How to Choose Highlight Makeup Products

Woman applying Make-Up

Highlighting is a straightforward makeup technique that brings out certain features of your face to define and draw attention to them. There are a multitude of products to choose from that will perfectly complement or contrast with your skin tone, depending on the look that you're going for.

Choosing the Right Highlighter for Different Looks

Whether you have fair, medium, or dark skin, you can use highlighting products in certain shades and formulas to achieve the following makeup looks.

Soft and Subtle

This highlighting aesthetic is all about finding a shade that perfectly complements your skin tone to give you a soft, natural sheen for everyday, casual affairs. Opt for a powder that you can apply with a highlighting brush instead of liquid, cream, or stick, as this will create a matte, understated finish.

  • Fair skin - If you have a pale to light complexion, try a pearlescent, icy-silver, bright ivory, or champagne highlighter that will add radiance without making you look too washed out.
  • Medium skin - Warmer skin tones will work well with highlighters in peach or gold undertones if you're trying to achieve a muted aesthetic.
  • Dark skin - Rich, rose gold or bronze highlighters look stunning on dark skin. Just make sure that you avoid frosty, opalescent shades, or tones that are too cold, as they can cause the skin to look gray.

Remember that if your highlighter is ever looking too shiny and overdone for your taste, you can always swap it for a concealer in two shades lighter than your skin tone. This will achieve the same lifting effect, but it will be more minimalistic.

Soft and Subtle

Full-On Glam

If you're heading to a smart casual, formal, or special occasion, you might want to channel your inner maximalist with your makeup look. In this case, choose highlighter in a stick or cream form that is super pigmented, contrasts with your skin, and will sit on the surface for enhanced prominence.

  • Fair skin - As your skin is light in tone, you can use highlighter to add a little color and create a gorgeous, warm flush. Simply choose a cream-based peach or soft pink liquid for beautiful, standout shine.
  • Medium skin - As your skin tone is naturally warm, it looks especially dazzling when combined with gold highlighting sticks or creams.
  • Dark skin - Apply a dark rose cream highlighter to your deep skin tone for a rosy and feminine look that screams glam and stands out for all the right reasons.

Additionally, make sure you pair your highlighter with a contouring product to create more of a sculpted effect.

Full-On Glam

All-Day Glowing Goddess

This highlighting aesthetic is all about creating a long-lasting, sun-kissed, shimmery effect for a smart casual event. It's up to you whether you apply a matte powder with a highlighting brush or a creamy liquid with your fingers depending on the intensity that you're going for.

  • Fair skin - Apply your face as normal, but then add a dusting of light bronze powder highlighter all over your skin as a final step. This will give you a natural-looking, post-run glow that isn't too overpowering.
  • Medium skin - Mix a medium bronze liquid highlighter with your moisturizer on medium to olive skin tones for an all-over, dewy finish.
  • Dark skin - Opt for a dark bronze liquid highlighter that is similar to your deep skin tone and mix it with your foundation to truly achieve a goddess-worthy glow.

Furthermore, if you want certain areas of your face to pop, you can highlight them specifically using a darker bronze balm or stick.

All-Day Glowing Goddess

Considering Skin Type

Your skin type may also come into play when selecting highlighting products. Normal skin can use any type of product - powder, liquid, balm, or stick - but those with oily or dry skin may have some additional considerations.

  • Oily skin - If you are prone to oily skin, try to stick with highlighting products that are less shimmery. Those with too much shine can appear greasy instead of glowing. Powder highlighters are also best suited to oily skin. If you have extremely oily skin, you may prefer a matte powder to highlight with.
  • Dry or mature skin - If your skin is dry or mature, liquid, balm, and stick products may be a better choice to give your skin the glow you are looking for since they are less drying than powder.

Finding What Works

Highlighting is a simple and useful makeup technique to master, as different shades and formulas can create unique and versatile looks. All it takes is time, practice, and product experimentation to find out what works for you.

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How to Choose Highlight Makeup Products