Is Illuminator And Highlighter The Same Thing?

The thing is, both highlighters and illuminators, also called luminizers, are fantastic when worn the correct way, and they also look best in artificial light adding a very subtle radiance to the skin. The good thing is that they don’t only need to be applied to the face as some people go ahead to dab it on their arms and collarbone as well. If you wondering if illuminators and highlighters are the same things, I’ll clear your assumptions in this post.


Illuminator Vs Highlighter

Some people always assume that illuminators (luminizers) and highlighters both do the same thing, while others feel they can be used together. Well, if you are in the first category, you are not entirely wrong. If you are in the second, let’s just say it’s not wrong if it looks good on you that way. Back to the question, what is the difference between illuminator and highlighter? Are they really the same thing? Well, the answer is yes and no. Why? Basically, both of them aim to bring attention to the part of the face to which they’re applied. The difference isn’t really in “where” they are applied, but rather in “how” they are applied. While highlighters reflect light, illuminators diffuse light. That is to say that highlighter is for a concentrated area of light, while illuminator casts light more generally.

What You Should Know About Illuminators

  • What is an illuminator makeup?

The illuminator is a kind of makeup that is used to make the skin glow. The joy of having luminescent skin and a nourishing glow is unspeakable so we all like to have that glowing face to look as young as possible.
  • What does face illuminators do?

Illuminators are great in any makeup look you want to achieve. They mix well with your bronzer or foundation, leaving a very natural, radiant effect on the face. The best illuminator right now is this NYX Born To Glow Professional Liquid Illuminator which blends seamlessly into the skin and can be added to foundation for a boost of radiance or shimmer over your bronzer. Another excellent option is this L’Oréal Paris True Match Liquid Glow Illuminator which enhances key features and illuminates the face for an all-over glow. These are amazing illuminators that you would find to give you just the perfect look you desire.
  • How to apply illuminator?

Illuminators contain less mica and so it’s fine to mix it with your moisturizers or foundation to give a brightened complexion. Applying it doesn’t need any special skill. Here’s how:

  1. If you choose not to mix it with your foundation or moisturizer, apply the illuminator after your foundation.
  2. Simply dab it on prominent areas like your cheeks, under your eyes, bridge of your nose. your chin, the part above your upper lip, your forehead even your collarbones.
  3. Blend everything out the same way you would do to your foundation.

The illuminator looks more natural and won’t make you look too glowy. They play off the light and so when light hits the spot, it makes it naturally pronounced.

  • Can you use Illuminator as highlighter?

Highlighter is mainly used to accentuate small areas on the face and sometimes the collarbone. They’re usually highly pigmented and contain a high concentration of mica, which is a light-reflecting ingredient responsible for the shimmer you see in the product. Illuminator, on the other hand, contains less shimmer in it and can be used all over the face to give it a beautiful radiant sheen without overpowering the makeup. It diffuses light, making the skin look softer and younger and add a soft glow to the area where it is applied. This means you can use just illuminator on your face if you choose to keep it natural, however, you can’t use it in place of highlighter as it won’t give you that ultimate shine you get using highlighters.

What You Should Know About Highlighters

  • What are highlighters?

Highlighters are used for that look that sculpts the face, lifting and pushing features back. It is usually used as a finishing touch, after the foundation and the concealer and should probably be one of the last things you apply to your face. Highlighter is that face makeup that attracts light thereby creating the illusion of brightness and height, hence that lit-from-within look. The best on the list right now is this Milani Strobe Cruelty-Free Face Highlighter which is an amazing liquid highlighter with ultra-fine illuminating micro-pearls that provide a healthy-looking glow that lasts all day long.
  • How to choose the best highlighter

It’s important for you to know that not all highlighters would suit your skin. Choose a highlighter that’s two shades lighter than your foundation makeup. If you have fair skin, go for a pink-hued highlighter. If you have medium skin, go for a peach highlighter. And if you have dark skin, try a bronze highlighter instead. Here are 3 of my favourite ones that never go wrong for any skin type:
  1. BECCA Shimmering Skin Perfector Liquid Highlighter for fair skin.

  2. COOSA Waterproof Stick Highlighters for fair and medium skin.

  3. PHOERA Glistening Bronze Highlighter for dark skin.
  • Does oily skin need any highlighter?

If you have combination or oily skin, the concept of shine is not entirely welcome anymore. Well, unless you really want that EXTRA shine highlighter brings then I’ll recommend powder highlighters. Not only will it not add more liquid to your skin, but it’ll also help soak up the excess oil. Just apply your powder highlighter with a damp beauty sponge to avoid it looking too cakey. Here are 3 highlighters that are best for oily skin that will guarantee you a real glow:
  1. wet n wild MegaGlo Highlighting Powder for all skin tones.
  2. Maybelline Master Chrome Metallic Highlighter Powder for dark and medium skin.
  3. L’Oreal Paris True Match Lumi Shimmerista Highlighting Powder for fair skin.
  • Best way to apply highlighter?

This is very simple to achieve as long as you don’t go overboard with it and give yourself an excess glow. Here’s the simplest way to apply highlighter:
  1. Start by applying foundation and concealer. This will help to ensure a more even canvas for your highlighter and other makeup.
  2. Touch your makeup brush lightly on the highlighter and tap to remove any excess.
  3. Apply the highlighter to the top of your cheekbones (just above the blush), your brow bone, the tip of your nose, your cupid bow, your chin, the bridge of your nose, your temple, below your eyes.
  4. Brush some highlighter down the center of your forehead.
  5. Blend it out a bit if it appears too bright.
In the end, you would get a face that glows when hit with light.

Bottom line is, illuminators work differently from highlighters. I believe with the above, you would understand the difference and know how best to use them in your makeup routine.

So, anything you are still not clear about? Or do you have experience using these two makeup items? Let’s have your comments below.



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Hi. I'm Rosy, a makeup and beauty enthusiast with a certification in Cosmetology.

I've struggled in my own beauty journey and through experience and knowledge, I've developed the passion for helping people on their journey to a glowing and healthy facial skin (face) with the right beauty routine.

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