3 ways to make your highlighter look more natural

Tips for natural highlighter

How to get that lit-from-within glow

Beauty Crew Editor / April 11 2017

While Instagram has become a growing source of beauty inspiration for all of us, we tend to forget one thing: Instagram makeup and real-life makeup are very different.

Where Instagram makeup tends to be bolder, brighter, and more defined, everyday real-life makeup tends to be a lot more subtle - like you, just a little zhooshed up.

And that’s where people tend to get tripped up when it comes to highlighting. On Instagram, you’ll see highlighter that’s overt, shimmery, and a little harsh, and while it’s certainly eye-catching, in real-life, your highlighter should be soft and natural. You should only really notice that enviable gleam when you turn your head and the light hits those illuminating particles in just the right place.

So we asked Bobby Wang, global makeup artist for Estée Lauder, to share his wisdom on some different tricks for getting that coveted natural glow, and how you can use your highlighter like a pro, a.k.a look like you’ve slept eight hours, have been eating right, and are 100 per cent diligent with your skin care routine.


Ditch the shimmer highlighter

If you want your highlight to have a natural glow during the day, don’t use products that are too glittery or shimmery - Wang suggests you save those for the night-time.

If you prefer to use a powder, you could try Hourglass Ambient® Lighting Powder, which will just add subtle radiance to your skin without looking like you have a powder finish. For a cream highlighter that gives a soft glowing look, try Nude by Nature Touch of Glow Highlight Stick.

Hourglass ambient powder + nude by nature highlighter


Apply your cream highlighter with a sponge

If you gravitate towards a cream or liquid highlighter, Wang says a sponge will help you get a beautifully blended, natural finish.

“I recommend using a sponge. Press your highlighter on, then [use your sponge to] dab it in. So you don’t have to draw a line and then blend it; that’s very hard and it will take away the coverage of the foundation,” says Wang.
Try e.l.f. Blending Sponge when dabbing your highlighter along your cheekbones for a soft, but radiant result.

elf blending sponge


Embrace facial mists

For a change of pace when it comes to radiant skin, pair your go-to highlighter with Wang’s secret weapon: facial mist. He loves Estée Lauder Set + Refresh Perfecting Makeup Mist: “It will give you a natural glow on the skin”. Wang’s top tip for using the mist is spritzing it after you’ve applied your makeup to set it while giving your skin natural radiance. Shine control and highlight in one? Brilliant.

Estée Lauder Set + Refresh Perfecting Makeup Mis

If you need help picking your ultimate highlighter, you need to read our essential guide to highlighting.

Image credit: Getty

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.