I’ve been lucky enough to get to try hundreds (maybe even thousands!?) of highlighting products as a beauty blogger and professional makeup artist. These are my top picks in each category: cream, liquid, and powder.
Keep reading to find out the first highlighter I ever used and why I still love it!
As always, I never want anyone to feel pressured to buy, buy, buy! But rather, use this post and video as a guide the next time you need to get a product and want a recommendation on the best highlighter to purchase for your skin type and undertone.
I hope that this post will save you money, instead of having to buy and try five different highlighters before finding the right product or shade.
Finding Your Perfect Highlighting Shade
A bit part of nailing the highlighting technique, in my opinion, is getting the perfect shade. Even the most perfectly placed highlighter is going to look odd if it’s the wrong shade for you.
You’ll want to find a highlighter shade that matches with your skin’s undertones and is 1-2 shades lighter than your skin tone.
To start | If you are trying to figure out your skin’s undertone, this video should be helpful.
Next | Once you’ve figured out which shade you need, aim to get a highlighter that is 1-2 shades lighter than your skin tone.
If you go too light, highlighter can start to become very apparent and emphasize pores.
If you go darker than your skin tone, you’ll get the sheen of a highlighter but then it will create a shadow when you turn your face, which creates a really strange effect.
My Favorite Highlighters
There are both hand and cheek swatches in the video below.
1 | Pat McGrath Skin Fetish highlighter | shade “Nude” – $48
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. Dare I say, I think this my be the world’s most perfect highlighter?
2 | Colourpop Super Shock Highlighter | shade Flexitarian – $8
This is the highlighter shade to wear when you want to wear a highlighter. It is very bling-y. There are some more great, more subtle shades in this line. The formula is a very cool bouncy cream-mousse texture. Can not beat the price!
3 | Benefit Watt’s Up Stick | One Shade $18-30
This is the highlighter I reach for when I don’t want to have tot think about my makeup. I know that the texture and champagne shade are flawless. It blends perfectly and looks like a second skin.
The price is decent, especially in the travel size! This is the highlighter I bring on every vacation with me.
I have one at home, one in my travel makeup bag, and one in my pro makeup artist kit.
4 | e.l.f. Glow Stick | $4
These sticks are great for a precise highlight and they are so easy to apply. They glide on effortlessly.
The shade “Fresh Morning Dew” does not dry down completely, but does create a beautiful clear gloss on the skin.
The shade “Prismatic” dries down a bit more and has such a unique and stunning glimmer of lavender, which is surprisingly wearable and flattering!
5 | Tom Ford Shade + Illuminate Cream Palette | $88
This Tom Ford highlight and contour palette is definitely a luxury item with a luxury price point. That being said, the pans are very generously sized, with .49oz of total product.
I love how the highlight creates a natural looking, healthy, dewy finish on the skin. This is the perfect highlighter for a high-end, “glass skin” look.
1 | Benefit High Beam | One Shade- $18
This highlighter brings all the memories back for me! This was the first highlighting product I ever used, almost 15 years ago now. Wow. I remember being so blown away by how dewy and angelic it made my cheekbones look and all my friends asked me “my skin secrets.” Benefit Cosmetics, my friends, ha!
In all seriousness, this is still one of my favorite highlighters all these years later. It truly bathes the skin in other wordly dewiness. The liquid formula instantly becomes one with the skin and gives a very high-end sheen. The formula is so concentrated, these tiny bottle last me forever.
I always say that if High Beam and Watt’s Up were released now, I think people would lose their minds over these products. Because they are the OG of highlighters, I feel like they don’t get enough attention.
2 | Becca Shimmering Skin | Champagne Pop + Moonstone – $19 – $41
You can’t go wrong with these gorgeous liquid highlighters from Becca Cosmetics. These have a ton of pigment and blend easily. There is a shade for everyone and they are pretty, pretty, pretty.
My only caveat is that the larger pump containers pump out so much product with each pump. I will put a pump on the back of my hand and work from there, usually adding the extra to my collarbone or tops of shoulders.
I prefer the smaller size tubes to control how much comes out and I wish they would make all the shades in the travel size! The travel tube lasted me over a year with regular use, I was blown away.
1 | Becca Shimmering Skin Pressed | Champagne Pop + Moonstone – $22-$38
This is a great highlighter for photography, as it is super pigmented. It’s a very creamy formula for a powder, but I do still use it sparingly.
I find that most of Becca’s shades are geared towards warmer skin tones. I use Moonstone and Champagne Pop, either on their own or mixed, when I have a fit of a faux tan.
I love that Becca sells these highlighters in travel sizes now. It takes me forever to use up a highlighter, so I use the travel size for every day wear and travel.
2 | Wet N Wild | Bloom Time + Precious Petals – $5.50
These Wet N’ Wild highlighters are one of my top drugstore makeup items. Used subtly and buffed into the skin, they give a beautiful sheen.
When I saw the new “Bloom Time” soft peach shade, I had a feeling it was going to be the perfect shade for me. I absolutely love it and have been wearing Bloom Time non-stop since I bought it a month ago. It’s a much softer peach color in person, vs. how it looks on their website.
3 | Colourpop Pressed Powder | Angel Food – $7
When you watch the video, you’ll hear my heartbreak when I found out this highlighter shade was recently discontinued. Colourpop listens to their customers, however, so reach out on social media and email and let them know you’d love to see it come back!
This shade, Angel Food, is one of the most stunning and unique highlighter shades I own and have ever tried. It’s got the tiniest hint of lavender and just blends in and makes my skin look dreamy.
It is by far one of my most used highlighters. I can not say enough nice things about it and the under $10 price tag is amazing!!
4 | Diorskin Nude Luminizer Skimmering Glow Powder | Shade 01 Nude Glow – $48
“Holy macaroni” is one of the highest amounts of praise that I can give to a beauty product. The first time I used this Dior highlighter I didn’t really have any expectations and was blown away by how easily the product buffed into my skin.
The 01 shade is a stunning light peach and champagne combination.
This is a luxury product, but I do think the price is justified by the quality of the product.
5 | Chrissy Teigen x Becca Cosmetics Glow Kit | $46
As I say in the swatch video, this palette has saved me on many a rushed morning. Having blush, highlighter, and bronzer all in one palette is a game changer in terms of speed.
I only wish that the bronzer was full size and the Rose Gold highlighter was the mini size, other than that, this is a perfect palette. This was limited edition, so grab it while you can!
Swatches on the hand and cheek |
1 | e.l.f. Beautifully Precise Airbrush Stipple Brush (Synthetic) – $10 | works with creams and powders. Stipple, multi-level bristles allows for light, medium, or heavy coverage depending on how hard you press into the skin.
2 | Kevyn Aucoin Neo Powder Face Brush (Synthetic) – $60 | works with cream and powders. Best for a full cheek highlighter, but pointed edge can also create a smaller highlight.
3 | Sonia G. Sculpt Three Brush (Natural Bristle) – $32 | great for cheekbone highlighting with powders, nice bristle density. For use with powders only.
4 | Fenty Cheek-Hugging Highlight Brush (Synthetic) – $32 | works with cream and powders. Best for a full cheek highlighter, but pointed edge can also create a smaller highlight.
I hope this post helps. Feel free to leave any comments or questions below, I’d love to hear from you!
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