Highlighting has become absolutely all the rage the past few seasons. I can remember back in the early 2000’s when Kevyn Aucoin’s books “Face Forward” and “Making Faces” introduced me to the concept of highlighting and contouring. In those days, these techniques were mostly reserved for professional photography shoots, film and video, stage performance and celebrity looks.
Celebrity exposure of this lovely technique via sources such as “Keeping up with the Kardashians” and Makeup artist superstars like Huda Kattan has turned this one-time well kept trade secret into a phenomenon. It’s turned “highlighting” into an every day word, where as ten or fifteen years ago if you were working a makeup counter and mentioned this to your average client, they might give you a deer in the headlights look.
Fortunately for us, there are plenty of resources, tutorials and products to help us make highlighting part of our daily routine.
How do I apply highlighter?
Our face has natural “planes,” or high and low points. If you’ve ever taken an art figure study class ( whether it be painting or drawing ), you know exactly what I’m talking about. There are places on our face which sit “higher” and are “illuminated” when hit by the light. We also have “lower” points on the face where the light casts natural shadows. This is why when a cinematographer is lighting a film or a video, he or she places lights to “trick” the natural light and shadow and manipulates them to create the look he or she wants.
Highlighting is a makeup artist’s way to “trick” the light into being more prominent on certain areas of the face. Cinematographers sculpt with light; makeup artists sculpt with product. This is why highlighting and contouring has often been referred to as “sculpting and chiseling” the face, because that is exactly what it does.
Places where we naturally catch light on our face are the top of the cheekbones, the corners of the eyes, the top of the cup’s bow and the center of the forehead. You can also use highlighter down the bridge of your nose to make it appear thinner and more linear.
Strobing, which is the more techno glisten version of highlighting, uses the same techniques as traditional highlighting. The only difference is strobing usually involves very “hot” and “bright” colored tones. More highlighters in tones other than pearls and bronzers are surfacing, but strobing is usually meant to replicate a “strobe light” effect, hence the name. Bright pinks, greens and blues give off a neon look, as if you’re in a dark room, or on a dark stage with only bright, fluorescent colored lights hitting your face.
I don’t even know where to start, or what palette to choose. Help!
I always recommend getting a good palette to start off with. Why? Because there are several colors to play with and choose from. You might find that one works better than the other, or you may want to blend them. This way, you’re not stuck with one single product that may not work for you. You have options. A great option here is this Anastasia Beverly Hills Sundipped Glow Kit. It is expensive, but it will last you a long time and the quality can’t be beaten. I have a friend who is a makeup artist and she got this palette when it was first released over a year ago and it’s still her go-to highlighting palette to this day. I actually texted and asked for a photo as I was writing this article and she is just now starting to show the smallest hint of the bottom of the pan.
Okay, now what?
Here are three easy places to apply your highlighter with your favorite brush or beauty sponge:
- On top of your cheekbones. Sweep a small hint of the shade of your choice on top of your blush. Be sure to blend.
- Dab a small amount on the cupid’s bow of your lips ( the “v” on your upper lip).
- Underneath your eyebrows. Use a small brush to apply a layer of shine and blend into your eyeshadow.