As far as we’re concerned, there are few products as insanely transformative as highlighter. Used properly, highlighter has the ability to perk up your entire complexion, giving dull or tired-looking skin a natural-looking glow. And because they apply easily, blend well, and boast a slightly dewy finish, cream highlighter sticks are especially helpful in creating a naturally-radiant look. But, as with any makeup product, you’ll get the best results if you know how to use them properly (after all, the goal is to look glowy, not glittery or greasy). To that end, we’ve put together this guide to cream highlighter sticks. You’ll learn how to use them, where to apply highlighter for a fresh, flattering effect, and more. Keep reading—radiant-looking skin awaits.
What Are Cream Highlighter Sticks Used For?
Think about what your skin looks like during a day at the beach. It’s glowy in all the right places, and that’s because of how the sun hits it. Under the sun, light hits the high points of your face, making these areas stand out and look more radiant. With cream highlighter, you can mimic that effect—no need to stand directly under the sun. In short, cream highlighter helps you make your skin look more glowy, even if you’re indoors.
Highlighter sticks, like our Jumbo Multi-Use Face Stick Highlighter , can be swiped directly onto your skin—no tools needed. The highlighting stick’s thin, precise tip allows for a controlled application, and the multi-use formula can be used just about anywhere, including your eyes, cheeks, and lips. Pick your favorite pearlescent shade (there are six to choose from ), swipe, blend, and get glowing.
Where To Put Highlighter
To achieve the most natural-looking glow, you’ll generally want to put highlighter on the places the sun would naturally hit. This includes the top of your cheekbones, the bridge of your nose, and along the topmost edge of your cupid’s bow. Additional areas that benefit from a pop of creamy highlighter include your brow bone, the inner corners of your eyes, and the very top of your forehead, right along your hairline.
It’s important to take your face shape into consideration, too: A person with high, prominent cheekbones will likely want to apply their highlighter higher up than someone with a rounder or softer face. It’s not an exact science, though, so if you’re unsure what your face shape is—or what’ll flatter it best—try taking a picture of yourself on a sunny day, noting where the sun hits, and using that to guide your highlighter application.
How To Use Highlighter Sticks In Your Makeup Routine
Cream highlighter sticks are incredibly easy to use: All you have to do is swipe the formula onto areas you want to emphasize and use your fingers to blend it out. But if you’re wearing other face makeup (like foundation or powder), you’ll want to make sure you’re applying your products in the right order to get the best results. More on that below.
Do You Put Cream Highlighter On Before or After Foundation?
As a general rule, highlighter should be applied after foundation—if you do it the other way around, the foundation will just cover up the highlighter. But all rules have exceptions, and for this one, it’s underpainting. This technique involves applying products like highlighter, contour, and blush before adding foundation to achieve a softer, more natural-looking finish. You can underpaint with cream highlighter, but it’s only really effective if you’re using a sheer-to-medium coverage foundation. Anything more pigmented than that will prevent the highlighter from shining through.
Also note that if you’re using cream highlighter, you’ll get the best results with a cream or liquid foundation. Avoid layering cream highlighter over powder foundation, as the contrasting textures may give you a patchy or uneven finish.
Do You Put Cream Highlighter On Before or After Powder?
If you plan to use a finishing powder, apply it after blending out your cream highlighter. Finishing powders are super fine and designed to be applied over other products, so the contrasting textures shouldn’t be an issue here. Just make sure to use a light touch when applying your finishing powder to avoid disrupting the makeup beneath it.
Cream Highlighter Sticks: Application Tips and Tricks
Now that we’ve covered the basics, learn how to apply highlighter like a pro with some of our favorite tips and tricks.
Choose The Right Shade
With makeup, it’s always important to choose the right shade for your skin—at least, if you want to get the best results. Cool-toned highlighters, like those with blue or silvery undertones, tend to be most flattering on those with cooler skin tones. Warmer gold or bronze highlighters, meanwhile, are super flattering on those with warmer skin tones. If your skin tone is neutral, you can opt for nearly any shade. Try a warmer silver highlighter to emphasize the high points of your face, or opt for a rose gold option for a hint of color.
Use Your Fingers to Blend
With cream highlighter, we recommend using your fingers for blending. Here’s why: Your natural body heat can help melt down the cream formula a bit, making it both easier to blend and helping it sink into your skin. You’ll get a dewy, glowy look, without having to break out your makeup brushes. If you have any highlighter left over on your fingers after blending, go ahead and pat your fingertips onto your lids for a soft pop of shimmer.
Color-Coordinate For a Monochrome Look
Get a super-chic, glowy look by coordinating your eye and lip makeup with your highlighter shade. For example, if you’re using a silver-toned highlighter, pair it with a slightly darker silvery shadow and a cool-toned lip gloss. Opting for a rose gold highlight? Complement it with pinkish eyeshadow and lip gloss for a monochrome effect that’ll turn heads.
Layer Highlighter For a Multi-Dimensional Look
Sometimes, the occasion calls for subtlety. Other times, it calls for all-out glam. When you’re after the latter, try layering highlighter to create a multi-dimensional, shimmery look. There are a few ways you can go about this (layering two different cream highlighter shades, for example), but we love layering a powder highlighter over a cream highlighter. It adds a bit of oomph—plus, the powder helps lock the cream highlighter in place so it lasts longer. It’s a win-win.
Next: Find more highlighter tips, tricks, and techniques in our article Where To Put Highlighter: 9 Tips For a Lit Makeup Look.