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Luminos: A Revolution in Makeup, by Design

Bob Root, Chemical-Free Skin Health® author and Keys chief scientist

How Does Luminos Work…A new generation of makeup by design.

By Bob Root, Keys Technologist

Authors note:  Everywhere I go, women and men  come up to me and say, “Show me that Luminos thing you do?”  They are talking about a little illusion I do with Luminos that is more than an illusion.  I turn my hands, palms down, show them the back of my hands, and then rub Luminos on the back of just one hand.  Two seconds, and I show them the back of both hands again, side-by-side.  The Luminos hand is clear, and smooth and any redness is gone.  I move from one lighting area to another to show them that the illusion remains in any light. Then I explain how a TV show inspired its creation.  The first question is, “How did you do that.”  I answer…Magic!

Painting Faces Luminos Background – How it began!

Keys was thrust into the Hollywood scene with our Eye Butter.  Invited to present Eye Butter to 300 Hollywood makeup artists I was exposed to a lot of industry jargon.  What struck me the most was that the makeup artists called themselves “face painters.”

As Eye Butter grew in popularity, I realized that we had something different.  Eye Butter was different than anything else because it softened, illuminated, and brightened the eyes.  Makeup artists liked it because they kept telling me that it’s like a clear foundation that hides defects without covering the skin…Eye Butter grabs the makeup and holds it lighter and longer.

I did not take notice of it until a makeup artist asked me to create a new product for a new TV show.

The challenge was creating a moisturizer foundation to create a soft focus filter for the skin.  A moisturizer that would “scatter light to trick the camera” and permit the same makeup to be used indoors and outdoors without needing to change for each lighting situation.

This makeup artist asked me to create this new product because she noticed that Eye Butter did what she wanted.  She started to use Eye Butter all over the face—her request was to do what I did in Eye Butter in a lighter moisturizer form.

I am not a chemist!  My career began in optical physics at Polaroid Research & Development.  Photographic and printing technology is either an additive or subtractive color.  The best and smoothest color uses subtractive color components.  Today the best photo printers use subtractive technology.  It is why your digital camera pictures look so clean, crisp, and vivid.

Makeup has been the same since Cleopatra painted her face.  Solid additive color rubbed, brushed, and placed strategically on the face same then as it is now!

In designing Luminos, I realized that I had shifted from the world of additive to subtractive technology.

What does Luminos do, and how does it work?

If you have read anything I have written, you already know I am a geek.  When you understand why a product works, I believe you know how to utilize it better.  The same is true of Luminos!

The technology is revolutionary to the world of makeup.  It has been around in the world of photography since the late 1800’s.  It is the world of diffraction, diffusion, and subtractive color.

Let’s start with the challenge.

Create a moisturizer that creates a soft focus filter for the Skin…not the Camera!

The world of high-definition photography, television, and motion pictures has made critical and revealing the skin of actors, newscasters, and everyday people shot in “high-def.”  The solution for most news broadcasters has been to pull those cameras further back from the person to show space above and below the newscaster’s body.  Previously famous torso shots are now becoming full-length shots due to high-def cameras showing every detail of the skin!  TV commercial directors and movie makers do not have this luxury.  Everything is in tight, and every skin defect shows.

Since the beginning of motion pictures and TV, the solution was to put a filter on the camera to soften the look.  Below are two pictures.  The shot on the left uses a soft focus filter, and the one on the right, Luminos!


In the world of High-Def, everything has to be sharp and crisp.  High-def cameras are often four times as sharp, crisp, and revealing as old film and television.  The early solution was to use more and more makeup.  As motion pictures and television tried to make the actors look more natural and less phony, conventional makeup did the opposite.  Also, as the green movement took over Hollywood, that dead dry mineral makeup look was changed out to a youthful glow.

The natural look is in, and age is no longer an excuse.  Young actors with outstanding skin, like Rachel McAdams, do not want to hide it.  Now in her late 50’s, Mary Louise Parker has gorgeous skin and does not want to hide it.  Using any form of opaque makeup covers and hides…and everyone knows it.  It has become a huge challenge for the professional makeup artist.

Analyzing what I had created with Eye Butter is not a cover-up but a new direction in makeup called refraction.

How Eye Butter works and now Luminos is that it does not cover up, but diffuses the light in such a way as to trick not only the camera but the eye.  To understand, you have to know the difference between traditional makeup and the new field of transparent natural foundations.  Rather than an opaque multi-layer foundation made from minerals and then layering color, we propose that the new look is a Keys diffraction foundation, adding spot color to enhance.  Instead of hiding the skin using layers of thick base, with Luminos, the skin glows evenly and softens the skin without a filter on the camera.  Luminos is genuinely like a soft focus filter for the skin!

Luminos-hazeHere is an illustration of how Luminos works.  Notice that the geometric field is all clear and sharp.  This is like the world of high-definition photography.  Imagine the glass represents a face in high def.  The top part of this glass represents the principle of the Luminos refractive technology and, at the bottom, traditional makeup.  The light at the top of the glass is soft and smooths the background without hiding it.  At the bottom, not only is the background displaced, there is also no definition to the surface of the glass.  The glass is “flat” photographically and lifeless.  It looks painted on because the natural surface of the glass is covered up.  It clearly looks covered up and unreal.

The top of the glass, especially at the edges, maintains the look of the glass and preserves its shape and the feeling that it is real.  Yet, if you look closely, something unusual is happening.  The edges look soft, but they are not; the center looks sharp, but it is not.  Notice that the grid lines are bent and are not the same size.  They change shape as the glass curves, and at the very edge, they actually reverse their shape, creating this very soft focus effect.  Imagine that the same happens as the glass turns or the light changes.  The bottom never changes.  It always looks flat, and worse, it looks painted on.

