What is a Highlighter Used For? | Full Guide!

by Angie <3

One thing about me, other than being totally obsessed with all things beauty (hence the “Simply Beauty” Makeup and Beauty Blog), is that I love everything that glitters and shines. Since I’m just absolutely memorized by all things glittery, it’s only natural that I’m a total junkie for highlighter. In this post, we’ll cover all things highlighter and I’ll also be giving you guys my favorite highlighters at all price points! Let’s get into it!

What Is a Highlighter Used For?

First off, let’s start with what we’re here for. What is a Highlighter Used for? At its core, highlighting is a step in your makeup routine that is used to bring attention to and accentuate certain parts of your face, and just bring more attention to them in general. You can highlight your face in areas that you want to stand out more, with the ultimate goal being highlighting certain parts of your face. It’s so simple! Aside from highlighting certain areas of your face, highlight is used to just add an overall glow to your skin and make it look super radiant and healthy.

When it comes to highlighting, there are so many options and the world is literally your oyster. The main types of highlighters are liquid highlighters, powder highlighters, loose highlighters, and they all range in varying degrees of intensity. If you want a more natural looking highlight, look for a product that will mainly give you a nice subtle lit-from-within glow and if you’re looking for a highlighter that will really make you pop, then there are definitely many eye-catching formulas that you can use that are packed with more shine and tiny reflects.

Where Do You Apply Highlighter?

Now that we covered the complete basics, let’s take a deeper dive into the world of highlighting and discuss where you would apply highlighter. As mentioned previously, since the goal of highlighter is to bring out the high points of your face, the places where highlighter is typically applied are: tops of your cheekbones, along the top of your cupid’s bow (basically the top of your upper lip line), down the bridge of your nose, the tip of your nose, under your brow bone, and even over your brow bone on your forehead. The places I just mentioned are only recommendations and you can definitely highlight even more around your face to make any features that you want be accentuated.

One small tip though, although you can pretty much apply highlight anywhere your choose, I would recommend steering clear of any oily spots that you may have on your skin. As someone that has super oily skin, I typically don’t highlight my face in the middle of my forehead and my cheeks; also otherwise known as your T-Zone. If I end up highlighting those places, although it might look fine when I first apply it, after a few hours, my skin gets oily in those places and, mixed with the highlight, it just looks like a greasy mess!

How To Put Highlighter On:

Since we all now know where we should be applying our highlighter, the next logical question is what do we use to apply it? Although this is a super simple question, there are a few tips and tricks that I have to make the whole process super simple for you. When picking out the tool that you need to use, it depends on the type of highlighter formula that you are working with.

If you are using a liquid highlighter or a cream formula, I recommend using your favorite beauty sponge to make sure that it blends seamlessly into the skin.

If you are using a powder formula, I recommend using either the Morphe M510 brush or any similar brush that has that tapered edge so you can get a precise application. I would use a smaller brush for highlight since you typically want it to be concentrated in one area and not diffusing any glittery particles on the rest of your face.

If you want a super precise application, such as along the bridge of your nose or your brow bone, I recommend using a thinner brush that has a tapered end or even a small pencil brush.

My last tip when it comes to highlighter application is that if you really want to make it pop and your skin to gleam, after applying your layer of highlighter, I recommend applying setting spray to your brush and then applying a layer of highlighter right on top. The extra dash of moisture, although it seems small, will really do wonders for your skin and really bring it to life.

What is the Best Highlighter?

Now that we’ve covered the A to Z on what a highlighter is used for, where to apply it, and what to use to apply it, I’ll share with you guys some of my favorite highlighters from different price points. Since I’m obsessed with highlighter and typically don’t leave the house without it, I’m constantly on the hunt for the highlighter of my dreams. I love highlighters that are subtle, I love highlighters that are hypnotizing and wham-bam in your face; I honestly love them all. As I’ve mentioned many times throughout the blog, I don’t believe that you have to go flat broke in order to have some amazing makeup products. Although I love luxury products and the benefits that come with it, there are many drugstore products that can be compared to high end highlighters and some even surpass them. Before I share all of my different recommendations, I want to quickly mention what I look for in a highlight! Although I love everything from a natural glow to an out of this world glow, I typically prefer a highlighter that isn’t too glittery overall, not artificial looking, and one that won’t emphasize any texture on my skin when applied.

And now (finally!), for my highlighter recommendations!

1) Best High-End Highlight: Benefit Cookie Highlighter ($30.00)

Although this highlighter isn’t new on the scene by any means, I only recently picked it up and I can’t believe I waited this long to try out this amazing product. The Cookie Highlighter is so unique and it is honestly the one highlight that I have been reaching for every single time that I do my makeup! The shade is a golden pearl but it is by no means too golden, too light, or too deep; I feel like it is a super versatile and universal shade that can work for a whole range of makeup lovers. One thing that really sets this highlighter apart from the rest is how smooth and silky it is; it has a super fine texture. Once applied to the skin, it blends like an absolute dream, making your skin look super smooth and glowy, all without any chunky or glittery particles. The highlighter can be applied sparsely for a lit from within. Although it’s more on the higher end of prices, I feel like a little bit of this highlight goes a long way and it is definitely a makeup staple in my routine!

