Finding a highlighter that perfectly complements your skin tone is pretty much the beauty equivalent of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Where one illuminator is too chalky or pale, others can veer too dark. When you find the one that's just right, however, the end result is unparalleled. "Highlighting makes the skin look more alive, and it's all about enhancing the texture without using a lot of products," explains makeup artist Shane Paish, who created Olivia Munn's gorgeous look above. "Instead of trying to completely change the shape of your face by over-contouring, you're accentuating what's already there, and it's realistic in that women who aren't pro makeup artists can master the technique, and do it quickly at that." While some formulas tend to read too obvious against deeper complexions, Paish found the perfect formula in the IT Cosmetics Hello Light Anti-Aging Creme Illuminizer ($24; ulta.com), which he used on Munn for the at the ESPY Awards back in July.
"The product has a lot of shine to it, but the pigmentation isn't full-coverage, so it gives a really sheer glow to the area on which you apply it," Paish explains. "When the light hits it or when the camera flashes go off, it gets just luminous enough to enhance the area." The pearlized cream has the slightest rose tint—like a 1977 filter with the intensity toned down—so it's gorgeous against both cool and warm complexions. Paish uses a rounded makeup sponge to apply the product onto the cheekbones, down the bridge of the nose, and a little on the cupid's bow to give the skin a hyper-real effect. As with most shimmery products, the general rule of thumb here is to start with a light hand, then build up the intensity as you see fit. "It just helps everything play together better, and your skin looks breathable and fresh," Paish adds. "If the skin looks great, then everything looks great, so a highlight like this can even help to balance a strong eye. I did Olivia's eyes up that day, but the skin still popped."