Hey, Kumquats!

Today’s post is going to be all about highlighting and contouring/bronzing. As a Sick Chick, I have learned the value of these products when it comes to creating the illusion of a healthy glow – particularly when in reality, my skin looks like I belong in a non-sparkly vampire flick. When I’m sleep deprived, having a flare up of my autoimmune illness, or just had one glass of vino too many, it shows on my skin…big-time.

One of the real values of makeup, for me, anyway, is its ability to make me look perfectly healthy, even when I’m feeling like a dying warthog caught in a thunderstorm. As someone who has been dealing with chronic illness as well as Bipolar disease for my entire adult life, I personally loathe having to answer the question, “are you feeling ok?” To me, that’s the worst – like my face is exposing my weaknesses for all the world to see. Kind of like those dreams you have as a kid, where you show up to algebra naked. Also, it’s undeniable proof that I look like crap.

Enter the magic of makeup! And in particular, highlighters and bronzers. I used to, until quite recently actually, avoid bronzers and contouring makeup like the plague, because they invariably made me look like the hideous offspring of an Oompa Loompa mated with Divine. These days, though, there are so many of these products that work for ultra-pale, Tubercular Irish Wastrel types like myself.

Like the Natasha Denona Sculpt & Glow Palette in Light/Medium.

The reason I love this palette is because I can get such a subtle, natural result – where I just look like I’ve got a healthy glow, some colour, and definition. Toss in a little natural looking blush, and I am back in the land of the living. Or, if I’m going out, I can build it up and look like the quintessential Instagram Queen.

The truth of the matter is, if you are sick, no matter how meticulous your skin care regimen, there are those days when your skin is just going to look like shite. Particularly if you are already naturally as pale as a naked mole rat, and dehydrated to boot.

The Natasha Denona Sculpt & Glow Palette comes with both cream (top 3), and powder highlighters and contouring products, plus a Japanese pressed powder (bottom 3) to set and finish the look. There is a Light/Medium, and Medium/Dark option. Here, I’ve swatched the former (because I’m obviously not a Medium/Dark). I apologize for the crap lighting – yet another overcast, cold day in beautiful Chicago, here.

Anyway, as you can see, these are fairly subtle, and are meant to be used in a layering fashion to get a lovely, dimensional effect. You don’t have to use them that way, you can mix and match instead – or just keep it really simple. For this post, I used all the products just so you can see the full effect. I still kept it fairly subtle for an everyday sort of look, using a light hand and blending like mad.

And so, without further ado, let’s get on with it! Gird yer loins, darling Reader, for the requisite “before” shot:

Before pic – me in all my pallid glory

Clearly, we need help.  Fortunately, application is pretty straightforward – and so very smooth! After moisturizer, primer, and foundation or B.B. cream et al, I go in with the cream contour using my Beauty Blender. With the rounded end, I buffed it into the hollows of my cheeks, my temples, along the hairline at my forehead, under the tip of my nose, and along my jawline. I then repeated the whole thing, using the powder contour with a brush to layer over the cream.

No, I’m not sniffing my makeup brush…

Then, I was ready to highlight – this time using the pointy end of my Beauty Blender to apply the cream on the top left along the tops of my cheekbones, in the centre of my forehead, along the bridge of my nose, on my philtrum (Cupid’s Bow), and the ball of my chin.

I then repeated the process using a small highlighting brush and the powder highlighter on the bottom right. I also highlighted under my brows and the inside corners of my eyes. Then, I applied blush to the apples of my cheeks, using the Japanese powder on the bottom right to blend it out a bit. And finally, I used my fingers to apply the other cream highlighter just along the tops of my cheekbones, to give it a slightly wet effect.

And, voila!

Now I’m a SPARKLY type vampire!

As you can see, it’s a subtle, natural look that’s perfect for daytime. If I want more drama, I simply build it up with more product.


You definitely won’t get the blinding, Instagram type of effect from these, like you see with the popular Anastasia Beverly Hills Amrezy highlighter – but that’s not the look I am going for anyway. I leave that sort of thing to the kids, as a highlighter that intense will show any texture issues I’ve got going on – and since my skin is dehydrated and dry, the last thing I need is any patches or fine lines showing up in stark relief.

One still must moisturize like crazy, when using any highlighter – even this one will show dryness under the eyes, especially. Nothing too noticeable, to be honest, but I’m super picky about hydrating under my eyes really well so it looks moist and healthy under the shiny. After I’m done, I always dab a bit of extra eye cream on top (not rubbing, just patting it in), and use a hydrating setting spray, like the Dr Dennis Gross C + Collagen Perfect Skin Set and Refresh Mist. This will smooth out any dry patchiness on my face, and set everything in place for the day.

I absolutely love how this palette helps me to look like I’ve just got an all-over healthy glow, even when I’m all Night of the Living Dead. The contour pans are the perfect, cool-toned shade that even someone with my NC 15 – 20 skin can use without looking like Frankenfurter did my makeup; the highlighters give the skin a dewy, wet finish without glitter or making it look like one dipped one’s face in bacon grease.

Yes, indeed, my little Kumquats, this palette is now my must-have or I’m not getting out of bed face palette on days when I’m sleep deprived (pretty much all the time), having a flare up, or hungover. It makes such a difference in how I look, despite how I feel. And of course, even if I’m having a great skin day, I use it just because it’s so damn gorgeous. The texture of these creams and powders are so lovely, it’s almost impossible to get a patchy application, I find. Even if you’ve never highlighted/contoured before, this Sculpt & Glow palette will make it as easy as rolling out of bed (even if it’s some ungodly hour in the a.m.).

Now, some people complain about the insane price of this palette, which is $90 (stop rolling your eyes at me and keep reading), but let’s break it down, shall we? You are getting six full sized pans of product, which works out to approximately $15 per pan. That’s pretty damn reasonable, if you ask me! So, you be the judge of course – if you can get down to your local Sephora to play around with this palette, I think you may just fall as hard as I did…especially if you’re closer to 40 than 20. This is a truly versatile palette for real people, not just heavily filtered Instagram photos.

And of course, finishing the look off with great eye and lip makeup is essential! To see what I used for this entire look, read on, darlins:

And that’s all for now, Kumquats! What’s your go-to face product when you’re not feeling your best? Leave me a comment down below, I’d love to hear from you. Stay gorgeous, guys!

XO – Monday