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16 Best Highlighters for the Luminous Skin and Flawless Finish of Your Dreams

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Honestly, what did we do before highlighter came around? This multipurpose skin illuminator has completely changed our approach to makeup over the past decade, creating new ways to achieve natural and bold glowing skin looks without needing a full face of blush or hours spent contouring. And you don't have to be a makeup artist to get that perfect iridescent, glowy finish, either. 

Whether you're looking for the best highlighter from the drugstore, the best highlighter liquid, or just a subtle shimmer that can double as an eyeshadow in a pinch, there's a highlighter on this list to make you look more awake, airbrushed, and refreshed. Continue reading below to find the best highlighters for every skin tone, skin type, and technique goal. 

OFRA COSMETICS Highlighter in Rodeo Drive

This golden shade warms up all skin tones, adds a sun-kissed glow, and reflects light in a totally natural-looking way—all you need to do is layer it up to amp up shine. The baked formula gives you tons of pigment with an unbeatable sheen.

2. Best Rose-Gold Highlighter:

IBY BEAUTY Radiant Glow Highlighter in Prosecco

IBY BEAUTY Radiant Glow Highlighter in Prosecco

Try IBY BEAUTY's finely milled powder highlighter if you prefer peachy undertones and subdued shimmer. "It’s not too in your face," said Ipster @inthenameofpolish, "but definitely packs a punch!" This rose gold shade brightens your skin with a warm, soft glow, featuring added skincare benefits from hydrating and nourishing ingredients like rosehip seed oil and vitamins A, C, and E. "Feels very light on my skin," another Ipster said.

3. Best Multipurpose Luminizer:

BENEFIT COSMETICS High Beam Liquid Highlighter

SAIE Super Glowy Gel
Courtesy of SAIE

SAIE calls this product an “all-over luminizer,” and we have to agree. Not only does this liquid highlighter leave skin feeling hydrated, it’s also incredibly lightweight. When you feel it on your fingers it actually feels like water droplets.

You can put this glowy gel product over your whole face as a primer (believe us, we’ve done it) or use it to highlight your features. Either way, it’s built for both and leaves a natural glow as it easily blends into skin. This is truly a unique texture and a must-have product for your makeup collection. It also comes in two stunning shades: Star Glow and Sun Glow.

4. Best Highlighter Stick:

WET N WILD Megaglo Vitamin E Makeup Stick - Highlight

WET N WILD Megaglo Vitamin E Makeup Stick - Highlight
Courtesy of WET N WILD

WET N WILD is one of our favorite drugstore makeup brands. One thing they always nail is their highlighters, which are always mega pigmented with maximum glow. We love using a highlighter stick because it’s great for travel if you like to touch up on the go. Just swipe the glow stick directly onto the skin and blend with your fingers. Or, run a brush over the top of the stick and use that to blend the product onto the high points of your face. We also love dabbing it onto the collarbones for an all-over glow.

5. Best Serum Highlighter:

TYPOLOGY. PARIS Glow Drops with 5% Vitamin C + Aloe Vera

TYPOLOGY. PARIS Glow Drops with 5% Vitamin C + Aloe Vera
Courtesy of TYPOLOGY

We think this product might be the brand’s best-kept secret. Seriously, not enough people talk about it! Once you try it, you’ll never go back. It brings a soft, buildable dewy glow to skin and hydrates and brightens at the same time with vitamin C and aloe vera. We’re obsessed with the texture, which blends into moisturizers beautifully or looks gorgeous on its own when you want to add an extra shimmer to your look. Wearing it alone totally levels up that effortless no-makeup makeup look.

6. Best Lavender Highlighter:

COLOURPOP Super Shock Highlighter in Hippo

COLOURPOP Super Shock Highlighter in Hippo
Courtesy of COLOURPOP

Don’t sleep on lavender-colored highlighters. If gold, rose gold, or more pearlescent shades of highlighters aren’t your jam, try something like this! We think lavender highlighters are universally flattering for all skin tones. This COLOURPOP highlighter feels like a bouncy cloud as you dip your fingers into the pot—almost like a creamy eyeshadow. Using your fingers or a beauty sponge, dab the product on the high points of your face, then get ready for a new glow that’s sure to turn heads. 

7. Best Highlighting Setting Powder:

E.L.F. High Definition Powder

E.L.F. High Definition Powder
Courtesy of E.L.F.

Want to glow all over? You need to try this high-definition powder from E.L.F. to set your final makeup look. It’s our go-to setting powder and feels super lightweight on the skin as it preserves your makeup and resists creases, fine lines, and fallout. We especially love that it contains small flecks of shimmer to bring dimension to the skin. Hot tip: This is our fave powder to use if we know we’re going to be taking photos, since it has a soft-focus finish that looks like an IG filter IRL.

