And the rule of thumb has always been as such: use a fan brush or a very loosely packed powder brush to dust the highlighter on your cheekbones for a natural look. For a heavier, Instagram-type highlighter (i.e. not super natural), use a kabuki or densely packed powder brush.
Well, lo and behold, everything we’ve known about applying highlighter has been turned on its head by By Terry’s founder (and makeup artist) Terry de Gunzburg.
According to de Gunzburg, for a lit-from-within glow, ditch the fan brush and instead use something more tightly packed, like the By Terry Soft Oval Expert Brush.
Yep, what you see before you is a small, dense brush, and even though it has been created for blending foundation, hand-on-heart it will give you the most gorgeous natural glow.
Why? According to de Gunzburg, “it’s like [using] your fingertip. It’s pressing [the highlighter] in.”
I (Beauty Crew’s Editor Carli, hi, hello!) saw this method in action when de Gunzburg applied my highlighter (the By Terry Compact Expert Dual Powder, thanks for asking), and after feelings of bafflement subsided upon learning she was – gasp! – using a dense makeup brush on my cheekbones and temples to illuminate, I was in awe of how radiant yet lived-in my highlight looked. The soft bristles and density worked to expertly buff the highlighter into my skin, so that all that was left was a polished glow.
I’ve since ditched my regular fan brush for this method and I’m sold (and I can guarantee you, I’m much more into natural, glowing ‘I woke up like this’ skin than I am heavy, obvious Insta makeup). I’ve found that it works best with highlighters that aren’t too sparkly and instead have a bit more of an iridescent sheen. So, MAC Mineralize Skinfinish in Soft & Gentle and Cover FX Perfect Light Highlighting Powder in Moonlight for powders, and RMS Magic Luminizer and Maybelline New York Master Strobing Stick in Medium Nude Glow for a cream form.
As for the brush, the By Terry Soft Oval isn’t the only one that can help achieve the same result. You could also try the Artis Brush Elite Smoke Collection in 6 or the MAC Oval 6 Brush. For a more budget-friendly alternative, try BYS Oval Contour Brush.
Looking for some more intel on what kind of brushes to use in your makeup routine? Read our guide on how to pick the right makeup brushes for your beauty kit.
Do you have a nifty technique for applying your highlighter for a lit-from-within glow? Please share with us in the comments section below.
Carli was BEAUTYcrew’s Editor from launch in 2016 until May 2020. You can find her words right here on BEAUTYcrew, and previously on beautyheaven.