Highlighter makeup has skyrocketed in popularity – for good reason. With just a few strategically-placed swipes you can add a warm shimmer to your complexion, sculpt your cheeks and brighten your eyes, accentuating the features you love the most. Not sure where to apply highlighter or which one will be best for your skin tone? We have all the answers for you in our step-by-step guide so you can get that lit-from-within glow.

Urban Decay compact and YSL tube highlighter

Face highlighters are available in both liquid and powder form. While both are light-reflecting, each serves a different purpose (with equally impressive results).

Liquid highlighters

Liquid highlighters are known to be more pigmented than powder-based formulas. For this reason, you can use them to replace concealer under your eyes.

The trick with liquid is to use it sparingly, on the tops of your cheekbones and the bridge of your nose. Because of its texture, it's easy to blend using a sponge or your fingers if you find that easier.

Power highlighters

Powder-based highlighters typically have a softer application and deliver a more sheer, shimmery finish. They work well over foundation as well as over blush, leaving your skin dewy and glowing.

We suggest using a medium-sized fluffy powder brush or an angled powder brush when applying powder. Simply dust it over your cheeks, chin, nose and the top of your forehead and you’re good to go.

Illustration of face with very fair skin tone

Which colour suits which complexion when it comes to choosing a highlighter? Find out below:

Very fair skin tones

When it comes to lighter skin tones, avoid highlighters with pigments that include pink or silver as they stand out on your skin and will appear stripey. Instead, the best highlighter for fair skin will be one that contains golden shades. It will help to add warmth to your complexion so you can enjoy a softer, more sun-kissed look.

Illustration of face with fair to medium skin tone

Fair to medium skin tones

If you have fair to medium skin tone, you're lucky because there’s a wide range of flattering shades for you to choose from. Champagne-toned highlighters are our favourite choice as they will complement your skin while adding warmth and helping to accentuate your glow.

Illustration of face with olive skin tone

Olive skin tones

It’s been said that olive skin tones can pull off any highlighter with warm undertones and we tend to agree. Opt for colours that include pink, bronze, champagne and even peach. It will illuminate your face, define and complement your features.

Illustration of face with dark skin tone

Dark skin tones

A neutral bronze shade is ideal for highlighting dark complexions and will give you just enough warm undertones to keep your face glowing in all the right places. Warm hues like rose gold and bronze work wonders and silver shades are glamorous for those with dark skin tones. The key is to make sure the highlighter is not too many shades lighter than your foundation.

Illustration of steps of woman preparing her skin

Once you've matched your shade and purchased your highlighter of choice, it's time to start experimenting.

Prepare your skin

The first step to making sure your highlighter works its best is to have a clean, smooth canvas to apply it to. Before putting on any makeup, we recommend that you use a gentle face wash to get rid of any make up residue. You can also check out our range of exfoliators and masks for a really deep clean. And don't forget the moisturiser, too.

Illustration of steps of woman choosing base

Choose your base

Have a look at our collection of foundations and concealers for a flawless base. You can opt for a cream foundation for full coverage or you can break it down to be more translucent by mixing it with primer. Tinted moisturisers will also work well if you're looking for a light, sheer effect.

Illustration of steps of woman illuminating her face

Illuminate and shine

The best brush to apply highlighter with is a fluffy face brush or angled blusher brush. Dab a small amount onto your face in areas that would naturally catch the light – these include your cheekbones and the bridge of the nose. This technique is called strobing. You can also add a touch to your Cupid’s bow to give the illusion of bigger lips, or under your eyebrows for extra definition.

Illustration of steps of woman blending highlighter

Blend it out

Blending your highlighter will help to create a radiant glow and give your skin an even tone. Using a buffing brush, simply blend the highlighter into the outer areas of your face using gentle circular motions for a completely seamless look. The last step is to apply a finishing powder so that you can keep your glow in place all day.