It’s summer, the sun’s shining, and everyone’s waiting for the golden hour to take perfect selfies capturing their glowing skin. It’s no secret that highlighter has been flying off the shelves the past couple of years, with the trend showing no signs of fading (pun intended). With companies continuously putting out gorgeous new products, your bank account can start to look slim. If you think about it, a lot of items you see like body illuminators, liquid enhancers, face illuminators and shadow pigments are just adaptations to achieve the same purpose: glow. So, technically, with some creativity, the specific outcomes of all those products could be achieved by one simple item – your favourite highlighter. With my suggestions not only will you get the bang for your buck on the highlighter you already bought, but you also don’t have to spend any more on products you don’t need (and honestly, don’t have space for)!


The Basics:

Highlighter typically comes in three forms: liquid, cream, and powder. I think everyone should have one powder and one liquid highlighter since they’re the most versatile and work with different skin textures. However, cream highlighters come off far more natural for a subtle “glow from within” look.

The popular notion is that highlighter is mainly for your cheekbones but they can be used on multiple features to add dimension to the skin. In addition to cheekbones, you can apply highlight to the bridge and tip of your nose, brow bone, tear ducts, cupid’s bow, collarbones, and shoulders. Using liquid or cream stick highlighters are the most effective for highlighting these areas, a process called strobing, as they’re typically more natural-looking and give you more precision. Meanwhile, powder highlight has a more in-your-face effect. I typically only use them on my cheekbones, eyes (tear ducts and brow bone), and the tip of my nose either alone or on top of a cream/liquid based highlighter for extra glow. Powder highlight applied to the center of your bottom lip provides a plumping effect as well.

Although useful on their own, highlighters can be enhanced in multiple ways.


The DIYs:

So now that you’re familiar with highlighter, you can use it as a(n)

Foundation mix-in

You have your favourite matte foundation you wore throughout the colder seasons but want a change for the summer. Unfortunately, replacing a Holy Grail foundation can be near impossible.

Thankfully, it isn’t too difficult turning a matte foundation into a dewy one. Certain brands have expensive “enhancer” drops you could buy, but they’re not necessary. All you have to do is mix a couple of pumps of the foundation with a small bit of liquid highlighter (like the Nyx Born to GlowLiquid Illuminator) then apply it to your face as normal.

My only tip is to use a highlighter with the same undertone as your skin/foundation. If you’re warm toned, use a gold highlighter and if you’re cold toned, use a pink-toned highlighter. That way, your foundation shade isn’t drastically altered.


I mentioned putting powder highlighter on my brow bone and inner corners. Still, highlighters aren’t usually opaque without help. Spraying a brush with setting spray before dipping it into the highlighter increases the pigment, creating a foiled effect. This is a great trick when creating halo eye looks.

Body illuminator

This is arguably the biggest highlighter trend this season. Rihanna’s influence with the release of Fenty Body Lava took over the internet but $80 for a bottle is real steep. The Body Lava is loved for creating a subtle glow, basically giving you the sexy sweaty lifeguard look. This is accomplished by its oil-like consistency. To DIY your body lava, you need highlighter and body oil. Use loose powder highlighter or scrape off some pieces from a pressed highlighter and crush the pieces until they’re a fine dust. Then pour the dust into a bottle with baby oil or almond oil and shake until it’s all mixed. Et Voila!

Big warning, particularly to the melanin deficient, oil increases chances of getting sunburned. I would NOT recommend this if you’re going to lie under the sun all day unless you have an intense layer of sunscreen under.

An alternative to oil is setting spray. The process is the same and the results are similar, although the setting spray route looks less natural. Still, this is the safer and longer lasting option.


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