How to Use Highlighter to Illuminate Your Facial Features

You wouldn’t know the importance of a highlighter until you see the difference it makes. This is why I recommend that every person, beginner or not, should know how to use a highlighter.

A highlighter is a pigmented makeup that glows up your skin. It deflects natural light on your skin, making the edges or corners more defined.

You can opt for a natural everyday look, however, a highlighter is necessary in your makeup lineup because it defines your features. That’s why it’s important to know how to use a highlighter.

If you do not want to spot the wrong features or angles on your face, learn how to use different types of highlighter created to glow your skin.

How to Use Highlighter

how to use highlighter

There are different types of highlighters with different features and purposes. We have highlighters in liquid, powder, stick, and cream forms. Although there are many more in between, these are the most common. Here’s how to use these highlighters.

How to Use Powder Highlighter

You’ll find most highlighters in pressed powder form. The powder is also easy to apply. You will need a fan brush or foundation brush to apply the powder across your face.


1. Apply your primer

Your primer is the first step when it comes to applying any makeup product. The primer serves as a film cover across your face to protect your skin and pores. Sweep the primer across your face gently, massaging the product in.

A primer gives your face a smooth base for any makeup product.

2. Add your foundation

Your foundation acts as a cover for your blemishes. You can choose liquid, stick, or cream foundations too. It provides a sheer to full coverage, bringing out your features. On the other hand, a BB cream is a great base for your makeup if you want something lighter.

3. Conceal and contour

What comes next is adding your concealers to your under-eye areas. Spot correct your blemishes and hyperpigmentation with the right concealer. After spot correcting, contour with your concealer or bronzer of your choice.

4. Set your face

Use a translucent face powder to set your foundation and concealer. Use the right face powder or setting powder to create a smooth surface, especially after using dewy makeup.

5. Apply your bronzer and blush

Your bronzer and blush are very different from a highlighter. While blush is used to give your cheeks a rosy or colored look, a bronzer attracts the natural light to your face, giving it a tanned look.

A bronzer attracts light to your skin, while a highlighter deflects or bounces light off your skin. You apply a bronzer below your cheekbones, the sides of your nose, the hollow of your lower cheeks, and the corners of your forehead.

6. Use a highlighter

What comes next is your highlighter. You have to be careful if you want to get the high points.

With your fan brush, sweep a little highlighter powder across your upper cheekbones. Dust the brush lightly on your face, making sure to layer on the high points of your cheeks.

Similarly, use your fan brush or angle brush to apply the highlighter on the corners and arch of your eyebrows and on the bridge of your nose to the center of your forehead. Also, spot the highlighter on the upper part of your cupid’s bow and chin.

These are the areas where the sun reflects on your face. This, therefore, allows your face to shine bright and clearer.

7. Finish up

Top up with a setting powder. Also, use a setting spray to make your makeup last longer than you want.

SEE: MUAs Outline Makeup Hacks Perfect for Dark Skin Tones

liquid highlighter

How to Use Liquid Highlighter

Another option or form in which highlighters come is in liquid formulas. The liquid could be in a bottle, tube, or cup. They usually come with their own applicator if you do not want to use your fingers.

A liquid highlighter is perfect if you want a dewy look to complement the rest of the makeup. Furthermore, wet or liquid highlighter has a richer or brighter result on your face. However, this might look unnatural when excessively layered on the face.

When it comes to applying the product, you start with your primer and foundation as the base of your makeup. Then you add your concealer and bronzer.

When applying your liquid highlighter, use an applicator or your fingers to dot the areas on your face you want to highlight. Then use a brush to blend into your face. You can also use your fingertips to blend.

After highlighting, finish up with a setting powder and a setting spray. Then you have a completely illuminating face.

How to Use Highlighter Stick

A stick is much more convenient and easy to apply. Furthermore, the stick is compact; you can carry it anywhere with you. It makes the perfect travel size highlighter for you.

Additionally, highlighter sticks are great for face strobing, which is a dramatic form of highlighting.

