Mastering highlighting – call it strobing if you must – is key to illuminating a face. Too much = sweaty mess, any glitter particles = 13-year-old at first disco, poor blending = sloppy-looking make-up. Quagmire though it can be, I truly believe a few rules – and the right products – simplify things enormously. Here are the rules I heed and the glow-givers I reach for time and again //
Highlighter Rules /
Inspect Your Face / Watch tutorials by all means to get an idea of where highlighter should go, but don’t assume your face will need the same treatment as others. If you’re stuck, try holding a torch over your head when it’s dark and then peer in the mirror – the light will bounce off the top points of your face and give you some guidance as to where you should be highlighting (it should go without saying that if you have very puffy eyes, say, you don’t want to highlight the puff bit – use your logic).
… Though This Suits Most / As a rule of thumb the tops of cheekbones, a touch on the bridge of the nose, a dash in the cupid’s bow and a smidgen run along the tops of brows looks great. Click here for a video I made with Marie Claire where you can see application in action.
Get The Colour Right / A white highlighter on pale skin is sublime, but it’d do nothing for honey-toned skin. Equally, if your highlighter is much darker than your skin tone, it will look muddy. Try to match your skin tone with highlighter instead, relying on the reflectiveness and not the colour to lift your face.
Skip Formulas Containing Shimmer / It looks ridiculous. Avoid at all costs.
Liquid on Liquid, Powder on Powder / If you’ve powdered your face, a liquid highlighter is likely to congeal. Equally, applying a powder onto a shiny surface won’t make for smooth application.
Tap the Edges / Whatever formula or colour you apply, making sure the edges are seamless is absolutely key to perfecting highlighter. If using a liquid, tap it into my skin to blend and warm the product so that it fuses with your base. If powder, blend with a brush.
Use It In Different Ways / Highlighter isn’t just the preserve of nights out; it works wonders on a tired morning face too. Equally, a little mixed into foundation can add oomph to skin, an application to collar bones can make them look more pronounced (apply that rule to limbs too – they look thinner and longer when highlighted), and a bit dabbed on top of post-work tired face will add lustre once more.
Classic Buys /
Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector / Full Review Here / The best of the best and in every make-up artist worth her salt’s kit. I’m a firm fan of the liquid, though it now comes in a cream and powder form, which are equally as brilliant.
Nars Illuminator / Whether in stick or liquid form, this is a classic for good reason. I adore the Copacabana shade (which I first started using at 16), but have heard that Orgasm works a treat on tanned skin.
Nude by Nature Sheer Light Illuminator and Sticks / This mineral brand is determined to treat skin while acting as make-up and I think they do a ruddy good job of it. The formulas are beautiful and the products perform as well as non-mineral brands.
MAC Strobe Cream (and Lustre Drops) / Strobe if you want subtle, deliciously pearlescent highlighting (I once heard someone describe it as ‘post nookie glow in a tube’ – I’m inclined to agree), Lustre Drops if you’re after more bang for your buck.
RMS Living Luminiser / Miranda Kerr (she of such great glow) always bangs on about this highlighter for good reason – it’s organic and has a coconut oil base (so will moisturise), and also imparts a beautiful sheen. Also: not too liquidy, which is perfect if you really like to control application.
Laura Mercier Starlight Mineral Illuminating Powder / If you want to powder your face but would also like to add lustre, this finely-milled loose powder is ideal. I’d recommend a trial run – you need the smallest amount and it responds well to being buffed in. Also, try sprinkling a touch of this into your usual powder for a lift.
New(ish) Buys I Rate /
Zoeva Strobe Gel / Launching on the 31st of October / Odd texture – like a cool jelly. Don’t be tempted to scoop it out though; I found running my finger along the jelly was enough to pick up colour. Once on, these give a sheer wash of highlighter that blends nicely with make-up and sticks around all day.
Cover FX Custom Enhancer Drops / Want a shot of serious sheen? These are the ones. They also make for a great injection of luminescence in foundation.
Tom Ford Shimmer Shots / Trust the Ford to knock it out the park. Creamy and delightfully easy to blend, these offer a veil of beautiful sheen wherever applied. As they’re pretty highly pigmented, I’ll also sometimes use this on my eyelids in lieu of eyeshadow.
Laura Mercier Face Illuminator / LM do powder highlighters very well, with this pressed illuminator not letting down the side. I have been reliably informed that the undulations in the powder are in order to make picking the powder up with a brush a little easier. I’m sure they serve that purpose, though I’d also recommend using fingers on this one – the powder is creamy and seems to take to being stroked on enormously well.