Real Talk: Strobing Is Not New

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Guys… I feel like something needs to be said.

My inbox is full of press releases pitching the newest hit trick in the beauty blogosphere. Everyone is talking about how “contouring is out” and “strobing is in.” Instagram is blowing UP with #strobing right now.

I hate to break it to you all, but…

Strobing is not a new thing.

(And chances are, the makeup in those grams you’re double-tapping feature some contouring, too. We’re just pretending it’s not there.)

When I first learned the fundamental technique almost a decade ago, we called it “highlighting.” It can also be called “illuminating.” If you hail from the school of “HAC,” strobing would be the H minus the AC. Or if you subscribe to the Eve Pearl method of makeup – it would be the “reverse contour” she has been preaching for years. 

ALL of it is manipulating light to create the effect of more dimension in the face. It’s art 101 and it’s not going anywhere, no matter what we call it.  In old school makeup artist speak, I would say that what’s “on-trend” now is dialing up the highlight and minimizing the shading, but both elements are still there. I’m not hating on the effect, I just don’t think we should kid ourselves into believing it’s a new thing.

With that said, you do not need to listen to all of the beauty publications currently telling you to pitch all of your products and purchase an entire new “strobing” wardrobe.  I assure you, if you already have highlighting products in your arsenal, you’re good to go. 

If you do need a good strober/highlighter/luminizer, I’m happy to share some of my faves. Here are a handful of the best products for strobing (or whatever you want to call it). 😉

Benefit High Beam

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High Beam is like the OG highlighter. It’s a liquid, so a little goes a long way! I like to cocktail a few drops of this pinkish pearlescent goodness with my primer to create that lit-from-within effect. It adds a beautiful, but subtle glow when you apply it underneath your foundation. Or go big a dab it right on your cheekbones for extreme illumination.

MAKE UP FOR EVER Diamond Powder

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If you’re really into shimmer, this is the product for you. It’s technically a powder, but this fine-milled dust appears flawlessly diffused, not cakey. Diamond Powder combines both the pearly iridescence of MUFE’s Star Powder and the brightness of a glitter. It is almost entirely composed of pure synthetic mother-of-pearl. The particles are finer and radiate extreme brilliance.

MAC Strobe Cream

MAC Strobe Cream

If the dewy look is your thing, strobe with this stuff. MAC Strobe Cream will provide all of the luminizing effects while the consistency allows you to cover a lot of real estate quickly. It’s a hydrating cream that’s good to cocktail with your foundation if you don’t want to go full-on shine overload.

NARS The Multiple in Copacabana

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I find creamy highlighter sticks like this cult classic the easiest to work with – especially if your goal is to dramatically accent your cheekbones. Simply draw on all the high planes of your face and blend with your finger. Beautiful and effortless!

Bobbi Brown Sparkle Eyeshadow

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That’s right, I’m telling you to use eyeshadow for face highlight. There are no rules in makeup and you do not need to purchase a separate highlighter if you don’t want to. This one will work double duty for you and look beautiful in the process. Have darker skin? Try the Sunlight shade. If you have a fair complexion like me, go for Silver Moon. Welcome to strobe city!

Ok, I feel better after getting all of that off my chest. In related news, the Kardashians did not invent contouring and don’t even get me started on baking. More #RealTalk on that later. Until then, happy strobing (or whatever)!