It’s time to consciously uncouple from contouring and swiping muddy shadows on your skin. By adding light – and light alone – an unassuming little squidge of highlighter can take your skin from zero to dewy 90s supermodel in the blink of an eye.
We also like that it's a perfect low-maintenance summer make-up look, especially if you've been upping your skincare game of late.
Unfortunately, that’s also where the highlighter journey starts veering off course.
While you want to lean on the shimmery stuff for carving out cheekbones and erasing sallowness, you don’t want to look overly shiny or frosty like a glazed doughnut.
Here’s how to get it right…
Step 1: Find The Perfect Highlighter Shade
Like with foundation, you’ll want to consider your skin’s undertones.
‘Pale skin works well with pearl or champagne shades while medium to deep skin tones suit a warm peach-y gold finish,’ says make-up artist Charlotte Tilbury, who knows a thing or two about the transformative effects of light on skin.
Step 2: Learn Where To Strategically Apply Highlighter
Centre of forehead: Take a pea-sized amount ofliquid highlighter and, using a damp beauty blender or flat foundation brush, work it outwards to blur away any fine lines. If you have oily skin, take a big fluffy brush and add just a whisper of iridescent powder to avoid looking greasy.
Under the eye, top of the cheekbone and temple: Dab cream highlighter under the eye, curving it upwards along the cheekbone to the temple. Jennifer Aniston’s make-up artist Gucci Westman suggests sweeping foundation over the top. ‘That way people aren’t asking you what highlighter you’re wearing, you just look like you have great skin.’
Chin: To balance sheen elsewhere on the face, add a touch of powder highlighter to the centre of your chin.
Cupid’s Bow – Avoid anything too frosty to create the illusion of fuller lips.
Bridge of the nose – Using an eyeshadow brush, blend tiny dots of liquid highlighter down the centre of the nose.
Tear Duct: Apply with your ring finger to immediately brighten eyes.
Best Liquid Highlighter
Becca has become a beauty byword for the kind of sheen that screams healthy skin. Either apply a couple of drops directly to the skin for a soft-focus glow or mix a little with your daily moisturiser and body lotion for a grown-up gleam.
Best Highlighter Palette
This quartet of buttery shades ensures sunlight dances over black skin. Sweep the creamy Melted Strobe on the high points of the face and then layer on the pearlescent powders - the lighter shade on top of cheekbones, the darkest underneath and the rose shade on the apples - for more a intense '3 D' skin finish.
Best Highlighter Brush
A tapered brush, with bristles that are both fluffy and firm, is ideal for depositing and blending highlighter around the perimeter of the face.
Best Highlighter Pen
Charlotte Tilbury is all about that Hollywood glow, handily packaged in a wand with a cushion applicator. In six dreamy shades, this radiance potion bathes skin in a believable candlelit glow free from giveaway glitter.
Best Highlighter Stick
Part crystal-enriched shimmer, part solid balm, you'll know the highlighter is there but it will look incredibly natural. Bonus: the stick is handbag-friendly for on the go glow-ups.
Best Face Highlighter
Victoria Beckham by Augustinus Bader Golden Cell Rejuvenating Priming Moisturizer, £92, Net-a-porter
This is a glow moisturiser with a twist. Equal parts illuminator and hydrator, it's also the stuff of skin magicians as it contains vitamins and amino acids to strength and speed skin renewal courtesy of Augustinus Bader, the skin doctor of the moment. This 'Golden' version of the original features crushed peach-coloured micro pearls, not pigment, so every skin tone shines through. Just keep turning your face in the light and see if we're not right.
Shop our edit of more of the best highlighter shades below. Shine bright!
Think of it as the lovechild of a liquid bronzer and a highlighter in the most pleasing caramel shade.
Hands up who hasn't tried to mimic the lacquer-like look of Vaseline on cheekbones? Hated the stickiness of it all? Us, too. For realness and to prevent your hair getting stuck to your face, apply this gloss instead. Probably the best highlighter we’ve come across for a believable bare-skin finish.
When it comes to the best highlighter palettes, Hourglass users are rarely (read: never) disappointed. For an obvious sheen with a hint of shimmer, look no further than the blushing shades in the Ambient Lighting Palette.
These pigments build up for as much or as little strobing as you like. If you can bring yourself to ruin that perfect pattern, that is.
Time to sound the myth busting klaxon. This classic click-up pen in new fewer than 12 shades is not a concealer – it's most definitely a highlighter. Add to any facial features that light would naturally bounce off.
Who says you can't blush and hightlight at the same time? Not us - and not Riri.
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Fiona Embleton has been a beauty editor for over 10 years, writing and editing beauty copy and testing over 10,000 products. She has previously worked for magazines like Marie Claire, Stylist, Cosmopolitan and Women’s Health. Beauty journalism allowed her to marry up her first class degree in English Literature and Language (she’s a stickler for grammar and a self-confessed ingredients geek) with a passion for make-up and skincare, photography and catwalk trends.
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