Time for all of us to shine – why ‘glow’ is the big new beauty trend

The beauty business has gone big on ‘glow’, a multitasking term slapped on everything from body oil to blusher. But is it just a marketing ploy, or is there more to it?

In beauty, as in most industries geared around selling you things you probably don’t need, buzzwords are everything. Take the latest to enter the beauty fold: “glow”. Abstract and ethereal, it is loaded with meaning. Put this on your face, says the cream, and you will look … what? Healthy? Young? Pregnant? Because glow is the ultimate signifier of inner health. But we do it. We put the cream on, in an attempt to look … shiny?

The word “glow” appears in the descriptions of more than 300 products on Net-a-Porter’s beauty site, relating to everything from body oil to blusher. It is a selling point, used on a swath of products by the makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury, and has also inspired a new Givenchy range, which includes a “radiance rosy glow highlight”. The glow trend isn’t just confined to US and European brands, either; one of South Korea’s biggest beauty export sites is called Glow Recipe. Beauty salons and millennials use the word, too, often dropping the “w”. At this stage, we could view the rise of glow as indicative of an industry audacious enough to try to commodify nature. But we also need to take a long hard look at ourselves because it seems to be working. People are buying the stuff because they think it will make them shine, literally.

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