Highlighter 101: Everything You Need To Know About The Beauty World's New Favorite Product

March 20, 2016 by Lisa Fogarty
shefinds | beauty

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As temperatures slowly rise and layers gradually come off, your makeup should follow suit. You may not want to spend hours contouring, but if you want to look luminous and effortlessly radiant, highlighter is about to become your new best friend. Makeup artist and beauty expert Jennifer Trotter of Lip Service Makeup explains the benefits of this game-changing makeup product and how to use it to bring out your best features.

SHEfinds: Where should you apply highlighter?

Jennifer Trotter: Highlighter works for all face shapes, but you need to pay attention to your particular features. Just remember that highlighter will bring attention to and visually “bring forward” the areas where you apply it.  If you hate your nose, have extremely hooded eyes or are very self conscious about your crows feet, don’t apply highlighter to those areas! In general, subtle highlighter applied to the tops of your cheekbones, on browbones, down the center of your nose and at your cupid’s bow work on most face shapes because they draw the eye up and create flattering dimension.  Don’t dust your entire face either… you’ll look greasy instead of having a glow.

SF: How should you apply highlighter?

JT: As a general rule, apply creamy highlighters with your fingertips on drier skin types where little setting powder is needed–this provides the right amount of glow that you’re looking for. The warmth of your fingers helps the product melt into the skin beautifully. If you have oily skin and creamy products tend to slide around on your skin, then use a powder highlighter dusted on with a clean, fluffy brush. A powder brush, a blush size version or even a fan brush will work, just make sure it’s a brush you only use for highlighter so the color stays true and so you don’t accidentally “highlight” your entire face!

SF: Should you apply highlighter before or after foundation?

JT: For dry skin, apply foundation, then creamy highlighter, then a light dusting of setting powder only where needed. For oily skin, use foundation, setting powder, then powder highlighter as a last step. For bridal makeup and long-lasting looks, I’ll often layer and use both a creamy highlighter and a powder highlighter for maximum impact.

SF: How do you choose the right shade of highlighter?

JT: Highlighters with a white undertone are lovely on very fair skin–disastrous on pretty much everyone else. For light to medium complexions, a champagne beige/gold highlighter works well, as it’s much softer than white, isn’t too dark and provides just enough of a “lit from within” glow.  If you have very dark tan or darker skin, you’ll want to steer to a warm golden highlighter. A too light shade will look frosty and streaky.

SF: What are some of your favorite highlighters?

JT: A few favorite highlighters are Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Moonstone, NARS “the Multiple” in Copacabana, and MAC Mineralize Skinfinish powder in Gold Deposit.

For more beauty tips and news, check out how to cover a pimple with makeup in 5 easy steps and the 8 best drugstore concealers.

Follow me at @lisacfogarty on Twitter.


Lisa Fogarty is a lifestyle writer and reporter based in New York who covers health, wellness, relationships, sex, beauty, and parenting.

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