Why, How & Where to Apply Highlighter For the Perfect Amount of Glow

Tanya Cheban
by Tanya Cheban
11 Materials
30 Minutes

Applying highlighter as part of your makeup routine illuminates the face, gives you a gorgeous glow, and highlights the high points of your face. If you’re wondering where to apply highlighter and how to use it correctly, then I’ve got you covered!

Check out my comprehensive makeup guide on how to apply highlighter - it’s easier than you think! Let’s get started!

Tools and materials:

  • Primer
  • Highlighting cream
  • Foundation
  • Concealer
  • Assorted makeup brushes for the face
  • Contour
  • Highlighter
  • Lightweight highlighting setting powder
  • Blush
  • Lip liner
  • Clear chapstick
Applying primer before makeup

1. Apply primer

Before we get started, I just wanted to let you know that I did my eye makeup first; that’s why you’ll see that my eyes are all done up.

I have not, however, added anything to my face as I want to show you step-by-step on where to apply highlighter on the face.

Let’s start with the primer, as it’s super important. It gives you a smooth finish and fills in pores. Apply a good amount and focus on blending it on the center of your face and working your way out.

Applying a highlighting cream

2. Add a highlighting cream

One way to use highlighter is to apply a highlighting cream that goes under your makeup. It will peek through your foundation and give you that beautiful illuminating glow. 

Applying foundation to the face

3. Apply foundation

Apply your favorite foundation. The one I’m using has a cream consistency with medium coverage. I liberally apply it to the areas where I need most coverage and then blend it out for a clean finish. 

Blending foundation with a dense brush

Now, blend your foundation with a very dense face brush. 

Applying concealer under the eyes

4. Apply concealer

Onto the concealer! Dab your favorite concealer under your eyes, as shown. 

Blending concealer under eyes with a spoon

Then lightly tap a makeup sponge right under your eyes so that it blends in. 

Applying contour

5. Add contour

With a flat sculpting brush, add a cream-based contour right onto your cheekbones. Press it right into the cheekbone with dab-like motions.

Contour is the opposite of highlighter. Darker colors set areas back, whereas lighter colors bring areas forward. For a highlighter to be most effective, use contour for contrasting light and shade.

Blending contour with a makeup sponge

Blend the contour with a makeup sponge. The better you blend, the more natural your highlighter and makeup in general will look.

How to apply highlighter

6. How to apply highlighter

Now it's all about applying highlighter! Start by focusing on the highest point of your cheekbones.

Apply using soft circular motions with your brush, so it looks like the light is catching on an area of your face, rather than brushing a line of highlighter, which can look unnatural.

Tip: It’s best to apply a highlighter before you set your makeup. Like this, your face is still somewhat tacky from the foundation. This will really make the highlighter stick. 

Where to apply highlighter

Next, drag your highlighting brush upward and add a little highlighter on your temples, right by your brows. 

Before and after applying highlighter

Can you already see how the right side is lifted and highlighted? Highlighter makes a huge difference!

Where to apply highlighter on the face

Next, brush a tiny bit on your chin, cupid's bow, and the bridge of your nose. 

How to apply highlighter powder

7. Set your makeup

Once the highlighting is out of the way, go ahead and set your face with powder.

How to apply highlighter powder

I’m actually using a setting powder that is a very light version of a highlighter. This will give my face a beautiful glowing finish. Lightly dust the powder on your face with a big fluffy brush. 

Tip: Don’t use a dense brush for this as you want very light coverage.

Where to apply bronzer and highlighter

8. Apply bronzer

Next, apply bronzer to your cheekbones. Again, use a fluffy brush, so you don’t get a lot of pigment; the aim is to have something light.

Applying nude lip liner

9. Apply lip liner 

Line your lips with a lip liner. I’m going for a nude look, as I want the focus to be on my glowing skin, but you can choose any color you like. 

Wearing chapstick instead of lipstick

Then, apply a chapstick. This will give your lips a stunning dewy glow that goes well with the glowing face makeup. 

Spraying setting spray to set makeup

10. Use setting spray

Lastly, set your makeup with a setting spray. 

Glowing makeup look with highlighter

Where to apply highlighter tutorial

We are done! Can you see how the highlighter illuminates my face? The trick is to focus on the highest points of your face and add a dash to other areas so that when the light hits, your face looks sheer and glowy. 

Let me know what you think in the comments below. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial on where to apply highlighter, and I’ll see you again next time!

Products used

  • Too Faced Pore Filling Primer 
  • MUF Ultra HD Stick Foundation 118 
  • Mac Pro Longer Concealer NW20 
  • Chanel Creme Bronzer 
  • Mac Soft N Gentle 
  • Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder Luminous Light 
  • MUF Pro Bronze Fusion Bronzer 
  • Painted Earth Lip Liner Naked 
Suggested materials:
  • Primer
  • Highlighting cream
  • Foundation
See all materials

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