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Makeup & Looks

How to Apply Highlighter: A Step-By-Step Guide

Aug 1, 2021 · 4 minutes read
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If you’ve ever seen a photo where someone’s skin is simply glowing, it’s probably thanks to a highlighter. Highlighter is a very important, yet often overlooked, step in your makeup routine.

When properly applied, a highlighter gives skin that lust-worthy dewy-glowy looks and enhances your overall complexion. The downside of a highlighter is that if you apply it incorrectly, you may end up looking shinier than a disco ball on New Year’s Eve! Read through our simple guide below to avoid common highlighter mistakes, while also learning how to use it effectively.

Why Apply Highlighter?

To begin with, let’s talk about why you absolutely need to use a highlighter as part of your daily makeup routine. Highlighter boosts radiance, it accentuates features (especially in your cheekbones), it enhances complexion, and it gives skin that post-vacation glow, even if you haven’t traveled anywhere. However, if applied incorrectly, it will have the opposite effect, making your skin appear overly shiny and reflective.

How to Apply Highlighter in 5 Steps

If you’re just embarking on the world of highlighters and have questions, you’re in the right place. We’ve put together a simple step-by-step guide to help you learn how to apply a highlighter like a pro!

1. Find the Right Shade

Before you go out to purchase the highlighter that your favorite influencer or best friend uses, take a step back. Just like makeup, highlighter comes in a variety of shades that will look drastically different depending on your skin tone. Warm, golden shades look good on most skin tones, but if you have darker skin, a highlighter with some red in it would look best on your complexion.

If you want an extreme effect (say, for a studio photoshoot), you might want to opt for a white or violet shade. Still not sure what shade you will need? You can easily try on multiple highlighter shades virtually with the YouCam Makeup app to find your best match! To do so, take a selfie or upload a photo of your face in the app. Then, tap Makeup and navigate to Face, then Highlighter.

From there you’ll be able to virtually try on multiple highlighter products and apply them to different areas of your face. If you aren’t sure where to apply it, don’t worry! We’ll talk about the best application locations later on in the article.

2. Prep Your Skin

Since you want to enhance your skin’s glow and complexion with a highlighter, preparing your skin before putting on makeup is crucial. Start by washing your face properly, drying it off completely with a soft towel, and applying your usual serums, a moisturizer, and sunscreen for a healthy, protected canvas.

3. Apply Other Makeup Products

First Once you’ve laid the base for your makeup, your foundation, concealer, blush, and bronzer are applied. At this point, you can also apply any eye and lip makeup you want. From there, a highlighter will be the finishing touch to your overall makeup look.

4. Apply Highlighter on Each Cheek

Now that you’re ready to apply your highlighter, you’ll want to start by putting it on your cheeks. Aim above the apple of the cheek, and sweep the highlighter diagonally across each cheekbone with your fingers or a brush. Make sure not to be too heavy-handed here! Adding too much highlighter can make you look overly shiny and unnatural, while the point of highlighter is to accentuate your features and complexion.

5. Highlight Other High Points of Your Face

Now that you’ve applied a highlighter to your cheek area, you might also want to apply it on your brow bones, above the lips, down the bridge of your nose, and in your inner eye area. Most importantly, you’ll want to avoid your T-zone, which is your forehead and the center of your nose, since it’s naturally oily and usually doesn’t need any extra shine.