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What is highlighter and how to apply it
What if there was a beauty product that could give you a radiant complexion, all while enhancing your skin tone and sculpting your cheekbones? When used correctly, highlighter does all three and more. The trick is finding an iridescent blend that complements your features – and learning where exactly to place it. Here’s a rundown of our top tips for applying highlighter makeup, so you can get that enviable glow.
What is highlighter makeup?
Before learning how to use highlighter, you’ll need to know what this makeup product is – and what it isn’t. It’s often confused with concealer, but the two products serve different purposes. Concealer is meant to cover blemishes or dark circles, while highlighter reflects light. Use it to contour or brighten your features, rather than hide them.
From shimmering powders to pearly drops, highlighter makeup comes in an array of formats and shades, meaning there's something for every skin type.
What are the benefits of using highlighters?
Apply highlighter to the higher points of your face, like your browbone, cheekbones, cupid’s bow, and the bridge of your nose, to contour and create definition. By adding highlighter to your makeup routine, you can look more rested and radiant. The best formulas will also give you a healthy glow, infused with hydrating essences and botanical extracts to improve skin tone.
YSL’s iconic Touche Éclat Illuminating Pen instantly brightens facial features for a luminous finish. Using expert technology, it reflects and diffuses light to combat shadowy areas on your face. The result? A buildable formula that ets you choose the level of coverage you want, from sheer to medium, while skin-enriching ingredients like Vitamin E nourish from the outside in. You’ll look healthier and more awake.
How to use highlighter
Highlighter comes in a selection of shades, from barely-there transparent tones to more intense iridescent pops of colour. When you’re just starting out, you might want to pick one that’s close to your natural skin tone or just a shade lighter. If you want to get playful with tints, experiment with shades of peach, pink and bronze. Build up to the colour you want by starting with a light application and adding more to achieve the desired effect.
Another thing to consider when learning how to use highlighter is its placement. Here are a few common areas to apply your makeup:
Dab a small amount of highlighter into the middle of your cupid’s bow, at the top of the lips. This adds luminosity and the illusion of volume.
Apply around your eyes to add light, reflecting away from dark circles for a wide-awake effect. Get bonus points for applying to the inner corners of your eyes for that ultra bright-eyed look.
The most common place to use highlighter is on your cheekbones. Swipe a light layer from the top of your cheekbone up to just under your temples and blend for a naturally sculpting effect.
As with cheekbones, you can highlight this part of your face that stands out to catch the light and define your features. Add brightness under the arch of your brows to give them a lifted, standout look.
How to apply liquid highlighter
While powder highlighters make for a lovely finishing touch, creamy liquid highlighters are wonderfully versatile, and sink seamlessly into your skin for a natural, lit-from-within glow. Our NU Halo Tint Highlighter is a prime example, blending skincare with makeup in a light-reflecting liquid formula. You can use it on its own, layer with foundation, or even mix it with a base like our YSL NU Bare Look Skin Tint for custom coverage. Here’s how to apply liquid highlighter in three easy steps:
Step 1: Apply to high points of the face
When applying highlighter makeup, you want to focus on the higher points of your face that we’ve mentioned above. Apply a few drops on your cheeks, forehead, cupid’s bow, and tip of the nose, tapping into place. With liquid formulas, this step can take place before or after your foundation. For thicker creams, apply after foundation for easier blending.
If you’re using the Touche Éclat Illuminating Pen, apply directly to your bare skin using the pen’s tip. For application after foundation, click out a strip to the back of your hand, using a contour brush to transfer the product from your hand to your face.
Step 2: Blend your highlighter
You want to achieve a radiant, ethereal glow with your highlighter, not streaks or obvious makeup lines. Once you’ve applied your product, the next step is to blend it in. Use your fingers, a makeup brush, or a damp makeup sponge to gently blend the highlighter out. There shouldn’t be any obvious edges when you’ve finished blending.
Step 3: Set highlighter using face powder
Wait until you’ve finished applying both your foundation and highlighter before setting it into place. All Hours Setting Powder is a buildable, lightweight formula that gives you total shine control for a natural-looking finish that lasts.
Get the look
Brighten, tone and sculpt your face using the power of light with the help of this makeup essential. Whether dotted onto bare skin or blended in layers with foundation, bronzer and blush, highlighter offers an easy way to enhance your complexion. Take a look at our collection of highlighters to find a shade and formula that’s right for you.