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How to Highlight Your Face Correctly


We’ve all seen it- a well-intentioned highlight job gone bad. Instead of enhancing, it creates the illusion of a sweaty-face with unnatural harsh glares, especially on video. There is a technique to highlighting your face, but it’s not difficult. Highlighting is often done in conjunction with contouring. Since contouring aims to create depth via darker shades, highlighters bring the light back to your face. But if contouring is just too intimidating or time consuming, feel free to utilize a highlighter palette on its own. 

Find Your High Points

The high points of your face are those that stick out furthest from your cheeks-- the tip of your nose, brow bones, and center of your chin. Highlighters can make your face appear longer and leaner by bringing the attention to the center of your face, and away from the width. Avoid applying highlighter near your eyes, the eyes are not a high point of the face.

Don’t Stress the Technique

Not too long ago, it was about maximum highlighter coverage, and building the most shine on our cheekbones. Now that applying highlighters have become a normal part of our daily makeup routine, subtly is the key to create that natural glow. The easiest technique to apply highlighter is with the fingers-- the ring, middle and pointer fingers. Lightly coat each finger, then tap your fingers up and down your cheekbones. Use your fingers to also dab above your brow bones, tip of your nose, and the center of your chin. 

If finger-painting is just not your thing, use small brushes that allow you to have more control over the application of your highlighter and how much you are piling on. 

Working with Contour

Highlighting while contouring, for some, is equivalent to texting while driving-- the two can just collide. There is a simple rule when applying both, highlight around the contour. 

  1. Forehead: Contouring the outer forehead, hairline area. Highlight the center of the forehead.
  2. Nose: Highlight the nose bridge, counter the sides of the nostrils.
  3. Cheeks: Contour the area of the cheeks between the corner of your mouth and the ears. Highlight above and below that line.
  4. Chin: No contouring recommended. Just highlight the center of the chin.

Apply in Order

Highlighters should be applied to your face last. Begin your makeup routine with foundation, followed by concealer, powder, contour, blush, and then highlighter. For those days when we don’t have the time or patience for some of these in-between steps, try just applying concealer and powder before your highlighter. 

Glitter or Glow

Opt for a highlighter shade close to the color of your actual skin tone with just a smidge of shine for everyday wear. Highlighters with sparkles are great for Instagram, but often look too unnatural for everyday life. Those with medium to deep skin tones should select a warmer, more golden highlight shade. Fair tones can wear more pearly highlight shades.