2) Best Blinding Drugstore Highlight: Maybelline Master Chrome Highlighter ($9.99)

If you keep up with all things beauty, then chances are you’ve heard or seen this product and all of the hype that came along with it. Let me tell you, the hype is REAL. I was a little hesitant to pick up this highlighter at first because I just felt like I didn’t need yet another highlighter to take up space in my makeup drawer, but now, I can’t even imagine what I did before I had it. This highlight is absolutely gorgeous and stunning and just WOW. Let me warn you though, that this highlighter can definitely get intense. Although you can use a light hand when applying the product, most of the time you will end up with a highlight that has a gorgeous yet insanely blinding metallic glow. Keep in mind, even though you get a metallic glow on your skin, it doesn’t end up looking chunky or glittery or like you have straight up sparkles on your skin. They have many different shades available for everyone, but my favorite is the Molten Rose Gold. This shade is not too deep or too light, but it adds just a gorgeous gold sheen to the skin with a subtle hint of those rose tones. If you’re looking for a highlighter in the drugstore to really amp up the glow on your skin, this is definitely the highlight for it!

3) Best Loose Powder Drugstore Highlight: Wet N Wild MegaGlo Loose Powder ($3.79)

If you’ve always wondered what they hype was about when it came to loose powder highlighters but didn’t know which one to try, this is the one for you. The second that I tried this highlighter out, I knew it was a one in a million keeper. At first, I was honestly a little hesitant to try out a loose highlighter simply because I didn’t want to deal with any of the mess that I thought it could bring. After hearing about this highlighter, I just knew that I needed to give it a shot to see if maybe loose highlighters are actually the real deal. This highlighter, is GORGEOUS. When I say a little goes a long way, I mean a tiny bit goes a long way. You only need to use the product that’s left on the top of the cap and that should be enough for your whole face. This product really packs a punch like no other and the best part? It still have a very natural look on the skin! The highlighter doesn’t emphasize any texture, gives your skin a beautiful healthy glow, and it blends seamlessly. One small warning though, is that you can easily go overboard with this highlight, so I recommend starting with a tiny amount and going up from there. This product packs such an insane punch and is affordable as well, making it such an amazing option at the drugstore because it will honestly last you FOREVER, all while giving you a gorgeous glow!

4) Best Natural Drugstore Highlight: Essence Pure Nude Highlighter ($4.99)

Although this product isn’t exactly available at the drugstore, it is available in the affordable end of Ulta and it’s definitely a great bang for your buck. I’ve been a huge of the Essence brand for a while now because with each product I’ve tried, I’ve always been so impressed. When I saw that they had a highlighter, I just knew I had to try it and it definitely became a staple in my makeup routine after the first time I used it! This highlighter is different from any other that I have in my collection because it truly gives me a natural glow to the skin that looks lit from within. In my opinion, this highlight doesn’t even really give off any glitter or shimmer particles. Instead, the product just has a pure beautiful sheen and it really looks so natural. However, if you’re a fan of something that can be built up to look a little more blinding, this one can totally be layered up to add a little bit more of a glow but it’s not going to really pack that punch that other highlighters in this list would give you.

5) Best Cheap, Insanely Affordable Highlighter: L.A. Colors Highlight

This purchase was fairly recent but it has left me completely STUNNED. I wanted to try this product out on a whim on a quick run to the Dollar Tree, and I was honestly not expecting much. But, after the first time that I used this highlighter, it had me amazed. This product gives you seriously the most gorgeous and intense glow, all while not being glittery, shiny, or artificial looking. The best part? It is only $1!!!! I can’t even believe it myself. The one con of this product, however, is that there are not many shades available so I feel like it leaves a little bit of a cast on my skin. But for $1, I honestly am so impressed and will continue to use it during my makeup routine.

What is a highlighter used for? Let's breakdown the A to Z, where we cover where to apply highlighter, how to put it on, and what is the best one!
L.A. Colors Highlighter

Highlighter is one of my favorite steps in my makeup routine, and I hope this post inspires you and also lets you learn of some of my favorite products that I’ve tried do date! What are some of your favorite highlighters? Let me know down below! 🙂

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lizkaythediary November 21, 2020 - 5:40 am

I love highlighter, thank you!

Angie <3 November 21, 2020 - 12:29 pm

I love it too!!! It’s probably one of my favorite steps in my makeup routine! 🙂 What are some of your favorites?!

fortheglow7Kate November 22, 2020 - 7:26 pm

This is the most comprehensive highlighter guide! How impressive thank you 🙂

Angie <3 December 2, 2020 - 10:43 pm

Thank you SO SO much, you’re the absolute sweetest!!!! ❤❤❤ Thank you so much for checking out my post, it means the world to me!!!

ordinaryfabgirl November 23, 2020 - 3:26 pm

Thank you so much for this guide, I generally don’t use highlighter but this has inspired me to use it more.🤍

Angie <3 December 2, 2020 - 10:42 pm

It’s comments like these that seriously make my day!!! ❤❤❤ Thank you so so much for checking out my post!!!!

hemanairblog December 1, 2020 - 10:09 pm

Perfect manual 👌👌

Angie <3 December 2, 2020 - 10:40 pm

Oh my goodness thank you so so much!! You have no idea how much this comment means to me ❤❤❤ I’m so glad you loved it! Have you used any of those products before?!


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