Why does highlighter look good when you swatch, but disappears on a brush?

Why does highlighter look good when you swatch, but disappears on a brush?


When I swatch a highlighter they can look great on my hand, then I apply to a brush and a get barely anything on my face. I have tried a sigma highting brush a fan brush . Where am I going wrong?


Hey Jade, Could you tell us which Highlighters you have tried? Also, whats your skin tone?


@jademanson to be completely honest I actually end up applying my highlighters by dabbing with my fingers and then rubbing it in. Sometimes I’ll dab with my fingers first and then use a brush to blend it a bit better. My go tos for this are the Inika Reflector Cream and the Becca shimmering skin perfector.


I’ve used Tarte,L’Oréal and Nude By Nature. I know it depends on how pigmented it is but when I swatch I think ohhhh check out the glow… then it just doesn’t show up on my skin over foundation.


A similar thing happens with myself and eyeshadows. I’d recommend with Mary Lou by the Balm or Becca - Opal (in pressed) these are two of the most pigmented highlighters.

Some highlighters do have a slight film on top, which prevents the pigment from being picked up by your brush. I have an Elf highlighter that I scratched the top layer off as it wasn’t pigmented enough, and now I’m sure Aliens can see my highlight from the moon.


If you’re using a fan brush, you’re using the perfect brush for applying more pigmented highlighters in a sheer manner - if your highlighters are more on the sheer side it’ll be a lot more work to build them up.

It can also depend on the base you have underneath - my tinted moisturiser, for some reason (I think because I usually don’t set it with powder) often seems to make more pigmented highlighters like Colorpop appear less dramatic, but if I set my makeup before I apply, it’s way more noticeable?

Hmm, what else have you tried?


I’ve used a fan brush and a sigma sculpting highlighter brush. Can using a fixing spray on the brushes help? :woman_shrugging:


Fan brushes are perfect if you just want to lightly dust your highlighter for something more subtle. I prefer using a brush that’s a little more dense, as they will pick up more product therefore leaving you with a stronger highlight. At the moment I’m using a firm fluffy eyeshadow brush - it also makes your application more precise and is perfect for smaller areas like the inner corner of your eye or nose.

A setting spray or water will instenify your highlight, just dip your brush into the product and lightly spray your brush. Or you can spray your face first and then apply the highlighter.