If the word strobing makes you think of the lightbulb-bright highlighted cheekbones that you’ve seen on social media (or on the Kardashians), fear not: this is a beauty trend that’s worth mastering for real life. “Strobing is just another word for statement highlighting—it’s the anti-contour,” explains Cassandra Garcia, editorial makeup artist at Bobbi Brown. So, while contouring adds shadow and definition by shading the depths of the face, strobing emphasizes the highest planes of the face with light and sheen. Don’t get us wrong—this is definitely a strong look, but it is possible to rock it in a way that works for every day.
To get this look right, start by prepping the skin properly, explains celebrity makeup artist Moani Lee. “I like to make sure that the skin is hydrated and nourished with a light serum like Hourglass No. 28 Priming Serum, then move on to using a semi-matte or satin foundation or concealer,” says Lee. Using a heavy, powdery, or overly matte foundation and concealer will clash too much with the highlighter, creating an unnatural look, explains the makeup artist. Think about it: why take all of the natural shine out of your skin only to add it back in? Leaving a bit of dewiness to the skin means you need less highlighter, which will help the final look be less pageant-contestant and more model-off-duty.
Next step: picking the right shade of highlighter for your skin tone. “If you go too silver or too bronze with your highlighter, you can end up looking too metallic, or too muddy,” explains Garcia. Instead, Garcia recommends looking for clear-based (i.e. translucent) highlighters with just a bit of warm-toned pigment that work with your complexion. For fair skin tones, think pink—like Givenchy La Revelation Originelle Highlighting Powder. For light complexions, try champagne tones, such as those in Bobbi Brown Nude Finish Illuminating Powder in Bare. If you have medium skin, try gold, like Hourglass Ambient Strobe Lighting Power in Brilliance. And for deep skin tones, reach for bronze, such as Kevyn Aucoin The Celestial Powder in Starlight. Remember: these products are meant to simply add sheen and dimension, not serious color. If you want more of a flush, add it with a bit of blush applied to the apples of your cheeks.
Once you’ve picked your soulmate highlighter, it’s time to apply. “Highlight the tops of your cheekbones, the bridge of the nose, the Cupid’s bow, the inner corner of the eyes, and under the brow bone,” instructs Lee. Start with a small amount of product, as it’s easier to add more product than it is to take it away. If you want even more definition, explains Lee, you can add a subtle contour with a matte bronzer under the cheekbones and on the sides of the nose. Just be sure to blend well—at the end of the day, the point of this look to enhance the natural beauty of your skin and bone structure, not to reshape your face or make you look like someone else.
So, go forth and glow—armed with the right tools and method, you’ll be perfectly polished in no time flat.