It was at the end of the 60s that highlighter became the rage. A shiny powder was applied over the blush directly on the cheekbone, creating a softer transition between blusher and normal skin tone. The impression was a finer, more transparant make-up.
Today, highlighter is mostly sold in foundation-like consistencies; as fluid, semi-fluid, cream or in stick form. Names vary, too; ‘cover cream’, ‘coverstick’, ‘anti-cernes’, ‘under-eye-cover’ and, of course, ‘concealer’. We can use any of these products as ‘highlighter’. Those that are sold as such are generally the shiny or glittery type.
The principle is very simple; areas that are too deeply set, or we’d like to accentuate, are drawn out by highlighting, and those that are too prominent are shaded away, like we do with blusher on a forehead that is too wide, for example.
In this post, you’ll also find much of what you need to know about using concealer as camouflage. You’ll also notice, as you read through, that we highlight some areas in order to conceal others.
Your highlighter must harmonize with your foundation. If your foundation has a yellow base tone, so must your highlighter. For a natural appearance, your highlighter should be no more than two nuances lighter than your foundation.
Because the pigment density of highlighter is much greater than that of foundation, it is ideal for covering any dark areas, including circles under the eyes. For this, it must match your foundation exactly.
Be careful of pink tones; they make dark circles under the eyes appear blueish. Yellows solve this problem.
For pimples and other such blemishes, your concealer must also match your foundation or natural skin tone exactly. Best is a medicated concealer. In order that it doesn’t draw attention to the blemish, you’ll need to matt it with powder, again matching your tone. If you use a brush for your concealer on a possibly infected area, you must wash it daily. If you use your finger, make sure it is absolutely clean.
For reddened areas, including broken capillaries, I recommend a green concealer.
As I work you through the various ways of using highlighter, I’ll be using a concealer by Kryolan, available from Amazon, applied with a brush, also available from Amazon.
This is the method I prefer. As mentioned above, there are numerous choices. Whichever you choose, the basic techniques I describe remain unchanged.
If you want absolutely professional results, you’ll have to use a professional quality product. As mentioned, I use Kryolan, but for the non-professional seeking professional results, I recommend Benefit Cosmetics’ Erase Paste Concealer, or you might consider looking into Ben Nye’s products.
At each corner of the eye
This is for everyone. Not only does it make for fresh eyes, it covers the blood vessels that shine through the thin skin. Generally we apply highlighter over foundation, but not in this area. Before you begin, make sure it is foundation free. You shouldn’t apply foundation over it, either, once you’ve finished.
The inner corner is a fiddly business if you use your finger, and almost impossible if you have long or longish nails; one reason I use a brush.
Begin at the innermost part of the eye, and work the cream upwardly and downwardly. What’s left on the brush should be used on the eyelid.
The outer corner should always be lightened when a darker area of skin pulls the eye optically downwards. This is always the case with a strong brow bone, or hanging lids.
Place the highlighter at the outer corner, and blend it down towards the cheekbone.
Beneath the entire eye
If your eyes are deep set or small, this is for you.
As before, the highlighter is placed at each corner of the eye, but here it joins at the centre, and runs downwards into an imaginary triangle. This highlight will attract light, making the eyes appear more lively.
Be thorough when you pat the highlighter into your foundation. You can use a wedge shaped make-up sponge for this.
Using too much highlighter directly below the eye will emphasize lines. Always remember; less is more.
The frown and nasolabial folds
These are difficult areas, and most women only succeed in making matters worse.
To avoid doing that, lighten the area over the nasolabial fold, where the curve of the cheek attracts no light, rather than directly on it.
To achieve an exact placement, which you must here, you’ll have to use a brush. Work the highlighter well into the foundation, and be sure to pat it well afterwards.
Your mouth area will appear smoother and firmer.
The crease of your frown is somewhat trickier. There’s no guarentee this will function for you, but this technique is a good starting point. Just try it out and experiment. It’s one of those things that work differently for everyone.
The danger is in inadvertantly playing up the crease rather than playing it down, especially at the base of the brow bone. Again, you’ll have to use the brush, and start by using as little highlighter as possible. Work it well into your foundation, and then pat it further in.
When you’ve found your individual solution, you’ll find that your smooth forehead will make you appear relaxed and rested.
If the corners of your mouth slope downwards, you’ll appear sullen. This is remedied by applying a little highlighter at the corners of your mouth and blending it with your foundation. This is easily done either with your finger or a brush.
Wrinkles on the upper lip are irradicated by filling the notch that forms the bow of the lip, and blending to each side. Not only will your mouth appear smoother, but it will prevent your lipstick from ‘bleeding’.
If the space between your nose and upper lip is too short, place highlighter under the nose, exactly as in the picture above, and pat it into your foundation.
For a receding chin, apply an imaginary triangle below the mouth, and blend downwards and outwards.
For square and round faces
By placing a triangle from below the the eye running down to below the lower lip, the face will be given length.
Structure is then added by applying blusher.
The contoured impression is quite remarkable.
Now to the fun stuff …
Where else can you use highlighter?
• On the brow bone
• For stunning eyes, place a highlight at the centre of your upper eyelids.
• At the centre of your forehead, running down the bridge of your nose.
• On your collar bones to accentuate.
• On the curve of your breasts, again, to accentuate.
And where can you use shading (blusher), apart from on your cheeks?
• Irradicate your double chin by applying it under your chin and on your neck.
• At the sides of your nose for slimness.
• At the end of your nose to make it appear shorter.
• In the fold of your eye-lid for added depth.
• In the grooves below and above your collar bones to farther accentuate.
• There where your breasts part, again, to farther accentuate.
On larger areas, I apply and blend with a wedge shaped sponge, this simply being my personal preference.
Always remember, it’s not how much highlighter and shading you apply that counts, but how you place it.