Lip Lighter Is The Beginners’ Makeup Hack You Need To Try

It’s ridiculously easy.

by Hilary Shepherd
Cupid's bow highlighter is the easiest way to contour your lips in an instant.

Highlighter is an excellent — and easy — way to give your complexion a healthy, lit-from-within glow. It also has the power to illuminate specific areas on your face, like your cheekbones, the bridge of your nose, and around your temple, for example. But there’s another area that you might be overlooking when you apply your fave luminizer: your Cupid’s bow.

This simple lip-enhancing hack has been a secret weapon among makeup experts for quite some time. Romero Jennings, global director of makeup at MAC Cosmetics, calls it “strobing for the lips.” The pro tells Bustle that “[the trend] adds brightening effects to the lips while amplifying dimension and creating definition.”

The look is an easy way to contour your lips — just dab a little bit in the center of your upper lip — but there is a method to it. Sarah Tanno, Lady Gaga’s longtime makeup artist and the global artistry director of Haus Labs, suggests first using an angled brush with a little concealer to sharpen the edges of your lips so that your pout looks extra defined. Then, for the highlighter, use a small eyeliner brush on the Cupid’s bow. “I love using this trick for photos. It's actually a very fashionable way of doing your lips,” she tells Bustle. Jennings also touts the trend as being particularly suitable for FaceTime calls and Zoom sessions: “The camera loves lip lighter effects, so [it] could be an undetectable enhancement for the lips.”

What’s more, Cupid’s bow highlighter is perfect for making your lips look more full in a pinch. “Using a bit of highlighter on the Cupid’s bow is a great way to give the appearance of fuller lips,” says Megan Curtin, lead makeup artist and head of education at Cover FX. “I love using Cover FX’s Custom Enhancer Drops (just a tiny bit) in a shade close to my model’s skin tone to create the right light bounce for a perfect pout.”

Below, see four examples of lust-worthy lip lighter moments — plus tips and tricks from Jennings, Tanno, and more makeup experts.

MAC senior artist Michele Magnani shared this lip lighter moment last month, revealing that he used MAC’s Hyper Real Glow Palette in “Flash + Awe” and Lipglass in Clear to achieve the pretty, glossy look.

For an otherworldly effect, trace a metallic line on the top part of your upper lip, like the one seen here. “Many are using metallic shadows, like MAC Nylon, Oh-So-Gilty, and Amber Lights,” says Jennings. “These shades work well for light, mid-tone, and deeper skin with precision brushes. For a maximum effect, I love to spray my brush with the Fix+ Magic Radiance before dipping into the metallic shadow.”

Jennings created this colorful, Pride-themed look that included eye-catching rainbow eyeshadow and a contoured lip with a little dab of highlighter on the lips.

Though he used a clear lip gloss here, he says highlighter can be used with virtually any lip shade. “It looks incredible for enhancing nude glosses and lipsticks but works well with bright or deeper lip shades, too.”

This metallic look, created by MUA Netta Szekely, featured gold highlighter on the cheeks, the inner corners of the eyes, and on the cupid’s bow.

To achieve the look, reach for a liquid highlighter in the metallic shade of your choosing. Tanno likes Haus Labs’ Heat Spell Bronzer + Highlighter Duo, as the warm undertones are especially complimentary on dark to deep-dark skin tones. Is rose gold more your thing? Celebrity MUA Cara Lovello recommends Benefit Cosmetics Cookie Powder Highlight and Milk Makeup Cream Highlighter as more good options for highlighters with subtle pink undertones.

If you want to get creative with your highlighter, try adding (skin-friendly) accessories, like the iridescent sequins seen here on Jennings.

“I have seen some incredible lip lighters done with sequins, glitter, crystals, or even neon shadows,” he says. “Sometimes the entire circumference of the lip edges are surrounded with reflection and glowing goodness.”