My Favourite Highlighter Is A Skincare Product
My Favourite Highlighter Is A Skincare Product

My Favourite Highlighter Is A Skincare Product

3 minutes read

“Dewy skin” became a bit of a buzzword a few years ago. Now, the internet favours more creative terminology: glazed doughnut skin, dolphin skin, glass skin – they all mean the same thing. We want our skin to reflect light. 

Over the last decade, I’ve tried countless highlighters and discovered so many that I love. Sticks, creams, and even the occasional powder. But these days, I tend to choose a different approach. Look inside my make-up bag today, and you will rarely spot a product labelled ‘highlighter’. In its place, instead, are dinky little bottles of face oil. 

Getting your glow from oils isn’t a novel idea by any means. Make-up artists have been doing it for decades. Or we could go further back – facial oils have a rich history. As with most cosmetic origin stories, they were popular in Ancient Egypt. As early as  10,000 BCE, people had access to a vast variety of plant and vegetable oils and used them for cosmetic purposes. They even mixed vegetable oils or animal fat with red ochre to make rouge 

Similarly, Ayurveda has employed various oil concoctions to improve the skin’s appearance for centuries. The ancient Greeks seem to have loved a bit of olive oil. Around 2,000 years ago, in Polynesia, floral oils were used as skin softeners. Even the Bible references the use of oils to soften the skin – leaving it abundantly dewy, we can assume. 

Why face oils are the best glow-givers

There are so many reasons why this swap works for me. My late twenties have brought me many surprises, and one of them is dry skin, particularly along the periphery of my face. So, I’m careful about the texture of every product I apply to my face, including make-up. And formulas built to care for the skin (rather than ones created just for aesthetic effect) naturally feel better. 

Of course, if you want your highlighter to impart some colour or if you use it to contour your face, this trick isn’t going to work. On the other hand, unlike traditional highlighters, oils reflect light without the use of any shimmer. And for me, that makes them superior. 

It’s also important to acknowledge that many dewy trends (like glass skin, for instance) seem to overlook the existence of skin texture: enlarged pores, bumps and spots. Everyone has them, despite what skin-smoothing social filters will have you believe. 

Using oil will bring some attention to texture. If this bothers you, use a small brush dipped in a minimal amount of face powder to lightly mattify any areas with texture.  

How to double your face oil as highlighter

Clarins blue orchid oil, Nishita Fiji  

You can choose any face oil you like. Most lightweight options will work. The best part is that you can choose one that caters to your skin type and concern, which is why I like the Blue Orchid Treatment Oil formulated for dehydrated skin.  

I massage a drop or two into the skin pre-foundation for a little all-over glow. Then, I like to add more after my base make-up is done. If you have combination skin like me, be strategic about where you place the oil. Two factors to consider: first, where do you enjoy seeing shine? Second, what parts of your face naturally reflect light? For most people, it’s the tops of the cheekbones, skimming the high points of the cheeks and up to the temples. 

Remember that the oil can sometimes break down and remove products applied under or over. So, I keep the rest of my cheek make-up as minimal as possible. A light foundation, a creamy concealer if needed and some cream blush are good enough. 

The only time I reach for an actual ‘highlighting product’? If I’m going to be spending time in the sun. Applying an oil over SPF could potentially diminish the protection it offers. And nothing is worth that risk – not even radiant, glossy skin. 


– Nishita Fiji

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