STYLE
07/25/2014 08:29 am ET | Updated Jul 25, 2014

What The Heck Does Highlighter Do Anyway?

Somewhere deep inside your makeup bag there is probably a tube or compact labeled "highlighter." And you may have attempted to use said product to make your skin glow like a Kardashian because that's what they use, right? Well, yes and no.

Basically, highlighter is face makeup that attracts light, creating the illusion of brightness and height, hence that lit-from-within look. Celebs often use it in addition to contouring to lift and push features back, according to makeup artist Jenny Patinkin. (Contouring is an art in itself, but you don't need to master that in order to use highlighter.)

So if you're stumped about how to apply highlighter, here are three tips from Patinkin that you should commit to memory.

When choosing the perfect highlighter, use the gold versus silver jewelry test.

If you find that gold earrings flatter your complexion, look for highlighters that have a warm bronze, gold or copper tonality. If silver or platinum jewelry is best for you, find a highlighter that has flecks of silver or pale pink in it. A warm-pink is neutral and works on most people.

Use a brush instead of your fingers in order to create a flawless finish.

Even though it may be pretty tempting to use your hands while applying highlighter, a brush allows for a more controlled application. For larger areas of the face such as your cheeks, use a flat, slightly-angled brush like this. A soft and dense blender brush is better for smaller areas and cream formulas.

Highlighter can make you look more youthful when it's applied in all the right places.

You'll lose the benefits of highlighter if you use it all over, since your whole face will be illuminated and you won't show off specific features. Too much highlighter can make you look like you're sweating not glowing.

To make your cheekbones look higher, use highlighter on the top just off to the side of your under-eye area. Be sure to keep very shimmery highlighter on the cheek at least a finger's width away from your eyes. "When it's too close, it can settle into any fine lines and wind up accentuating them," says Patinkin.

To make your eyes look bigger or brighter, apply it around your tear duct or dotted onto the center of your eyelids -- you get a flash of brightness every time you blink.

For an instant brow lift, dab highlighter under the arch of your eyebrows. To fake the appearance of a slimmer nose, swipe it down the center of the bridge. Make your lips look poutier by applying it in the bow of your lips.

See some of our favorites below.

Happy highlighting!

CONVERSATIONS