Shine Bright(ly)… Or Don’t

Can we talk about highlighting for a minute?
I don’t want to beat a dead horse because there are tons of posts on this, so I’ll make it super quick!

I’ll start by saying you should do whatever you want. If you want to glow like a firefly, then by all means. I wish you the very best and I hope it brings you the joy that tacos bring me.

Moving right along…


Photography: Jason Lavengood Makeup: Felicia Yvette

What is highlighting?
Highlighting is one of the techniques used for adding dimension to the face (and body). In general, we apply a lighter shade on the high planes, where light naturally hits… or where we want it to. If you take a peek in the mirror, especially in daylight, you’ll notice that light hits most of us in the center of the forehead, down the bridge of the nose, the high plane of the cheek, the brow bone, the center of the chin… Got it? See the photo above if you need a visual.

What do I use to highlight?

A lighter shade of foundation (usually cream or liquid, but whatever tickles your fancy), a strobe cream underneath foundation, a liquid or powder illuminator, or a combination. Your highlight can be matte, natural or dewy. I prefer liquids and creams for a dewy glow, but will sometimes pop a bit of a brightening powder on top – usually for an evening look. If you’re going to layer, just remember to use the powder last.

Photography: Jason Lavengood Makeup: Felicia Yvette

Photography: Jason Lavengood
Makeup: Felicia Yvette

Which shade should I use?
A shade that is relative to your skin tone and undertones should be used. Makeup is a very personal thing. I like to compare it to fragrances. You know how something might smell amazing on someone else, but smell awful on you? That’s how I feel about makeup. Just because someone’s complexion is similar to yours doesn’t mean you should rush out to buy what they use. Try things and then decide for yourself. “Everything ain’t for everybody,” as they say.

Are there shades I shouldn’t use?

Those shades that are too light and/or end up making you look like the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz? Not for you. Shades typically range from pearl to gold. Just think fair to deep brown. If you’re in between, try until you find what you like. I like pearl on very fair skin, pearl or pale pink for medium, adding gold the deeper the skin tone gets. I LOVE a golden highlight on a brown girl. Silver? Tin Man.

Photography: Faith Blackwell Makeup: Felicia Yvette

Photography: Faith Blackwell
Makeup: Felicia Yvette

Are there any illuminators that you recommend?
I really like Becca’s Shimmering Skin Perfectors. SOME of the MAC Mineralize powders make beautiful highlights. Fashion Fair makes a beautiful highlighting powder for brown girls. If you’re looking for something really inexpensive, I’ve used the NYX loose pearl shadows. The list goes on.
Go and play!

Tip: If there are shiny particles in anything you pick up, make sure they’re small… otherwise you’ll look like a disco ball.

I want so badly to insert an image of someone’s face shining like wet pavement, but I’m behaving.

Remember, highlighting isn’t a one size fits all type of thing. I wouldn’t highlight a heart-shaped face the same way I would highlight an oval-shaped face. The same goes for shading (or contouring). Every face is different. Feel around (literally FEEL your face) and you will be able to tell where to place things a bit more easily.

Note: Highlighting is NOT the same as concealing or color correcting.
If you have a dark under-eye area, you don’t want to reach for illuminators.
You’ll just make it worse.


Want to see some BEAUTIFUL examples of highlighting? Check out the work of artists like Hung Vanngo, Beau NelsonLottie and the incomparable Queen Pat McGrath.

I hope this helped!



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