Jouer Cosmetics Powder Highlighter
What We Love: It’s sold in eight colors.
What We Don’t Love: Some reviewers say it shatters easily.
Celebrity makeup artist Ash K Holm swears by the Jouer Cosmetics Powder Highlighter — particularly in the shade Skinny Dip. “This is a golden powder highlighter that works on most skin tones,” she says. “For a powder highlighter, it is extremely pigmented and smooth when applied to the skin.” The talc-free formula gives the skin a light glow that still looks natural, not overpowering. And it stays where you apply it — you won’t find glitter all over your cheek towards the end of the day.
Offered in a whopping seven shades (a lot of range for just one highlighter), the highlighter allows you to pick one to suit your undertone and skin tone.
Price at time of publish: $25
Formula: Pressed powder | Shades: 8 | Size: 0.16 oz.
Rose Inc Solar Radiance Hydrating Cream Highlighter
What We Love: The formula features ingredients that will benefit your skin.
What We Don’t Love: Some reviewers complain that it’s toosparkly.
According to Holm, cream highlighters tend to look more natural and show less texture on the skin, especially if you have dry skin. With that in mind, she recommends Rose Inc’s Solar Radiance Hydrating Cream Highlighter, which is sold in five shades. This isn’t just your run-of-the-mill face makeup, though — it’s infused with brightening rose extract, plumping sea holly, and hydrating squalane, so it boosts not only your skin’s glow but also overall health, too.
The highlighter has a big payoff, but because of how pigmented it is, some reviewers dislike how sparkly it is. It does easily blend, though, and a little goes a long way, so you could easily use less.
Price at time of publish: $30
Formula: Cream | Shades: 5 | Size: 0.17 oz.
Illamasqua Beyond Powder Highlighter in the shade OMG
What We Love: It’s incredibly reflective.
What We Don’t Love: Some shoppers complain about its staying power.
If you’re looking for a high-shine shimmer, Siard, who is the co-founder of Rose and Ben Beauty, suggests the Illamasqua Beyond Powder Highlighter, especially in the shade OMG. “It’s light wearing, won’t create texture on [the] skin, and has very small reflective particles,” she says. Don’t get it twisted though: Despite the ultra-fine shimmer, this highlighter revs up the glow factor.
Shoppers think this one doesn’t stay as long as others on the list. To get ahead of any fading, finish off your makeup with a setting spray to ensure your makeup will look fresh all day.
Price at time of publish: $36
Formula: Powder | Shades: 6 | Size: 0.24 oz
Milk Makeup Bionic Glow Illuminating Liquid Highlighter
What We Love: A little bit goes a long way.
What We Don’t Love: It’s only sold in two colors.
Celebrity makeup artist Grace Pae uses the Milk Makeup Bionic Glow Highlighter on as many clients as she can. The light, buildable coverage allows you to tailor the product to each look — just a few dabs for a natural look, and a full sweep for some extra drama. A little goes a long way with this product, though, so it will last you a while. It even includes hyaluronic acid to plump the skin as you wear it. We only wish it came in more than just two colors.
Price at time of publish: $34
Formula: Liquid | Shades: 2 | Size: 0.91 oz.
Nudestix Nudies All Over Face Color
What We Love: It’s very convenient for touch-ups.
What We Don’t Love: Because it has an attached brush, it is harder to clean.
Anyone who prefers the convenience of stick makeup will love NudeStix Nudies All Over Face Color, especially in the shade Bubble Bebe, which Holmes says is her favorite. “It’s a gorgeous champagne undertone in a soft cream formula,” she says, applauding how easy it is to apply thanks to the built-in brush. (Be warned, though, the built-in brush is very hard to clean.)
It comes in seven neutral shades that each have its own subtle glitter. It glides on easily and can easily be blended in with the aforementioned brush.
Price at time of publish: $34
Formula: Cream | Shades: 7 | Size: 0.28 oz.
Catrice More Than Glow Highlighter in 020 Supreme Rose Beam
What We Love: It’s vegan and cruelty-free.
What We Don’t Love: Some reviewers say it breaks easily.
Not trying to drop over $20 on a highlighter? You don’t have to. Siard says that the Catrice Cosmetics More Than Glow Highlighter can easily compete for the top spot in your makeup routine. She prefers the shade Supreme Rose Beam, a cool-toned pink, but it also comes in a shimmery gold for anyone looking for a warmer pigment.
