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Strobing Is the Perfect Makeup Alternative to Contouring and Learn How to Do It

Posted by Jenny Yu on

Can't quite master the art of contouring/highlighting? Here’s an easier way to define your features that is the perfect alternative: strobing.  You can ditch the expensive contour palettes and just use a highlighter.

What is Strobing?

Strobing is all about enhancing your features by using only a highlighter and natural light. It’s about stripping down your skills and focusing on applying highlighter where light would naturally bounce off to amplify it.

Strobing vs Highlighting

How you want to wear your highlight defines whether or not you're highlighting or strobing. Both techniques basically highlight everywhere. The difference is that highlighting usually comes with contouring, while strobing flies solo.

What products do I need for Strobing?

When choosing a highlighter, make sure you avoid anything sparkly. The point of strobing is to create a subtle shimmer that will look natural. You should also keep your skin type in mind. Cream stick formulas are best for normal to dry skin types, while powder highlighters are for combination or oily complexions.

Choose products based on skin tone

For a subtle sheen, make sure you’re using a highlighter that suits your skin tone.

  • Fair skin - light beige or pink tones
      • RMS Beauty Living Luminizer 
  • Light-medium skin - champagne tones
      • It Cosmetics Hello Light Anti-Aging Creme Illuminizer 
  • Olive skin - golden tones
      • Benefit Sun Beam Golden Bronze Complexion Highlighter 
  • Dark skin - terracotta tones
      • NARS The Multiple in South Beach


    • Prep your skin with a hydrating moisturizer.
    • Only use the highlighter in spots that catch light.
    • After you've applied the highlighter, blend it out with your fingers, a fan brush, or a damp makeup sponge.
    • If you have oily skin, opt for a matte bronzer, blush, or other facial products, and only use a shimmery highlighter.


    Apply highlight on features that you want to emphasize. Apply on the top of your cheekbones, above the brow bone, on the tip of your nose, and on the chin. These are the usual spots where natural light hits. 

    Strobing your Cheekbones Strobing your Brow Bone Strobing your Nose Strobing your Chin

    Now that you have a base highlight, intensify it a little bit more all over the face using a powdered highlighter. This will also set the base highlight you did on the first step.

    Intensify your base highlight with a powdered brush

    Once you're done highlighting all over your face, focus on applying highlight again on top of the cheekbones, on the browbone, inner corner of the eyes, tip of the nose, and the Cupid's bow to really make those highlights stand out and pop. Use a concealer brush to highlight the cheekbones, then use a pencil brush on the rest.

    Highlighting your Cheekbone Highlighting your Brow Bone Highlighting your Inner Corner of your Eyes Highlighting the tip of your Nose Highlighting your Cupid's Bow

    And there you have it! Instead of faking shadows with contouring, give your face a sculpted sheen with strobing.

    Finished Strobing Look


    Becca Priming Filter and Shimmering Skin Perfector Sigma and Real Techniques Brush 

    1. Becca Backlight Priming Filter
    2. Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed in Champagne pop
    3. Sigma E45 Brush
    4. Sigma E40 Brush
    5. Real Techniques Setting Brush


    • Makeup and Images by Kristen Fornier  (Instagram: @kristenfortier)

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