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April 14, 2023 4 min read

Beauty trends come and go, but glowing skin is always in. And while skincare and genetics play important roles in lighting up your look, thanks to the accessibility of well-formulated highlighters, anyone can get their glow on. That said, highlighter—where to put highlighter, how to apply highlighter, which is the best highlighter for you—can come with a bit of a learning curve.

At Profusion, it's not enough for us to offer professional-quality cosmetics at affordable prices, we also want to take the mystery out of makeup. Read on for a highlighter how-to full of highlighter tips and tricks you can use to grow your glow.

What is Highlighter? What Does Highlighter Do?

First things first, there's no knowing how and where to apply highlighter without first knowing what highlighter is. While highlighting has been a technique used by professional makeup artists for years, it is only recently that highlighter has become an accessible tool in everyone's cosmetic arsenal. What highlighter does is simple: It helps to give shape and dimension to the face. While it can certainly be used on its own, it's useful to think of highlighter as a companion piece to contouring. Whereas contouring lends dimension by using dark, cool shades to create shadows, highlighter catches light to accentuate features. 

Highlighting is an especially effective technique for those who use medium or full-coverage foundations. Foundation can give a face a flawless appearance, but it also tends to wash out complexions and flatten features. Highlighter brings back dimension by drawing and reflecting light. But even if you favor light or no coverage, highlighting can help give you the kind of radiant, dewy glow that makes you look like the picture of health even when you forgot your water bottle and have not gotten enough sleep. 

Where to Apply Highlighter

With regard to where to apply highlighter, the directive is simple enough that it has become a mantra of sorts: "Place it wherever the sun hits your face." But what does that mean, exactly? And how does it inform the use of highlighter for beginners?

YouTube is full of tutorials about where to apply highlighter and the internet is rife with complex diagrams, but our highlighter tips are easy to follow: Begin with a little at a time—always remembering that highlighter is buildable—and place highlighter at the tops of your cheekbones and directly under your eyebrows on your brow bones. Once you've mastered that enough to feel confident, try adding a line down the bridge of your nose and then a tiny bit on your cupid's bow. Start subtle, but if your goal is to glow like a disco ball, the best advice we can give is to never let anyone dull your shine.

Types of Highlighter

Now that you know where to apply highlighter and what it does, it's time to consider types of highlighter. Highlighter comes in many forms, but the three main types of highlighter are liquid highlighter, cream highlighter and powder highlighter. Each has its own strengths, but which type of highlighter you should use comes down to personal preference. Simply put, the best highlighter for you is the one that makes you feel beautiful.

Liquid Highlighter

Maximum glow—that's what you get from liquid highlighter. Indeed, liquid highlighter, such as our Superbloom Luminous Glow Liquid Highlighter, is like concentrated glow in a bottle, but despite its potency, it's surprisingly versatile. Liquid highlighter is best paired with cream and liquid products, which means that it should be applied to your base products before you go in with any powders. For more impact, dab it on and blend it with your fingers, and for subtle glow, sheer it out using your blending sponge or foundation brush. Liquid highlighter is also ideal for use in the emerging trend of underpainting, in which highlighter and contour is applied prior to foundation to give a natural, lit-from-within look. This technique is especially great for those with oily complexions as strategic use of liquid highlighter can take the place of glow primers that are often off-limits to those with oily skin.

Powder Highlighter

On the opposite end of the highlighter spectrum, formulation-wise, is powder highlighter. This is the type of highlighter that is most familiar to folks, largely because of its accessibility and user-friendliness. Powder highlighter works for all skin tones and types, and while applying it with a small, tapered fluffy brush is generally recommended, well-formulated powder highlighters can be tapped on with a finger. It's best applied as a final finishing step of a makeup routine atop other powder products. Profusion is an industry leader when it comes to powder highlighter palettes, from our Luminizer palettes that contain a highlighter for any look or undertone, to our Blush & Glow palettes that have everything you need to create a sun-kissed appearance, to our Highlight & Contour and Sculpt & Glow palettes that offer an all-in-one way to contour and highlight your face to perfection. 

Cream Highlighter

In between liquid and powder highlighters lie cream highlighters. Sort of the freewheeling sibling of all the types of highlighter, "cream highlighter" is often code for forward-thinking formulas that are just plain fun to use. For instance, our bestselling Rituals I Candlelight Ritual Highlighters offer luminous glow in a long-wearing, easy-to-use, cream-to-powder formula. Ultra-reflective and with color-shift technology, these highlighters represent the often innovative nature of cream highlighters. In the same category are our Jurassic World I Hybrid Uproar Jelly Highlighters, which have a lightweight formula that make them versatile to blend and easy to use. Like liquid highlighters, cream highlighters can be applied using a foundation brush or blending sponge, but their forgiving nature and blendability means fingers do the job just fine as well. 

There's a type of highlighter out there for every face, and whether you apply a little or a lot, everyone can benefit from a dose of radiance. Armed with this highlighter how-to and Profusion's array of highlighters, we encourage you to go forth and get your glow on!