The over-the-top highlighting trend may be so 2016, but skin that glows and looks radiant will always be in. The key to achieving natural-looking radiance is to truly know how to use highlighter and that includes knowing how to choose the right formula and understanding the best placement for it.
It may come as a surprise to many, but that means going beyond the typical cheekbone placement. Don’t worry — we’re not telling you to apply it all over your face, we’re telling you to use it strategically to best define your features. Ahead, we’re sharing more about how to use liquid highlighter and highlighter powder, plus the best places to apply highlighter on your face for the ultimate glow.
What Is Highlighter Makeup?
Highlighter is a product that reflects light to brighten your features. It can look like a concealer that’s a shade lighter than your skin tone to contour different facial features, or a shimmery, lightweight powder or liquid that can be applied on the high points of your face. Highlighter has several different jobs in your makeup look and it all comes down to where you place it.
Shimmery highlighter is like the cherry on top of any gorgeous makeup look. Whether you go the more natural route or for a full glam look, consider highlighter an important step for adding dimension and luminosity. At one point, bathing in highlighter was a viral social media trend, but thankfully, it’s shifted to a less-is-more approach. It’s safe to say that highlighter doesn’t belong everywhere and looks much better when it’s applied strategically and with a lighter hand.
Which Highlighter to Choose for a Gorgeous Glow
There isn’t a right or wrong way to glow but there may be a better option for your skin type or the look you’re going for. Ultimately, it’s up to you which highlighter you choose and what you like, so check out the best highlighters for the job, below.
If you’re looking for an incredibly lightweight, buildable powder highlighter that you can use for your face and body, this is for you. It has a fine shimmer that creates a gorgeous luminosity on the skin.
Mixing and matching highlighter shades can be helpful when trying to find the most flattering one for your skin tone. With this palette, you get four powder shades that provide a soft, lit-from-within glow that you can easily build up when you want more intensity.
If a subtle glow that melts into the skin is what you’re after, you’ve met your match with this liquid highlighter. Liquid highlighter can be used all over the skin as a luminous priming base before foundation, or you can apply it to more specific areas for a targeted glow.
How to Apply Highlighter Makeup
Achieving the glow you want comes down to the formula you select and where you apply it. If you prefer cream or liquid-based highlighters, using your fingers is key for those types of products. The warmth from your hands will help to melt the product into the skin. Always remember to start with clean hands and use your fingertips to lightly press the liquid formula into the high points of your face for a seamless, natural glow.
If cream products intimidate you, powder highlighters are also great, especially when you have oily skin. When working with a powder formula, use light application with a medium-sized fluffy brush, which will help to disperse and blend the highlighter onto the high points of your face, creating a diffused glow versus a harsh line of shimmer.
How to Use Liquid Highlighter
The way you apply powder highlighter is going to differ from the way you apply liquid highlighter. Here’s how to use the latter in your makeup routine.
Step 1. Apply Foundation
Even out your complexion and cover up any imperfections with the L’Oréal Paris True Match Super-Blendable Foundation in a shade that matches your skin tone. There are 47 shades, in warm, neutral and cool undertones to take the guesswork out of shade matching. Dot the foundation onto your cheeks, nose, chin and forehead. Then, blend out toward your hairline and down toward your neck with your makeup tool of choice.
Step 2. Contour and Add Blush
Contour and blush are two great ways to add color and definition to your complexion. To find your perfect shade of cream contour, opt for a concealer that is two shades darker than your skin tone. We suggest a full-coverage formula, like the L’Oréal Paris Infallible Full Wear Concealer up to 24H Full Coverage. Take a damp makeup sponge and buff the cream contour below your cheekbones, onto your temples, and down the sides of your nose. Top off your cheeks with a cream blush, like the L’Oréal Paris Glow Paradise Lip and Cheek Tint, blending the color starting at the center of your cheeks and going back toward your ears for a subtle lifting effect.
Step 3. Highlight
Pick up the L’Oréal Paris True Match Lumi Glotion Natural Glow Enhancer and dot the shimmery liquid above your cheekbones, at the inner corners of your eyes and above your cupid’s bow. Blend the liquid out with a fingertip to melt the product into the skin for a seamless shine.
Step 4. Set With a Setting Spray
To keep up with your dewy, luminous makeup look, set your makeup with a spray instead of a powder. Spritz your face with the L’Oréal Paris Infallible Pro-Spray & Set Makeup Extender Setting Spray four to six times in “X” and “T” motions to extend the life of your look.
How to Use Powder Highlighter
If you’re partial to powders, here’s how to highlight with one.
Step 1. Prime
Before you can highlight, you need to perfect your base. Start with a brightening primer, like the L’Oréal Paris Prime Lab Up to 24H Dullness Reducer, or a pore-reducing primer, like the L’Oréal Paris Prime Lab Up to 24H Pore Minimizer. Both will help to smooth your skin and extend your makeup look.
