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  • Melissa


Updated: May 24, 2020


Whew, sorry...I couldn't contain myself for a moment there.

If there is one makeup product I irrationally purchase in excess, it is highlighter. Ever since I got into highlighting I have to practice restraint just to leave a makeup store without purchasing another piece of glowy goodness. There is something so magical about applying a product that makes your skin look like it's glowing. This trend has gone far past the natural-looking phase and has entered a world where purple/blue/green, metallic/holographic/"unicorn" highlights are quite common. There are so many different highlighters out there that you can have fun with it or keep it toned down to a natural, "lit from within" glow.

If you read my contouring post, you may recall how I talked about what contouring is and why it works. Highlighting follows the same principles. Light illuminates the highest points of our faces more intensely than it does the other parts. If our skin was naturally dewy and glowy, we would have a soft sheen on these high points of our faces. These include the tops of the cheekbones, the tip of the nose, and brow bones for most people but everyone's face is different. Like contouring, you can highlight all of these areas or just one or two. As always, it's your choice and you will find what you like best once you play around with it. If you do highlight the nose, try not to apply the highlighter from bridge all the way down to the tip, as this will actually elongate the nose. Just a tiny line on the middle of the bridge of the nose tends to look flattering, but it will depend on your nose shape and the shape you're trying to achieve.

Here are some of my favorite highlighters:

Anastasia Beverly Hills Amrezy Highlighter ($28): My favorite highlighter (maybe ever)! This looks so intense, like your skin is wet. The color is a gorgeous golden champagne that fits so many skin tones. I'm obsessed!

Anastasia Beverly Hills Illuminator, Starlight ($28): not sure if this is discontinued, but it's pretty for fairer skin tones

Anastasia Beverly Hills Nicole Guerriero Glow Kit ($40?): I think this was limited edition but it gives an intense highlight. They're gorgeous but beware they do have a good amount of glitter.

The Balm Mary Lou-Manizer ($24): Stunning champagne color!

Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Liquid Highlighter, Moonstone ($19 for mini size, $41 for full size): My favorite liquid highlighters! They give a very natural dewy look to the skin. Layer them under powder highlight for an even stronger glow.

Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed Highlighter ($19 for mini size, $38 for full size): Becca has one of the most beautiful highlighter formulas!

Champagne Pop


L to R: Moonstone, Opal, and Champagne Pop

Colourpop Super Shock Highlighter, Lunch Money ($8): Very pretty, can give natural dewy or more intense glow depending on how much you apply.

Cover FX Custom Enhancer Drops, Rose Gold, Moonlight, Celestial & Halo ($42 for set of minis or $42 for full size individual): Really beautiful and metallic- Moonlight is my fave!

ELF Baked Highlighter, Moonlight Pearls & Blush Gems ($4): I also use the baked blushes in Pinktastic and Peachy Cheeky as highlighters. Peachy Cheeky will only work as a highlight on medium-dark skin tones.

Moonlight Pearls

Blush Gems


Peachy Cheeky

Essence Pure Nude Highlighter ($4.49): A very pretty natural highlight! I love using this on brides or more mature skin because it gives a natural glow that never looks metallic or glittery.

Hard Candy Baked Bronzer, Tiki ($9): all time favorite natural highlight!

J. Cat Beauty Golden Soleil Baked Bronzer, Coconut Island ($7.99): This is that same soft, natural "glow from within" as Hard Candy Tiki bronzer and Essence Pure Nude Highlighter and honestly, I love all three!

Maybelline Master Chrome Metallic Highlighter, Molten Gold and Molten Rose Gold ($9.99): super metallic intense highlight!

Milani Strobelight Instant Glow Powder, Aftergolow ($9.99): Very pretty and good for fairer skin tones.

NYX Away We Glow Illuminating Powder, Hollywood Blvd. ($10): I only use the triangle on the left but it's beautiful! You can mix in the other colors for a pinker highlight or glowy blush.

