Beauty How-To

Why Highlighting Is the New Contouring + 8 How-to Tips

Lighten up for spring by choosing makeup that illuminates and accentuates your best features

You don’t have to go totally bare-faced to look fresh for spring. One of the most accessible beauty trends is about moving away from last year’s expertly applied contours and simply applying light-reflecting highlighters, illuminators and gloss. “When you use light, medium and dark to contour and highlight the face, the results may be soft, medium or dramatic,” says M.A.C Cosmetics senior artist Jane McKay. “When you remove the contour from the equation, the effect will be softer. The facial features will be enhanced through highlight alone and should appear more modern than an overly contoured face.” McKay’s favourite beauty looks were created for the runways at Prabal Gurung, Issey Miyake and Missoni. Read on for her tips on how to get that glow, plus a gallery of our product picks.

PRABAL GURUNG SS15 (PHOTO: MAC COSMETICS) how to use highlighter

Prabal Gurung SS15 (Photo: M.A.C)

“I love the light reflecting off the high planes of the face [at Prabal Gurung] with see-through skin that allows freckles to shine through.”


Issey Miyake SS15 (Photo: M.A.C)

“It’s all about light, including skin, lashes and lips.”


Missoni SS 15 (Photo: Anthea Simms)

“Light-reflective skin looks so amazing set against a matte red lip.”

Get that glow: McKay’s tips for a down-to-earth yet polished look

1. Use a light-reflecting primer or moisturizer underneath your usual foundation.

2. Apply your foundation and concealer with a light touch or try using a sheer, more natural-looking formula.

3. Apply translucent or tinted matte powder only if necessary to the T-zone for oil control.

4. Add highlights, using a cream or illuminating powder, to the high planes of the face, including brow bones, cheekbones and the upper lip line (above the cupid’s bow).

5. Use subtle highlights on all the planes of the face and add more drama to the areas you really want to bring out. For instance, if you’ve got great cheekbones, use more highlighter on your cheeks than, say, on your brow bones.

6. If you haven’t used highlighting products in the past, you may want to choose a neutral or translucent shade that would complement any skin tone.

7. If you’re more experienced, try experimenting with colour undertones and even texture to add interest and dimension. Highlighters come in a variety of tones including pearl, gold, opal and pink, and in terms of texture and shine, you can find everything from illuminators with subtle shimmer to full-on dewy gloss products.

8. Spray M.A.C Fix + (a spray moisturizer) all over the face on top of makeup to create a veil of moisture. “It’s especially good for combating dry-looking skin after applying powder products,” says McKay.

Related: How to get “rich girl” beach hair

Click the image below to scroll through our illuminating beauty picks