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“Pre-Highlighting” Is The Secret To Truly Glowing Skin

Megan Decker

The unfortunate downside to a natural highlight — like the gentle sheen on your cheekbones after applying moisturizer — is that it’s all but melted away after you’ve finished your makeup. To add it back, you’re then forced to re-gloss your skin with some kind of cream illuminator or shine stick, and who’s to say it won’t evaporate by lunch, too?

It turns out, there’s a clever makeup hack to achieve a natural-looking, post-skin-care glow that actually radiates through foundation, concealer, and even setting powder. According to L.A.-based celebrity makeup artist Nikki DeRoest, the trick is called pre-highlighting — and it’s a major skin secret among her A-list clientele.

“The single technique that makes skin look naturally radiant, both in person through an iPhone camera, is implementing the pre-highlight,” she tells us of her now-signature glowy aesthetic (as seen on celebs and supermodels like Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Hailey Bieber, and Shanina Shaik).

DeRoest tells us the technique is straightforward: you simply highlight the skin before makeup. “After I apply a priming moisturizer to the skin— the Bobbi Brown Vitamin-Enriched Face Base is my go-to — I’ll rub liquid highlighter all over the cheekbones, up on the forehead, down the nose, and a little bit on the chin,” she explains. “I’ll either use the Chantecaille Lumiere highlighter or By Terry’s Brightening CC serum, which are both illuminating liquids that coat the skin with light-reflecting pigments. Next, I’ll move onto foundation and concealer.”

The genius effect of the pre-highlight is not only a more natural sheen, but it’s faster, easier, and makes skin look so radiant, you’ll likely reach for less makeup overall. “When your skin is really bright and glowing, like it is covered in liquid highlighter, you don’t really want to fully cover it,” DeRoest explains. “Think about your pre-highlighted skin like a sunroom window and your foundation as a sheer curtain — it should diffuse the brightness, but the light will still shine through.”

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