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Hair & Makeup

6 of the best highlighters: Beauty editors’ picks

The delicate skill of highlighting can be daunting to even the most confident among us, but fortunately PORTER’s beauty experts have it down pat. NEWBY HANDS and CHANELLE HO guide us through the hows and whys of this subtle art


THE PERFECT GLOSS Tom Ford Beauty Shade and Illuminate

Long before we had even heard of ‘glass skin’, let alone yearned for it, Tom Ford created this clear, gleaming skin gloss. Virtually color- and definitely shimmer-free, it makes the face look beautifully polished as it gives cheekbones that sheer dewy-skin shine. Plus, it doubles as a great eye gloss, either worn alone or mixed with eye shadow.

THE MULTI-TASKING GLOW Burberry Beauty Fresh Glow Illuminating Drops

Add a drop to your primer, tinted moisturizer or base to give dull skin some instant radiance, or use it alone and blended along cheekbones (a little really does go a long way) to get a pretty golden gleam. If, like me, you have problems adding a creamy highlight over a powder bronzer, the secret to stopping both going patchy is to reorder your routine. “Usually the highlight goes on last,” says makeup artist Kay Montano. “But, if you swap it around and apply the cream highlight first and then finish with a powder bronzer or blush, both will stay in place.”

SHINE VS MATTE RMS Luminizer X Quad Palette

One of the best tips I have on highlighting came from makeup artist James Kaliardos, who explained that “the problem is that where we want our skin to be matte, it’s usually naturally shiny, and where we want that highlight, it’s more dry and dull.” So, to get that polished finish, first matte down any natural shine. Kevyn Aucoin’s Gossamer Loose Powder does the job beautifully, going on invisibly to leave skin velvety. Already famous for its skin luminizers, I love this mini palette from RMS, which comes with four best-selling finishes. From a sheer honey to a creamy silver-white, it’s excellent to blend over cheeks to give glow when you need it.

Newby Hands, Beauty Director

“Glowing skin may be the dream, but I like any highlight to look as natural as possible – like seamlessly great skin, not shimmery makeup.”

    Shade & Illuminate - Intensity One
  • RMS Beauty
    Luminzer X Quad Palette

THE ALL-DAY, EVERYDAY HIGHLIGHT Hourglass’ Vanish Flash Highlighting Stick

I test every highlighter that lands on my desk (and there are a lot), and this is one of the best I’ve tried. The creamy texture glides on smoothly, and the pigment leaves a dewy, subtle shimmer. To make it last, layer up your textures: start with a cream or liquid highlighter then put a powder highlighter on top to set and enhance. Then – and this is important – gently press a damp sponge over the top to blend everything in for an airbrush effect.

The no.1 rule about where to highlight? There are no rules – you need to do what works for you and your face, so embrace your best features and use that as your guide. For example, highlighting your brow bone when your eyes are deep-set or hooded will make them appear smaller, and if you have a defined cupid’s bow, some carefully placed shimmer will emphasize it.

THE MUST-HAVE TOOLS Beautyblender Swirl

You only need two tools in your glow kit. My skin secret is a damp Beautyblender: it buffs in cream or liquid product for a ‘second-skin’ effect. For powder highlighters, a fan-shaped brush picks up the perfect amount of product so you avoid a chalky finish that enlarges pores – the dispersed bristles diffuse the product so finely.

THE INSIDER TIP Illamasqua Beyond Powder in Dynasty

It’s not just about the shine but the color, too. For warm- and yellow-toned skin like mine, golden shades look best, and the slight iridescence in this Illamasqua powder looks beautiful in different types of lighting. “Those with fair skin should use champagne or pale gold highlighters. Medium or olive tones suit peachy gold finishes, and bronze or rose gold looks gorgeous on darker skin,” says makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury.

Chanelle Ho, Junior Beauty Writer

“I’m obsessed with highlighters. And if there is one thing people ask me about, it’s which one I’m wearing and how I get it to look like my own skin.”

  • Hourglass
    Vanish Flash Highlighting Stick - Gold Flash
  • Illamasqua
    Beyond Powder - Dynasty