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In Makeup, what are Light Diffusers?

By Bethany Keene
Updated May 21, 2024
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In makeup, light diffusers are micronized mineral particles that adhere seamlessly to the skin, reflecting light away from fine lines, wrinkles, or redness. Light diffusers may also simply be crushed minerals in makeup; these particles are slightly larger than micronized particles, but both function similarly and can diffuse light. Light diffusers are typically found in products applied to the face, including moisturizer, primer, eye cream, and liquid or powder foundation. Diffusers may also be found in some body lotions.

Light diffusing makeup works by filling in fine lines, wrinkles, and other imperfections, and reflecting light away from them. It makes the skin appear brighter, fresher, and healthier, and often works to brighten and highlight the face. It smooths the texture of the skin and makes pores appear smaller, as well as diminishing the appearance of redness.

For these reasons, makeup that contains light diffusers is quite popular. Some users have raised concerns about the safety of the micronized particles in the makeup, stating that it is possible for the particles to enter the bloodstream; however, this has not yet been proven. Those concerned about safety could choose to use light diffusing makeup that contains crushed minerals rather than micronized minerals, which are larger.

If foundation or moisturizer contains light diffusers, it may be applied all over the face. Foundation comes in different shades to match the skin tone in the most natural way possible. If the makeup is meant to be used as a brightener, however, it should only be applied to specific areas, such as the brow bone, cheek bones, and along the jaw lines, as well as any other areas that need to be brightened or highlighted. Eye creams containing light diffusers may be applied underneath the eyes to hide the appearance of dark circles.

As with any makeup, light diffusing makeup should be washed off at the end of the day using face wash or makeup remover. Many types of makeup that contain light diffusers are designed not to clog pores. In fact, some moisturizers that contain light diffusing particles also contain acne-fighting ingredients, such as salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, as well as ingredients designed to calm redness, such as feverfew.

Makeup containing light diffusers is generally priced comparably to other types of makeup, and is clearly labeled as containing light diffusing particles. Sunscreen may also be added to this type of makeup, but that is less common. If not, remember to apply sunscreen every day underneath foundation.

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Discussion Comments

By kylee07drg — On Oct 26, 2011

One thing I have noticed about light diffusing powder is its ability to cover the pink tones in my face after I have been out in the sun. With regular foundations, the pink shows through, and I look like I have applied too much blush all over my face.

I use a short, fat brush to apply the light diffusing makeup. I dust it onto my skin in circles. I apply about two coats all over.

It’s amazing to me how the minerals can neutralize the appearance of a slight sunburn. I always bring this makeup to the beach with me, because I know I’ll need it when I get ready to go to a restaurant at night after a long day in the sun.

By seag47 — On Oct 25, 2011

@Perdido - That is a neat method. I never would have thought that combining a moisturizer with a makeup would look good. It sounds like it would create a muddy mess!

I don’t use a foundation, because my light diffusing facial cream makes my face look so good. I apply it both morning and night. I wake up looking fresh and healthy, and after washing my face, I put more on so I can look like that throughout the day.

The minerals reflect light away from what I call my “sad spots.” These are the areas around my mouth and eyes where wrinkles have started to appear. They aren’t nearly as noticeable once the facial cream soaks into my skin.

By Perdido — On Oct 25, 2011

One of my coworkers has skin that just seems to glow. I asked her how she gets her face so shiny, and she told me that she always uses a light diffusing moisturizer.

She said that she combines a tiny amount of foundation with her special moisturizer, and she applies the mixture onto her face. This makes her skin glisten, even in the harsh fluorescent light of the office.

She is a redhead, but she has no freckles. She has a pale, clear complexion that lends itself to radiance. This trick probably wouldn’t work as well on a freckled face.

By OeKc05 — On Oct 24, 2011

I once saw a girl walking through the mall who had positively radiant skin. It seemed to glow like a fish in the sun, so I could not resist the urge to ask her what she used on her skin.

She was happy that I noticed her skin. She told me that she uses a light diffusing powder foundation. I got the brand name and website from her so that I could order some.

She told me that she used to have mild acne issues, but the makeup helped clear her skin up significantly. It contains acne-fighting ingredients, and it also gently moisturizes her face, without that oily look.

I have ordered the makeup, and I cannot wait to start using it. If my skin looks even remotely as good as hers, I will be happy.

By comfyshoes — On Oct 23, 2011

@Bhutan - All of these different types of makeup are fun to wear, but if you don’t take care of your skin by using sunscreen daily and cleansing your skin with the right products your skin won’t look as good as it could.

If you combine this with eating a healthy diet and exercise you will find that you won’t need light diffusing makeup because your skin will always have a natural glow that you can’t buy in a store.

By Bhutan — On Oct 23, 2011

I have some light diffusing loose powder and when I apply some on my face it just gives me an incredible glow. I really love the effect. I have a bronzer that I sometimes use with it and it really enhances my skin tone in a natural way.

I also use stick concealers that I apply in the beginning. I have found that the peach shade of concealer actually works best with most of my face and the blue tone concealer works best under my eyes.

I try to apply the light diffusing powder across my upper cheekbone area and it does give the illusion of having my face lifted in an upward angle. You just have to make sure that you don’t apply too much concealer and definitely get the right shade of foundation because if not all of the light diffusing makeup in the world will never make you look good.

By animegal — On Oct 22, 2011

@Mae82 - I use both the light diffusing foundation and the highlighting stick when I want to go for a really dramatic look. I find though it can actually make you a look a bit too flawless. It kind of gives an airbrushing effect to your skin, so if that is fine with you go ahead and use both.

Another thing you can do is buy some highlighting powder and lightly brush it on the areas of your face you still think need some help. Also, concealer for any spots will do a great job of keeping your skin looking really great. Just make sure you get the foundation in the right color or it will make you look strange.

By Mae82 — On Oct 22, 2011

I have been looking for a kind of makeup that will really brighten up my face and I think something with light diffusers in it might do the trick. I find that I am starting to notice enlarged pores around my nose, and I hope that the light diffusers in foundation will be able to hide some of the problem.

On that note, does anyone know if you should use a light diffusing foundation with a highlighting stick?

I really want to accent my best features but I don't want to overdo it. I just want my cheekbones and face shape to be highlighted in the best possible way.

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