The best highlighters to get your base glowing...
Highlighters have officially taken centre stage in our make-up bags. But don’t worry – if you don’t want a face full of glitter, we’ve tracked down the best sparkle free formulas to leave you with a subtle shimmer. We’ve considered all skins – you’ll find the best highlighter for fair skin and darker skin.
Also, while you’re here, take a look at what happened when our Glow Gang got their hands on Iconic London’s new Illuminator Drops – and tested them on three different skin tones.
Nicknamed strobing, highlighting is all about enhancing areas of the face where light would naturally bounce off your skin – think cheekbones, temples, down the bridge of your nose and on top of your cupids bow.
If you’re into contouring we’re sure you already know all about highlighting, no sculpted face is complete without glistening cheekbones. While you use darker shades to make areas of the face appear less pronounced, highlighters do the reverse and draw attention to certain areas of your face. Sweep them over the highest points of your cheeks and down the centre of your nose, across your cupids bow and brow bones to create that sculpted silhouette. It’s a trick the celebs have been doing for years!
You’re not looking to create a bronzed post holiday glow, either (that’s bronzing, not highlighting). To get it right, steer clear of warm, yellow-based tones and go for cool shades with a pinky, silvery base unless you’re dark skinned.
“It’s about skin that looks moonlit not sunlit,” explains celebrity make-up artist, Lisa Valencia. “Obviously if you have dark skin, stick to golden highlights to avoid your skin looking ashy but everyone else will suit pinkier hues.”
Formula-wise, you can pick and choose. Cream highlighters and liquid highlighters can be mixed with your moisturiser or foundation and applied all over your face for a dewy finish. If these don’t take your fancy there are plenty of powders out there, use a brush to buff these into your skin and stop any tell tale stripes.
If you fancy mixing and matching a few colours, it’s more cost effective for you to buy a palette rather than splurge on lots of separate highlighters. There are lots on offer and if you’re after a selection of blendable shades we suggest giving Huda Beauty’s 3D Highlight Palette, £40. It comes in two shades, The Pink Sands Edition for lighter skin and The Golden Sands Edition for darker skin.
Don’t make the mistake of going for a highlighter that’s too dark for your skin because you’ll end up looking like you’ve plastered your face with a sparkly bronzer. Fairer faces should look for white, pale pink and holographic highlighters with purple and blue undertones. Barry M’s Liquid Chrome Highlighter Drops in Precious Pearl, £6.99, will get you glowing without adding a warmer colour to your skin.
If you’ve got an oiler complexion it’s better to use a powder rather than a liquid highlighter as these can leave your skin looking a little slick and covering it with powder only covers up your shimmer. MAC’s Extra Dimension Skinfinsh, £24.50 is a great highlighter for oily skin, the powder formula helps wick up grease and there’s no need to layer your finishing powder over it, either.
Highlighters for fairer skins are completely different tones to those for tanned and darker complexions. Rather than reaching for pearlescent pinks and holographic highlighters with purple and blue undertones, you want to choose bronze, golden and orange colours. Bobbi Brown’s Highlighter Powder in Bronze Glow, £35.50 is a deeper copper shade, making it the perfect pick for darker skin tones.
A lot of highlighters out there are slightly spenny. But, you don’t have to drop a lot of dollar to get a winning strobe set. Sleek’s Solstice Highlighter Palette, £9.99, comes with two cream and two powder shades which you can mix, match and blend together for a full face of glow. Oh, and did we mention the whole thing comes in at under a tenner?
These are almost too gorgeous to use, we know. If you can bear to dip your brush into it then you can take your pick from three colours, there’s one for everyone.
Nicknamed the putty highlighter, this squidgy highlighter gathered a cult following after it was put on social media. It might look like a powder, but prod it and you’ll see it bounces right back. Neat huh? It also leaves the most gorgeous, natural looking veil of radiance. Tick, tick, tick.
We love a liquid highlighter as much as the next person and this one is under £10. Need we say any more?
