How to wear highlighter without looking oily

The dos and don'ts of application

BEAUTYcrew Beauty Editor / February 06 2023

Highlighter has become a necessity for creating the perfect summer makeup look, enriching our dull complexions with a radiant, healthy glow that glistens in the sun. 

But when applied with a heavy hand, highlighter can quite quickly become our worst enemy, casting an unflattering spotlight on oily skin and texture. 

Thankfully, TikTok’s vanguard of all things beauty Steph Hui, recently shared her tips for applying highlighter to maximise on glow without accentuating shine. 

“We wanna look glowy not oily and highlight placement is so important” — she’s not wrong.

This is where you should and shouldn’t be applying highlighter.


Cheekbones > Centre of the cheeks

“I like putting it right on top of the cheekbones to lift the face,” said Hui. 

But she stops right before she hits the centre of her cheeks “because that’s where I get sweaty and we do not want to mimic that,” she warned.


Jawline > Chin

“Right above the jawline here is oddly a wonderful place to put it,” she continued. “I just think it makes the side profile look so dewy and glowy.” 

“But stop before you go too far because highlight on the chin looks oily,” she advised.


Peak of the forehead > Centre of the forehead

Fan of a slicked back hairstyle? “A pop of highlight right on the peak of the forehead is so cute and fresh,” she mused. 

As for the centre of the forehead? “That’s a different story,” she said. Avoid it altogether.


Natural nose highlight > Highlighting the entire nose

Hui stopped wearing highlighter on her nose because it made her look too oily, until she realised it was because she was “doing too much”.  

“Now I look at where the light hits my nose naturally,” she explained. 

According to Hui, a “tiny little exclamation mark” is the perfect way to create a strobing contour without accentuating oil on the centre of your face.


Get playful with placement

While Hui wants us to look glowy rather than sweaty, she thinks the best way to figure out where to place your highlighter is to play around with it. 

“Makeup is makeup, so who am I to tell you where to put your glow,” she said. “I like to do it on my eyes, my lips, my collarbones and even my ears — just look at me glow!”

@stxph.h Highlight placement is KEY to looking glowy, NOT oily. Using @Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Glow Glide Face Architect Highlighter ✨🫶🏼 #ctilburypartner #HollywoodHighlighter #GlowGlide ♬ original sound - stephhui

Want to practice your highlighter application? These are the new highlighters we’re loving in 2023:

Hollywood Glow Glide Face Architect Highlighter ($70 at Charlotte Tilbury); FLAVEDO & ALBEDO High Glow Illuminator ($44 at Sephora); and NATASHA DENONA Pastel Plexi Glow Highlighter ($68 at Sephora).

Our makeup wouldn’t look half as good as it does without a healthy dose of expert advice. This is how to apply under eye concealer, according to Selena Gomez’s makeup artist. 

Main image credit: @stxph.h

Briar Clark got her start in the media industry in 2017, as an intern for Marie Claire and InStyle. Since then, her keen interest in fashion and beauty has landed her gigs as a Digital Content Producer and Beauty Editor with titles like Girlfriend, Refinery29, BEAUTYcrew and beautyheaven. She loves the way seemingly innocuous topics like skin care and style have the ability to put a smile on people’s faces or make them think about themselves a little differently. A big believer in self love and experimentation, Briar has made a point of becoming the Australian beauty industry’s unofficial guinea pig for unusual treatments and daring hair trends. When she’s not testing out the latest beauty launches, Briar is big on broadening her horizons, mostly in the form of food but she’s also partial to travelling to new destinations both near and far (and of course, allocating an extra bag to bring their best beauty offerings home with her).