The One Product I Thought I'd Never Use Has Become My Fave Step in My Makeup Routine

I have combination skin, and my skin tends to get pretty oily around my nose and forehead throughout the day. So, it should come to no surprise that I tend to gravitate towards oil-control cleansers and moisturizers, subtle powder highlights, and mattifying powders that pack on the coverage. I also tend to keep my base makeup pretty minimal; bold brows, defined eyes and long lashes look much more flattering on me than a full-face of blush, bronzer, and highlight. But as dewy skin complexion has become increasingly popular, with more luminizing skincare and face products hitting the market, I can’t help but feel excluded from this trend.

Enter Milani Soft Focus Glow Complexion Enhancer, a luminizing, hydrating, and skin-smoothing makeup base that can be worn under makeup, on its own, all over the face, or just on the high points. I first heard about this luminizer after watching Jessica Braun rave about the product and call it a dupe for the cult-favorite Charlotte Tilbury Flawless Filter. I wasn’t completely sold until I saw Allie Glines rock it in a casual, comfortable everyday makeup look. Seeing this type of product incorporated into a makeup look that’s similar to what I tend to go for fully convinced me to head to my local CVS and give it a try. 

I decided that it was time to jump on the glowy skin bandwagon, and the Milani Soft Focus Glow seemed like the perfect introductory product.



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Milani Focus Glow Complexion Enhancer,, $10.99; shop now

What you need to know

This luminizer comes in three shades, and I picked up the lightest of the three, “Nude Glow,” because of my fair skin tone. Important to note though: I don’t think this adds any tint or coverage to my face when I apply it.

It contains tons of hydrating ingredients like shea butter, hyaluronic acid, and a small amount of cucumber fruit extract. It also contains dimethicone, a type of silicone that is often used in primers to help fill in pores and create a smooth, even base. (Disclaimer: some less-than-positive claims have been made about dimethicone; namely that the barrier it creates traps oils in the skin, and that its skin-smoothing effects are not long term. But hey, that’s what a good skincare routine is for. Plus, dimethicone is safe to use on the skin).

Milani explains on the product’s webpage that it can be used alone or with foundation, but I think it works much better in conjunction with foundation, because it does not offer any coverage, nor does it function as a nourishing moisturizer.

How I use it

I use the Soft Focus Glow all over the face with foundation or BB cream, both under my foundation and mixed in, and the effect is virtually the same. (Although different application techniques might work better for different foundation formulas.) When I use this base, my skin looks satiny and radiant. It adds some dewiness where I was lacking, but doesn’t add any shimmer or make my already-oily areas look shinier. It does not feel super hydrating, but it makes my skin feel soft and smooth to the touch. It filled in some (but not all) of my pores and it didn’t emphasize my skin texture either, which is a common drawback of shiny products on oily or textured skin.

It also made my foundation apply and blend much more evenly on my skin. The foundation I first layered over it sometimes looks a bit dry and cakey on me, but the Milani base made my foundation look much more natural and skin-like while still maintaining the coverage, perfect for those glowy, skin-focused no-makeup looks. Another thing I love about this makeup base is that gives my skin a healthy, lit-from-within look that adds dimension to the face, so I don’t need to supplement my foundation with blush or bronzer in order to look alive.

Soft Focus Glow worn under foundation, concealer, and a bit of blush and highlight.

How it wears throughout the day

One aspect that surprised me was how well my face makeup wore throughout the day. At first, it seemed counterintuitive to me to not mattify my skin, especially in the summer when my face gets especially oily in the heat. But I realized that when I start off glowy, the makeup wears more naturally throughout the day, and the end-of-day look isn’t too different than how I looked with a fresh layer of face makeup.

Normally when makeup wears away on my face, whatever is left tends to be emphasized, look cakey, and call attention to the oily areas of my skin. But with the help of the Milani Soft Focus Glow, my face makeup wore down very and evenly by the end of the day. The only time this luminizer made my skin look a bit too greasy for my liking was when I wore it while spending much of the day outside in sunny, 80-degree weather.

Suffice to say, I’ve been wearing the Milani Soft Focus Glow nonstop and would definitely recommend it or any comparable luminizing base product, even to those with combination or oily skin. It doesn’t feel too thick, emphasize oil or texture, nor expedite the wear down of my face makeup. If emollient coverage products move or crease too much to you but you still want to look radiant, using a luminizing base in conjunction with your fave less dewy coverage products will give you that glow, minus the side effects.  

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