Highlighting has become a hugely popular trend. Almost every makeup brand on the market, from drugstore collections to higher-end brands, has recently released a multitude of highlighters to keep up with the consistently growing demand for these products. Beauty lovers’ insatiable craving for highlighter shouldn’t really be a surprise. Who doesn’t want to look like a glowing goddess whose skin is lit from within?
Unfortunately, getting in on the wild highlighting trend as a woman of color can be a frustrating and discouraging feat. The majority of highlighter products on the market seem to be designed with fair-skinned women in mind and finding a highlighter that complements medium to deep-toned skin is no easy feat. However, highlighting as a woman of color isn’t impossible. Don’t give up until you’ve learned to achieve the lit-up glow you’ve always hoped for.
1. Use the Right Formula
One of the most frustrating issues many women of color have with highlighting is that many highlighters look chalky or excessively glittery on darker skin.
Stay away from powder highlighter formulas and go for cream, stick, or liquid formulas instead. These highlighter formulas are less likely to appear chalky against your skin. Also, make sure that the highlighter you choose does not include any visible chunks of glitter. Even if they’re small, these glitter flakes will stand out against your skin and make you look sparkly instead of glowing.
2. Go Warm
When you’re picking a color for your highlighter, use the same rule of thumb you’d use for your foundation or concealer and stay within the shade range of your natural skin tone. Don’t go for pearlized or light pink highlighters. These are the shades that are likely to appear chalky and unnatural on darker skin.
Instead, go for warm-toned highlighters in bronze or orange-based shades. These highlighter colors tend to look more natural against your skin and help give it a subtle glow without looking dry or chalky.
3. Pick Glowing, Not Sparkling
It is extremely important to check the highlighter you choose for excessive sparkle before you commit to it. Many highlighters are glitter-based, which means they include substantial flakes of glitter. On women with paler skin tones, these flakes of glitter only contribute to the glowing, shimmering finish of the highlighter. However, the glitter stands out against darker skin and causes you to look like you applied straight sparkles to your face instead of highlighter.
You should also test the highlighter against your skin before buying it. Even if it looks harmlessly shimmery in its package, it might reveal excess glitter once you actually apply it to your skin.
4. Remember to Moisturize
Moisturizing your skin sufficiently before applying highlighter can help remedy the problem of a chalky finish for your skin. Make sure that you use a hydrating primer before you apply any makeup to your skin. Also, if your skin is naturally dry, apply a layer of lightweight moisturizer to your skin as a base before you put on primer.
5. Take Advantage of Bright Colors
Women with light skin have to stick to lighter highlighter colors or risk looking like a clown. When you have darker skin, however, you are lucky enough to be able to choose from a much wider range of highlighter colors to achieve your desired glow.
Experiment with brighter colors that create a subtle finish against your darker skin. Try shades of fuchsia, purple, gold, tangerine, and other colors to create a more fun, whimsical glow.
6. Don’t Forget to Contour
If you’re going to highlight your skin, you have to contour as well. Highlighting without contouring creates a look that is out of balance and often appears shiny or greasy.
Make sure that you balance your look by confining your highlighter to the regions of your face where the sun naturally shines. Add contour to the areas you want to appear slimmer, like under your cheekbones, along your jawline, and down the sides of your nose. Also, make sure that the contour you use is dark enough to show up against your skin. Great highlighter doesn’t mean much if you don’t have quality contour to match.
7. Embrace Your Results
The results you get from highlighting as a woman of color are going to be very different than the highlight looks you see on women with lighter skin tones online and in magazines. This doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong. It just means that your skin looks different, so the highlighter you apply to it will too.
Use other women of color in the media as inspiration for your own highlighting goals. Embrace the results you get without comparing them to the looks other women with different skin tones create. Your glow is unique to you, and that’s a good thing.
Women of color deserve to glow, too. Use the tips and techniques in this post to master highlighting darker skin to create amazing results.