8. Best Multipurpose Highlighter:

NOMAD COSMETICS Sydney Bathers Kiss of Sun Highlighter in Balmoral Beach

OFRA COSMETICS Star Island Highlighter

You've probably heard of Bondi Beach (and how it's the suntan capital of Sydney). But when you want a warm glow that's more flushed than bronzed, take a trip up to the Northern Beaches with NOMAD COSMETICS. You can use this gold-flecked, salmon-toned, macadamia oil-infused powder all over to illuminate and soften your skin. One Ipster wrote that it's the "perfect shimmer and universal color and purpose for eyes, lips and face!" Plus, this talc-free formula is buildable and blendable, so you can use different brushes and techniques to create varying levels of opacity.

9. Best Skincare-Highlighter Combo:

WANDER BEAUTY Catch the Light Highlighter and Glowtion in Celestial 

WANDER BEAUTY Catch the Light Highlighter & Glowtion in Celestial

This two-in-one formula is a must-have for maintaining your natural glow when you're traveling or feeling under the weather. Smooth it on after a long-haul flight to soothe your skin with aloe leaf extract and safflower seed oil, and rehydrate with hyaluronic acid and vitamin E. Both the stick and the liquid create a pearlescent, reflective finish that you can wear alone or to accentuate makeup. "I loved both formulas and the sheer buildable cover," said Ipster @Xelaju46. "More subtle than a blinding highlight, but I like that for my natural days."

10. Best Cream Highlighter:

SO SUSAN Dream Maker Light Shifting Highlighter Cream in Pop Star

CIATÉ LONDON Glow-To Highlighter in Moondust

Fine mica and holographic rainbow particles mixed into an oil-free, cream-gel base give this pearlized gold highlighter a flawless, light-reflecting quality. Ipster @saleema22 calls it a "magical little tube" for a "stunning highlight in a dreamy satin finish." SO SUSAN's highlighter is also formulated with bioactive tetrapeptide-21 and antioxidant-rich edelweiss extract to reduce the appearance of tired skin. It works particularly well for oily skin types and even doubles as a sheer eyeshadow. "Love this highlighter [...] on days where I don't want a lot of color, just a shiny, shimmery and sheer lightness on my lids," said Ipster @adripala15.

11. Best Highlighter for Dark Skin:

MORPHE High Impact Highlighter in Extra

MORPHE High Impact Highlighter in Extra

MORPHE's creamy formula melts seamlessly into your skin for a radiant strobe that won't disappear on deeper complexions. "I live for the dew look this [gives] your face," Ipster @acko said. It feels weightless and blends beautifully for buildable coverage. Use a narrow highlighter brush to swipe it across your cheekbones and down your nose, or use a fluffier brush to diffuse it in smaller areas like the peak of your brow bone. "This highlighter makes your skin look refreshed," said @rebramos1981. "Very blendable."

12. Best Barely-There Shimmer Highlighter:

THE BALM COSMETICS Mary-Lou Manizer

THE BALM COSMETICS Mary-Lou Manizer

This warm honey shade is gorgeous on your cheekbones, brow bones, and all the places you’d apply highlighter—but we love it on our lids, too. It’s so good that one Ipster even said, “Love it! It’s the best highlighter I've tried so far. It’s very pigmented but also very natural on the skin.”

13. Best Bronze Highlighter:

IBY BEAUTY Radiant Glow Highlighter in 24k Magic

IBY BEAUTY Radiant Glow Highlighter in 24k Magic

This vegan and cruelty-free highlighter comes with some major bling. The buttery-soft formulation means the product goes on smoothly without accentuating texture on your skin, all while it pops your features for a healthy-looking bronzed glow. 

14. Best Longwear Highlighter:

URBAN DECAY Afterglow in Sin

URBAN DECAY Afterglow in Sin

If you’re looking for an IRL version of that amazing Snapchat filter glow, this champagne highlighter is it. The powder formula is super finely milled, which means it’s creamy, but still majorly lightweight.

15. Best Hydrating Highlighter:

WANDER BEAUTY Wanderess™ Glow Highlighter in After Hours

WANDER BEAUTY Wanderess™ Glow Highlighter in After Hours

Use it on your face, body, eyes—this product blends seamlessly into your skin and delivers a long-lasting soft, radiant glow. Enriched with sunflower seed oil and camellia seed oil, this glowy powder hydrates and soothes your skin upon contact.

16. Best Highlighter for Pink Undertones:

LOVE+CRAFT+BEAUTY Highlighter in Aurora

LOVE+CRAFT+BEAUTY Highlighter in Aurora

The subtle pink shade is formulated to pop on any skin color, and one Ipster said, “I really like that this highlighter is pink and not gold, orangey or bronzy. Matched my skin tone really well. Highly recommend for fair skin that has pink undertones.”

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About the author
Olivia Cefalu
Olivia Cefalu
Olivia is a freelance beauty writer. With experience in influencer marketing at Tata Harper Skincare and editorial at Very Good Light, she loves covering Gen Z beauty, wellness, and nail trends. Read her work on Very Good Light and Well + Good.
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Article Last Updated October 13, 2023 12:00 AM