Expert Tips and Tricks For Using Highlighter

Janell M. Hickman


“I don’t want luminous, ethereal-looking, sun-kissed skin,” said no-one ever! However, the harsh cold winter wind whipping our faces (especially during NYFW) makes achieving that task seem nearly impossible. Thankfully, highlighters were made to emphasize the areas the sun naturally spotlights. Confused on how to ensure you look glowing instead of greasy? Our experts spill details to get a “lit from within” look—sans romantic candlelit dinner. Now, let’s get glowing!

Know The Difference
“A highlighter is something that goes on top of your foundation. It helps highlight certain features once your complexion is done,” shares Erin Griffin, Pro Artist for tarte cosmetics. “An illuminator is something you can add to your foundation or moisturizer to give an all around glow.”

Highlighter is a Great Addition
“[Highlighter] adds more dimension to your face and gives your makeup look an extra punch,” explains Giorgio Armani Celebrity Makeup Artist, Tim Quinn. “Especially during the winter when your skin is dry, highlighter will add a lift. And for special occasions, it will add a red-carpet glow.”

MORE: 8 Highlighters That Will Make You Glow, Not Sparkle

Prep Your Face Accordingly
“I like to use our 100% Pure Argan Oil as a moisturizer,” shares National Trainer at Josie Maran Cosmetics, Jacob Douglas. “It nourishes the skin and keeps it hydrated all day long. It’s also a good idea to keep up on exfoliation so that your illuminizer  is resting on a smooth surface.”

Find The Right Formula
“If you’re dry, I would use a liquid or cream while for oily [I’d suggest] a powder,” advises Griffin who works with Hannah Davis, Cassadee Pope, and Jennifer Meyer.  “I think the biggest concern would be skin texture: if you are someone with textured skin or have fine lines I would avoid a shimmery highlight—stick to using a matte formula. If your skin is normal and shimmer looks good on it, go ahead and use a shimmery version.”

Select The Right Hue
“Champagne tones like Giorgio Armani Fluid Sheer #2 are most universal on any complexion,” shares Quinn who works with Hilary Swank, Camilla Belle and Quvenzhane Wallis. “[For fairer skin] look for something with pink under tones, like Giorgio Armani Fluid Sheer #7. Those with darker skin should focus on golden hues.”

Use Your Fingers
“I’m big on the use of fingertips in makeup, but if you’re into brushes any synthetic brush is suitable for liquids and creams,” advises Douglas. “However, for  a creamy highlighting powder (like the Amazonian clay shimmering powder), I suggest using a fantail brush because when applied it leaves a light, ethereal finish.”

MORE: 10 Genius Tricks to Get Dewy Skin

Apply Accordingly
“[Apply highlighter] to the highest point of your eyebrow arch, the brow bone and the high point of your cheek bones,” explains Griffin. “Then, apply a small amount down the center of nose, and I love it right in the cupid’s bow for a fuller looking lip.”

Get The Right Light
“Ideally, make lighting that is going to mirror what you’re going to be seen in,” shares Quinn. “In the daytime, opt for natural lighting. If you’re getting ready for the evening, go for softer lighting. Avoid too harsh of light because you might overdo the makeup.”

Don’t Feel Compelled to Contour
“Focus application any place that you want to emphasize,” shares Douglas. “You can highlight or add radiance without needing to contour.”