I recently spent time in Vietnam with brilliant celebrity makeup artist Hung Vanngo. He's incredibly talented, of course, but he's also super kind, holding my hand when I was petrified in the helicopter—a true gent. And I'm not his only fan: He has an A-list clientele that keeps coming back to him time and again, including Selena Gomez, Emily Ratajkowsi and Kate Bosworth.
Vanngo is adept at creating makeup looks that stand out but don't wear the woman. With Vanngo, it's always about making the star look as beautiful as possible, and while he plays with different colours, textures and shapes, there's one common theme that connects each look he creates: glowy highlighter. Vanngo is all about that lit-from-within glow. Undoubtedly these women have great skin, but he's able to work his magic to make their complexions look otherworldly—like they've had a facial from an angel.
I'm not kidding, all you have to do is scroll through his Instagram feed, @hungvanngo, and you'll see what I mean. So when it came to asking Vanngo for some of his trade secrets, it was a no-brainer… I chose to focus on highlighter—how to use it, where to use it and what type to buy. Thankfully he answered all my questions: Prepare to glow.
What should everyone know before they highlight?
First and foremost, it's important to exfoliate and prep the skin well before adding highlighter, both on the face and body. I recommend Kiehl's Pineapple Papaya Facial Scrub (£24) followed by a good face and eye cream. On the body, use Kiehl's Gently Exfoliating Body Scrub (£32). These prep steps will ensure that your skin radiates a beautiful, natural glow. Any illuminator or highlighter you add on after will help the skin look even more radiant.
What are your top tips for highlighting?
Blending is important—it's beautiful when you don't see the demarcation of where the highlight starts and ends. I personally like to layer the textures using either cream or liquid highlighter first then overlaying with a powder highlighter. This allows the highlight to really stand out, and you get a more long-lasting effect.
What texture highlighter should people use, and does it depend on their skin type?
This is definitely based on personal preference, but you can also decide based on your skin type. For dryer skin types, I recommend a liquid or cream. For oily skin, I recommend a powder formula. Cream and liquid tend to give a subtler finish.
How should you apply highlighter?
For cream and liquid, I like to apply with the fingers. For powder highlighter, I use a fan brush to apply. For body, I usually use my hands (and sometimes a large sponge for more control).
When it comes to highlighter, is it best to use shimmer or more of a sheeny highlighter?
I personally love the "glow from within" effect, so I like to use more of a balm/sheeny highlighter.
Where should you apply highlighter?
I often place highlighter on the inner corner of the eyes, the brow bones, the high points of the cheekbones, bridge of the nose, the tip of the nose, Cupid's bow, chin and apples of the cheeks. If my client is wearing an outfit that's showing their shoulders or chest, I also like to apply some formula on the shoulders. The same applies if my client is showing their legs. For the body, I usually mix the highlighter with a body cream such as Kiehl's Creme de Corps Body Cream (£48) or Creme de Corps Nourishing Dry Body Oil (£36).
Shop Team Byrdie's Favourite Highlighters