How to Apply Highlighter for a Fresh and Luminous Look - Klever Korner

How to Apply Highlighter for a Fresh and Luminous Look

Boost your confidence with a dewy, radiant finish. Learn how to apply highlighter that flatters your unique features.

a close up of a person wearing glasses
By Keti Nikolova
Caitlin Snethlage
Edited by Caitlin Snethlage

Updated February 26, 2024.

A woman applying highlighter on her face.

Do you ever feel your skin looks dull and lacks a natural glow, even after applying makeup? The key to achieving a fresh and radiant complexion lies in the strategic use of highlighter. Putting it on incorrectly can leave you looking overly shiny.

Let's look at ways to apply highlighter for a natural-looking, luminous finish that enhances your features without appearing overdone.

How to Choose the Right Highlighter

1. Know Your Skin

  • Skin Type: Different formulas cater to different needs. For example, powders are great for oily skin, while liquids offer dewy radiance for dry.
  • Undertone: Helps choose flattering shades. Cool tones suit silver or pink highlighters, while warm look great with champagne or peach.
  • Skin Tone: Matching the shade is crucial. Opt for a highlighter one shade lighter than your skin tone for a natural lift.

2. Pick Your Product

  • Powder: Lightweight and blendable, offering subtle to intense shimmer.
  • Liquid: Buildable and dewy, perfect for a natural, lit-from-within glow.
  • Cream: Creamy and blendable, offering a sculpted, airbrushed effect.
  • Stick: Similar to powder in terms of finish, stick highlighter is creamier and blendable with fingertips.
  • Gel: Versatile and buildable, suitable for all skin types.

3. Choose Your Finish

  • Matte: Sophisticated and subtle, ideal for daytime or natural looks.
  • Shimmery: Classic and versatile, perfect for everyday or evening wear.
  • Glittery: Bold and glamorous, great for special occasions or dramatic looks.

Highlighter 101: Mastering Formulas


Liquid highlighters offer versatility. Mix a few drops with your foundation to create a subtle, all-over glow. Apply it before for a sculpted, defined look and blend seamlessly. You can use a brush to distribute the product evenly or your fingertips for a softer look.

Cream and Gel

Cream and gel highlighters deliver a dewy, blended finish. Apply them with your fingers for precise detail on the bridge of your nose or brow bone. A fluffy brush also helps distribute the product evenly for larger areas like cheekbones.

Tip: Creamy textures on the eyelids might crease, so set them with powder for a lasting, fresh look.


Powder highlighters add buildable shimmer. To avoid a cakey look, finish by using a dedicated brush. Opt for denser ones for an intense look or fluffier for a diffused. Smaller types are also good if you want to highlight the nose, brow bone, and under-eye area.

Note: For a makeup look with a powder-based foundation, blush, contouring, and setting, use this type of highlighter. It blends well with other types, especially for oily skin.


Stick highlighters offer a creamy texture that seamlessly blends with other makeup. Their portability and buildable coverage let you customize your highlight for a subtle sheen or a sculpted glow.

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Where to Apply Highlighter: Find Your High Points

Tilt your head slightly and watch where the light naturally hits your face. These are your high points, perfect for adding dimension.

Here are some common areas for applying highlighter:

  • Cheekbones: A classic spot; sweep highlighter across the tops of your cheekbones, blending towards your temples for a natural lift.
  • Brow bones: Highlight just beneath your brow bones to open your eyes and create a lifted effect.
  • Cupid's bow: Add a touch of highlighter to the center of your upper lip for a fuller, plumper appearance.
  • Bridge of the nose: This area requires caution. If you have a wider nose, skip highlighting the bridge. Otherwise, apply a thin line down the center for a defined look.
  • Inner eye corners: Brighten tired eyes by adding a touch of highlighter to the inner corners.
  • Chin and jawline: This technique works well for defined features. Highlight along the center of your chin and jawline to elongate and sculpt the face.

Tip: Consider your face shape.

Rounder faces benefit from highlighting the cheekbones, brow bones, and center of the chin. On the other hand, rounder ones should focus on the cheekbones, temples, and bridge of the nose.

Mastering the Dewy Look: A Step-By-Step Guide

  1. Thoroughly cleanse and apply a moisturizer suitable for your skin type. This creates the perfect base for a dewy glow.
  2. If you want lasting radiance, consider using a primer. Choose a hydrating formula for a dewy finish.
  3. Opt for a lightweight, luminous foundation to avoid a cakey finish. Build coverage gradually for a natural look.
  4. Add subtle definition and depth with contouring, then a touch of blush for a healthy flush of color and to lift the cheekbones.
  5. For a daytime look, lightly highlight areas like your cheekbones, brow bones, and Cupid's bow. If you're going for a bolder nighttime look, layer your highlighter for a more intense effect.
  6. Finish your look with a light dusting of finishing powder to set the creams without disturbing the powder base.

» Discover the best ways to prepare your face for makeup

Unleash Your Inner Glowing Goddess

Highlighting is about shimmer and glitter—it's about using light and dimension to sculpt and emphasize your beauty. You can create a radiant glow for any occasion by understanding your skin type, choosing the right products, and trying our techniques.

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