How To Choose The Right Highlight For Your Skin

by Julia Musto

If you're even remotely interested in makeup or skin care, it is impossible to not have an opinion on highlighting and/or illuminators. Unfortunately, not all women can live on the beach in Barbados or Australia. Living in the shadows of New York City, I have to work with what I've got and pray for temperatures to rise above fifty at some point soon before I even think about a sun-kissed glow. So how do you choose the right highlighter for your skin? There are so many options that it can be tough to pick just one.

Personally, I use the L'Oreal True Match Lumi Liquid Glow Illuminator Prime and Highlighter in "Ice." The consistency is a smooth gel, but it glides on my pale, pale, yellow-toned skin in a smooth but subtle shimmer. The company recommends you use a warmer rose shade on my kind of skin to avoid washing out, but to achieve the best look for a girl with slight rosacea I opt for the icy shade to attempt to quell the extreme pink of my cheeks.

I have been experimenting with the strobing trend instead of a regular contour lately, and it has pleasantly surprised me in all kinds of light. However, if you go overboard with the highlight you might end up looking like a ghost with really dark eyebrows. There is certainly a right way and a wrong way to do highlighting, depending on the look you are going for.

That's why I turned to an expert makeup artist for help. BECCA Style Director Kerry Cole illuminated me (get it?) about what consistency of highlighter worked best on each skin type. According to Cole, dry or mature skin responds best to liquid or crème formulas because they add hydration and helps the skin look the most natural, whereas people with oily skin should stick to a powder or crème. Combination skin can take any kind of highlighter. Cole, herself uses the shimmering Skin Perfector Poured Crème from BECCA and L'Oreal Magic Lumi highlighter, which made me feel validated in my choice of highlighter.

L'Oreal True Match Lumi Liquid Glow Illuminator Prime & Highlighter , $5, Amazon

When asked about what color highlights apply best to each skin tone Cole recommends soft pale tones with golden highlights for light skin. She says that medium skin takes opal, rose gold, or soft pink best, whereas dark skin looks great with warm golden, bronze, or coppery highlights.

Shimmering Skin Perfector Poured Crème - Opal, $46, Sephora

In terms of application, Cole's technique sounds flawless, "I love to sweep highlighter over the high points of the face — cheekbones, down the bridge of the nose, around the brow bone and even over the cupids bow," she says. But, she has a trick to highlights that involves more than just a one-step product: "Adding glow to the skin can also be done through a primer. Using a primer with a built in highlighter will blur imperfections, smooth the skin, and give you an overall glow. It’s a quick step that makes a big difference."

What about strobing? Cole says strobing is a-ok depending on your look, "Strobing is a bit more subtle and perfect for everyday. Adding a bit of contour to your look will give you a more dramatic result."

So, when you're getting a new highlighter or even just applying your usual makeup, consider these tips.

Images: Courtesy Brands