6 Ways You're Getting Highlighter Wrong

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When it comes to makeup, highlighter is one of those products where you can usually just throw caution to the wind. It doesn't need to be sharp like winged liner or precise like lipstick. But whether you like a subtle glow or prefer to shine bright, there are still some highlighting mistakes you'll want to avoid. And to find out what those mistakes are, I emailed with a handful of experts.

Monika Deol, Founder and CEO of Stellar; Ashlee Glazer, Smith & Cult Beauty Ambassador; Stephanie Koutikas, makeup artist and Creative Director at Mehron Makeup; and Natalie Soto-Carlisle, Global Educator for jane iredale cosmetics, all let me in on how to get the most flawless highlighter application— regardless of your style. According to Koutikas, "When applied correctly, highlighter can help lift and brighten the overall appearance of your face, giving your complexion that dewy, luminous look." However, she adds that it can be easy to go overboard and end up looking too sparkly and unnatural. Of course, as Deol says, highlighter is pretty personal. One person's highlighter limit may be another person's first coat. Whatever level of glow you prefer though, here are six mistakes to avoid:

1. Overdoing It

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Try: Tarte Rainforest of the Sea Radiance Drops, $32, Sephora

Sure, to some, there may be no such thing as "too much highlighter." However, Soto-Carlisle and Koutikas both warn against applying to the point where you look greasy instead of glow-y. It's also important to take your lighting conditions into consideration, says Koutikas. "Dim lighting allows for a more sparkly highlighter and bright lights demand a subtler one."

2. Ignoring Matte Options

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Try: Stellar Limitless Concealer, $27, Sephora

"Contrary to popular belief, a highlighter does not always need to have shimmer," says Soto-Carlisle. Try a powder foundation or concealer a couple of shades lighter than your skin tone for a matte option. Glazer adds that matte highlighter also looks beautiful as eye shadow.

3. Choosing The Wrong Formula For Your Skin Type

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Try: Smith & Cult Illumify Shimmering Highlight, $36, Amazon

Depending on your skin type, certain highlighter formulas may perform better than others. According to Soto-Carlisle, cream or liquid highlighters are better for drier skin. And Glazer says powders work better with oily skin. Highlighter will also, well, highlight any texture you have. So if you want to conceal texture, opt for a hydrating, cream formula, Glazer adds.

4. Not Considering Your Skin Tone

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Try: Becca Light Chaser Highlighter, $34, Sephora

There are many different tones of highlighter, so choosing the best one for you will depend on your skin tone and undertones. Generally speaking, Glazer says to stick to the color family that looks best on you: "Think about what color jewelry looks the most flattering on you. Are you silver, rose gold, or gold when it comes to your jewels? Then go in the same direction for highlighter."

More specifically, Deol recommends silvery or pale-gold tones for fair to light skin, gold and peach shades for medium and olive skin, and true gold and burnished-copper shades for dark to deep skin.  

5. Using The Wrong Tools

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Try: YSL Touche Eclat Glow Shot Highlighter, $42, Sephora

How you apply your highlighter can also make a world of difference. To apply a cream highlighter in a way that won't break up your foundation, Soto-Carlisle recommends using a synthetic hair foundation-brush or damp sponge in a tapping, not dragging, motion. Glazer says your fingers are best for applying liquid highlighter, and soft, fluffy brushes are best for powder highlighter.

6. Applying It In The Wrong Places

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Try: Anastasia Beverly Hills Aurora Glow Kit, $40, Sephora

Koutikas recommends sticking to key areas when highlighting such as above your cheekbones (never below), down the bridge of your nose, on the inner corners of your eyes, and on your cupid's bow. If you have oily skin though, Soto-Carlisle says to avoid using shimmery formulas on your T-zone area. And Deol warns against using shimmery highlighter to brighten under your eyes. Instead, use a brightening concealer, she says.

Because you can go hard with the highlighter without looking like you sweat glitter. (Although, let's be honest, that's totally a look too.)