a close-up face of a model with a glowing makeup look and highlighted skin

Highlighter is one of the most versatile products in our makeup bags. It comes in different forms and colors, it can be liquid and dry, but there's one thing common for every high-end and affordable highlighter it's an incredible ability to make our skin look healthy and radiant with little to no effort. There are various ways to wear a highlighter on your face and body, and most of them provide different highlighting effects on the skin. In today's post, we are going to find out what is the ideal type of highlighter for your skin and how to use it to get different effects on the skin.

What Are the Most Popular Types of Makeup Highlighters

First of all, let's take a look at the basic types of highlighters. All of them have one basic purpose ‒ to attract light onto the surface of your skin, giving it dimension and a brighter appearance. How do they do that? These products include reflective particles in their formula.

These particles made me finer or chunkier and may be made of different minerals, but combined with a moisturizing base, they turn into tiny mirrors that catch and reflect the light. Highlighters without moisturizing bases in their formula serve absolutely the same purpose.

a bunch of highlighting makeup products with ice cubes on plain background
Photo: Ron Lach

Thus, there are cream, stick, liquid, dry (presses or loose), and gloss highlighting products. Cream highlighters may come in squeezable tubes like skin moisturizers, tubes that are similar to lip glosses with a sponge applicator inside. One of the main ingredients in the cream highlighter is a moisturizing component that gives it a subtle, creamy texture. You won't find the application of cream highlighter puzzling and it is easy to blend it on the skin with fingers. 

  • Highlighters in a stick, on the other hand, are more solid because they include bees or paraffin wax in the formula. They come in a twistable shape just like a crayon and can be applied directly to the skin. For better results, you can smooth the highlighter on the skin with a finger. The warmth of the skin will help to "melt" the stick highlighter for a better, smoother result.

  • Dry makeup highlighters can come in two main states: pressed highlighters (similar to face powders and eyeshadows) or loose highlighters (pigments and translucent face powders). Dry highlighters are a bit harder to work with, they aren't as subtle as cream highlighters and may emphasize dry skin texture. As a result, it is best to use dry highlighters on well-moisturized skin, with no dry patches and fine lines. The main ingredients in dry highlighters are the legendary reflective particles, which can be made from very small glass-type compounds like Calcium Sodium Borosilicate, and the natural mineral mica. Some may also include a moderate amount of sheer pigments.

different makeup products on a table

  • The next highlighter comes in a liquid shape. Usually, a liquid highlighter comes in a glass or plastic bottle with a special dropper. One of the main ingredients in liquid highlighters is a fine oil, which easily absorbs into the skin, leaving the surface highlighted with shimmer. This highlighter may demand some blending, but this product is one of the best options for dry skin types together with a cream highlighter. Some liquid highlighters may come in the form of makeup setting sprays and glowing face mists.

  • The last product, I want to mention is face gloss. Of course, it is not a regular highlighter in its basic meaning, but it wouldn't be fair to ignore this wonderful makeup product completely. Unlike other highlighters face gloss provides a unique, glass-like skin finish. It is not a barely-there glow, but a dewy appeal, which takes the makeup look to a whole new level of awesomeness. Makeup gloss is similar to lip gloss, it usually comes in the same packaging, though it has a slightly different non-sticky formula. This type of highlighter should be used only with sheer, liquid foundations and with no powder. 

a portrait of a woman with sparkly makeup look
Photo: Olenka Sergienko

How and Where to Apply Highlighter?

Highlighter is the second most important product in the face contouring technique. Both contouring powder and highlighter give the face perception of depth and accentuate the highest points of the face. Of course, you can skip it in favor of bronzer, but you may not enjoy the final result. 

Highlighters not only attract light to your face making your skin look fresh and luminous, but they also bring the features of your face up. A correctly applied highlighter can substitute a HIFU facelift. But what is the best way to use a highlighter? There are many different highlighter application techniques and here are the most famous and widely-used ways to apply this makeup product.

  • Highlighter + Foundation

Have you ever heard of strobing? It is a very special makeup technique that evenly illuminates the skin, making it appear dewy and almost wet. To get a similar dewy effect on your skin, mix a drop of liquid or cream highlighter into your BB cream or foundation, or apply it right before the foundation. As a result, you'll have a very natural-looking, almost seamless skin glow.

  • Highlight the Highest Points of the Face

The most common way to use a highlighter is to spice up the highest points of the face such as brow bones, cheekbones, the bridge of the nose, and the Cupid's bow.  You can also apply some highlighter on the tip of your nose (but only the smallest amount), on the sides of your forehead, and in the corners of your eyes. For the best look use a small eyeshadow brush for application and a blending brush for smoothing.

a portrait of a woman with glitter on her body
Photo: Shobhit Bajpai

  •  Highlight Your Body

Don't let your body be without attention. Add some loose highlighter or liquid highlighter into your favorite body moisturizer or oil and generously apply it on collar bones and décolletage area. Or go for Rihanna style full body glow and shine bright like a Goddess. If you have a pale complexion opt for sheer, cool-toned highlighters. And if your skin is tanned and dark, bronze and gold highlighter shades will look awesome on you.

  • Highlighter On Dark Base

One of my favorite, nontrivial ways to use a highlighter is to apply it over a dark base to get a unique, duo-chrome finish. For example, use black eye kohl on your eyes, dust it over with a pearlescent highlighter, or apply it on dark lipstick for an exquisite makeup twist.

Wrapping up...

Highlighters are deeply loved by celebrities and are widely used among Instagram and YouTube makeup gurus, so why don't we all try and incorporate this makeup product into our daily makeup routine? What do you think of this, lovelies? Do you like to use highlighters? If so, what is your favorite type of highlighter?

Lots of love,