To use, all you have to do is pull the cap or roll the stick to reveal the molded highlighter. Spot your face, just as you do other types of highlighter. Then you use a brush or your fingers to blend the highlighter.

You should apply the highlighter after your foundation, concealer, bronzer, and blush. Then set with a setting powder.

How to Use Highlighter Cream

A cream highlighter finds itself between a liquid and powder forms of a highlighter. The cream formula is durable and thicker. It is also the most used if you want to maintain your highlighter when applying.

Furthermore, you can use various options to apply the highlighter. You can use a beauty blender, foundation brush, and fan brush. You can also opt for your fingers.

When you want to apply the highlighter, use a sponge or a brush to dab on the surface of the cream, and then you dab lightly into your facial areas. After spotting and blending with your preferred tool, finish with a setting spray.

As I said, cream highlighters are great for creating an extra illuminating effect. Therefore, you should go for them if you want a brighter look.

Where to Apply Highlighters

You should highlight the following areas on your face:

  • Upper cheekbones
  • Middle of forehead
  • Top of cupid’s bow
  • Corners of your eyes
  • Bridge of your nose
  • Arch of eyebrows
  • Upper chin

How to Use Highlighter and Bronzer

The misconception that there is no difference between a highlighter and a bronzer is far from the truth. There is a clear and functional difference between highlighters and bronzers.

Highlighters are used to illuminate the face while reflecting light on the skin. Meanwhile, a bronzer is used to glow up your face, making it look sun-kissed.

Additionally, they are added in different positions on the face. Bronzers are added just below cheekbones; meanwhile, highlighters are placed on the upper cheekbones. Furthermore, bronzers come before highlighters when applying makeup.


Highlighter and Contouring

When it comes to contouring, you need your highlighter too. Contouring allows you to hide corners and highlight the areas that best accentuate your face. Therefore, you need a highlighter to pop your features.

To contour, you can use a contouring palette or a concealer to create the angled face you want. Moreover, you can opt to contour your face before or after applying your foundation.

How to do it:

  • Prime your face.
  • If you are highlighting first, apply your highlighter on your upper cheekbones, the bridge of your nose, arch of your eyebrow, inner corners of your eyes, your cupid’s bow, and the top of your chin and forehead.
  • Add your foundation, and dab and blend lightly over your highlighter.
  • Begin to contour to define your dark angles. To chisel your jawline, contour along the edges of your jawline. Contour below your cheekbones, at the sides of your nose, and the edges of your forehead.
  • Apply your bronzer and blush.
  • Set with a powder to bake your face.

Frequently Asked Questions

how to use highlighter makeup

Can I use a highlighter to contour my face alone?

No, you can’t. Contouring is about creating an angled and precise look with the use of shadows. Highlighters are used to illuminate your accentuating facial features when contouring.

Meanwhile, a contour palette, bronzer, or concealer is usually dark and applied under the highlighted areas to bring out the angles created.

Do I apply highlighters before blush?

No, you don’t. You apply blush before applying a highlighter.

However, there is no specific rule where highlighters come before or after blush. Moreover, some highlight before applying foundation for a more natural look. Therefore, you can use it depending on what effect you want.

Nonetheless, highlighters are the last to be applied last and just before finishing with a setting powder.

Can I use a highlighter as a bronzer or blush?

No, you can’t. Highlighters are used to illuminate your features; meanwhile, bronzers are used to create a shade or sun-kissed look. Therefore, they cannot be used for the other.

You can use bronzers to contour like concealers. But you cannot use them to highlight your face. This also applies when using blush.

makeup for dark skin


Highlighters are essential when you want to glow your face. However, people often misuse or underuse them. You can use a highlighter to glow your face and define your features, but if you do not know how to use it, your makeup won’t have the effect you want.

Moreover, it is important to determine what type of highlighter you want to use. Knowing that would also give you a better direction on how to use highlighters.

Nonetheless, keeping it simple will give you the best result when it comes to using highlighters.

Thanks for reading.

Africana Fashion provides beauty articles with tips to improve your makeup and beauty lifestyle.