Because of the price, it can break easily, since the packaging isn’t as protective as some higher-end products. But luckily, it’s only $6, so it won’t be a stretch to buy a new one.
Price at time of publish: $6
Formula: Pressed Powder | Shades: 2 | Size: 0.2 oz.
Dior Forever Couture Luminizer Highlighter Powder
What We Love: It’s formulated with wild pansy extract to seal in the skin’s natural hydration.
What We Don’t Love: You have to use a brush to apply.
On the opposite end of the budget spectrum, we have Dior’s Forever Couture Luminizer Highlighter Powder, which over 28,000 Sephora shoppers have backed. It’s sold in six colors, ranging from light to dark, with both warm and cool undertone options.
Made up of nearly 95 percent natural-origin pigments, the highlighter offers a shimmery, pearlescent shade with enough payoff from just one swipe. And we should probably mention, the swipe is the key here — you need to apply this with a brush (no, your fingers won’t do this time), so anyone anti-brush should opt for something else.
Price at time of publish: $48
Formula: Powder | Shades: 6 | Size: 0.21 oz.
Honest Beauty Magic Beauty Balm Stick
What We Love: It’s a universal, not too warm, not too cool shade.
What We Don’t Love: Some reviewers say the stick dries out quickly.
Anyone overwhelmed by choices might appreciate this universal shade, which will help save time and effort. According to Holm, Honest Beauty’s Magic Beauty Balm Stick looks stunning on all skin tones. “This is my favorite clean formula highlighter that elevates any makeup look with a soft radiant dewy finish,” she says. It’s worth mentioning that it’s also available in a compact now, too, for anyone who likes to use a brush.
The formula does dry out over time, making it difficult to apply after a while. But you’re sure to use it all the time, so you may never have that problem.
Price at time of publish: $15
Formula: Cream | Shades: 1 | Size: 0.28 oz.
Half Magic Beauty Light Trap in the shade Enter the Glow
What We Love: It looks natural but in the right light it glistens purple.
What We Don’t Love: You need to use a few swipes for the full color payoff.
For those of you that love an ethereal-looking highlight, this shade-shifting powder highlighter from Half Magic is a must, according to Siard. It only comes in two shades — Enter The Glow, a champagne base with lilac pigments scattered throughout, and Spiritually Complex, a bold purple with a hint of blue pearlescent tones — that appear as different colors once the light hits it. Because the buttery smooth formula might not be your everyday shade (it’s great for festivals and nights out), we aren’t craving more variety than what’s offered.
You do need to apply a few swipes in order for the color to really pop. But some might appreciate that the highlighter is buildable because it allows you to customize your look.
Price at time of publish: $20
Formula: Powder | Shades: 2 | Size: Not advertised
Live Tinted Hueglow
What We Love: It’s made with squalane, so it works to deeply hydrate skin during wear.
What We Don’t Love: It’s only sold in two shades.
Instead of just a makeup product, this Live Tinted highlighter features squalane and a blend of botanical extracts to give your skin a hydration boost, almost like a serum-meets-moisturizer, rather than just a highlighter. As one of Pae’s favorites, this highlighter delivers optimal glow.
A little goes a long way with this highlighter. We recommend applying it in small dots, then blending it in.
Price at time of publish: $34
Formula: Liquid | Shades: 2 | Size: 1.6 oz.
What to Keep in Mind
You can find highlighters in powder, cream, and liquid formulas. While it all comes down to personal preference, depending on your skin type, some might be better than others. Dry skin typically needs a liquid or cream formula, like the Milk Makeup Bionic Glow, as the powder will just emphasize the dry areas by settling into any fine lines or cracks. But oily skin typically looks best with a powder formula, like the Jouer Cosmetics Powder Highlighter, because super hydrating products will most likely make your skin look greasy rather than glowy.
The shade of highlighter you pick should coordinate with your undertones. As a general rule of thumb, Holm says that the only place your highlighter should be visible head-on is down the bridge of your nose. “If it’s too visible anywhere else, the face can look oily or shiny,” she warns. Pae, on the other hand, says that it shouldn’t be visible anywhere head-on. “The sign of a perfectly-matched highlighter is when it’s undetectable,” she says. “It just looks like your skin is naturally glowing.”
Suffice to say, if you look like a shimmering unicorn while looking straight into the mirror, it’s time to reevaluate your shade (unless, of course, that’s your goal).