Secrets From a Makeup Artist: Everything You Need to Know About Strobing


For a few years now, women have tried to recreate the contouring technique that was made popular by Kim K. Now, (though contouring is still very much “in” as a makeup trend) strobing has become a technique that is quickly popping up all over Instagram, YouTube, and various social medias.

So, what is strobing? Strobing is actually not a new technique; it’s been around in the makeup game for many years—you might know it as highlighting. Strobing is basically highlighting to the extreme and letting the highlight define your facial features without the use of bronzer or contour. The main goal for strobing is to concentrate a highlight on the highest points of your face, where light would naturally hit, to create a “glow from within” dewy, radiant complexion. 

Source: Desi Perkins

In this photo, the highlight is concentrated toward the middle of the forehead, above her brow bone, on the highest points of her cheeks, on the tip of the nose, and above the Cupid’s bow and on the chin. This is because she has a diamond shaped face and to create a more broadened forehead and chin area, the highlight is applied in the areas that are naturally narrower.

Source: Byrdie

In the above photo, the highlight is concentrated on the model’s forehead, nose, above the top lip, and chin. This is because she has an oval face shape. To create the illusion of roundness, highlight is applied down the center of the face.

Source: Ania Milczarczyk

In the above photo, the highlight is concentrated on the top of the model’s brows, inner corners of the eyes, the highest points of the cheeks, tip of the nose, and top of the Cupid’s bow. This is because she has a square face shape. To create the illusion of a softer, rounder face shape, highlight is applied in the center of the face.

So is it all that it’s cracked up to be? Well, how about you try and see for yourself!

5 Steps to Perfect Strobing 

Step 1: Prep skin with skincare

This is a very important step! By prepping your skin with an amazing serum and moisturizer, your foundation will go on smoother and give your skin a more radiant complexion (before even using a highlighter). Try my personal favorite serum, Ole Henriksen, the Truth Serum Vitamin C Collagen Booster and pair it with Peter Thomas Roth’s Camu Camu Power C X30 Vitamin C Brightening Moisturizer. Both are packed with Vitamin C that will brighten, lighten, and tighten the skin while prepping your complexion for a radiant finish.


Step 2: Apply a primer and foundation

Applying a radiance boosting primer will not only help your foundation stay on longer and smoother, it will also give a brightening effect to the skin before even putting a highlighter on. I recommend using Tarte’s Clean Slate Flawless 12-Hr Brightening Primer. It primes your skin while protecting it with Vitamin A, C and E as well as having a mineral called Mica in it that gives a subtle brightening effect to the skin. After primer, apply a foundation. To keep the skin fresh, try a lightweight luminous foundation like NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation or the Too Faced Born This Way Foundation. Both will give you enough coverage yet still keep your skin looking dewy and natural. 


Step 3: Apply highlight

Now it’s time to strobe. To achieve the most extreme highlight you can, layer your highlighting products and concentrate them on the highest points on your face: on the forehead above the brow, down the center of the nose, above the lip on the Cupid’s bow, the chin, cheekbones, brow bones, and in the inner corner of the eyes.

First, start out with a cream highlighter (BECCA Shimmering Skin Perfector Poured) and set the cream by using a soft highlighting powder (Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder). Finally, take your brightest highlighting powder (like BECCA Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed) and concentrate it on the middle of each highlight to really intensify your highlight to the extreme. 

If you are more of a visual learner, watch this video by makeup artist Desi Perkins—she shows the perfect way to layer your highlighting products to really get your strobe on.

Strobing is a great technique for those people that don’t like the harshness of contouring but still want to define their features!