Model wearing highlighter makeup

How to Apply Highlighter for a Hyper-Real Glow

If you’re all about getting that glow, highlighter is a sure-fire way to make your skin beyond radiant, transforming complexions from drab to fab in seconds – literally. To help you en route to a lit-looking base, we’ve pulled together the ultimate guide on how to apply highlighter, whether you’re going for sheer luminosity or a dialled-up shimmer. Time to shine…

1. Pick a Formula

First up, decide which highlighter texture you want: a high-pigment powder, a dewy, lightweight liquid or a beautifully-bouncy jelly? We’re breaking down the pros of each to help you make the right choice for your cheekbones…

Powder Highlighter: High-impact highlighting requires a shimmery powder and a fanned-out makeup brush. Try the Kate Highlighting Palette; a highlighter set that holds three radiant shades to get you gleaming from day to night. Lasting Radiance Powder (right) is also your pick if ‘shine bright like a diamond’ is basically your motto, because it’s seriously illuminating and can be built up to a major glow.

Liquid Highlighter: A glow-giving liquid is the over-achiever of your makeup bag. You can wear it as a primer, mix it in with your foundation or tap it only on the places where you want to catch the light. Go for liquid if you’re all about soft, sheer, subtle strobing that makes you look like you’re naturally this luminous. We’re obsessed with Insta Strobing Highlighter, teamed with a dewy foundation.

Jelly Highlighter: If holographic and pigmented highlighters are your vibe, go for Jelly Highlighter; a bouncy gel that’s loaded with multi-dimensional, light-reflective dewiness. Ultra-sheer and ultra-glowy, the fact that you can layer and build colour up for intensity means it’s the ultimate go-to for this season’s festival makeup looks.
Rimmel London Lasting Radiance Powder
Rimmel London Insta Strobing Highlighter

2. Find Your Shade

Next, choose a highlighter to suit your skin tone. Insta Strobing (left), Lasting Radiance Powder and Jelly Highlighter offer up three adaptable, shimmering shades, so you can find your perfect match.

If you have light or fair skin, shade 001 of the powder or the Pink Glow liquid will add a pop of champagne-y shimmer that says, ‘I get eight hours of sleep every night’. The dream. The Gold Glow liquid or shade 002 of the powder will also add a sun-kissed effect to fair complexions, while looking equally f-l-a-w-l-e-s-s on olive and medium skin tones. Reach for the Bronze Glow liquid or Lasting Radiance Powder in 003 if you’re giving dark or deep skin the ultimate glow-up. The hints of bronze, copper and terracotta in the powder will look next-level luminous.
Meanwhile, shades of the Jelly Highlighter appear luminous on all skin tones, so pick them based on your mood, outfit, hairstyle… they’ll go with any look. Go for Poppin’ Bottles if you love a glam gold, Candy Queen if you crave rose gold everything or Shifty Shimmer for holographic cheekbones that look like they belong to a mermaid.
Rimmel London Jelly Highlighter in Shifty Shimmer
Models wearing glowy highlighter makeup

3. Where to Highlight

Let’s get glowing. Grab a fanned makeup brush for your highlighting powder or use fingers to apply the liquid or jelly, then tap pigment on the highest points of your face after smoothing on foundation. For an everyday look, start with the tops of cheekbones, making sure you focus on the cheek only, without straying too far into the under-eye area. Press shimmer on the inner corners of your eyes for an eye-awakening effect, then apply just a touch to the cupid’s bow to make lips look instantly fuller. If you’re amping up the highlight for a night-out vibe, apply your illuminator to the brow bones, too, and a very small amount down the bridge of the nose for a contoured look.

4. Where Not to Highlight

Unless ‘disco ball’ is your aesthetic, you can go too far with applying highlighter, and there are a few spots you should skip when you’re getting your glow on. While it’s good to wear illuminators all over when they’re mixed in with your foundation (this softens the shimmer), avoid tapping them directly onto your temples, the centre of your forehead, the sides of your nose or your jawline. Highlighter is attention-grabbing, so you should only wear it on the places that you want to stand out. That’s why we’re all about lighting up those cheeks, eyes and lips.
Rimmel Lon don SunShimmer Instant Tan Dark Matte

5. Turn Up the Glow

Ready to take your highlighter higher? Try these tricks for insane levels of luminosity…
  • Apply the powder over the top of the liquid for a highlight you can see from outer space. Not only will the powder up the dewy sparkle on your cheekbones, but the layering will make your glow last longer, too.

  • For all-over luminosity, mix a drop of liquid highlighter with one pump of foundation, then mix them on the back of your hand before blending onto skin. You can try this hack with your primer, too.

  • If you’re into highlighter for your body, sweep Lasting Radiance Powder on the tops of your shoulders, your collarbones and down the centre of your shins for head-to-toe radiance. You can also add a few drops of Insta Strobing to SunShimmer Instant Tan (left), instantly transforming it into a ‘glotion’ that has that bronze goddess look down.
  • To get a jelly highlighter looking even more luminous, team it with a few taps of the Jelly Blush. Together, they’ll give you a juicy, dewy flush that makes you look like you’ve just been away.
Looking for more ways to achieve a glow? Check out our guide to the new Ultimate Jelly Makeup Collection, featuring pastel highlighters, jelly blushers and glitter gels.