How to Apply Highlighter Makeup Step by Step

woman applying blush to cheeks

Using a highlighter as part of your daily makeup routine is a great way of creating a gorgeous dewy glow. Whether it's in a cream, liquid, or powder form, highlighting products contain brightening agents to bring out and draw focus to the narrow areas of your face.

How to Apply Highlighter

The trick is to use highlighter on areas where light naturally falls to lift and frame your face. If you're a beginner when it comes to highlighting, opt for a powder product as this is extremely easy to apply and requires little effort.

  1. Firstly, put concealer, foundation, blush, or bronzer on your face as you usually would before proceeding with highlighter. Highlighting should be the last step as a way of polishing your makeup.
    Woman applying makeup on her face
  2. The most common place to apply highlighter is on each cheek. Make sure that you use an angled fluffy fan brush as this picks up the powder and distributes it better. Simply sweep the highlighter in a diagonal line across each cheekbone for high definition.
    woman applying highlighter with makeup brush
  3. Use a smaller brush that's just as fluffy to apply highlighter powder down the center of your nose. This contours the nose to make it appear narrower and elongated.
    Woman applying highlighter to nose
  4. Apply highlighter to the center of the forehead using your fan brush to bring dimension to your look.
    Woman applying highlighter to forehead
  5. Use a small eyeshadow brush to place highlighter on each browbone. This emphasizes the shape of your eyebrows and attracts attention to your eye makeup.
    Woman applying highlighter to browbone
  6. Use the same small eyeshadow brush to apply highlighter to the inner corners of your eye. This is great for tired eyes as it widens them, makes them pop, and gives you more of an awake appearance.
    Applying makeup inner corner of eye
  7. Place highlighter on the center of your chin with a fluffy brush to accentuate its shape.
    woman accentuating her chin with highlighter
  8. Finally, use your small brush to apply highlighter on your cupid's bow. This puts more of a focus on your statement lips and can make them look more prominent if you're wearing lipstick.
    Woman applying highlighter to lips

You can choose to swap your powder highlighter for a liquid or a cream once you've learned the techniques; however, try to stick to powder on your nose and chin if you have naturally oily skin otherwise these areas could end up looking too shiny and overdone.

Highlighter Variations

In addition to the above, there are other ways you can apply highlighter to achieve a certain effect.

  • To create the illusion of bigger lips - Apply highlighter just under your bottom lip in the center and blend it out with your fingers.
  • To achieve glowing cheeks instead of the contoured look - Apply a small dot of liquid or cream highlighter in the center of the apple of each cheek and blend well with a beauty sponge.
  • To give an all-over glow - Mix a liquid highlighter with your daily moisturizer for a long lasting, shimmery effect. Apply with clean fingers for full coverage.
  • To make your eyes appear bigger - Use a touch of liquid or cream highlighter in the center of each eyelid and blend it out with your fingers.
  • To get rid of dark circles or bags under the eyes - Dot a liquid or cream highlighter under the eye area and in the inner corners and blend it with a brush towards your cheekbone.
  • To achieve a full face of glam - Use a sponge or brush that's been dampened with setting spray to apply a cream or powder highlight for super pigmented shine.

Getting the Look

You can use highligher in a variety of ways to lift, accentuate, and flatter the face. Once you've mastered the techniques, you can mix and match different forms to create a blinding, beautiful makeup look.

How to Apply Highlighter Makeup Step by Step