If you are a fan of a glowing, lit-from-within makeup look, we suggest honing your highlighter makeup skills. What began as a fun addition to the traditional foundation, eye and blush palettes, highlighters have now transitioned into staple products that you absolutely need to have in your collection. Why do you ask? Let celebrity makeup artist Lekha Gupta elaborate on the same - “As the name suggests, a highlighter highlights the high points of your face where the light catches first, giving your skin a lustrous look. Also, it can be easily doubled up as an eyeshadow in times of need, plus other hacks!”. 

Having established the use of highlighters to up your makeup game, it won’t help to just willy nilly apply any kind of highlighter, anywhere. Different formulas and textures can result in different kinds of finish on your face. They can also enhance certain features while distracting from others, which is why it is necessary to get familiar with the rules of highlighter makeup application. Let us start with the places where you should be applying a highlighter.


1. Five places to apply highlighter makeup on the face

Five places to apply highlighter makeup on the face

These are the five places that need to be prioritized while applying a highlighter:

i) Arch of the brow bone:

Sweeping highlighter above and below the arch of your brow bone will define your eyebrows and make your eyes look bigger.

ii) Bridge of the nose:

Applying a highlighter down the bridge of your nose or just at the tip will help accentuate and make it look thinner.

iii) Above the Cupid’s bow:

Dusting some highlighter above the Cupid’s bow will help draw attention to your pout.

iv) High point of the cheekbones:

The most popular spot for applying a highlighter, defining your cheekbones with an illuminating formula will help give your face a light contour and make it appear more youthful.

v) Center of your chin:

Brightening up your chin can help give your face a slimmer look, plus, it adds vibrancy to your smile!

Now that you know the hot spots, check out the best technique for applying the two major types of highlighters...


2. How to apply powder highlighter

How to apply powder highlighter

Image courtesy: @linamourey

Powder highlighters are a good match for oily skin and have a high concentration of shimmer in them. They do not slip or become greasy and can be seamlessly blended with your foundation. However, due to such a potent formulation, you might end up overdoing it.

For powder formulas, Lekha recommends, “Stick to your comfort level...you can use your fingers for the smaller areas like the arch and the bridge of the nose. And for the cheekbones, I would recommend using a fan brush. This will help gently dust the product onto your skin. A precision lip brush will be best for the Cupid’s bow lining.”


3. How to apply liquid highlighter

How to apply liquid highlighter

Image courtesy: @namvo

When compared to powder highlighters, liquid formulas give a more natural-looking, dewy finish. It is perfect for dry skin, versatile when it comes to how it can be used and can also be mixed into your foundation for an all-over glowing complexion. Their application can be easily controlled and can be used to create the popular K-beauty ‘glass skin’.

According to Lekha, liquid highlighters can be, “Smeared with your fingers and blended into your skin. This is because the product warms up a little when you smear with your finger and it easily blends onto the skin. This way, you will also have full control over the amount of product used as it’s first being lifted on the fingers. Then, if need be, you can use a blender to blend it, especially at the cheekbones.” FYI, your fingertips can also be used to dab on more concentrated products to specific areas of your choice.

There is a third kind of highlighter available, which comes in a creamy texture, but is not as shimmery as the other two mentioned above. They give a matte finish and aren’t exactly used to add ‘glow’ to your face, but more to complement the contouring on your face. For instance, cream highlighters are also used as under-eye brighteners, which you won’t be doing with liquid or powder highlighters!


4. A highlighter faux pas to avoid

A highlighter faux pas to avoid

Image courtesy: @bettinafrumboli

One of the biggest highlighter mistakes that you should be cautious about is going overboard! Too much highlighter, especially under bright lights can tend to look oily. It catches a lot of light if applied in a large quantity and on too many parts of the face. Hence the precision of place and of application is very important.

Lekha also revealed, “I do feel you should choose a highlighter as per your undertone (just like concealer and foundation) to bring out the neat effect. For Instance, if your skin undertone is warm, pick a golden or golden beige or bronze highlighter; vis-a-via a silver or cool-toned colour for a pink undertone.”


5. MUA-approved highlighter tips to keep in mind

MUA-approved highlighter tips to keep in mind

Some of the MUA(Makeup Artist)-approved tips for acing highlighter makeup are:

  • Follow the ‘less is more’ principle while applying highlights so that it’s on point and doesn’t look oily on the skin under a bright light.
  • Use a dash of the same highlighter with a pointed precision brush right at the inner corner of your eyes. This makes your eyes pop and makes them look bigger.
  • Remember to blend your highlighter well and be discreet about it when applying it in the eye area. The application should not look like a blob or a patch on your skin
  • While applying a highlighter to the inner corner of your eye, it should be blended into the lash line and the lid to achieve that doe-eyed dreamy look.
  • You can also apply some product to the center of your forehead. This helps complete a look and increases the glam quotient of the entire makeup aesthetic.

6. Did you know?

Did you know?

Image courtesy: @leahbaines_mua

Properly preparing your skin not only decides how your foundation looks but also how the highlighter turns out to look like. Prep should be done in general with a lot of care, whether it’s the moisturiser or the primer. It’s a generic mandate for makeup! Lekha revealed, “For the longevity of the highlighter specifically, I prefer using a cream-based highlighter first and then set that with a powder-based highlighter on top. And lastly, spray a fixing mist all over to set it completely.”


7. FAQs about highlighter makeup

FAQs about highlighter makeup

1) Can you just wear highlighter makeup on your face?

A. Yes, highlighters are versatile enough to be worn on their own. They can be worn to subtly add glow to your complexion, without having to put on the foundation first. Liquid or cream-based highlighters are perfect for wearing without a base. 

2) What comes first - blush or highlighter?

A. Since blushes are more pigmented than highlighters, they can cover up the shimmering effect of the same. Apply blush and then layer with a sheer highlighter for a dramatic glow on the apple of your cheeks.

3) Can you mix a highlighter with moisturiser?

A. Yes, highlighters can be mixed with lightweight face lotions in order to give your complexion a natural-looking glow. Make sure to not make a habit of it because highlighters are, after all, makeup and can lead to clogging of the pores if worn daily.

4) How do I choose a highlighter?

A. The accepted principle of choosing a highlighter is to go a few shades lighter than your natural skin tone. You need to aim at picking formulas that will reflect light from the high points of your face when applied there. However, don't make it too shiny or glittery.

Main image courtesy: @jentioseco