You've probably been there. You take home a new highlighter that looks incredible in the palette or pot, and on a night out, you buff it on expecting to transform into the hottest version of yourself. And then...you don't love it. Maybe it's leaving a white cast, maybe it's catching on those couple blemishes you've got, or maybe the color just isn't working. It happens! A highlighter that doesn't complement your skin can take a full face of flawless makeup and make things just look...off, especially for dark skin tones. But according to makeup artist and founder of namesake makeup brand Danessa Myricks, it's easier than you might think to find the perfect formula (or five) for your complexion. The keys: undertones and contrast.
How can I find the best highlighter for my skin tone?
"Highlighters can look incredibly beautiful when they play off the natural undertones of the skin," she says. "There are two guides that can be used to dial in your perfect highlighter shade: the undertone of the pearls and pigments in the highlighter, and the depth of color intensity." That means the first thing to look for is what shade the highlighter is, and how that plays against the coolness or warmth of your skin.
What highlighter tones should I look for?
"Cooler undertones look great with with icy white, silver, pink, violet, cool bronze and champagne-toned pearls, while warmer undertones pair well with golden, peach, warm copper, and chocolate-toned pearls," Myricks says, and notes that neutral tones can easily sway either way. And once you find a shade that plays pretty against your makeup, the next step is deciding how bold you want to be. "Choosing a depth in tone that mimics within a few shades of the natural skin tone will create a more effortless glowing lift. The rule of thumb is the lighter the highlighter tone is in comparison to your skin tone, the more dramatic the highlighting effect with be," she says.
Should I use cream or matte highlighter?
Once you've got these two rules down, it's time to play with texture! If you've got dry skin, reach for something dewy or creamy for a hydrated sheen. If you want a bold glittery wash, take a brush and fluff on a matte glitter. Whatever you choose, there are tons of options for any complexion. Here, we've rounded up the very best highlighters for deeper skin tones, so go forth and glow.
Myricks' own dewy is formula is one of the best around. Use it on its own, or layer up for a more complex glow: "One cool thing about Dew Wet Balm is that it makes any powder highlighter look more natural on skin. Simply place a few taps of the balm directly on top of your powder highlighter, and watch it melt into the skin leaving a natural, radiant glow," she says.
This chubby, sparkly stick makes giving yourself a lavender lift a breeze. Throw some on your eyelids and cupid's bow for good measure.
Consider your skin type when it comes to the perfect formula. In this case, a sexy, dewy gloss you can apply all over is perfect for combination or oily complexions. "For textured skin, avoid heavy powders and large glitter particles, as they will amplify any texture you may be hoping to minimize," suggests Myricks.
"I love using lavenders and blues on deeper skin tones as a highlight," says Myricks. The bold shades stand out against cool-toned complexions.
You may not have woken up looking like a dewy glazed donut, but this balm will fool the masses into thinking you did. Even if the rest of your face is bare, adding a bit of balm can take your look up a notch: "Strategically placed highlighter can create the ultimate lift for the face. The important thing to remember is that anywhere you add your highlighter will appear larger, more forward, and more pronounced," notes Myricks.
Myricks credits bronze as a shade that works for almost anyone, and the brush on this dual-ended stick allows for easy blending on-the-go.
Some powder highlighters can leave a white cast on deeper skin tones, but this quad is the ultra-flattering answer for those who prefer a matte finish. All four shades (two more creamy, and two with fine glitter) work wonderfully on warmer complexions.
Pretty, pink, and dewy as hell. Warm the product with your finger, then tap it on in a half moon from the tails of your eyebrows to the tops of your cheekbones for a subtle violet glow.