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Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Glow Highlighter
Courtesy of Charlotte Tilbury

Charlotte Tilbury on her new highlighter and the current state of beauty

The beauty mogul shares about growing up as a child in Ibiza, her thoughts on brands who put out products without innovation and why it’s a crime not to glow prime with her viral Flawless Filter

Is there a beauty brand with more cult products than Charlotte Tilbury? On TikTok you can’t escape the Hollywood Flawless Filter, which seems to be a part of every single person’s make-up routine. One is reportedly sold every 30 seconds and it’s perpetually out of stock. Pillow Talk lip liner is another favourite, so versatile it’s worn by both Chloe Cherry in her everyday routine and Amal Clooney on her wedding day. The shade was such a success it spawned its own range of products. A beauty editor very prominent in the industry tells a story of how a woman once crossed an entire room at a party to ask her what highlighter she was wearing. It was, of course, Charlotte Tilbury – the Beauty Light Wand.

That’s not even mentioning beloved products like the Airbrush Flawless Finish powder, Filmstar Bronze and Glow, the Rock ‘N’ Kohl eye pencils, WonderGlow, and Magic Cream which Tilbury originally created to revive models’ skin backstage during relentless fashion weeks and earned her the nickname the ‘Queen of Glow’. Personally, the matte lipstick in Red Carpet Red hasn’t left my side in five years and is always sure to get a compliment. Now, Tilbury is launching a new product that she hopes will achieve similar cult status: the Hollywood Glow Glide Face Architect Highlighter.

That the latest drop is a highlighter is not surprising given that Tilbury’s philosophy has always firmly centred around skin looking lit from within and she’s been obsessed with the magic of contouring since she was a child growing up in Ibiza. “If you go right back to Ibiza, on my wall was Marlene Dietrich, was Marilyn Monroe, was Audrey Hepburn – I would sit and count their eyelashes, the shade, the light, the glow. How does their cheekbone do that? Why does their mouth do that? And it’s all to do with shade and light,” she says. “All the directors I’ve worked with, all the photographers I’ve worked with, everything is about light – make-up is all about light. It is unbelievable when you paint on a light sculptor, how you can change the face.”

The Hollywood Glow Glide Face Architect Highlighter is a powder highlighter inspired by lighting tricks of old Hollywood cinema like putting vaseline on the camera lens which created those soft glow effects. Available in eight different shades, the highlighter is infused with “light flex technology” and “smoothing emollients” to illuminate and blur the skin. Tilbury calls the formula an innovation. “No one’s ever seen it before and we’re very proud of that. Now we’re in a world where the cat, the dog, the mice, everyone wants to have a make-up line and a skincare line,” she says. “Half the products are spangly, wacky and not great because the innovation isn’t there. They haven’t done the testing, they haven’t done the user trials or clinical trials, they haven’t used great labs, they don’t care. You can’t just shove a product out the door, it takes time and it takes innovation.”

Old Hollywood, as well as the light on Ibiza and the neighbouring island of Formentera, also provided the inspiration for the colour shades, which range from champagnes to pinks to bronzes. “It’s like the pink light that Max Factor used to use in the room that makes everyone look super attractive,” Tilbury says about the rose gold shade. “Or that light in Formentera, you get that red light, rose gold glow, around seven in the afternoon, that golden hour that makes everyone look so beautiful, that light is so gorgeous.” Capturing that flattering sunset light, alongside moonlight and candle light which were other key references, was a big part of how they created the shades. “Sometimes when people put highlighters on their skin, they go a bit ashen because they’re not flattering to the colour of the skin.”

Making products as easy as possible to use, so that people don’t, for example, go ashen when they put on highlighter, is one of Tilbury’s big aims for her brand. She wants to make it so simple that anyone, no matter what their skill level, can do it. Even, she jokes, her eight-year-old son. The Contour and Light Wands were created after Tilbury watched people giving contouring tutorials on TikTok and Instagram looking “muddy and orange and using 50 million different things. I thought there’s got to be an easier way to do this.” The powders came because she was tired of powders that made people look dusty, old and crepey. With the Hollywood Glow highlighter, Tilbury says the formula is so forgiving that “actually, you don’t need to have any craft to do it but you get this incredible skin”.

To help make the product accessible to all skill levels, on the packaging are diagrams that show you where you can put the highlighter – not just the high points of the cheekbone, but in the inner corners of the eyes, on the eyelid to create a crease, along the nose, on the jawline. There will also be YouTube videos and information on the website. “I’m holding your hand,” she explains. “It will show you how to do the brow trick, the cheek trick, the jaw trick, the nose trick, and the lip trick.” Ultimately she just wants to innovate and educate people on the joys of make-up. “There’s still a whole bunch of women out there who don’t know the joys of how amazing it is when you glow prime,” she says about her Flawless Filter. “I always say it is a beauty crime not to glow prime – all those people who don’t know that their lives are gonna be changed no matter how old or how young they are.”