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How to Apply Highlighter Like the Pros in 2021

How to Apply Highlighter Like the Pros in 2021

If you dig into the archives of YouTube makeup tutorials from the early 2010s, it would be nearly impossible to find a routine that wasn’t made complete with a healthy dose of highlighter to top the cheeks, center of the nose, Cupid’s bow and, sometimes, even the inner eye. And while highlighter remains a go-to among makeup artists and enthusiasts alike, the formulas and application techniques have surely upgraded with the times. Back when full coverage, extreme matte foundations ruled the world, highlighter was often called upon to bring light and vibrancy to the complexion look. While products like bronzers and concealers helped define facial features, highlighter was the cherry on top that helped high points on the face to illuminate, mimicking the look of natural light. The trend, which had all of us stocking up on our favorite glitter-filled compacts, came and went, but the love affair for highlighter still remains present. That’s why we rounded up the must-know information for achieving an effortless and luminous glow without bringing fine lines, wrinkles, and texture to center stage.


As with any makeup hack, success is found in the skin prep; and highlighter application is no exception. We’ve all seen the effortlessly chic, model-off-duty rocked by our favorite influencers and celebrities. The look often consists of esthetician-approved skin, minimal texture, near-invisible pores, and a refreshed glow that awakens the face. And while award-winning derms and skincare professionals may be behind-the-scenes hard at work, there are a few simple hacks to help you recreate a similar glow from the comfort of your own home.

Skin Prep
We all know texture is enemy #1 for flawless highlighter application, but there’s not enough anti-aging creams to help us do away with texture for good. Here are three critical steps to prepping the skin for application:

Step 1: Exfoliate!
Creating a healthy exfoliating regimen is essential in ridding the skin of unwanted dry patches, flaky skin, surface bumps, or oil and debris buildup.

Step 2: Serum
Serum is also an important step to tend to any specific skincare concerns, like hyperpigmentation, aging skin, or visibly stressed skin. For those wanting to rejuvenate the skin, The Think Bright Glow + Hydrate Serum is fortified with Sodium Hyaluronate and Pineapple and Pomegranate Extracts to help visibly renew dull, dehydrated skin and provide long-lasting hydration. This dual-focus daily serum revives lifeless complexions, whether worn alone or underneath makeup, leaving behind a supple finish.

Step 3: Prime
On makeup days, utilize a face primer to bring balance to the complexion and reduce the appearance of texture for an even-looking canvas.  The Secure Skin Gripping Serum Primer is a two-in-one, effectively visibly reducing the look of enlarged pores and dark spots. The formula contains a powerhouse AHA-Fruit Blend, containing orange, lemon, bilberry, sugar cane, and sugar maple extracts to visibly smooth and even the look of texture of the skin.

 Pro Tip:  In addition to topical treatments, keeping on track with daily water consumption is an easy way to promote a visibly radiant-looking complexion from the inside out.

Finding the Right Highlighter
Now that your skin is in order, it’s time to identify which highlighter works best for your particular skin type. Check out our skin type download to identify your skin type based on the most popular characteristics. Next, read below to see which formula is right for you!

For Normal to Oily Skin Types and/or Blemish-Prone Skin

  • Product Recommendation: Aim High Pressed Highlighter Powder ($19)
  • How to Use: Apply powder to the high points of the face using the Highlighter Brush. Build and blend, as desired.
  • Pro Tip: Apply a touch of highlighter to the Cupid’s bow to help make lips appear more defined.
  • Why You’ll Love It: Unlike the chunky, heavily textured highlighters of years past, this ultra-fine, creamy powder formula easily blends onto the skin to impart a soft, luminous glow. The cruelty free and vegan formula contains Niacinamide to help control breakthrough shine for a hydrated, never oily, look.

For Normal to Dry Skin Types and/or Mature Skin

  • Product Recommendation: Aim High Multi-Use Liquid Highlighter ($19)
  • How to Use: Evenly apply a thin layer to the high points of the face including: cheeks, brow bone, bridge of the nose and Cupid’s bow. Build and blend, as desired. For lit-from-within luminosity, apply underneath the foundation.
  • Pro Tip: This product is called multi-use for a reason! Use it as a radiance booster by mixing 1-2 drops into your foundation, moisturizer or primer.
  • Why You’ll Love It: This breathable, lightweight formula is a nourishing take on traditional liquid highlighter formulas. Rich in Mangifera Indica (Mango) Fruit Extract, these highlighter drops visibly revitalize the look of skin.