Step 2. Apply Foundation
After applying your primer, opt for your foundation of choice. If you like something with a little bit of glow, try the L’Oréal Paris Infallible 24 Hour Fresh Wear Foundation. If you like matte skin, try the L’Oréal Paris Infallible Up to 24H Fresh Wear Foundation in a Powder.
Step 3. Add Blush and Bronzer
Use a matte bronzer, like the L’Oréal Paris Infallible Up to 24H Fresh Wear Soft Matte Bronzer and dust it along your cheekbones, forehead and jawline with a fluffy brush. Then, brush a peachy blush, like the L’Oréal Paris True Match Blush in Barely Blushing onto the apples of your cheeks for a natural-looking flush.
Step 4. Highlight
Now is the part you’ve been waiting for — reach for the L’Oréal Paris True Match Lumi Shimmerista Highlighting Powder and use a small fluffy brush to dust the powder onto your cheekbones, your brow bones, the bridge of your nose, and your cupid’s bow. You can also add some to the inner corner of your eyes to brighten your eye makeup.
Do You Put Highlighter on Before or After Blush?
If you’re working with all powder products or all liquid products, apply highlighter to your cheekbones before you apply your blush. When you apply the blush over your highlighter, it will help to seamlessly blend the two together, creating a smooth, luminous application. If you’re using powder blush and liquid highlighter, apply the liquids before you apply your powder products.
Do You Apply Highlighter Before or After Foundation?
Liquid highlighter can go on before foundation to create a luminous base or after foundation to highlight specific areas. You can even mix it into your foundation to sheer out coverage and sport a glowy base. The reason is that liquid highlighters and liquid foundations have a similar consistency which lets them blend and layer well together.
As for powder highlighter and cream formulas, these are best applied after foundation to ensure your makeup looks even. (Don’t forget to apply cream formulas before you set your foundation.) If you’re wearing powder foundation, such as the aforementioned L’Oréal Paris Infallible Up to 24H Fresh Wear Foundation in a Powder, apply any highlighter after you’ve completed your base.
8 Places to Apply Highlighter Makeup on Your Face
Once you’ve chosen your highlighter, knowing where to apply it (and where not to apply it) is the next step. Below, check out the eight areas of the face to apply highlighter for a natural and seamless glow.
We’re starting with the most common place to highlight your skin — the cheekbones. To enhance your bone structure and give your face a lifted appearance, apply a light layer of highlighter to your cheekbones. Drag it up slightly under your temples to avoid a stark line where your highlighter begins and ends.
Many contour their jawline so highlighting it only makes sense. Focus on your face shape and where the sun hits you naturally. The results literally and figuratively highlight your jawline and enhance your face shape to create a gorgeous, light-catching glow.
3. Cupid’s Bow
Your Cupid's bow is the curved section at the center of your top lip. Highlighting this area helps to lift the lips and give them a fuller appearance and more defined shape.
Editor’s tip: Overline your lips and highlight your cupid’s bow to instantly fake a plumper pout.
4. Brow Bone
The brow bone is an area of the face that catches light and plays an integral part in your bone structure. Give your brows a lifted appearance by adding some brightness to the area (under the arch of your brows) with highlighter.
5. Inner Corners Of Your Eyes
The inner corners of your eyes tend to be more prone to darkness than other areas of the face. Add some highlighter to brighten this area and give your eyes a more wide-awake appearance.
6. Under-Eye Area
Yup, this is a weird one but it truly works wonders. Just like the inner corner of the eyes, the under-eye area can be dark and highlighter is a great way to help bring some brightness to it. Layer it on lightly after you’ve applied your under-eye concealer or mix some liquid highlighter like the aforementioned True Match Lumi Glotion Natural Glow Enhancer with your concealer before applying it to your dark circles.
7. Center Of Your Eyelids
Another great way to brighten your eyes and your overall look is by adding a subtle highlight to the center of your eyelids. While this might not be fitting if you’re going for a nude smokey eye, on natural makeup days, it’s a great way to look more awake while adding some glow.
8. Center Of Your Chin
If you have a longer or more oval-shaped face that you wish to round out a bit, highlighting the center of your chin is a great makeup technique to try. Be sure to really blend out the highlighter in this area to ensure it appears natural.
Where Should You Avoid Applying Highlighter?
Always avoid highlighting the nose — it’s not flattering on most people and should be avoided, especially if you're just learning how to apply highlighter. Highlighting the nose is another technique that started off as a viral social media trend and persisted. For a more flattering and natural result, highlight your cheekbones, the inner corners of your eyes and your jawline. As for your nose, opt for some subtle sculpting in place of highlighter.
Photographer: Nelson Huang, Art Director: Hannah Packer, Producer: Becca Solovay, Beauty Content Director: Shalwah Evans, Visual Designer: Sarah Duvivier, Wardrobe Stylist: Alexis Badiyi, Wardrobe Assistant: Jazmine Alzado, Makeup Artist: Jonet Williamson, Hair Stylist: Akihisa Yamaguchi, Digi Tech: Jacky Jiang, Photo Assistant: Tyler Andrews, Model: Erin Williams
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