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How to use highlighter for that smart magic glow

History of the highlighter, why it became a staple of every makeup bag, and how to master the application and shine for the gods!

First came the shadows. We were all about hiding that extra face space with contouring and bronzing. Then came the light. We wanted to expose our high points. So we meet the highlighter!

Talking about one product that fakes healthy look the best! If you are into that “right out of workout session” look but not really into a gym – we got you. 😉

A dewy goddess look suits everyone, and a highlighter is a key to achieving it. Brands made sure we have all kinds of options, and they did it fast. 💅

Makeup highlighter on drag queen model closeup

History of the highlighter

Back in the 1500s, only theatre performers used to play “shadow and light” games. Crushing pearls and silver to create a glistening powder sounds romantic, but in reality, it is quite toxic. They also used kohl, vermilion, and ceruse for a while to accentuate facial features. Luckily, soon came natural pigments, powders, and paints that were not poisonous.

Like many other trends, the drag community brought stage appearance to all the people. Drag Queens did not mind the eccentric power of the highlighter; on the contrary. The film industry also contributed, especially the noir genre, with all the mystery, drama, and shadow dance. They used Vaseline mixed with concealer or something else similar to point out cheekbones or shoulders against the dark.

The first step to a highlighter we know and love today was made in 1992 when cult-classic YSL Beauty’s Touché Éclat was presented. It was more of a hybrid of concealer and highlighter but a step in the right direction.

Liquid illuminator Dragicka makeup in bottle and applicator

The real deal arrived at the beginning of the new millennium. MAC Cosmetics presented Strobe Cream, an iridescent highlighter made with mineral pigments that first shined on runways and movie sets. It is considered the first mass-market highlighter; although not many people used it daily, it was more for a special occasion touch. With 2015 came strobing technique, and highlighters became essential in any makeup kit. Placing highlighter in larger amounts on the high points of the face toned down a couple of years later when a dewy look became all the rage. Famous makeup artist Nam Vo underlined, “Shimmer has to go where the skin is smoother, but a wet look can go anywhere” with her #dewydumpling Instagram sensation. Glass skin is now the most referred wanted base look that inspires everyone to add on a bit of shine to our looks.

Highlighter and skin tone

It may seem like there is only one highlighter to beam against any skin, but no. There is a wide variety of colors to choose from with a reason. To avoid the artificial mannequin impression and accomplish that glow from within, a highlighter needs to match your skin tone.

Four different skin toned female models and appropriate Dragicka highlighter shade for each skin tone

If you have pale to fair skin, cut back on those vibrant pigments, like pink or peach, and try Silver or lilac-toned highlighters.

Fair to medium skin people should go for rose gold or peachy tones to get that natural glowing moment going.

Stay away from cool-toned silvery highlighters, which can be ashy and dull on medium or olive skin. Instead, opt-in for pigmented tones like champagne, pink, and peach.

Highlighters with a gold-bronze or copper undertone are the perfect choice for warmer or dark skin tones.

Different options out there

Skin tone is the first thing to care for when selecting a highlighter, but your skin type can also play a role. Some types prefer powder, and others look better with cream formulas, so keep reading to check what’s best for you.

Powder: One of the essential products of many makeup bags is the pressed powdered highlighter that comes in a compact. It can be used with a finger or a preferred makeup brush. Oily skin loves this one.

Stick: This one is the all-purpose hardy. It can take a lot of moving and juggling around in your bag if you travel a lot or just don’t spend that much time at home. It’s applied in a swipe and easily blended with fingers, making it also very beginner-friendly.

Liquid: Dry skin enjoys moisture, which also applies to highlighters. The liquid illuminator comes in a bottle with a dropper. A few drops on the selected section are best blended with a beauty sponge. They are infused with refined oils that quickly sink into your skin.

Cream: A strobing cream is made for you if you want a natural inner glow looks. It is a radiant moisturizer or primer you can use before or after your foundation.

Brick: Day highlighter and night highlighter are not the same highlighter, but brick highlighter offers a solution for any part of the day. It comes in different tones of illuminating shades that can be applied separately or blended together. Don’t miss the opportunity to try them out as eyeshadows; they can work great.

Jelly: The newest member of the highlighter family, a jelly illuminator is a pot-based highlighter with a petroleum jelly texture. With this one, a dewy dreamy look is guaranteed by just blending it with your fingers.

How to use highlighter + new fun places to apply!

Highlighter is such a versatile product and there are many tips on how to use it. It’s like a little personal flashlight you can point wherever you like! Here are some suggestions on how you can play around with it.

#1 Before the foundation

Glow from within is inevitable with this technique. A touch on high points like cheekbones and cupid’s bow or bridge of your nose will make all the difference.

#2 To your body

When you rock a tube top or just an ordinary décolletage, mix liquid or cream-based highlighter with your body moisturizer before applying it to collar bones. An elevated look is a promise. And you’re right; no such thing as an ordinary décolletage. They are all awesome, but why not give them a tad more.

#3 As an eyeshadow

When you have three minutes to walk out the door, of course, mascara is the one product you’ll choose to use. But – suppose you spare a few seconds to apply a little dab of highlighter on your eyelids. In that case, your eyelids will complement the eyelashes perfectly and make you seem more awake. And we're all so awake!

Model touching her face covered in shiny particles

#4 As a blush

A light touch of rose-pink highlighter on the upper half of the cheeks can look fabulous as a winter blush and give dimension to your high points.

#5 To your forehead

If you miss a sun-kissed glow in the middle of winter, apply a highlighter in the center of your forehead and lightly brush outward in the shape of a star to blend.

#6 In the inner eye corners

Remedy your tired eyes by placing highlighter in the inner corners. It will wake up your look better than any espresso.

#7 On your shoulders

Powder highlighter on the tops of shoulders just gives more oomph.