Highlight shimmer vs. highlight contour: what is it and do you need both?

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The short answer is yes. But let me explain…

A lot of women right now are obsessed with highlighter and creating a glow on their face. It’s the ultimate healthy, radiant look, but in our 30s and beyond, it’s almost impossible to attain naturally. Our skin is victim to a lot of things: aging, environment, exhaustion, etc, etc. Skin becomes uneven, red, blotchy, or dull. Sometimes all of the above.

So we try to get back our youthful glow through things like makeup and highlighting, and brightening products.

First off, I want to address the difference between highlight contouring and highlighting with shimmer.

Highlight Contour is a way to pull forward features and bring out the sculpt in your face. It’s done after foundation with a foundation or concealer that is a shade lighter than your skin color but blends into your foundation. There is no shimmer in highlight contour. In conjunction, you use a cool toned darker shade to sculpt in the opposite direction, to create shadows and push back features as to finish out the rounded effect. It’s main purpose is to brighten and round your face in photos in a 3D way so that your face looks natural and it’s most complimentary self. Here is a diagram of where you add your highlight contour.

I use a lot of different products to highlight contour, but my favorite is the brightening concealer by Trish mcevoy, Instant eye lift.

I love this product for so many reasons. Not only does it highlight contour, it is an eyeshadow base, and a concealer for dark circles. It’s a great product because it doesn’t crease, it blends on top of anything else without being heavy or cakey, you can reapply it at any time for a touch up. This is a must have product for everyone and anyone, day or night, natural or glam.

To finish out the sculpting in my contour, I use contour sticks or powders (sometimes both) like Smashbox contour stick trio, Bobbi Brown Foundation stick in cool walnut, or Bobbi brown Bronzer powders.

If you want to read more about where to place your sculpting contour in the cool dark tones, see my post about contouring.

Click here for contouring pictorial

Contouring creates dimension, but not radiance. The glow that a lot of people are after is created through highlight shimmer and that’s different than highlight contour.

There’s a lot of shimmer products out there, you want to make sure the tone and sparkle is the right kind so you don’t look fake and glittery. This color swatch is an example of one of my favorite highlighters in all the ranges that it comes in, but I specifically like 6 and 7. 6 for light tones and 7 for light to medium tones.

For medium to dark tones, I tend to use Bobbi Brown Bronze glow for more of a tan glow otherwise it looks chalky.

Here’s what I’ve found:

Light skin tones look best with light highlight colors such as silvery, champagne, maybe a hint of gold

Medium skin tones can wear rose gold, champagnes, gold

Dark skin tones look best with gold or bronzey colors

Again keeping in mind warm and cool tones in your own skins undertone. So if you are very warm toned, golds work best. If you are very cool toned, silver and champagnes work best.

If you are neutral, you can do champagne, rosegolds and golds no problem.

You want something that is totally shimmery but not glittery. You should not see specks in your highlighter. If you have more of a glittery product, it doesn’t belong anywhere but your eyelids.

Here’s some more of my favorite highlighters:

Pretty vulgar highlighter in rose gold

Giorgio Armani eye tint in gold ashes I use this as a highlighter as well as a eyeshadow product.

Giorgio Armani fluid sheer in shade 7. Mix it in with your foundation and blend on your high points with your blender.

Fenty beauty killawatt highlighters In mean money hustle baby, chic phreak girl next door.

Also, the application is important so it looks flawless on your face and doesn’t stand out too heavy or chalky. I use Bobbi Brown eye blender brush because it has light and airy bristles instead of a compact brush like an eyeshadow brush. You want to lightly dust the shimmer on the right parts of your face, and the placement is really important. Everyone says highlighter goes on the high points of your face and imagine the sun hitting your skin naturally. Well, what the heck does that mean?

Here’s the exact points of where you place highlight shimmer

Bobbi Brown eye blender brush

If you use the brush and still want some higher impact, use your finger tips and glides some of the shimmer over these points, as well. Finally, if you want to really bring out the glow, spray your blender with water or NYX dewy mist setting spray and blot over the shimmer. The wetness will really make the shimmer glow.

So the long answer was yes you need both, highlight contour and highlight shimmer, in my opinion and hopefully I was able to explain why. Makeup is meant to be fun and complimentary not a burden and fake. I think some of these tips and tricks will help keep you in the right zone and give you the glow you’ve been looking for.

Shine on!

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