How to Apply Highlighter In 4 Easy Steps

Updated 10/05/17

Now that youve’ve got bronzer and contouring down, it’s only fitting that you master highlighting too. After all, a few swipes of well-placed highlighter can instantly sculpt cheekbones, open up eyes, brighten your complexion, and more. We asked our resident makeup artist extraordinaire, Lauren Andersen, to show us the ropes.


Click through the slideshow above to find out exactly where to apply highlighter!

apply highlighter tutorial

Step One: Before

“The point of highlighter is to bring light to an area,” Andersen says. “They usually have a a bit of shimmer to them, which give the impression of a more hydrated look, making your skin look dewy and young.” If you’re younger, she suggests choosing a more powdery formula, like MAC’s Mineralize Skinfinish ($32). For more mature skin, she loves more refined, shimmery liquid formulas, like Giorgio Armani’s Fluid Sheer ($62), Nars Illuminator ($30) in Copacabana, and YSL’s Touché Éclat.

Step Two: Apply To Brow Bone

Using your fingers or a small, soft brush (Andersen says she has more control with the latter), apply the highlighter right underneath your brow bone and blend.


Step Three: Bridge Of Nose

Sweep the highlighter down the bridge of your nose with a soft brush. If you’d rather not bring attention to your nose, you can use whatever is left on your brush from the previous step for just a hint of shimmer.

Step Four: Above Your Cheekbones

Here’s where most people make a mistake—highlighter should go above your cheekbones, not on the apples of your cheeks. Dip a wide, soft face brush (like Make Up For Ever’s 152 Medium Highlighter Brush ($37)) into the power highlighter, tap off the excess on your wrist, and apply it above your cheekbones towards your temples in a sweeping motion. Liquid or gel formulas can be blended in with a brush or your fingers, depending on the finish you prefer.

Step Five: Done!

Make sure everything is blended in and say hello to your brighter, glowy-er complexion!

Apply a touch of highlighter in your cupid’s bow (it’ll give your lips more dimension) and in the inner corners of your eyes (it’ll make you look more wide-eyed and awake).

Click here for our step-by-step guide to contouring like a pro!

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