Do You Put Highlighter or Bronzer On First

Do You Put Highlighter or Bronzer On First

Makeup can be tricky for instance, do you put highlighter or bronzer on first when applying makeup? There are hundreds of brands and products, and every influencer and makeup artist gives different instructions on how to apply the products to the face.

The most important part of makeup is finding a routine that is right for you. The easiest way to do that is through trial and error. Luckily, I have done trial and error many times throughout the year and can let you know which routines typically work best for everyone. 

Highlighter and bronzer are two products that can be confusing since they are both applied to a similar part of the face. There are also liquid, powder, and cream versions of each product. Most makeup artists and makeup users will instruct you to put on bronzer first, and then highlighter. 

What’s the Difference Between Bronzer and Highlighter

Bronzer and highlighter are two very different makeup products, but they both serve the purpose of elevating your makeup look. Here are the common differences between the two:


Bronzer is a product that usually comes in powder, cream, or liquid. More often, it is found as a powder. Bronzer is usually brown in color and can come in various shades of dark nude. As a rule of thumb, you should get a shade only a couple of shades darker than your skin tone. If you get a bronzer too dark for your skin tone, it can be hard to blend, and appear dark and patchy against your complexion.

Bronzer is meant to emphasize parts of your face, like your cheekbones. It can also be used to help contour your face. To apply bronzer, use a fluffy face brush to brush it in the crevices of your cheekbones, and wherever else you’d like to slim down the appearance of, such as the outside of your nose or around the jawline. Remember to apply lightly at first, as it is easier to add and build coverage rather than remove too-dark makeup


Highlighter is all the rage in the makeup world. It also comes in powders, creams, and liquids and usually appears with a shimmer, sort of like a translucent glitter eyeshadow. Highlighter can come in many colors and tints but traditionally comes in tints of gold or light pink. The color of the highlighter is not too dependent on your skin tone, so pick whatever goes best with your overall look!

Highlighter adds a natural-looking shimmer to your high cheekbones and wherever else you decide to apply. To apply the product, use a fan brush or fluffy brush to gently apply to your high cheekbones. I also like to apply it to my inner eye corner and brow bone. Remember that a little goes a long way. My favorite tip is to apply the highlighter last, even after your setting spray, so that it truly glows, especially against a matte makeup look. 

Can You Put Highlighter On Before Foundation

Applying a highlighter before your foundation will dilute the effectiveness of your highlighter almost entirely, especially if you’re using a full coverage foundation. Highlighter should be applied last, on top of the rest of your finished makeup look.

If you are looking for more of a glow in your foundation look, you can apply a glow serum before applying your foundation, or mix it with the foundation before applying. 

Can You Use Highlighter Without Foundation

Highlighter provides a natural-looking glow to your makeup look. If you’re aiming for a more natural look altogether, you can use a highlighter without foundation. To do so, just apply normally right above your cheekbones. 

If you are using a highlighter without foundation, I would recommend a liquid or cream highlighter since it will blend more seamlessly into your bare skin rather than a powder. A powder highlighter without foundation could appear flaky or unnatural if your skin is dry or you apply too heavily. A liquid or cream highlighter will give a more natural look. 

Can You Use Bronzer Without Foundation



Bronzer may be trickier to use alone, but it is definitely possible. Bronzers work best by blending into your overall makeup look and blend better among a foundation or some sort of base. That does not mean you cannot wear it alone. 

To apply bronzer without foundation, follow the same steps you would usually follow. I may opt for a lighter shade and a lighter hand when applying bronzer without foundation to ensure it matches your natural skin tone better. 

Is Bronzer Necessary

Like all makeup products, the product is only necessary if you like the way it looks. Bronzer works to make your face and cheekbones appear more chiseled, tan, and contoured. If this is the goal of your overall makeup look, I would recommend using a bronzer product. However, if you are not worried about your look making you appear more chiseled or your cheekbones more prominent, then you do not have to worry about bronzer.

Makeup is meant to experiment with to find the best combination of products that allow you to look and feel good. There are no hard rules on what type of makeup routine to follow. If you are not interested in a certain type of product, it is by no means necessary to your overall makeup look. 

Can You Put On Bronzer Alone

Like all makeup, you can definitely use bronzer alone. The way you apply makeup products and the makeup you decide to use is all up to preference. 

If you are using bronzer alone, it can make your chiseled cheekbones and contoured face look natural. However, I would recommend using a lighter shade or bronzer or a cream bronzer, as a darker powder can look less natural blended against your natural skin.

Best Bronzers and Highlighters

The bronzer and highlighter that works best for you will depend on your skin tone, skin texture, and personal preference. Here are some of the most popular bronzers and highlighters on the market:


1. Hoola Matte Bronzer

Benefit Cosmetics Hoola Matte Bronzer - 0.14 oz / 4 g - travel size by Benefit Cosmetics
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The Benefit Cosmetics Hoola Bronzer is a cult favorite and has been for years. The original shade is complementary to most light skin tones, but they also make a lighter version for a more pale skin tone. 

2. Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Bronzer

Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Bronzer 02 Medium
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For darker skin tones, the Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Bronzer in the shade Deep has a 5-star review. Makeup companies have been criticized in the past for their lack of range in bronzer shades, and Charlotte Tillbury has stepped up to the challenge with this product.

3. Physicians Formula MuruMuru Butter Bronzer

Physicians Formula, Murumuru Butter, Bronzer, 0.38 Oz
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For a cheaper drugstore option, the Physicians Formula MuruMuru Butter Bronzer has over 26,000 reviews and 4.5 stars. It comes in a variety of shades and is a good dupe for higher-end brands.


1. Anastasia Beverly Hills Glowkit

Anastasia Beverly Hills - Glow Kit - Sun Dipped
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The Anastasia Beverly Hills Glow Kit comes in many color palettes and has been a favorite for years. The Sun Dipped kit is the most neutral and lasts for years. 

2. Elf Jelly Highlighter 

e.l.f., Jelly Highlighter, Smooth, Dewy, Versatile, Long Lasting, Illuminizing, Adds Glow, Blends Easily, Cloud - Rose Gold, Applies Wet, 0.44 Fl Oz
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For a liquid option, the Elf Jelly Highlighter is low in price but effective for bringing out that glow. It has been highly rated by many makeup artists and influencers.

3. Laura Mercier Face Illuminator

Laura Mercier Face Illuminator Lovers Illumination, Devotion
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While a little pricey, the Laura Mercier Face Illuminator has been on the market for years, and for good reason. Makeup artists and makeup users have been raving about this product forever for its blending ability and shine. 


Bronzer and highlighter are staples in many people’s makeup routines. While it is traditionally the most effective to apply bronzer before highlighter, makeup is great for creative experimentation, and there

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