Famed for her signature “dewy dumpling” glow, no one understands radiance better than Nam Vo. She took Vogue through her tried and tested make-up tips.
To scroll through Nam Vo’s Instagram feed is to end up in incredulity at the glossy, glowing complexions. Cheekbones shine as if you could see your own reflection in them, and skin seems impossibly luminous.
On a recent visit to London with Marc Jacobs Beauty, Vo broke down exactly how she creates her signature skin from start to finish, telling Vogue, “Healthy skin is not this one-size-fits-all situation. You can have skin that’s completely free from blemishes but still looks flat and dull. I don’t mind seeing imperfections on the skin – that’s what makes it look so fresh and appealing.”
From tweaking formulas to deliver a bespoke glow to her go-to application technique, here’s everything you need to know about the Vo glow.
Don’t scrimp on skincare
“If I have an hour with a client, I’ll spend nearly half of that on skincare. I think a lot of people don’t like to moisturise too much before applying make-up because they feel like it will make their base start sliding around. What you need to do is take a bit of a two-pronged approach and exfoliate and moisturise, otherwise the lotion just clings to dry patches. I like the Marc Jacobs Youthquake Moisturiser for this because it has pineapple enzymes to slough off dead skin and then it hydrates, too. The skin just drinks it up.”
Analyse your skin fully
“What works for somebody else might not necessarily work for you. For example, if you have slightly more lines around the eyes, you may not want to use so much highlighter on the temples and instead focus on your Cupid’s bow. Or if you have larger pores on your nose, you don’t necessarily want to add shine there. Look at your skin in natural light before you start, and work from there. Don’t feel that you must conceal everything. It’s much more flattering to have skin with a handful of imperfections than skin that looks heavy with product.”
Use the “burnt toast” rule
“When you’re adding depth, a good rule of thumb is to think about burnt toast. It’s always lighter in the middle, and then darker around the edges, and you want to do something similar with skin. Keep bronzer and contour to the outer perimeter of your face for the most natural effect. I do a very sheer, light base and then add targeted concealer where it’s needed, but don’t over-use foundation because it doesn’t need to go all over your face. Look at your skin in natural light, not just shadowy bathroom light and really analyse the tone of your skin.”
Mix and match your tools
“I use a combination of brushes, a Beauty Blender and my fingers – fingers are free, you know! I really do like Beauty Blenders for base and I really like this brush from Marc Jacobs. I always say to my clients, ‘slide for sheer, press for coverage’. What I mean by that is if you use a light side-to-side motion, you’ll get a sheer finish. When you press, you get density. So if you’re looking for real coverage, keep more of a pressing than buffing motion.”
Layer it up
“I do an oil or cream highlighter and then set with powder, or it’ll melt off. If it’s a really editorial shoot, I might not set with powder, but for every day use, powder is what will give you that three-dimensional look. Powder really doesn’t have to go everywhere though. In fact, I often use an eyeshadow brush to set powder – that’s how precise you want to be, it doesn’t need to be dusted everywhere. The cheeks and forehead can stay glossy! I don’t mind a little shine. But when I’m doing my signature glowing look, I spend so much time on skincare and getting the skin really juicy that by the time the highlighter goes on the skin just drinks it up.”