I’ve been lucky enough to get to try and own hundreds of highlighting products as a beauty blogger and professional makeup artist. When we moved this year, I decided to downsize and I only kept the five highlighters in this post.
These are the best of the best highlighting formulas and shades, in my opinion, and my favorite formulas for my 39-year-old skin. One of the highlighters below is actually the first highlighter I ever tried and is still one of my most reached for highlighters!
Finding Your Perfect Highlighter Shade
Let’s start with figuring out your best highlighter shade. This is one of my biggest highlighting tips, the right shade can make all the difference.
1 | You’ll want to find a highlighter shade that coordinates with your skin’s undertones and
2 | is only 1-2 shades lighter than your skin tone.
If you are trying to figure out your skin’s undertone, this video should be helpful.
If you pick a shade that is too light, highlighter can become really obvious. If you pick a highlighter shade that is darker than your skin, it will actually create a shadow instead of a highlight, which creates a strange effect on your cheekbone.
I listed my personal shade on each highlighter below for the products that offer multiple shade options.
1 | Pat McGrath Skin Fetish Highlighter & Balm Duo
My Shade | Nude
One of my all-time favorite highlighter formulas and shades! This is the perfect nude champagne shade, with just the right amount of sheen.
There are two sides, one is a perfect cream highlighter and the other is a clear skin gloss that is non-sticky.
What I love about this formula is that the cream becomes one with the skin and looks like a natural “healthy skin” highlight. It’s one of the best cream formulas that I’ve ever used. I love that it doesn’t get caked into the fine lines around my eyes, it’s very mature(ing) skin friendly.
I don’t use the clear gloss side as much, but It’s a nice option when I want a dewy look. I love the Nude shade and the ease of the stick formula. Overall I give this product a 10/10.
.26 oz cream | $48
2 | Benefit Watt’s Up Stick
This is the highlighter I bring on every trip. I know that the texture and champagne shade are flawless. It blends perfectly and looks like a second skin. The compact stick has a ton of product, but travels so easily.
After using this highlighter for 10+ years, it’s still one of my absolute favorite formulas and shades!
.33 oz | $30
3 | Benefit High Beam
This highlighter brings all the memories back for me! This was the first highlighting product I ever used, almost 14 years ago. Wow.
I remember being so blown away by how dewy it made my cheekbones look and all my friends asked me how I got my cheeks to “look like that” in photos. Highlighter, my friends, ha!
This is still one of my favorite highlighters all these years later. The liquid formula instantly becomes one with the skin and gives a very luminous sheen.
The formula is so concentrated, these tiny bottle last me forever. The soft rose gold shade does lean slightly cooler, but I find that it still works with my light peach undertone skin.
Benefit’s High Beam and Watt’s Up were two of the original highlighter products available on the market and I feel like they sometimes get forgotten about in the flood of new products, but they both remain two of my favorite highlighting products.
.2 oz | $18
4 | Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter
My Shade | 3 Fair
When Charlotte Tilbury first launched this Flawless Filter, there was a ton of confusion! Was it a primer, a foundation, or a highlighter? Do you wear it under or over foundation? Do you wear it all over or just in spots you want highlighted?
The official response from the CT team was that it can be worn as a primer or as a highlighter, under or over makeup. I still felt a little mystified by this product and decided to try it for myself. I love that they have a peach undertone highlight shade, these are actually hard to find!
I ordered shade 3 Fair and tried it as a highlighter and primer and over and under foundation.
I use this as a natural looking highlighter. It looks beautiful under foundation, but I prefer the extra sheen when I wear it over my foundation.
This is a very subtle and sophisticated highlight. I love how natural it looks on my skin, yet adds a definite healthy glow to my cheekbones.
I purchased the travel size, as I intend to use it as a highlight. They do make a larger 1 oz size if you want to use it as an all-over glowing primer.
.18 oz | $15 – 1 oz | $44
5 | Dior Nude Luminizer Shimmering Glow Powder
My Shade | Shade 01 Nude Glow
“Holy macaroni” is the highest amount of praise that I can give to a beauty product.
The first time I used this Dior highlighter I was blown away by how easily the product buffed into my skin. It’s rare that a powder has the same skin-like finish as a cream or liquid, but the Dior really does.
The 01 shade is a stunning, ultra flattering light peach and champagne combination.
This is a luxury product, but I do think the price is justified by the quality of the product. This shade and formula are a must-have! The powder is also surprisingly mature skin friendly.
.21 oz | $48
1 | e.l.f. Beautifully Precise Airbrush Stipple Brush (Synthetic) $10 | works with creams and powders, I prefer it for creams. Multi-level bristles allows for light, medium, or heavy coverage depending on much pressure you use. Great brush when you want a ton of pigment!
2 | Real Techniques Setting Brush (Synthetic) ($8) | This is another brush that works equally as well with creams and powders, but I prefer it with powders. This is one of the few brushes that I have actually purchased multiples of. I use one brush for setting my under eye and then I like to have a second brush for applying powder highlighter. It’s a great size, super soft, and buffs powders so nicely into the skin.
3 | Sonia G. Sculpt Three Brush (Natural Bristle) – $32 | great for cheekbone highlighting with powders, nice bristle density. For use with powders only. This brush really buffs powders into the skin beautifully and is a great smaller size fan brush, which allows for precise highlighter placement.
4 | IT Cosmetics Airbrush Flawless Highlight Brush (Synthetic) – $22 | works with cream and powders, I prefer it with powders. This is another brush that I own two of! It’s a great size, slightly larger than the Real Techniques, that I find to be perfect for a soft, diffused highlight. When I only have a few seconds to both apply and blend highlighter, I reach for this brush and the Dior highlighter to get the job done.
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