How To Wear Highlighter Like Models Do On Instagram

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Ever notice how some makeup artists are able to get their highlighter to look so perfect in their selfies on social media that their cheekslips and nose have this certain glow that’s drop-dead gorgeous but never greasy or oily? If you’re obsessed with that look like we are, we’ve got the secrets on how to get it from the top makeup artists themselves. This is what it takes to create the look.

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Pick The Right Formula
Not every highlighter will deliver the same exact type of glow. As Artis Founder Matthew Waitesmith explains, “On social media, people add streaks of frosted or high-shimmer products across their skin like frosted eye shadows or blushes that have a high percentage of light-reflecting pigments. When choosing a highlighter, test the product on the back of your hand and move it back and forth to see how it catches the light.” Your skin type and how dramatic you want your highlight to be will dictate what formulation you should go with. “Pressed powder highlighters are extremely versatile and allow you to build up the highlight when you apply them with a damp brush like the Bdellium Tool Fan Brush #925 ($12),” says Samantha Freda, Blushington Makeup & Beauty Lounge expert artist. “Cream highlighters give a more blended, dewy finish, which you can mix into foundation or apply with a Beauty Blender ($20).” Try Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector ($41) if you like a cream highlighter; iT Cosmetics Airbrush Silk Anti-Aging Illuminizer ($24) for a second-skin finish; or Smashbox Halo Highlighting Wand ($29) for a more precise application.

Make Sure the Color Is Right for Your Skin Tone
Sure, there are endless color options out there, but not every shade will be the right fit for your skin. If your skin is on the lighter side, go with something that has more of a silver or pink undertone to it, which will look more natural. “Medium to darker skin tones look best in peach and golden tones,” says Nick Lujan, pro educator for MAKE UP FOR EVER.

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Wet Your Brush
Freda says that the way many Instagrammers get that intense highlight is by first wetting the brush before applying anything to their skin, which allows more pigment to get picked up on the brush and helps to intensify the glow factor. “My favorite one to use is the Cucumber or Rose Waters by Julie Hewett ($24). You will want to mist your brush with the spray before dipping into your highlight.”

Know How To Layer It
Clinique colour pro Damian Garozzo says it’s important to apply illuminator and highlighter under your foundation. “This gives your skin that ‘lit from within look.’ If you focus the highlighter on the center of the forehead, it will open up your face.” But you want to make sure you don’t go overboard—ever. Loading on too much highlighter, which may look good for photos, can actually enhance imperfections in your skin. “It can call attention to fine lines and scars,” says Japonesque national makeup artist Shawn Fisher.

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And, Where to Apply It
When it comes to highlighter, you can’t just slap it on and head out the door—you need to know which parts of the face to apply it to and which ones to avoid. Zena Shteysel of Z Palette says there’s a think line between looking luminous and shiny. “Your highlight should be placed on the high points of your face like the tops of your cheekbones and the bridge of your nose.” You can also apply highlighter on the bow of your upper lip to make your lips appear fuller. “Spot highlight your brow bone, inner corners of your eyes and the center of your upper lids with a small brush to make your eyes look more open,” says Eugenia Weston, celebrity makeup artist and founder of Senna Cosmetics

Blend, Blend, Blend! 
As with any other type of makeup product, blending in your highlighter just right is crucial. “Blending is the most important part of the look to achieve a dewy finish,” says Chantecaille makeup artist Eddie Hernandez. “I use a brush or lightly dab the product into the skin with my fingertips.”

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