Where to Put Highlighter on Your Face - 7 Ideas You Need To See

woman applying highlighter to face with brush

Whether you’re ready to get your shimmer on for warmer weather, or you want to be a glow baby all year long, getting the best look starts with knowing how and where to apply your highlighter. But first: what kind of look do you want to achieve? A subtle, natural glow or next level, touched-by-Midas shine?   

A Few Words about Skin Type and Complexion

As with everything skin-care related, you should always consider your skin type before falling in love with a highlighter. Why? Those with oily or acne-prone skin will want to take care with highlighters to avoid looking greasy. (More on this later.) Sensitive skin concerns likewise may dictate a highlighter choice, as may the needs of mature skin.

Skin color is another important consideration. Highlighter colors are generally designed for specific skin tones, so keep that in mind when you’re making a choice.

Getting Down to Basics

It can help to familiarize yourself with highlighting products and how they work before you start thinking about where to apply them. Do you like powders, creams, sticks, roll-ons? It doesn’t hurt to experiment with different textures, colors, and types of shimmer.

For all-out glow, start with a highlighting primer or moisturizer that you apply before your foundation. If you want just a hint of dewiness, you can also add just a bead of it to your foundation, rather than applying it all over your face. From this base, you can layer other highlighters.

How to Use Highlighter on Your Face

A good rule of thumb when thinking about the purpose of highlighter: imagine a light source hitting your face. Which surfaces would naturally reflect the light? Putting a little highlighter in these spots imparts a dewy glow to your skin.

Aside from glowing skin, does highlighter do anything else? Yes, in fact. Like contouring, highlighting can be used to emphasize features of your face that you want to play up. Got great lips? Pop a little shimmer on your cupid’s bow. Brighten your eyes with some strategically-placed highlighter.

When to Apply a Face Highlighter

If you’re new to highlighting, you may be wondering how to order your makeup. Highlighting primer or highlighting moisturizer go on first, if you use them. Otherwise, your regular primer and foundation are first. (You can also add a little strobe cream or brightener to your foundation, though this isn’t ideal for oily or acne-prone skin.) Highlighter goes next. This order is important to getting the most natural-looking glow. After highlighting, apply your blush, any contouring makeup if you use it, and your eye makeup. 

Where to Put Highlighter on Your Face

  1. Forehead: Makeup artists create a soft vertical highlight down the front of the face, starting with the forehead. If you have oily skin, acne on your forehead, or you don’t want to draw attention to this area, feel free to skip the forehead.
  2. Nose: A little highlighter from the bulb of your nose upward to the bridge will continue the light reflection from your forehead.
  3. Chin: Unless you have acne, oiliness, or a desire to distract from your chin, a little highlighter on the chin looks naturally dewy.
  4. Above cheekbones: Highlighter should be applied just above the apples of your cheeks and cheekbones.
  5. Temples: Continue the highlighter from the space above your cheekbones, extending upward along the temples.
  6. Eyes: Think of creating a “c” from the area above your cheekbones, along the temple to the space below your eyebrows. Of course, your eye shape may determine how comfortable you feel placing highlighter below your eyebrows. If you have hooded eyes, or not much space between your brows and your eyes, this may not be where you want to highlight. To brighten your eyes, add a little spot of highlighter to the inner corner.
  7. Cupid’s Bow: Just above your lip, a tiny spot of highlighter will draw attention to your lips, if you’d like to show off their shape (or your fabulous lipstick)!

How To Simplify Your Highlighter Routine

For a less-is-more, naturally dewy look, what are the best places to highlight? When you’re in a hurry (or if you like to keep your beauty routine simple), put a little highlighter on your cheeks and temples and call it good. A little dab at the end of your nose if you want a bit more, and your skin will have that healthy glow.

Got oily skin or eyelids? You’ll want to avoid an all-over application of highlighter. A little shine can quickly look greasy if you use the wrong product or too much of it.

BeautyGARDE Face & Body Highlighter

Our 12-hour waterproof highlighter is not just for your face! Roll the soft sponge onto any part of your body that you want to highlight: cheeks, collarbone, shoulders, legs. For those hard-to-reach areas like the inner corner of your eyes, sponge a little onto your finger and use it to apply.

This 2-in-1 product is a highlighter and applicator at once. No extra brushes, blenders or applicators are necessary. The unique sponge applicator allows you to control how much product you apply, and blend it in smoothly. Not only that, but this packable tube is the perfect size to toss in your purse, beach bag or carry on!

The highlighter cream goes on sheer, with a light, shimmery finish. Apply a bit more and blend to add color. Want to wear a little highlighter on your shoulders and collarbone with your favorite white dress or top? BeautyGARDE Face & Body Highlighter will not transfer onto your clothing! Our formulation is waterproof, transfer-proof and sweat-proof. It’s also vegan and cruelty-free.

BeautyGARDE Clean Cleansing Oil

When you’re ready to remove your highlighter, our clean cleansing oil will take it right off. A non-comedogenic oil infused with the scent of tiny rosebuds, it will nourish your skin while it effectively washes away your highlighter and all your other makeup as well.

BeautyGARDE Clean Cleansing Oil is not just a makeup remover, though. A combination of geranium, vitamin E, castor, olive and rosemary oils reduce the inflammation that causes acne, while feeding your skin with powerful antioxidants that encourage cell repair and turnover. It’s a wonderful addition to any nighttime cleansing or anti-pollution skincare routine.

Back to Expert Makeup Advice