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7 Highlighter Mistakes You Didn’t Know You Were Making

It all comes down to the formula, shade and application.
January 10, 2020

Aside from relying on your skin care routine to achieve luminous skin, adding a highlighter to your makeup look can truly make all the difference. When applied correctly, highlighter can help lift and brighten the overall appearance of your face and give your complexion that dewy, lit-from-within glow that everyone's seeking. But when it comes to using highlighter, it can be pretty easy to go overboard — and if you put too much of the product on, you can end up with an unflattering, shiny visage. To avoid common highlighter mistakes, like applying too much or choosing the wrong finish, read our rulebook on all things illuminator, below.

1. You’re Using The Wrong Highlighter

In case you didn’t know, highlighters aren’t one-size-fits-all. There are a variety of formulas, from powders to creams, as well as different shades. If you’ve found yourself suddenly wondering how to choose the right one for you, the key is to find a formula and shade that’s flattering against your skin tone since using the wrong shade can actually wash you out and make you look like something of a ghost.

Generally, you’ll want to pick up a highlighter shade that’s about two shades lighter than your skin tone for a natural-looking finish. You can also find the perfect highlighter for your complexion by relying on your undertones (you know, that secondary tone under your skin tone). Just as your undertones come into play when choosing your foundation or concealer match, they can be helpful when picking out a highlighter. Typically, warm undertones play well with gold and bronze shades, while silver and pearly white hues tend to look more flattering on cool undertones. Folks who fall somewhere in the middle can rock most shades since they typically all look flawless against their skin tones.

Need a recommendation? If you have cool undertones, try the L'Oréal Paris True Match Lumi Glow Amour Glow Boosting Drops in Daybreak. If you have warm undertones, give the shade Goldenhour a try instead.


2. You’re Applying It In The Wrong Places

Placement is everything when it comes to applying a highlighter. The whole point of using a highlighter is to bring attention to where light naturally hits your face (aka the high points) and flaunt a lifted visage with a youthful-looking glow. Here’s a simple guide on the targeted areas to apply highlighter.

The Cheeks

Always apply highlighter above your cheekbones — never below. By properly placing the product there, you will enhance your bone structure and give your face that coveted lifted appearance

The Nose

Paired with your favorite contour, you can help brighten and sculpt out your nose by applying a bit of highlighter straight down the bridge of it. 

The Eyes

One easy way to fake a goodnight’s sleep is adding highlighter to the areas of your face that are prone to darkness, like the inner corner of your eyes and the under-eye area. Dab on some highlighter to these spots to help yourself look more awake. You can also brush a bit of the glowy product onto your lids to make your eyes pop and brighten your overall look. The result is always an instantly, radiant effect that will make you look hours more rested. 

The Brow Bones

Your brow bones are also an area of the face that catches light. Swiping on the shimmer underneath your brows will not only add dimension and a natural glow, but it will also add shape and define your eye area, making them look bigger.

The Lips

Skip the lip fillers — you can get the illusion of fuller lips by applying a touch of highlighter on your cupid’s bow, which is the curved section at the center of your top lip. 

The Chin

Highlighting the center of your chin is a great makeup technique to enhance and elongate your face. But as with most makeup rules, be sure to blend out the highlighter in this area to ensure it appears natural. 

The Collarbones

While the collarbones are technically not part of your face, we’d argue that highlighting this underrated feature is just as essential to your entire makeup look. Dusting a shimmer onto your décolletage can help accentuate and draw attention to the stunning makeup look you worked so hard on. Not to mention, it’s an easy way for faking that coveted sunkissed glow all year round.


3. You’re Using Too Much

Contrary to popular belief, there is such a thing as too much highlighter. If you apply too much, you run the risk of looking straight up shiny and sweaty. Remember, less is more when it comes to makeup — highlighter included. So, just make sure to brush on small amounts at a time and blend, blend, blend.

4. You’re Applying It With The Wrong Tools

While there is no denying that you can achieve a luminous glow with the right highlighter, not using the right makeup brushes and tools could be hampering your ability to do so. When it comes to applying highlighter, a fan brush is your one-way ticket to perfection. This uniquely-shaped brush works to lightly dust product onto your face for a natural-looking glow. And if you’re applying a liquid or cream highlighter, try blending out the product with a makeup sponge instead of a brush.


5. You’re Not Taking Lighting Into Consideration

When you’re planning on wearing highlighter, lighting should always be a factor. If you’re going to be spending the day in soft, dim lighting, then you can up the ante and go for a really sparkly highlighter, which can help make your features pop against a candle-lit background. On the other hand, if you’re going to be outdoors during the day, consider choosing a more subtle highlighter that won’t look as harsh under the sunlight. And on days when you’re going to be snapping a ton of pics, take a selfie before you go out to see what your highlighter looks like on camera.

6. You’re Using It With The Wrong Foundation

It’s a tale as old as time. You’re applying your highlighter in all the right places but it’s not coming out as it should or how you imagined. The issue could be that you’re using it with the wrong foundation. 

In general, you should pair like-formulas with each other. So, if you’re using a powder foundation — such as the L'Oréal Paris Infallible Up to 24H Fresh Wear Foundation in a Powder — then use a powder highlighter. We recommend the L’Oréal Paris True Match Lumi Shimmerista Highlighting Powder since it’s super buildable and always delivers a stunning, radiant finish. The same goes for if you’re using a liquid or cream foundation — then use a liquid or cream highlighter. 

Editor’s tip: In a rush? Try the L'Oréal Paris True Match Lumi Glotion Natural Glow Enhancer — it can be worn alone, under foundation or on target areas for a more luminous effect. You can also mix a little bit of a light-infusing primer, like the L’Oréal Paris Magic Lumi Light Infusing Primer, in with your foundation to help create a soft light illusion. 

7. You’re Not Coordinating The Rest Of Your Face Makeup

To really make your cheekbones pop, you’ll need to pair your highlighter with blush and bronzer — but you’ll also need to coordinate the shades of the rest of your face makeup with the highlighter you chose. If you’re wearing a cool-toned highlighter, warm bronzer and blush won’t look quite right. To play it safe, use a highlighter palette, like the L’Oréal Paris True Match Lumi Glow Nude Highlighter Palette, which includes all the shades you need of highlighter, bronzer and blush — all already perfectly coordinated.

Next: How to Create Winged Eyeliner With Eyeshadow

Edited by: Sophie Dweck, Photo Credit: Chaunte Vaughn

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