Milk Makeup just dropped the shiniest highlighter you could possibly slather your face in. Technically, it’s called a face gloss, but why limit yourself? The cosmetic company originally launched a clear formula about two years ago, but it recently came out with gold foil and holographic versions that amp up the wattage of its face gloss to levels that you’d think would cause a power outage. (No Bio Oil hacks needed.) Simultaneously, the face glosses look incredibly natural and low-key. That’s the ultimate highlighter vibe, right?
Face gloss, no matter who makes them, can be intimidating, though. They often come in a tube filled with a high-shine gel similar to lip gloss. Before the thought of slathering your face with the same sticky stuff you put on your lips fully freaks you out, keep this in mind: Face gloss isn’t gloppy and thick. Instead, the lightweight balm melts into skin almost like a facial oil but stays slick all day long.
Unlike highlighters of the powder, cream, and liquid varieties, face gloss gives skin a reflective, dewy finish that looks wet, Joseph Carrillo, a New York City-based makeup artist, tells Allure. “Highlighters, on the other hand, look pearly or metallic,” he adds. Plus, It won’t look even a tiny bit ashy or chalky on skin either because most face gloss formulas are completely clear and shimmer-free. This helps make it accessible for every skin tone.
Still unsure if face gloss is right for you? I asked three makeup artists to share the essentials of pulling off face gloss.
1. Your hairstyle matters.
Although face gloss is less sticky than lip gloss, your hair could still get caught in it with even the slightest gust of wind. New York City-based makeup artists Stephanie Peterson and Ashleigh Ciucci strongly recommend putting your hair in a style that keeps it out of your face to avoid turning your hair into a clumpy mess. “If you go heavy on the cheekbones with face gloss, wear a half-pony,” Ciucci tells Allure. “Or if you want your lids to shine, keep bangs out of the way.”
Nonetheless, if you have a buzz cut or a pixie, you have nothing to worry about in this department. You’re the best possible face gloss candidate.
2. Know your skin.
Before you even reach for your tube of face gloss, you have to consider your base makeup. “If you are using face gloss, usually you aren’t a full-coverage foundation person,” Carrillo says. In other words, clear skin is helpful. Face gloss not only can be a magnifying glass for breakouts, but it also doesn’t work well with thicker foundations.
If you plan to use foundation, though, select a sheer liquid formula like the Nyx Total Control Drop Foundation, the Chanel Vitalumière Aqua, the M.A.C. M.A.C. Studio Face and Body Foundation, he suggests. “You definitely want to use a liquid,” Carrillo says. “Try not to use powder on that area because it can get gross.” Any sort of powder can make the gloss cloudy and less reflective.
3. Here’s where to put it.
The usual highlighter rules apply when it comes to placement of face gloss. But there’s a bit of an asterisk, as Ciucci puts it. Focus on the high points of your face like the top of your cheekbones, brow bones, and your cupid’s bow. You can also dab some onto the center of your lids, along your brow bones, and in the inner corners of your eyes. Carrillo and Peterson agree these are the prime face gloss targets. “Skip the bridge of the nose and chin, though,” Ciucci adds. “If you overdo it with the gloss, the look leans more towards overheated than sexy sweat.”
Unlike typical highlighter, less is more. A pea-sized amount is all you really need for your whole face. Even if you don’t think you have enough on your face, keep in mind that your skin’s natural oils will enhance the face gloss over the course of the day, Ciucci explains.
4. Feel free to use your fingers.
Due to the gel-like formula and the small amount needed, your fingers are the best possible tool for applying face gloss. Just be sure to wash them first to avoid mucking up the gloss while applying. “I like to use my fingertips to apply face gloss for two reasons: you’re able to control the amount of product being applied and your fingers are perfect for that ‘tap tap tap’ to blend,” Ciucci explains. That “tap tap tap” she speaks of helps the gloss sink into skin, feel less sticky, but help give it that glass-like shine.
If you want an even sheerer look, you can also use a beauty sponge. Carrillo is a fan of Nyx’s Complete Control Blending Sponge. Half of it is rounded like a Beautyblender, but it also has edges like a wedge sponge. First, he squirts some of the face gloss on the back of his hand. Then, he dabs it onto the face with the sponge. Its flat bottom is great for larger areas like the cheeks, he says. The wedge part is fit for lids.
5. A mid-day refresh is only a tap away.
Unlike traditional highlighters, face glosses don’t have the same luxury of being able to be affixed to skin all day long with setting spray. However, you can easily refresh your highlights wherever you are with a clean fingertip. “You can reactivate the gloss by tapping your highlighted areas throughout the day,” she says. Your body heat will smooth out creases and make the gloss look lustrous once again.
You can shop the latest iterations of Milk Makeup’s beloved Face Gloss, including a holographic one with a rainbow-like glow and a gold glitter-flecked one, now for $20 on sephora.com. If you’re into the clear option, you can shop two different sizes on sephora.com, too.
Some other face gloss options include these makeup artist-approved picks:
1. Make Beauty Face Gloss ($25)
2. M.A.C. Mixing Medium Shine ($23)
3. Victoria Beckham x Estée Lauder Aura Gloss
More highlighters you’ll love:
- Here’s Why This $3 Drugstore Highlighter Is Blowing Up on Instagram
- This $15 Jelly Highlighter Is the Dewiest New Product at the Drugstore
- Nyx Away We Glow Liquid Highlighter Is an Affordable Way to Glow Like a Beauty Vlogger
Now, learn how to master the viral “flare” highlighter technique:
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