If there’s a single makeup artist trick that’s impacted my day-to-day routine the most over the past year, it has to be highlighting and contouring. But mostly, highlighting…and especially in the bone-dry winter months. It's wiggled its way right up there alongside mascara on the won't-leave-home-without-it list.
It doesn’t have to be scary. And it doesn’t have to be sparkly. The best highlighters, to me, subtly catch and reflect the light in all the right spots:
Brow bone: your upper, upper eyelid, right underneath the eyebrow.
Inner corners of the eyes: Precisely that—just around the tear duct, in a V-shape.
Now, you can stop here and call it a day—check it out. Instant freshness. Kind of shocking/awesome.
BUT if you want to look extra gorgeous, or just more awake, continue on to the following areas:
Tops of cheekbones, down the bridge of the nose, on the center of chin, and along the Cupid’s bow (just above the upper lip).
I typically reach for highlighter after I’ve applied everything else, as a finishing touch, but you could follow Lily Aldridge’s lead and use RMS Living Luminizer on a bare face. Burberry’s Fresh Glow can be mixed into foundation but I’ve been too scared—I love it on its own; I don’t know how they did it, but it really is a liquid glow that dries onto skin…but manages to still look moist. A genius, genius product.
The most famous highlighter, of course, is the illusive Milanese Shiny Stick—Madina's "Chic & Shine"—Pat McGrath’s illuminator of choice. Mine finally arrived from Italy the other day and I’ve been playing with it all weekend. It’s pearlescent (another standout in the ivory family is NARS Copacobana) which works well with most skin tones, and stays put.
But the pièce de résistance in my highlighting stash, at the moment, has to be Tom Ford’s Shade & Illuminate palette. And, yes, you should buy the brush that goes with it. The brown shade contours under the cheekbones and the ivory goes along the top (and just about everywhere else). It may seem tricky but I promise, with a bit of practice, you’ll be sculpting like the pros.
These are all cream or liquid highlighters but you can also do double-duty with a pale, shimmery powder eye shadow. No matter the texture, in terms of application—Tom Ford indulgence aside—I think there’s no better way to apply an illuminator than with your fingers, and blend, blend, blend. Move your head around in the light so you can see where the product’s going. And remember, a little goes a long way.