11 Best Highlighter Makeup: Which Is Right for You?

Best Highlighter Makeup

With the best highlighter makeup, you look like you are always perfectly catching the light for that healthy, youthful glow while refining the contour of your face at the same time. Unfortunately, stores are packed with products that skip the glowing radiance and go straight to shiny or unnatural so it’s easy to pick up a dud.

Highlighters work by using highly reflective pigments to enhance the light around you and light-colored pigments to give the appearance of being well-lit even when the light isn’t perfect. This is a tricky balancing act and a product used in the wrong way, or even the wrong product used in the right way can leave you washed-out and fake looking.

For tips on choosing the right highlighter for you see the bottom of the article. Now let’s get down to it.

What Are the Best Highlighter Makeup Palettes?

Manizer higlighting makeup palette Amazon Customer Reviews
  • No glitter
  • Soft, natural look
  • Doubles as eyeshadow
Price: $24.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Pink and gold palettes of makeup with swatches Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Unique clay formula
  • Many colors to choose from
  • Trusted brand
Price: $32.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Bottle of benefit strobing high beam makeup Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Bright, strobing pigment
  • Bottle lasts forever
  • Blends like a dream
Price: $26.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Compact of swirling highlight makeup Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Oil-free
  • Blends well
  • Color choices
Price: $26.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Pot of RMS strobing cream Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Dewy look
  • Hydrating
  • Works on many skin tones
Price: $28.26 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
makeup compact with rainbow color striped light powder Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Nice for all skin tones
  • Four color stripes
  • Gentle on skin
Price: $55.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Stick highlight from benefit Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Convenient
  • Natural
  • Trusted Brand
Price: $29.89 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Palette of apricot makeup Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Long-lasting
  • Very natural
  • Trusted brand
Price: $22.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Two palettes of patchwork makeup Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Cool or warm
  • Affordable
  • Subtle
Price: $13.55 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Three sticks of ciate strobing makeup Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Fresh dewy look
  • For all skin tones
  • Convenient stick
Price: $24.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Three tubes of glittery stila makeup Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Serious glitter
  • Colors to choose from
  • Trusted brand
Price: $30.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Our Unbiased Reviews
  1. 1. Most Versatile: Manizer by TheBalm

    • Soft, diffused glow
    • Different shades to choose from
    • No glitter
    • Cruelty-free
    • Buildable
    • Highly pigmented
    • Doubles as eyeshadow
    • Can be too shimmery if you over apply
    • Top layer can be iffy
    • Not many colors

    The Manizer Highlighters offer a range of colors as well as some flexibility within each product depending on how you apply it. These are capable of a killer, blinding highlight or a diffused natural glow.

    That’s because this powder is both intensely pigmented and intensely blendable. You can apply a small amount and blend it out for a luminous glow or go heavier for a dramatic look. They’re even pigmented enough to wear as eyeshadow–I love multi-taskers.

    For a powder is has a surprisingly dewy finish that makes skin look smoother and younger. Plus their packaging is adorable.

    Mary-Lou is their champagne highlighter with gold undertones and a silver shimmer.

    Cindy-Lou is much more pink toned so it can also be used as a blush.

    Betty-Lou is their deepest shade with a gorgeous warm bronze tone to illuminate darker still. It could also work as a bronzer for fair-skinned folks.

    The only issue is that people have said that the first time you use the Manizer, the very top layer is a little dull and you have to rub through that surface bit to get to the flawless shine.

    VideoVideo related to most versatile: manizer by thebalm2018-10-08T16:16:02-04:00

  2. 2. Most Unique: Heaven’s Hue by Stila

    • Unique formula
    • Choice of colors
    • Lightweight formula
    • Can be blinding or subtle
    • Easy to reform if it cracks
    • Trusted brand
    • Needs a dense brush if you don’t use your fingers
    • Not everyone loves the squishy texture
    • Pricier than others

    This product from Stila made a huge splash last year and we’ve been loving the shine ever since. It’s a putty highlighter that looks like a powder in the compact, has the consistency of a cream highlighter when you’re applying it, but wears like a lightweight powder. What even is this thing? I don’t know, but I love it.

    Ignoring its weird physics, this highlighter applies really well with your fingers or with a dense highlighting brush. Looser tip brushes have a harder time picking up the product. Depending on how much you apply and how much you blend out, this can either be a bold, flashy highlight or a subtle glow.

    It comes in a wide range of colors from deep bronze to pearl iridescent so you know you can definitely find something for your skin tone. From darkest to lightest we have Magnificence (chocolate), Luminescence (smokey rose), Bronze (what it says on the tin), Brilliance (true gold), Kitten (champagne), Transcendence (pink), and Opulence (pearlescent white).

    If nothing else, this one is worth a try for the unique, clay-like texture.

