Light Working: Your Go-To Highlighter Tips to Make Your Face Come to Life

During the warmer (aka humid, balmy, unbearably sticky and sunny) summer months many of us work hard to fight the shine when it comes to our skin. We blot, we powder and we wash our faces just to try and avoid the dreaded greasy look that can come from constant sweating. But maybe we’ve got it all wrong. Maybe a little glow is actually a really good thing, and if you do it right, embracing a little shimmer in all the most flattering places can bring your complexion to life.

7Highlighter Basics

Contour & Highlight Cheat Sheet
Contour & Highlight Cheat Sheet

Once upon a time we only relied on our own natural sheen or shimmer from a good blush or bronzer to give us a dewy look. Since then highlighters have changed the game for glowing skin, giving us easy-to-apply tools that can be incorporated into your makeup routine or used solo for a natural, soft, healthy glow. But what exactly is a highlighter? No, it’s not like the neon yellow pen you used on textbooks back in school. But it does serve a similar purpose: to highlight specific features and make them pop. 

Skin highlighters come in a variety of forms, from creams to powders to compacts and pens. Highlighters attract light, creating an illusion of brightness and shine as light bounces off those specific features and parts of your face or body. While contouring products create a sculpted effect where certain features appear more angular and defined, highlighting helps to lift other features and draw attention with shimmer. Think of it as having your own personal lighting team following you around so that you’re always under flattering lighting and people only notice what you want (and none of what you don’t). 

Highlighter can add dimension and make you look as if you are glowing from within. “Highlighters play up light on the highest parts on the face which can be a slimming effect in pictures,” explains Daniel Martin, Dior Beauty ambassador and Creative Color Consultant for Honest Beauty, in a piece for Total Beauty. The celebrity makeup artist also suggests adding highlighter into your foundation for an all-over glow that is gorgeous but not too over-the-top. 

When it’s done right, the shine looks natural and beautiful, rather than fake and tacky. Remember we’re not going for Studio 54 disco ball level shimmer. Where highlighter is concerned less is often more. From barely-there-glow to multi-colored-glitter, there’s a highlighter look that works for every skin type and every style. And you don’t have to be a seasoned makeup artist to master the highlighter look; even beauty beginners can reap the rewards of this go-to beauty secret that insiders swear by.