Darker skin tones should go for deep bronze and gold shades, like this smouldering brick from Bobbi Brown. It’s a superfine powder which doesn’t sit on the skin.
at £34 it might seem a tad spenny, but a quick read of the reviews will show you it’s worth every penny. Use it dry for a more toned down highlight or wet to up the intensity.
Tilbury is back, this time waving her magic wand over our cheekbones so that we may look blessed with Bella Hadid’s bone structure. The easy to use tube and sponge means you’ll be able to master the art of strobing in no time.
As if Topshop didn’t have enough AH-mazing highlighter, this latest, limited edition powder might just be their best yet. Sweep it all over your face and bod for a celeb like glow.
Keep your eyes peeled for this lip embossed beauty – it’s not out yet but it’s worth the wait, make sure you get it before it goes because we are predicting a sell out.
Mix a few drops of this into your foundation for an instant skin pick me up – or use alone along the cheekbones, brow bone and down the nose for a more intense golden glow.
If you’ve not already tried this glow-getting palette we don’t really know where you’ve been for the past few months. Each one of the four shades leaves you with high impact shimmer. Mix and match colours for your own personal strobe.
Coined the ‘liquid gold’ of the highlighter world, these bad boys really are the cream of the crop if you’re looking for stand out shine. You only need a few drops to take your skin to a new dimension, so use with caution.
Pixi’s latest shine giver is proof that you don’t need to break the bank to get that look-at-me glow. The golden tones suit all skins, just layer it up for a more intense strobe.
This sell-out highlighter palette has everything you'd ever need to become a total glowing goddess. Mix and match the four velvet shades for a customized shimmer.
This cult strober doesn’t get it’s following for nothing. It comes in six shades, each one encased in the most premium packaging. We couldn’t possibly make you choose, so we suggest getting one of each.
Use this on your eyes, cheeks, lips and body for all-over radiance. An all round winner!
This ombre shimmer brick will not disappoint. No only is it a total steal it is our Deputy Editor’s ultimate favourite. The two tones impart a slightly purple, holographic sheen that catches on every little bit of light. Well done Topshop, well done.
This gorgeous powder provides soft, natural yet powerful radiance. We love this for an everyday glow or layered for a highlight you can see from space – yay!
This lightweight liquid formula is great for mixing with foundation for an overall glow. Adds a subtle touch of light to your everyday look. Gorgeous.
A highlighter that contains pearl particles? Tres chic and talk about a great way to get a gorgeous glow!
Our prayers have been answered with this AMAZING palette. Featuring three powder and one cream highlighter, this palette will add a luminous sheen to all skin tones and types. Plus, it’s a steal.
A creamy highlighter that literally melts into skin, this leaves behind a subtle dewy sheen. With a gorgeous peaelescent finish, the blotter is great for blending and you can even use it on lips too for an on-trend frosty finish.
It’s no surprise this highlighter is a cult (and one of our) fave! The gorgeous powder leaves a gorgeous dusting of glow and if you want to layer up, is totally buildable.
This velvety soft, super blendable formula can be applied sparingly or layered up to create an enviable ethereal glow.
This pretty palette features four shimmering shades. There’s one for every skin tone and the buildable formula means you can choose between a glam finish or subtle glow.
It's easy to see why this highlighter is owned by every single beauty blogger out there. The pressed rose gold powder leaves you looking like you're lit from within. Every beauty devotee should own one.
There’s a reason this highlighter kit crashed Sephora’s website for three hours when it was launched. Coming in gold and nude, this highlighter looks seriously beautiful on all skin tones and promises to give you an ‘alien-gelic’ glow. The kit contains a multitasking pressed pigment, a special brush AND a two-sided balm and highlighter stick (hence the price-tag). Whilst currently sold out in the US, we’re hoping it will make its way to UK shores very soon… *Fingers crossed!*
Benefit’s High Beam is legendary but if you prefer your highlighter a little less pinky or you have yellow undertones in your skin, Watt’s Up should be your go-to. It creates the perfect base for natural and artificial light to bounce off.
It’s on the pricer side, but the radiance it gives is absolutely beautiful. The soft powder gives a delicate, sunkissed shine to the skin.