    VideoVideo related to most unique: heaven’s hue by stila2018-10-08T16:33:24-04:00

  3. 3. Most Strobing: High Beam by Benefit Liquid Highlighter

    • Great control
    • Bright strobe or natural glow
    • Super blendable
    • Bottle will last you a long time
    • Only one shade
    • Too cool toned for some
    • Easy to apply too much

    The High Beam highlighter by Benefit has a very similar finish to their Watts Up Highlighter Stick, and that’s a good thing. Watts Up is a fantastic highlighter and High Beam takes that glow and makes it a little bit brighter and gives you a lot more control.

    The liquid highlighter’s nail polish applicator brush gives you precision control placement. It’s easy to dot this over larger areas like your cheeks but it’s perfect for getting those tiny areas like your cupid’s bow and inner eye which are not going to look right if you miss your mark and highlight too much.

    For the same reason, High Beam is perfect for more extreme strobing because you can draw precise lines and build the coverage up if you want.

    It’s extremely blendable with your fingers, blending sponge, or brush and the iridescent finish is lightweight and easy to wear. Even though it blends out fairly translucent, High Beam is still very pigmented and you need such a small amount to get the effect you’re looking for that this tiny bottle can last you years.

  4. 4. Best Oil-Free Formula: Gelato Swirl Illuminator by Laura Geller

    • Range of colors
    • Buttery to work with
    • Oil-free
    • For highlight or all over brightness
    • Blends well
    • Can have baked texture
    • Colors are drastically different
    • Some folks hate powder-to-cream

    Laura Geller’s Gelato Swirl has a baked powder to cream formula that goes on and blends like a dream. Some highlighter lines are just slightly different colors, but the Gelato Swirl line are almost different products. Still, all of them can be used by most skin tones.

    Diamond Dust is their lightest shade and is nearly transparent. It won’t contribute much pigment but it will add an iridescent pink shimmer. I’d say this works for all skin tones when used lightly and can be very lightly brushed over your entire face for a subtle all-over glow.

    Peach Glow is a little more pigmented than Diamond Dust but still pretty subtle. The stronger pink undertones to this shimmer are perfect for warm-toned skin.

    Ballerina is a muted rose gold and significantly more pigmented than the others. It’s darker as well so for very fair skin this will work as a bronzer. For those with more melanated skin, the rosy shine really brings your skin to life.

    Guilded Honey is gold. It’s a rich, highly pigmented highlighter that’s perfect for darker skin tones but can also be worn by lighter skinned folks when blended out.

    This is an oil-free product so it’s easier on sensitive skin and folks tend to either love or hate the powder to cream feel.

  5. 5. Most Hydrating: Living Luminizer by RMS

    • Gorgeous dewy finish
    • Nice for daily wear
    • Hydrating cream
    • Botanical rosemary extract
    • Works on all skin tones
    • Not vegan (beeswax)
    • Too oily for some
    • Pricier than others

    For those with dry skin, RMS Beauty’s Living Luminizer is the best highlighter makeup for you. It won’t accentuate any flakiness you may have the way powders do. Ultra moisturizing coconut oil, caster seed oil, and beeswax make this highlighter easy to spread and blend while nourishing thirsty skin.

    It’s a translucent highlighter with a pearlescent satin sheen that leans toward cool pink-tones. This is one that really does look good on everyone. The sheer formula works with your skin tone to create beautiful highlighting shades on all complexions.

    The Living Luminizer isn’t for dramatic looks. This is one you could wear without any other makeup for a natural, dewy glow.

    The cream comes in a frosted glass jar and feel higher end. It blends well just using your fingers but a kabuki brush is really what this one wants for a seamless finish.

    If your skin is on the oily side or you know your face reacts badly to coconut oil, this is not the highlighter for you.

  6. 6. Most Iridescent: Rainbow Highlighter by Tarte

    • Works for many skin tones
    • Gentle on skin with Amazonian clay
    • Smells delicious
    • Affordable
    • Trusted brand
    • Includes a mirror
    • You don't get a ton of product
    • Palette spins in compact
    • Too iridescent for some

    Being on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t still glow like a goddess. This highlighter palette from Tarte Cosmetics gives an iridescent shimmer without looting your wallet.

    The palette has four stripes of pastel: peach, champagne, rose, and purple. When mixed together they create a brightening complex champagne with enough depth to match a wide range of skin tones. 

    Vanilla extract and Amazonian clay have been added to calm skin and have the added benefit to making the compact smell like sweets.

  7. 7. Best Stick Highlighter: Watt’s Up! by Benefit

    • Warm, almost bronzing glow
    • Natural look
    • Hydrating shea butter
    • Trusted brand
    • Convenient tube with sponge
    • No glitter
    • Cream to powder finish
    • More suited to medium and darker skin
    • Not oil-free
    • Sponge is a little useless

    This cream to powder highlighter comes in one champagne color meant to work with all skin tones. It has a gorgeous sheen to it that blends out for a soft, natural look. It’s not glittery but I would say it has a high shimmer.

    You get a decent amount of product here and the opposite side of the tube applicator has a sponge for on-the-go blending. It’s a cute feature but if you’re at home, it blends better with a fan or kabuki brush. A little goes a long way so this tube will last you a while.

