A Hollywood Makeup Artist’s Guide To Body Illuminators

When it comes to body shimmer, there’s a fine line between looking like an A-list actress on the red carpet and a disco-ball Halloween costume. But when done right, if you apply the right illuminator like an expert, you can achieve luminous, radiant skin that glows and glows.

To break it down on how to get it right, we called on celebrity makeup artist Carissa Ferreri, the go-to for Gina Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, and more, and the mastermind behind perfect lit-from-within skin. Ahead, Ferreri shares her favorite formulas, with tips and tricks for how to use them like a pro.

There is a lot of product out there — some would say too much. At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team, but if you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.


For times when you want to glisten in the most subtle way, Ferrari suggests this kit staple. “It looks like nothing, but makes the skin glow,” she says. “Apply your body lotion, then pat this onto your collarbone and on the top of the shoulders.”

Shimmer Level: None

Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour® Cream Skin Protectant, $22, available at Elizabeth Arden


Applying highlighter down the front of the legs is one of the oldest tricks in a makeup artist’s book. “It makes the eye think your legs are longer than they are,” Ferrari says. You can use any of the good highlighter to create the effect — just be sure to blend well.

Shimmer Level: High

Natasha Denona All Over Glow Face & Body Shimmer in Powder, $38, available at Sephora


Not in the business of mixing face and body highlighters? Go for Fenty’s summer launch, which creates an island glow even if you’re stuck in the city. Pat the puff across your collarbones and down the fronts of your legs, and this Bad Gal-approved glitter will have your skin beaming in seconds.

Shimmer Level: Medium

FENTY BEAUTY BY RIHANNA Fairy Bomb Glittering Pom Pom, $42, available at Sephora


If Ferrari had to pick just one formula for her kit, this would be it. “It’s sort of like a body butter and it smells amazing,” she says. “It has a ton of shimmer, so start small, and mix it half and half with lotion for your arms and legs.” Once you get a feel for the shimmer, create a softer ratio that will work on the chest and neck.

Shimmer Level: Medium

Josie Maran Whipped Argan Oil Illuminizing Body Butter, $38, available at Sephora


Nervous about applying a DIY mix of lotion and highlighter? “Sticks are great for the body because you can select exactly where you want the shimmer to go, and it’s hard to overdo it,” Ferrari says. Her trick? Aim for bones — the collarbone, shoulder bones, shin bones, and cheekbones — then blend into skin with your fingers.

Shimmer Level: Medium

Marc Jacobs Beauty Glow Stick Glistening Illuminator, $42, available at Sephora


For those that want a quick, mess-free application, Ferrari also calls Charlotte Tilbury’s formula a favorite. “The applicator is really great,” she says. “It rolls on, so you can really control where it goes; plus, the formula isn’t too shimmery.” Her tip: Roll it on and then, before it dries (this is important!), pat and blend it into skin with your fingers.

Shimmer Level: Medium

Charlotte Tilbury Supermodel Body, $65, available at Charlotte Tilbury


This liquid illuminator comes with a dropper, which is great for controlled application. It doesn’t create a bold, chromatic highlight — making it a good option if you’re looking for a subtle glow.

Shimmer Level: Low

Estée Lauder Bronze Goddess Summer Glow Illuminator, $32, available at Sephora


Possibly one of the easiest two-in-one body products that exists right now, the scrub formula that made Frank Body famous is now glittering with sparkles and shimmer. Inside the bag you’ll find a physical exfoliating scrub that’s infused with illuminating flecks. If glowing like a unicorn is your thing, then this is for you.

Shimmer Level: High

Frank Body Shimmer Scrub, $19.95, available at Frank Body


Pro tip: You don’t need to buy formulas specifically designed for the body. “Sometimes I mix a little bit of Nars Orgasm or Blkr into body lotion when I’m in a pinch,” Ferrari says. The former is great for darker skin tones, while the latter works well on fair complexions. The ratio she prefers is anywhere from a small dab to 50-50. Massage it into skin, then you can go full strength over just the collar and shoulder bones for more impact.

Shimmer Level: Medium

NARS Illuminator in 413 BLKR, $30, available at NARS

NARS Illuminator in Orgasm, $30, available at Sephora


Believe it or not, Ferrari often highlights with pure coconut oil, which is subtle and won’t leave the skin sticky. Just dab on and go. You guessed it: Again, focus on your bones (collar, cheek, shin, and shoulder).

Shimmer Level: None

RMS Beauty Raw Coconut Cream, 70g, $18, available at Net-A-Porter


Looking to warm up your pale skin? “This one has a bit of tint so it gives you some color — but don’t worry, it’s subtle,” Ferrari says. Just rub it in like lotion, but don’t focus solely on the legs. “I use it on the arms and chest, too,” she says.

Shimmer Level: Low

Votre Vu Picture Perfect Leg Lustre, $38, available at Votre Vu


While most body illuminators can be tapped on with fingers, a big brush will cut your application time in half — especially when working on the body. Use this palm-sized tool to sweep liquid or powder highlighter onto your shins, collarbone, and shoulders for a natural-looking glow.

Becca The One Perfecting Brush, $49, available at Sephora

Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?

We Tried $118 Worth Of Color Correctors — Here's What We Thought

26 Foundations That Blend Seamlessly On Dark Skin

30 Instagram-Worthy Beauty Looks To Try In September