How To Choose the Best Face & Body Highlighter

different face and body highlighter brushing a young women's face

Making your way through all the glowing skin makeup and figuring out how to use it can be confusing. The good news is that we break it all down for you. We’ll tell you the difference between illuminators and highlighters. Cream, liquid or powder? What’s the best product for your skin type and your skin tone. We’ll even explain how to get your glow on.

What is Face and Body Highlighter?

Highlighters give you that look of glowing skin -- a little shimmer to radiate a dewy, lit-from-within look.

Where did this trend originate? Professional makeup artists. We now have access to makeup artists and their tricks of the trade like never before. They make YouTube tutorials, we follow them on Instagram. Hello,nikkietutorials. We practice their tips and put them to use in our own makeup routines.

Highlighter History: When Did It Begin?

Though highlighting of some form or another has been around as long as people have been making up their faces, we have makeup artists in the film and theatre industries to thank for these illuminating techniques. With southern California as their base, most early filmmakers could shoot outdoors in natural light, and make use of the way “sunshine naturally defined an actor’s face by reflecting off of his or her cheekbones, nose, and jawline,” according to

Indoor conditions presented new challenges. The sun could no longer do the lighting work for directors, and that’s where actors and makeup artists had to get creative. “As a makeup artist, you are trained in the structure of the face. The bones of a face catch light first…they give contour and shape. Makeup can emphasize this by highlighting cheek and browbones. It can eradicate dark areas around the eyes and jawline,” makeup artist Paul Gooch told

How Do Highlighters Differ from Body Shimmer or Illuminators?

As Paul Gooch pointed out, highlighters allow us to play up our bone structure and draw attention to specific features. Illuminators, on the other hand, create an all-over glow.

An example of an illuminator is Laura Mercier’s Radiance Foundation Primer or MAC’s Strobe Cream. You apply it before foundation, and it gives your skin a dewiness and yes, radiance. Proceed with caution if you have oily skin, however.

Body shimmer, as the name implies, is not meant for your face. Put it on your arms, shoulders, legs, collarbone, décolletage – where ever you want to shine. Body shimmer comes in lotion form, and also as an oil, stick or cream.

Difference Between Highlighter Powders, Creams, Liquid, and Pens

Face highlighter makeup comes in myriad forms. Why so many? Each product is designed for a particular task. There’s a highlighter that works best for every feature, skin type and age.

YSL Touche Éclat highlighter pens, for example, are very small. They’re meant to use under your eyes to reflect light and diminish dark circles.

Highlighter powders, in contrast, are more versatile. With different brushes, you can apply powder to any part of your face, from your cheekbones to that tiny spot on the inner corner of your eyes. The lightest of brush strokes leave just a hint of a glow. Not enough? Load up the brush a little heavier.

“Powder highlights are arguably the most potent formulation. They have a strong concentration of shimmer, and it’s easy to overdo it. However, powder is also the most suitable for oily skin,” according to Bustle.

Liquid face highlighter can be blended with foundation for totally glowing skin, or you can pinpoint a few places to illuminate. Dry and mature complexions are ideal for liquid highlighter.

Cream highlighters come in stick form, in a palette, in a small pot or in a roller. This type of highlighting gives you a long-lasting glow.

Highlighters and Illuminators can also be layered. Illuminating primer can be worn under foundation, with more highlighter applied to play up your cheekbones or eyes. Play around. Try a few things.

Considerations for Choosing the Best Face & Body Highlighter:

  • amount of shimmer you want
  • color of the highlighter
  • your skin type
  • your skin tone
  • delivery method (roll-on, powder, stick, liquid, cream, oil)

How to Choose a Highlighter Color

When deciding on the right color of highlighter, think about the undertones in your skin. Most people have either warm or cool undertones in their skin. If you aren’t sure, you may have a neutral skin tone. Lucky you! That means you can wear any highlighter color. The color of your highlighter should match the undertones in your skin: warm colors for warm undertones, and cool colors for cool undertones.

Can I Wear Face and Body Highlighter All Year?

 Definitely. Enough said.

How Do I Apply Highlighter on My Face?

Highlighter goes on after foundation and before blush. Apply your highlighter above your cheekbones and along your temples in a V-shape. Highlight above your eyebrows, down the bridge of your nose and then at the Cupid’s bow above your top lip. If you like, you can also apply a little highlight at the inner corner of your eyes. Feel like too much? You can start with just the V-shape from your cheek to temple. Add more as you get comfortable.

How Do I Apply Highlighter to My Body?

This will depend partly on the season and what you’re wearing. Live in a warm climate? You don’t need to consider the season quite as much.

Use this rule: if the sun or a spotlight were hitting you, where would your skin naturally glow? If you’re wearing shorts or a shorter skirt, you can apply down the fronts of your legs, as if they were kissed by the sun.

Rocking a sleeveless top or dress? Hit your shoulders with a little highlighter. If you have an open neckline, add a bit more around your collarbone or décolletage.

BeautyGARDE Face & Body Highlighter

BeautyGARDE highlighter comes in both warm and cool shades, so we’ve got all skin undertones covered. The totally unique, rolling sponge applicator makes for smooth, easy highlighting and blending. Sheer, buildable color goes on everywhere: face and body. Know what else? It’s waterproof, smudge-proof, and it stays on for 12 hours – even if you go swimming!

The handy tube container is super portable. Toss it in your purse, gym bag or carry-on suitcase.

BeautyGARDE Clean Cleansing Oil – Rose Bud Elixir

Another way to get look of face glow makeup is to strategically apply some face oil. You’ll get a healthy radiance without a lot of shimmer. Our Clean Cleansing Oil will give you a little glow, and nourish your skin with vitamins and antioxidants in the process.

How Do I Remove Highlighter?

BeautyGARDE Clean Cleansing Oil is also a perfect choice for removing waterproof highlighters. A few drops on your hands will rub off any highlighter.

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