    The shade is a perfect warm, golden glow for medium to darker complexions. If you are quite fair-skinned, this will probably be a little to dark for you and come off as more of a bronzer. Lighter skinned folks will want to check out Benefit’s High Beam.

  8. 8. Longest Lasting: Light Source Illuminator by Lorac

    • Lasts all day
    • Colors to choose from
    • Can be subtle or slightly brighter
    • Paraben free
    • Not much color variation
    • Builds up fast
    • Not for dry skin

    For a straight powder, the Lorac Light Source has four shimmering shades to create a glow. They are more metallic than iridescent and manage to have incredible staying power to be with you all day.

    The four shades are fairly similar but they’re shades that could go nicely on most skin tones, though some may be too dark for fair-skinned folks. Moonlight is their pinky option and the other three are different shades of warm topaz. Twilight is slightly more bronze, Daylight is more gold, and Starlight is the lightest color in the line.

    These apply like an absolute breeze. They’re a true powder and basically launch themselves onto your brush so you’ll want to use a more loose tipped brush than normal to avoid packing on too much product.

  9. 9. Best K-Makeup: Secret Beam by Etude House

    • Subtle glow
    • Blendable
    • Works on all skin tones
    • Cool or warm tone options
    • Affordable
    • Smallish compact
    • Too subtle for some
    • Not for dry skin

    From the Korean makeup brand Etude House, Secret Beam is a translucent highlighter that works on both light and dark skin tones. The colors blend together to a shimmering powder highlighter that applies well with your finger or brush.

    Secret Beam has two color options: Cool Toned which is an iridescent pearl and Warm Toned which has more of a light gold tint. Between the two of them, they cover the needs of most skin tones.

    It won’t give you a blinding highlight, but the shine is undeniable. For the price, this is a great option to keep in mind if you budget is tight.

    And honestly, I’m a sucker for products that have this patchwork look to them.

    VideoVideo related to best k-makeup: secret beam by etude house2018-10-08T16:41:21-04:00

  10. 10. Most Dewy Finish: Dewy Stix by Ciaté London

    • Natural dewy glow
    • Works on all skin tones
    • Colors to choose from
    • Can’t really apply with the stick
    • Too subtle for some
    • Not buildable

    This is considered a highlighting balm and creates that fresh, dewy look. If you’re not full coverage makeup, you can just draw this one on and it’s perfect for an almost no makeup look to give you a finished and glowing appearance on your bare face.

    But you want to be careful drawing this on your face directly if you’ve applied foundation as it will move your foundation around. That’s kind of a bummer because it’s in stick-form, but it applies gorgeously with a blending sponge. Just draw the highlighter on your sponge and blend over your foundation for that light glow.

    There are three colors that work well on all skin tones because they are opalescent but translucent. Gleam is a gold tone, Lustre is a pink shade, and Glow is un-tinted iridescence.

    It’s a light gleam effect and isn’t buildable so if you’re looking for a blinding highlight, this isn’t for you, but for something a little more subtle to add a touch of dewiness, this is a nice choice.

  11. 11. Most Glitter: Glitter & Glow by Stila

    • Not subtle in any way
    • Perfect for winter and holiday season
    • Colors to choose from
    • Precise applicator
    • Trusted brand and line
    • Too glittery for many
    • Really only for cheekbones
    • Few natural shades

    Have the words “subtle” and “natural” been completely killing your interest? Stila has you covered. We all know the Glitter & Glow Liquid Eye Shadows are head-turning and Stila extends this line to highlighters.

    These are glittery highlighters, full stop. I’m not talking little shimmery bits, I mean proper glitter. They are less pigmented than the Glitter & Glow Eye Shadows and instead have an iridescent finish (plus glitter) when blended in. The doe-foot applicator helps you get the glitter exactly where you want it.

    In general, this is a cheekbone highlight only. You likely don’t want to put this on your nose or forehead or cupid’s bow. (But hey, I don’t know what you do with your Saturday nights.)

    They come in several different colors including Kitten (bronze with gold flakies), Monarch (pink with pink, silver, and green glitter), and Queen (violet with pink and gold glitter).

    These are perfect for winter, holiday parties, festivals, and anytime you’re feeling magical.

    VideoVideo related to most glitter: glitter & glow by stila2018-10-08T16:45:15-04:00

The best highlighter makeup for your skin type.

Skin color is one thing but skin type is totally another.

Oily skin has a natural shine already, but that's not really the glow we're looking for. A powder highlighter with a more matte finish will create radiance but won't turn our natural shine up to an 11.

Sensitive skin can be prone to breakouts caused by makeup called acne cosmetica. The American Association of Dermatologists recommends oil-free formulas to keep your pores happy.

Dry skin needs an oil-based or cream highlighter to keep your skin hydrated and looking supple and to avoid accentuating any flakiness.

Combination skin should stick to powder or cream to powder formulas for the best of both worlds.

See Also:

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