Grown-Up Glitter: How To Wear It & The Best Products To Use

Forget the kind of glitter that’s full-on and theatrical – the modern way to wear it is more low-key and flattering. Whether you want to wear it on your eyes, your nails, your face and even your body, follow these handy tips for a chic, festive look.


It’s never been easier to wear a glittery eye, thanks to a range of newer, smoother formulations. “You can use a liquid or a cream that has glitter particles in, then all you need to do is sweep it on, buffing the colour gently onto your lids, and you have a look in seconds,” explains make-up artist, Frankie Neal. “If you’re someone who prefers a full on smokey eye, but wants to add some sparkle, try firmly pressing loose glitter directly on top with your ring finger in a patting motion. Focus on placing it at the centre of the lid so it catches the light. Likewise, if you prefer a ‘less is more’ approach, opt for a glitter liner and draw a single, thin line across your lids – this is just as impactful. Before you do anything with glitter though, take down any redness and unevenness by using a concealer or foundation to prep the lid. This will also help any product and glitter adhere much better. Another tip if you want to intensify your eye look is to apply a base colour that’s the same shade as your eyeshadow – this will help lift everything for more of a 3D effect.” 

“A glittery eye isn’t just about the lid,” adds make-up master, Ruby Hammer MBE. “It’s also about the inner corners of your eyes. Use the inner tear duct shape, or the centre of your eyelid wisely, so that every time you blink, the light picks up the glitter. For a more subdued festive look, try just dusting a shimmery powder over your brow bone. Whichever you choose, always apply a good lashing of mascara, and try adding a liquid liner, like my new Precision Liner, to give more depth and shape to your eye.” When shopping for physical glitter particles, remember many are made of plastic, so it’s key to look for environmentally-friendly versions from brands like Bleach London, In Your Dreams and Beauty Blvd


If you want your fingernails to subtly nod to glitter, manicurist Harriet Westmoreland suggests keeping things simple: “The easiest way to have just a flash of sparkle, is by creating a glitter French tip. This is easier than it sounds – all you need is a sparkly polish and a very thin brush you can dip in, and then use to draw a fine line across the edge of your nail. The trick is to wear this against a neutral, sheer base – no colour compliments glitter better. That said, a burgundy glitter polish is very on-trend and looks beautiful worn as a small strip at the free edge of the nail. A key thing to remember is to apply thin layers of polish – glitter can look bulky if you apply it too thickly. Look to varnishes that have smaller, tiny pieces of glitter as these are easier to achieve a neat and clean finish with. An old lip brush will come in handy to clean up any mistakes.” 

When it comes to your nails, glitter can take on many forms. “Sparkly nail art is a huge trend now, but that doesn’t just mean chunks of glitter,” explains manicurist, Loui-Marie Ebanks. “Physical crystals and gems can look very classy placed against a nude nail – whether that’s a clear base coat, or the softest stroke of pink or beige polish. You can then place gems close to your cuticles (if you do it near the tip of the nail they will fall off easier). Set them into place when your nail varnish is still slightly tacky, using a tiny dot of nail glue and an orange stick for guidance. Don’t worry about precise placement – randomness is far more elegant. Another easy option is a glitter fade. This can be achieved by painting on two coats of a non-glitter polish, then once dry, dragging a glitter polish from your tips to half way down the nail. Finish it off with a glossy top coat.” 


“When it comes to adding subtle shimmer or glitter to your face, make sure you do it as the last, final step,” adds Ruby. “You only need a light touch when you apply anything here. It’s easier to add more, but very hard to reduce glitter once it’s sat on your face. Try using satin, creamy textures too that you can blend more seamlessly across your skin. Keep the focus on the highest points of your face – cheekbones, brow bone and anywhere that naturally hits the light.” 

“To save your complexion from looking too theatrical, avoid physical chunks of sparkle on your face,” finishes Frankie. “Instead, go for formulas that have a high-shine finish – this will provide you with a gorgeous glow. You can use shimmer-based products if you want something that’s a bit stronger, but choose carefully. BECCA’s cult Shimmering Skin Perfector is a suits-all option. It comes in a liquid form, as well as a powder, depending on your preference – either one is great for enhancing your cheekbones and giving skin an unbeatable sheen.” 


If your limbs, décolletage or shoulders are bare, a luminous glow can be created with a body oil. Several formulations have small, glitter particles that are subtle, but still reflective. To take things a step further, try layering your oil over your skin as a base, which will give good grip for brushing on any shimmering powders or glitters on top. Take a big buffing brush and sweep over the high points of your shoulders and collarbones.

Another great body illuminating hack experts swear by is the ‘reverse C’ technique. This is often used on the red carpet when the back is bare. Make-up master Caroline Barnes recommends taking a large brush and sweeping on some fine shimmer in two reverse Cs around your shoulder blades – it’s simple, yet effective – especially when we can start wearing backless clothing at parties again.

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