How To Use Highlighter To Illuminate Your Face, According To Makeup Artists Who Know The Glow
Tis the season for all that glitters — it's one time of year when it's perfectly acceptable to wrap yourself up in sparkle, from your dresses to your hair roots. That also includes your makeup. If you've been struggling to achieve the holiday glow with highlighter, don't throw up your hands in defeat just yet. You can still shimmer with the best of them; you just might have to change your technique a little.
There's something so satisfying about putting on a glittery face for the holidays. Silver eyeshadows are fair game, glittery red lipsticks are hands-down-festive, and a smoky eye that sparkles puts you right into the champagne mood. If your face glows, you have the perfect backdrop to your festive holiday beauty looks. The trick is actually coaxing that shimmer out, and having it stay on all night. There's nothing more disappointing then popping into the bathroom halfway through the ugly Christmas sweater party only to notice you're running at zero watts.
To find out how you can keep our cheekbones lit all night, experts shared their favorite tricks and insider secrets. Below are 13 tips on how get a holiday glow with highlighter. Get ready to shine.
1. Where You Apply It Matters
If you haven't been seeing the amount of glow you've wanted, maybe the issue is you've been putting the product in the wrong places. While brushing it across your cheekbones is a given, try adding the shimmer to other parts of your face too to amp up the effect.
"Pressed highlighters are fantastic, convenient and so easy to use," NARS Stylist Sarah Coffin, a makeup artist with nine years of experience, tells Bustle in an email interview. "Apply your highlighter under the arch of the brow and the corner of the eye to make your eyes pop, and dust some on your collarbone for that little bit of extra radiance."
2. Go For The Gold
Changing the color of your highlighter makes a difference, so if you want a shimmer that packs a punch try using a gold illuminator.
"A golden glow is not just for summer — it pairs perfectly with a bold red lip-a staple for a beautifully simple holiday party look. Put the pearl shimmer pigment away and go 14 karat!" Andrea Whittle, a makeup artist at KARMA with 20 years experience, shares with Bustle. It just might give you the amount of light that you're after.
3. Use A Beautyblender
Rather than using a makeup brush, use a Beautyblender for best results.
"When applying a cream highlighter use a beauty sponge. To start, get it damp and then dip the sponge into the cream highlighter, getting a small amount of product onto the sponge (this will allow the highlight to become more buildable and natural.)" Colleen Gottmann, a freelance makeup artist, shares with Bustle. To apply it, use a stippling rather than sweeping motion to get the best outcome.
4. Try Mixing It In With Your Foundation
If you want a glow that spans your whole face and not just certain points, try mixing a liquid illuminator in with your foundation.
"Liquid Illuminators are a fantastic alternative for a dry skin type or for someone who wants a skin-like finish when applying their makeup. Mixing a liquid illuminator in with your foundation is an easy way to get an all over natural glow," Coffin shares.
5. Pair It With Moisturizer For Less-Makeup Days
If you're not a fan of foundation, you can still get an all-over illuminated look. Simply mix it in with your moisturizer instead. "You can also mix your liquid illuminator in with your moisturizer! Apply it to your neck, chest, and shoulders before your next party," Coffin suggests. That way you can still keep your minimal routine, but still shine.
6. Try Other Products That Aren't Highlighters
Highlighters aren't the only products with shimmer in them — if you're not getting the amount of glow you want from your illuminator, try getting it elsewhere.
"Use unexpected products to highlight with: lipsticks and eyeshadows are spectacular multi use products," Whittle suggests. Whether you use a glimmering eyeshadow on your eye to amp up the light, or reach for your silver eyeshadow palette and use it on your cheeks as a highlighter, you'll definitely get more shine.
7. If You Want A Subtle Glow, Cream Is The Way To Go
If you don't want to show up looking like a disco ball, then what you need are your cream products. "Cream highlighters are perfect for dry skin, or anyone who prefers a more natural highlight. They are best applied with the fingertips. The natural warmth of your fingertips really helps melt the product into your skin," Erin Thomas, a MAC makeup artist with four years experience, shares with Bustle. It'll give you a soft, dewy finish.
8. Get Lit From Within
If you want a more subtle glow, Coffin has a trick that will make you look naturally radiant. "Try applying your illuminator before your foundation for a lit from within look! This trick works perfectly with a tinted moisturizer or a light weight foundation. Apply to areas you would want to highlight such as your cheek bones and the bridge of the nose, then apply your foundation on top!" Coffin recommends. By putting it underneath your makeup, your glow looks a little more subdued and natural.
9. Choose The Brush Best For Your Face Shape
If you've been using a fan brush and hating the results, there could be a good reason why. "We typically see fan brushes used to apply highlighter on YouTube gurus, but they are not ideal for every facial shape," Thomas explains. "Fan brushes are fantastic for folks who already have defined cheekbones, while those with rounder cheeks may want to use something larger and more dense, like an angled blush brush. It helps the highlight to look more natural, and less like a random gold streak running across your face." Switch up the brushes if you feel like your highlighter looks too harsh.
10. Try Strobing
The makeup technique called "strobing" will get you maximum shine in a flash. "My favorite places to strobe are in the 'C' shape around the outer part of the eye, starting beneath the eyebrow curving to the top of the cheekbone in the shape of a letter C," Whittle shares. "I usually cut the eye in half and never go closer in toward the nose than the center of the eye. I also love to highlight just the tip of the nose and the top of the cupids bow." If you try strobing in those areas, your skin will pick up the light and glow.
11. Skip The Apples Of The Cheek
Highlighter isn't blush, and it shouldn't be applied like it. "Try to avoid applying highlighter too close to the apple of the cheek. It makes you look sweaty, or like you just got done crying. I start at the outer edge of the iris and blend back toward the temple," Thomas offers.
12. Keep Your Skin Type In Mind
If you feel like your skin looks greasy with highlighter on or your imperfections get accented, then you might just need to switch formulas. You don't have to give up on the look — you just have to tinker with which specific product is best for you.
"Highlighter come in all flavors, from matte powders to frosty creams. Matte, velvet, pearl and frost are all words used to describe texture and highlighting product finishes," Whittle explains. "If you have textured skin around the eyes (like fine lines to even deep crows feet) you can still highlight your cheekbones without drawing attention to your less favorite attributes by choosing the right texture."
If you've been trying the creamier liquids but they just flake around acne or highlight scars or marks, just switch to a different texture. "Matte highlighters (or "flat" — think wall paint) absorb light and therefore do not show off texture in skin. The more frosty textured highlighters enable light to bounce off skin and can accentuate dryness or fine lines," Whittle shares.
13. Finish With Setting Spray
To make sure your highlighter doesn't wear off in a few hours and to add that last extra boost of dew, finish off your makeup routine with some setting spray. "Using a face mist or makeup setting spray is a great way to enhance the glow and make it last through all those holiday parties! NYX Setting Spay is a great affordable hydrating spray," Colleen Got, a makeup artist with over five years of experience, shares with Bustle.
Follow these tips and get your glow on — you'll be the most radiant one at your next holiday bash!
Images: Target (1); Elf (1); Sephora (1); Etsy (1); @sarah.mua/ Instagram