I see dead people!

I have always appreciated the work of makeup artists.  My early days in photography found me involved with a number of TV commercials.  Then, shot on film, soft focus was a common effect.  Still, makeup was beautiful, and the makeup artist a master of illusion.  The look was soft, glowing, and radiant.  Then as mineral makeup became popular, I could see its effect, and I would tell Wendy, “I see dead people!”  Now that the look is obsolete, I am stunned to still see people with that lifeless white Geisha look.  Spending a great deal of my time in Hollywood and LA, I am pleased to see the continuing new skin trend of “the natural glow is in!”

To understand how we do it, you must understand how regular makeup works.

Since the beginning of the use of makeup, sometimes referred to as “War Paint,” the process is to mix minerals, plant materials, fruit extracts, et al., to cover the skin with foundation to hide some areas and then color to accentuate others.

mineralsThis is a micrograph of various minerals used to create a powder foundation.  First, you notice that they are all opaque and have rough, jagged edges.  Opaque means that it hides the skin, and the jagged edges cut the light, creating complex focus effects by chattering the light.  Remember the bottom of the glass and how it looks painted on.  As I started to look at the problem of creating a soft focus filter for the skin while letting the true color and texture of natural skin show through, I tuned to optical physics.

I wanted to create an effect and affect for the skin.  Said differently, I wanted to make a product that brought life into the skin, making it healthy and glowing.  Then, I wanted to create an effect of soft focus, diffusion, and diffraction.  To do this, I knew I had to use transparent and spherical ingredients.  The opposite of the mineral makeup foundation pictured above.  It had to be smooth and change the light pattern from sharp angles to soft shapes that act like millions of little lenses.  To do this, it took three elements: ingredients, ingredient processing, and manufacturing process.

This image illustrates how Luminos differs from the mineral makeup picture.  When choosing ingredients like Aloe Vera, Shea Butter, and exotic oils, we first examine how each ingredient is created.  For example, we buy pharmaceutical-grade Aloe Vera with high polysaccharide levels that are processed using a freeze-drying technique to create small crystals that, when combined in our manufacturing process using ultrasonic blending, create transparent spheres similar to those illustrated here.  Again, remembering the glass illustration, they diffuse, diffract, and refract the light.

Enough for the theory and science. Let’s bring it into the real world of everyday makeup and skin care.


Above is an image of one of our actor models that uses Luminos at work.  To the naked eye, you can see the difference between her left and right.  What is important to realize is that it is only an illusion.  The light from the Luminos side is diffracted and refracted, creating the illusion of less redness and smooth finish.

Luminos_tightLooking at a tighter view of both her cheeks, it is even clearer that there is a difference.  But, there is no difference; it is merely bending the light coming from her skin and creating a soft focus illusion on the skin without hiding the texture of her skin.  The natural beauty comes through, while a glow hides slight imperfections. 

Back to science, The images below are texture maps that emphasize the defects and differences between the Luminos and uncovered sides.


The first map is commonly called a “plastic wrap” of the skin.  The high contours on the side without the Luminos show areas that are inconsistent.  The Luminos side is smoother with much fewer contours.  Notice also the sharp definition on the non-Luminos side at the edge of the mask.  The corona on the Luminos side is softer and less “edgy.”   Also, notice the lifting effect on the Luminos side versus the droop on the non-Luminos side.  Again, all an illusion.


Now for what we call the “hard-edge filter.”  This texture map above finds all the hard edges of the skin.  Bumps, imperfections, blotches, and freckles show as distinct colors and shapes.  You can clearly see that the non-Luminos side shows many more shapes and color variations, indicating imperfection in perceptual light.  The Luminos side is smoother and cleaner looking with fewer imperfections

Yes, it is a sort of before and after, but the difference is that this is an illusion. Perception being a reality, Luminos is a soft-focus filter for the skin that is much more than a high-definition photography tool.  What the camera sees or, in this case, does not see, so does the eye.  Luminos is great for everyone who wants that glow and also wants the true person to shine through.  Yes, it adds some illusion, making the skin look brighter, clearer, and healthier.

You don’t have to be a Hollywood actor to appreciate Luminos and Eye Butter.  In fact, only a small percentage of Luminos sold is used for high-def.  The majority of our customers use it every day to look more youthful.  We hear lots of fun reports from people now calling it their “date night regime”.  Even more, say they go from work to be with friends or out for the evening because of Luminos.

Yes, it is natural and chemical-free.  It will affect your skin health.  That is an article unto itself.  The clear message from the above is that you will look more natural and Luminos will let the real you shine through.

The regimen change is to replace your covering foundation with Luminos.  Then, add your favorite color to those areas you want to accentuate.  You will notice the difference, your friends will notice, and that special someone will probably comment on the new you!

Try it yourself.  The next time you order your Keys products, add Luminos as your free travel size.  Take a special weekend break and be daring.  Wear just Luminos and see if the people closest to you notice.  See if you notice.  Then on Monday, wear Luminos with your favorite eye makeup and lipstick.  Instead of taking 45 minutes to get the “natural look,” take 5 and really go natural the Luminos way.

Remember, it is all just an illusion naturally.

At Keys, we believe that natural is always better than synthetic.  We believe that Eye Butter, Luminos, and Luminos PLUS represent a new era in makeup.  One where natural is better for you, safer and healthier; it is better, prettier and more attractive.

As a little update, we were pleased to hear that several actors were wearing Keys Luminos and Eye Butter under their makeup while attending the Oscar’s.  Below is an image from the Red Carpet News showing Sarah Jessica Parker surrounded by some of the products she wore.  Keys Luminos was featured in the news article.  See below