with jerky flashing lights. A. Cosmetic strobing is a bit different from the other sort - defined as ‘intermittent illumination to give the appearance of arrested or slow motion’. But, similarly, it is all about light - in this case illuminating your face.

Strobing is essentially highlighting your face to define features, like contouring. Unlike contouring, however, where you need to use two or more products, strobing simply means using one illuminator to highlight the areas where light naturally hits your face.

Strobing is simpler, looks more natural and has been hailed as a game changer in the beauty press. ‘It’s a much more forgiving way to bring focus and shape to the face,’ according to Illamasqua’s creative director Alex Box.

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 13.02.04Forgiving it may be – none of that blend-blend-blending darker and lighter contouring products – but strobing does demand healthy skin and minimal foundation as the canvas. So look to your diet and skincare as well as your make-up.

Keep your base as light as possible with a hydrating serum and tinted moisturiser. Or use a non-tinted moisturiser – we’re loving Emma Hardie Amazing Face Protect & Prime SPF30/£45 for 50 ml, and customise with sun drops, such as This Works Energy Bank Sun Flash/£28 for 30 ml. Dot and pat in concealer as pinpoint correction for any blemishes.

If you need more all-over coverage, consider splashing out on Crème de la Mer’s fabulous The Reparative Skintint SPF30/£65 for 30 ml, which will last you into the autumn.

Now for the fun bit: look at your face in the mirror in bright light and see where the light hits. Cheekbones always - so wing the highlighter out to your temples; then look at under your eyebrows, the bridge of your nose into the dark inner corners of your eyes, across your forehead and possibly your chin. A touch on your lower lip is luscious.

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 13.37.56The key is subtlety: you don't want go-faster stripes. So have a few plays and see what is the most flattering. The products we’re happily playing with right now (interestingly both, quite by chance, from natural cosmetic companies) are:

Nude by Nature Touch of Glow Highlighter Stick/£18 in Champagne, Rose and Bronze, and Highlight Palette with the same three shades, £25 at and, from 1st June.

Ilia Polka Dots & Moonbeams Pearl Illuminator/£30 at

For tanned and darker complexions, Laura Geller Beauty Baked Gelato Swirl Illuminator in Gilded Honey/£21, is now a classic (this one's a powder, by the way.)