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How to Use Highlighter to Get That Lit-From-Within Glow

Who doesn’t want a glow that appears lit from within?! A highlighting shimmer on the face, on the right areas, can make you look younger, bring forward your features, and literally highlight them. Highlighter instantly elevates your makeup looks, and allows the light to shine from you. We want you to glow, so we’re sharing all the info on what highlighter is, the types you can choose from, and how to apply it beautifully. 

What is Highlighter?

Let’s start with the basics. What is highlighter? Highlighter is a makeup product that was created to reflect light. Whereas contour (like our Shade Sticks) shades and recedes parts of the face, highlighter does the opposite, bringing features forward, through a lighter color, and often a shimmery finish. Glitter is also used in some formulations for extra sparkle. 

Types of Highlighter

Highlighter comes in many forms. You can choose from a powder (like our The Tribe Highlighter), cream, liquid, jelly, gloss, and stick form, for different benefits. Those with dry skin will benefit from the added moisture that comes with cream, liquid, jelly, and gloss highlighters, while a powder one will help oily skin. Some highlighters, like powder ones, can be applied with a brush, while stick highlighters allow for easy application, straight from the tube. The idea is to choose one that works best for your skin, and how you like to apply makeup. 

How to Choose a Highlighter Color

We discussed how to choose a highlighter based on whether your skin is dry or oily, but more important than that is choosing a highlighter that will complement both your skin’s tone and undertones. First, you want to choose a highlighter in a color two shades lighter than your own. This will give you the lightness you need to highlight certain parts of the face, but will also ensure that the look is natural. 

Then, you want to choose according to whether your skin tone is light, medium or olive, or dark. Light skin tones look good in pearlescent, icy white, and pink highlighter shades (our The Tribe Highlighter (Vol 3) is a great option). Medium and olive tones should wear highlighters in peach, champagne, and gold hues (try our Nubian Loose Pearl Highlighting Powder in Nefertiti, or Cleo). Dark skin tones look great with a warm gold, bronze, or chocolate highlighter (our Nubian Loose Pearl Highlighting Powder in Nubian is a great choice). 

Beyond that, you should look at your skin’s undertones. If your skin throws off pink, red, and/or blue hues, you have a cool undertone. Highlighters in cool shades like pearl white, pink, and lavender will look great on you. If you have warm undertones, meaning your skin gives off yellow and/or golden tones, warm-based highlighters like peach, gold, and bronze will look wonderful. Remember, there are warm and cool versions of every color, as well as universal shades (like our Heroine Glow 1 and II Baked Highlighter Powders), so chances are, you’ll find a highlighter that looks perfect on you. 

How to Apply Highlighter

Now that you’ve selected your highlighter, you want to know the tips and tricks for applying it flawlessly. Highlighter is meant to bounce light off the parts of your face where the sun naturally hits. It’s nature, only amplified. 

You’ll want to use the right tools to apply your highlighter. For creamier formulas, you can use your fingers or a sponge, while lighter, powdery highlighters can be applied with a brush. Once you’ve figured out what works best for you, it’s time to apply your highlighter. 

The idea is to mimic what the sun does. You want to highlight, or bring forth areas that the sun hits, like the center of the forehead, the bridge and tip of the nose, the top of the cheekbones, brow bones, the cupid’s bow part of the lips, and on the inner corners of the eyes. Apply on these places, and blend so that there are no harsh lines or too much visible highlighter. Once you’ve achieved a natural, sun-lit look, you’re set! Of course, you can always turn up the volume and go for a more in-your-face glow, a la strobing, which is perfect for a night out.