How To Use Highlighter Makeup

Highlighter makeup is a shimmering powder or liquid makeup product designed to attract and reflect light.

By doing this, it enhances your skin tone and makes you look glowy while creating the appearance of a lifted bone structure.

How To Use Highlighter Makeup

The key to achieving all of the above with highlighter makeup, however, is knowing how to use it correctly. 

If you’re wondering how to use highlighter makeup for the best results, you’ve come to the right place! Read on to find out how to choose the perfect highlighter and apply it 

Which Highlighter Makeup Should You Choose?

First, it’s important to understand that there are several kinds of highlighter makeup.

Which one you choose will impact your completed makeup look, and depending on your complexion, could determine how much your highlighter suits you.

Highlighter makeup can be divided into powder and liquid highlighter. You should also differentiate between sheer and pigmented makeup. 

Powder highlighter is the type of product you should choose if your goal is to make your finished makeup look as glowy and shimmery as possible.

That’s because powder highlighters are only added after you’ve done your foundation, so these highlighters sit on top of the base makeup and catch the light more dramatically. 

On the other hand, liquid highlighter will give you more of a subtle glow, so if you don’t want the shimmer to be too intense, consider using this type of product. 

Sheer highlighter doesn’t have a color, whereas pigmented highlighters come in an incredible range, including shades of peach, bronze, and basically every color of the rainbow. 

If you’re new to using highlighter and don’t know what kind of looks you want to create, we recommend choosing a sheer product first.

However, if you have experience using highlighter and love experimenting with colors, go ahead and pick a pigmented highlighter. 

How To Apply Highlighter

Create A Base 

You can technically add highlighter to bare skin if you’re looking for a natural, glowy look, but most of the time, you’ll want to create a base for your highlighter.

Make sure your face is clean and that you have completed your usual skincare routine. Then, add a layer of primer and do your foundation, blending thoroughly to make sure it’s smooth and even. 

If you want your makeup to look matte, add some translucent powder to keep everything in place.

However, if you’re using liquid highlighter, you should wait until later to add your powder, because applying the highlighter over the powder can produce patchy results. 

Apply Blush And Contour First 

Before you jump straight into the highlighter, you should apply your blush and contour (if you use them).

Contour goes in the hollows of your cheeks and can also be applied to your jawline, hairline, and the sides of your nose. Meanwhile, blush should go between your temple and the outside corner of your eye. 

Applying these products first will make it easier to find the correct areas to apply your highlighter and will ensure that the glow isn’t overshadowed by the rest of your makeup.

How To Use Highlighter Makeup

Add Highlighter To The Correct Areas 

The main areas for highlighter application are your cheekbones, cupids’ bow, the bridge of your nose, and the inner corners of your eyes. 

You can either use a highlighter brush (a small brush with a fan-like shape) to apply the product, or you can use your fingers if this feels more comfortable.

Usually, it’s best to apply liquid highlighter with your fingers, whereas powder highlighter can be applied with brushes. 

When combined with contour on the sides of your nose, highlighting the bridge of your nose can make it appear thinner.

Meanwhile, highlighting the inner corners of your eyes will make them appear larger and brighter.

Applying highlighter makeup to your cheekbones and cupid’s bow will emphasize these areas of your face. 

If you’re using powder highlighter, you can gently sweep it over the desired areas. For liquid highlighter, the best method of application is small dots. 


Remember to blend your highlighter after applying it! You can use a variety of tools for this, from fingers to brushes to a makeup sponge.

When blending your highlighter, use a light touch. Blending too hard might cause the product to be rubbed away altogether, which you don’t want.

Gently pat the highlighter down in small, circular motions, so it doesn’t look too stark on top of the rest of your makeup. 

Once it’s blended, it should still be clearly visible, but you shouldn’t be able to see the streaks or dots where you applied it. 

Finish With Setting Spray

If you want your highlighter to look fresh all day, along with the rest of your makeup, make sure to finish the look with setting spray!

Final Thoughts

When applied correctly, highlighter can make your skin look glowy and rejuvenated. It can also be used creatively by choosing colorful products to complement the rest of your makeup look. 

Remember, when using a liquid highlighter, save the translucent powder for after the application, and apply it in small dots to blend out later. 

Regardless of which kind of highlighter you’re working with, you should always blend it using a sponge, brush, or your fingers for a seamless look. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Can I Add Highlighter To My Moisturizer?

Adding a very small amount of highlighter to your moisturizer can help to create a natural, dewy look.

However, take care not to add too much, and it’s best to use a sheer highlighter product for this type of application.

Should Highlighter Be Darker Or Lighter Than Your Skin?

While contour should be a couple of shades darker than your skin, you want your highlighter to be a couple of shades lighter.

This rule can be bent or broken if you’re working with colorful highlighters, though.

Can You Put Highlighter Under The Eyes?

Usually, you would use concealer under your eyes, but if you’re really struggling with dark circles or eye bags, highlighter can help to counteract the shadows further.

Mimi May