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If you’ve been paying any attention to the buzz in the beauty world as per late, you may have heard that “strobing” is the new contouring and seen everyone going bonkers over getting super glowy, radiant skin. Being real, strobing is just a fancy word for highlighting, which is an age old beauty technique for drawing light to the high points of your face. While I may be giving the ol’ side eyes at everyone who’s pretending that strobing is some kind of beauty breakthrough, I do still love a good highlighter and the way they can illuminate your complexion. Here are some of my favorite formulations, as well as a few tips for how you can get your glow on!
If you’re a makeup minimalist or feel relatively inexperienced with applying it, I promise highlighting is WAY easier and more accessible than you might realize. Let’s start with where exactly it goes. As I mentioned before, highlighting is a technique designed to emphasize the points of your face where sunlight naturally hits. Typically these points are the tops of your cheekbones, your browbones, along the bridge of your nose, and your cupids bow. A little dusting of product to these areas can give your face dimension and impart a healthy, beautiful glow.
Picking Your Perfect Highlight
So which highlighter is best for your skin? With so many different shade and formula options on the market, there are a couple of things to consider to find your own personal holy grail. First off, you’ll want to figure out what your skin’s undertone is. People usually fall into the category of either having pink, yellow, or neutral. If you’re not sure what yours is, consider what type of foundation shades look best on you. I personally have yellow undertones, so I think that highlighters with a slightly more golden/champagne tone tend to look best on me. On the flip side, someone with pink undertones may find a rosy highlighter flatters them best.
Furthermore, you’ll want to shoot for a highlighter that is a shade or two lighter than your natural skin color. Remember, just because something is labelled as a highlighter doesn’t automatically make it light enough for all complexions. Girls with deep complexions can rock some beautiful rose gold and honey colored highlights that may look dirty on someone with a super fair complexion.
And last, think about what other types of makeup you typically tend to wear. I’ve found that liquid and cream highlighters tend to be more difficult to apply over powder makeup, so if you’re a mineral powder foundation kinda gal you may want to stick to a powder highlighter. To some extent the actual formula type is personal preference, but it may be something you want to consider.
So, now that you know what you’re looking for, here are a few of my current favorite highlighters!
Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette
While it’s a bit of an investment, the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette ($58) is probably one of the best makeup purchases I’ve ever made. These powders are incredibly smooth, soft, and finely milled, making them blend seamlessly into your skin. I find that the middle shade in this palette (Incandescent Light) is an absolutely stunning highlighter, and manages to impart a lit-from-within glow without really being shimmery or glittery. The other two shades in this palette, Dim Light and Radiant Light can (depending on your complexion) be used all over the face to set your makeup, or (in the case of Radiant Light) even in lieu of a bronzer to warm up your complexion. If you want save a few bucks and don’t care about having the luxury of options, you could also opt for purchasing a single Ambient Lighting Powder, which retails for $45 and comes in a variety of shades.
Julep Glow Highlight Powder
For those of you with yellow undertones who are looking for a more subtle highlight, the Julep Glow Highlighting Powder ($28) is a great option. This does have a bit more sparkle to it than the Ambient Lighting Powders, and is not quite as smooth, but it does leave a pretty glimmer on your skin. Since it’s a relatively sheer powder you can also more easily control how much glow you’re getting (because every day might not be a disco ball day). For an even more feather light application, try dusting this on with a fan brush!
Benefit High Beam
If you want to bump up the intensity, Benefit High Beam ($26) will give your skin that dewy, almost wet kind of look. With a bottle that looks and feels very much like nail polish, you essentially paint this on to targeted areas of your face and blend out with your fingers or a brush. Since this product has a particularly pinky pearlescent kind of finish, it looks especially flattering on rosy undertones.
Deeper skin tones might find themselves loving the NARS Orgasm Illuminator ($30). This shimmering liquid is actually relatively sheer and can be used in a multitude of ways. You can apply it like any other cream highlighter to targeted parts of your face, or you can mix it in with your foundation to give your face an all over glow. It blends out really beautifully, and adds shimmer sans giant chunky glitter particles.
Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector
Last, but certainly not least is my most recent favorite (and current obsession). The Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector ($41) has gained cult status by beauty bloggers everywhere, and for good reason. This creamy, shimmering liquid gives you the most natural, long wearing glow. Honestly it’s just so darn pretty you truly need to see it in person to do it justice. Right now I just have a travel size of the Opal shade, which has a beautiful golden undertone, although I actually do kind of appreciate the wand format versus the full size which comes in a bottle with a pump. That being said, Becca also offers their Shimmering Skin Perfectors in a poured (cream) and pressed (powder) formats as well, so it’s kind of impossible to not find a version that suits your fancy.
Regardless of where you stand on the strobing vs. highlighting debate, hopefully these tips will have made the process a little more accessible to you! I’d love to hear about some of your favorite highlighters as well, so leave me a comment and let me know what you’d recommend.