NYX Born To Glow Highlighting Palette ($25): Seriously some of the best affordable highlighters I've tried. One of NYX's best highlighter formulas!

NYX Bright Idea Illuminating Stick, Chardonnay Shimmer ($8): Such a gorgeous natural glow!

NYX Dose of Dew Face Gloss ($9, discontinued?): perfect if you want a dewy look without color or shimmer. Super natural on its own, makes powder highlighters more intense when layered underneath.

Physicians Formula Shimmer Strips Custom All-in-1 Nude Palettes, Warm Nude & Natural Nude ($14.99): Pretty and versatile- you can mix colors or use them as eyeshadow too.

Wet n Wild Megaglo Highlighters ($4.99): Possibly the best drugstore formula!

Golden Flower Crown

Precious Petals

Here are some "second tier" highlighters:

The Balm The Manizer Sisters The Luminizing Collection ($28): Mary is the only one that works as a highlighter for my skin tone but I like having this in my kit for different skin tones plus you can use them as blush and bronzer

Benefit High Beam ($12 for mini size, $26 for full size): Nice cream/liquid highlight for fairer skin, but I'm not in love with it.

Benefit Watts Up! ($30): One of the more intense cream highlights I've tried. Beautiful color!

ELF Blush, Gotta Glow ($3): this was just downright bad. Too much glitter.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder, Luminous Light ($48): Glowy without being a flashy, shimmery highlight. Great for that "lit from within" glow. I would try the J. Cat Golden Soleil bronzer (above) for a much more affordable option.

J. Cat Beauty You Glow Girl Baked Highlighter, Crystal Sand ($9): I actually love this highlighter when I'm at my fairest. It gives a really nice glow, but sometimes I'm afraid it's too light and it's going to look too obvious. But they have tons of shades, so don't sleep on these!

Model's Own Sculpt & Glow Highlighter Powder, Golden Sand (not sure if/where this is available anymore): This is a really pretty highlight but it was slightly too dark for my skin tone

NYX A Bit Jelly Gel Illumintor, Opalescent ($15): The formula of these gives you a really dewy, "glass skin" look. I just wish they had some more natural colors.

NYX Duo Chromatic Illuminating Powder, Synthetica & Snow Rose ($8): Synthetica looks stunning on darker skin tones! I'm not really into duo chromatic/holographic highlights but if you are, these are nice.

NYX Holographic Halo Finishing Powder, Mermazing ($12): I would not use these as a finishing powder all over the face, but more as a loose highlighter. I'm not a fan of this shade, but the other rose gold shade they have is stunning!

NYX Liquid Illuminator, Gleam ($7.50): I think the color was just too dark for me but the formula in general is really dewy and pretty. There's some glitter which I don't like in my liquid highlights but if you don't mind that, it's a good product.

NYX Love You So Mochi Highlighting Palette, Lit Life ($19): These give me a really dewy wet-looking highlight. There is a bit of glitter in them so I wouldn't call them natural, but they're really pretty.

NYX Strobe of Genius Holographic Stick, Electric Invasion ($9): Not a bad formula, just not my kinda color.

Physicians Formula Butter Highlighter, Pearl ($10.95)

Physicians Formula Shimmer Strips Custom Bronzer Blush & Eyeshadow, Miami Strip ($6.49)

Wet n Wild Megaglo Highlighting Gold Bar, Holly Gold-Head/Highlighting Platinum Bar, Winter Bloom ($4.99): I'm still not sure if these are Limited Edition or not but they brought them back this year. I didn't love the gold one (probably because I'm so fair) but now I bought the platinum one and I love it!

Wet n Wild To Reflect Shimmer Palette ($5.99): They have new names so Rose Champagne Glow is now I'll Have a Cosmo and Hollywood Boulevard is now Boozy Brunch

Rose Champagne Glow aka I'll Have a Cosmo

Here are some comparison swatches. They are more useful for comparing color than shimmer:

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