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Why you should add highlighters to your beauty bag

If you shy away from using highlighters because you’re afraid of looking like a disco ball, you might just need a little guidance on using these makeup essentials. Used correctly, highlighters create flawless skin and can conceal and/or emphasize any area of your face. Learn which formulas and shades are perfect for creating your best face, just in time for New Year’s Eve!

Kim Kardashian wearing highlighter makeup

Choose the right formula and tool

If you have oily skin, powders are your best bet but should be used sparingly, or they can create more shine on your face. If you have normal skin, you can use it as a light finish after you have applied your makeup. Powders are best applied with a large powder brush or a fan brush for a softer touch.

Cream formulas are ideal for dry skin and are best applied with your fingers. Liquid formulas are ideal for normal to dry skin and can be applied with a foundation brush. For smaller areas such as under the eyes, the inner corners of the eyes or the cupid’s bow part of your lips, a pen is an ideal choice. These formulas are usually a lightweight, creamy liquid and are perfect if you are on-the-go.

Benefits Watts UpChoose the best shade and finish

Choosing the correct shade is vital to using a highlighter. Fair skin beauties should choose silver or champagne tones, such as Benefit’s Watt’s Up (, $30). Olive skin looks great in gold shades such as Josie Maran’s Argan Illuminizer in Light Bronze (, $28). Dark skin can wear deep gold or bronze colors, such as Illamasqua’s Illuminator in Glimmer Golden Tan (, $20).

You also want to pick the correct highlighter finish. Many people mistake glittery, disco ball finishes as “highlighter or illuminator.” These formulas have larger light-reflecting particles and are more costume than makeup. The two finishes to look for are shimmer or pearlescent. True shimmer formulas are best worn at nighttime and on small areas like the brow bones. Your best bets are formulas with a soft, pearly finish. Today, most highlighters and illuminators contain superfine light reflecting particles to create a lustrous, radiant glow.

Create bones and muscles

Powder or liquid formulas can create the illusion of brow bones if you lightly apply them just under the eyebrow and blend well. Boost your cheekbones by layering a cream highlighter over a cream blush. You can do the same with a powder formula by lightly applying the highlighter with a fan brush. To create the illusion of long, lean legs, start by self-tanning your legs. Next, apply a shimmer stick or powder from your thigh down to your shin and foot. The long, straight line will draw the eye up and down for the perfect optical illusion.

Look well-rested

Fake a good night’s sleep by applying liquid or powder highlighter to the inner corners of your eyes. You can also use a concealer with light-reflecting properties to brighten the area under your eyes. One to try is BareMinerals Well-Rested Face & Eye Brightener (, $22). A dab of highlighter on the center of your upper lid will instantly brighten your eyes and face. Finally, create an all-over youthful glow and even skin tone by applying an illuminating lotion all over your face before applying your foundation. One to try is Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector SPF 25 (, $41).

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Photo credit: Lia Toby/

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