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If You’re Not Highlighting Your Jawline, You Need to STAT

By Elise Tabin

Snatched is the adjective of choice when most women (and men) describe the jawline they desire. Of course, fillers and threads are a surefire way to create the look and keep it long-term, but what if you prefer to rely on the power of makeup?

Well, then, the makeup gods may have just granted your wish.

Move over contouring. There’s a new trend in town. Known as jawline highlighting, this look is all about creating a sculpted, natural look with the perfect amount of reflection. And thanks to model Bella Hadid, who first debuted the now-viral trend on what else but TikTok, everyone is adding light to the jawline for definition that isn’t the least bit harsh or contrived.

Whereas contouring creates more of a chiseled, super-defined look, jawline highlighting lends more soft definition, but the two go hand in hand.

“Jawline highlighting and contouring complement each other well, but contouring adds shadowing and sculpts with deeper tones. So you are accentuating and bringing light into the area when you highlight,” says makeup artist Charlie Riddel.


The Of-the-Moment Trend

Celebrity makeup artist and 2022 Oscars makeup department head Bruce Grayson explains that jaw highlighting has become the trend du jour because it’s a refined way of shaping the face with color.

“Highlighting the jaw is less severe than dark contour on the cheeks, and it’s almost like reverse contouring,” he says. “It’s really kind of genius.”

According to celebrity makeup artist Jamie Dorman, highlighting the jawline does not make a face look slimmer but instead makes the jawline more pronounced. Think of jaw highlighting as a way to shape the jaw. “For example, it emphasizes a diamond-shaped face by broadening the lower half to give the appearance of a wider jaw. This, in turn, makes a face look more balanced,” says Grayson.

Unlike jaw contouring, jaw highlighting uses a different placement of a different product. So proper placement is key if you want to nail the trend.

“A good placement area would be diagonal to the corners of the mouth,” says Riddel.

The intensity of lightness added can be dialed up or down depending on how much product you are using. While you probably won’t sport a perfectly highlighted jaw every day, Grayson says it works well for selfies and pictures taken on an iPhone in portrait mode when a perfectly defined face in a close-up is necessary.

“I also like it for a romantic candlelit dinner as dim room light bounces the perfect amount of ambient glow to the edge of the face,” he adds.


How to Do It

While it’s pretty easy to master a highlighted jawline, the secret to perfecting it comes down to proper application and the right products. Before jumping headfirst into the trend, you may want to tread lightly if your face is more of a round shape or if you have a wide jaw.

Bear in mind that while the technique works well for everyone, Riddel warns that if you have a strong jawline, adding highlighter will amplify it. And Dorman adds that the method works best on angular faces and those who want the lower half of their face to look wider, making it great for heart-shaped faces.

Step 1:

Start by turning your head up and looking at it in the mirror at an angle to see where the jawbone appears strongest (you may have to play around with sticking your face out in a few weird directions to catch it just right, but when you see the definition you’ll know).

Step 2:

Next, prep the skin so it’s well hydrated. “Use a serum that contains a humectant, like hyaluronic acid, to ensure the highlight looks natural and doesn’t cake on the skin,” says Dorman. “I like to prep with Alpyn Beauty Bearberry and Vitamin C Glow Serum.”

Step 3:

Then, Grayson says to pick a foundation shade or blendable concealer, like Make Up Forever Ultra HD Concealer, one-and-a-half to two shades lighter than the primary foundation.

Step 4:

Next, draw a broad line from the chin to the curve of the jaw, which will draw light to the lower half of the face. Or, you can apply an illuminating powder or cream instead of foundation or concealer.

“Use the same application, and buff and blend with a brush or stipple it into the skin with a Beautyblender,” he says.

Step 5:

Since many highlighters are shimmery and glittery, select products with moderate reflection and more gloss than iridescence. Liquid and cream-based highlighters easily blend into the skin for a seamless look—a few favorites include Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless FilterLime Crime Sunkissed Glimmering Skin Sticks, and Westman Atelier Lit Up Highlight Stick.

If the highlight becomes too intense, Droman says to blend it out with some foundation just in the areas where you need to tone down the highlighter. “I like Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Finish, which is an illuminating formula, and I use it with a fluffy synthetic brush such as the Westman Atelier Foundation Brush.

Step 6:

Once you’ve highlighted the jawline, you’ll want to set the look with a pressed powder, such as Hourglass Ambient Lighting Finishing Powder.

Keep the rest of your makeup natural and glossy but not overdone—think of the no-makeup makeup look as the perfect compliment.

Now, you and your snatched jawline are ready to glow.

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