Highlighter vs Illuminator

“Drench me in highlighter” is a phrase we have heard from too many makeup lovers at this point. Highlighters have recently swept the cosmetic and makeup industry. All of us have been at the point of creating some major makeup looks at 3:00 AM following the tutorials by our favorite makeup celebrities and artists.

And, in one of the videos, when the YouTuber said: “Now, time for the Illuminator” you didn’t care to notice what they meant and ended up highlighting your entire face! Well, thank God that you were creating that look only for yourself in the middle of the night. We are your knight or rather ladies in the “shining” armor to rescue you from creating another makeup blunder!

Yes, you have guessed it right! There does exist a difference between highlighter and illuminator. And, no, the makeup industry isn’t fooling you by calling the same product with two different names. As it turns out, highlighter and illuminator are not the same things.

Difference Between Highlighter And Illuminator

Both the products are used for the same purpose which is adding a certain glow, the difference majorly lies in the finished effect. Illuminators, which are also known as Luminizers add a subtle and radiant glow to your entire face. This gives you a lit-from-within look. On the other hand, Highlighters only add glow to certain parts of your face, the areas that are more prominent like your cheekbones, the bridge of your nose, the cupid’s bow, and the brow bones. The major difference lies in the fact that Highlighters are used for reflecting light whereas Illuminators are used for diffusing light. Highlighters are comparatively more pigmented than illuminators. The content of mica, the element that adds shimmer to all your makeup products is higher in highlighter than an illuminator.

When to use Highlighter and Illuminator?

As per celebrity makeup artists, highlighters should be used when you want to create a more intense and bolder look whereas illuminators are used when you want to look more radiant, subtle, and well-rested. To understand the difference, imagine the look for a Friday Party night with friends, and a midweek brunch with colleagues or family members. For the former, a highlighter would give you a look that makes you noticeable whereas, for the latter, an illuminator would be the best choice as it will add a subtle and healthy glow to your face.

Additionally, professionals suggested using highlighters during summer. As the sun is on top, it helps in reflecting more light from the prominent areas of your face adding a hint of more structure to your facial anatomy. Likewise, as illuminators diffuse light, and help in reflecting warmth and radiance from your face – your best bid to choose an illuminator should be for winter months.

How to use Highlighter and Illuminator?

After seeing multiple YouTube and Instagram videos, and after multiple trials of re-creating those fabulous and stunning looks, all of us have become experts in highlighting. Apart from using highlighters on the areas of your face where’d you want the light to fall at directly, that is, your cheekbones, brow bones, temples of the head, bridge of the nose, and the cupid bow, you may also try applying highlighter and bronzer on your shoulder bones and edges to create a more accentuated look. Here is a tip: Do not forget to brush off the excess product from your face. Highlighters are very shimmery and may make you look extra shiny for no reason at all!

Highlighter vs Illuminator
Highlighter vs Illuminator

Illuminators are available in all forms – liquid, powder, and cream. You have to pick one as per your comfort and apply it as per the occasion and your wishes.

Here are a few common ways to use an illuminator:

  • After priming your face, mix your illuminator with foundation. Apply on the face and blend well. It will add a subtle glow to your face making you look radiant and rested.
  • Apply illuminator mixed with your moisturizer. You can choose a tinted moisturizer for a fancier yet subtle look.
  • You can also choose to apply your illuminator with your favorite BB/CC creams.
  • If you are using a powder illuminator, with the help of a brush, just dab the powder onto your face for a flawless finish to your makeup.
  • Finally, you can also try applying an illuminator alone, just by itself, but remember that it won’t conceal and it may make your pores and wrinkles look more visible.

How to decide between a Highlighter and Illuminator?

Now that you have understood the difference between a highlighter and an illuminator, you must be wondering how do I choose between these two amazing products? Well, there is no need to worry. There are a few pointers that might help you in deciding which product to go ahead with.

1. Occasion

If the occasion calls for an intense look, like a concert, or a wedding, or a party then highlighter would be your best friend. By all means, this is your opportunity in getting drenched in highlighter. However, if the occasion calls for lowkey makeup and more natural-seeming look like a picnic day, an important meeting with colleagues, or a romantic date, then without any doubt, you must dab and blend your illuminator. You will be the shining star of the night!

2. Skin

If your skin is normal, then you are one of the luckiest people on this planet. Any of the products will suit your needs. However, if you have oily skin then a powder illuminator might be a better choice than a highlighter. Likewise, for people with combination skin, powder illuminators and highlighters are both great options.

3. Choice

On some days, you need to discard all rules and just follow your heart. If you are feeling like shining too bright on a dull day, then dab away that highlighter-but on another day when the vibe seems more romantic and mushier, the illuminator will make it even more glowy!

Lastly, if you are someone who is a beginner at makeup, or somebody who is not a fan of makeup, or somebody who doesn’t like drawing too much attention to self, then illuminators would be the product for you when you want to add a little bit of shimmer to your life. The lit-from-within look is to die for! And, if you are someone who is a punk, rock, gothic adventurer, then what are you waiting for, go grab that highlighter!

Go, channel your inner James Charles today!

Also Read; How To Apply The Highlighter The Right Way