Highlighting Breakdown: Exactly What to Apply Where

So you can finally see the light.

Zendaya
(Image credit: Design by Dana Tepper)

If you're mystified by highlighting, fear not—we're right there with you, which is why we're decoding the contouring technique, once and for all.

Here, celebrity makeup artist Kira Nasrat helps us map out exactly where on the face you should be strobing for a sculpted, lit-from-within glow this summer. 

1. Keep your skin fresh and hydrated. "Highlight looks best when your skin looks fresh and hydrated," she explains. "The last thing you want to do is highlight dry, flaky dull skin." To prep the skin, exfoliate then hydrate your skin with a moisturizer. Once it's moisturized, you can even out your skin tone with a lightweight foundation or concealer if needed.

2. Choose the right formula. Powder is best for oily skin while cream-based formulas are best for dry skin, she says."Try to stay away from products that look glittery," advises Nasrat. "It's supposed to look like a pretty sheen, not a disco ball on the cheekbones!"

Highlighters

(Image credit: Marie Claire)

1. Tom Ford Shade & Illuminate Highlighter & Shader Duet, $80; shop.nordstrom.com (opens in new tab).

2. Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze & Glow Face Sculpt & Highlight, $68; shop.nordstrom.com (opens in new tab).

3. Don't overdo it. "Highlighting should be subtle and should give the effect that your skin is glowing and dewy," says Nasrat. The trick is start with a small amount and remember you can alway layer more if need be. 

4. Apply the highlighter with your ring finger or a flat synthetic concealer brush. "I apply highlighters by first warming the cream between my fingers then pressing onto the skin," she says. "This helps the product melt right in to the skin."

Highlighting face chart

(Image credit: Design by Dana Tepper)

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Lauren Valenti
Beauty Editor

Lauren is the former beauty editor at Marie Claire. She love to while away the hours at coffee shops, hunt for vintage clothes, and bask in the rough-and-tumble beauty of NYC. She firmly believes that solitude can be a luxury if you’ve got the right soundtrack—that being the Rolling Stones, of course.