7 Amazing Highlighters, From $8 And Up

The best products to make you sparkle and shine like a radiant angel.
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The best products to make you sparkle and shine like a radiant angel.

I don't know about you, but I find myself getting a bit dull this time of year. Holidays are stressful. Winter isn't my favorite. It gets dark at 4 p.m. Blergh.

And that's not OK with me. I don't want to be dull; I want to sparkle and shine. I want to glow like a renaissance angel. I want to be the star at the very top of the tree, dammit!

Luckily, that’s what highlighters are for. Whether your hemisphere is in the middle of summer or the dead of winter, shimmer is appropriate and beautiful year-round.

I've been hard at work testing products like the North Pole elf that I am, and here are seven of the most AMAZING highlighters out there. Happy Holidays, indeed.

Before we begin, here's the makeup I'm wearing sans highlight (so you can compare photos to this to judge shimmer).

best matte makeup

Wearing: Smashbox BB, MUFE Full Cover Concealer & HD Finishing Powder, Diorshow mascara, NARS Audacious lipstick in Janet, Anastasia Dipbrow Pomade in Ebony.

Let's begin!

Best All-Rounder: Make Up For Ever Shine On Powder

This powder is a miracle; it shimmers and sparkles but doesn’t make you look like a disco ball nightmare. It’s perfect for day or night, AND it comes in a range of colors so all skin tones can find their perfect highlight match.

make up for ever shine on powder

Make Up For Ever Shine On Powder in shade 3.

The wear is, as you’d expect from a MUFE product, superlative: it doesn’t fade or wear off throughout the day, nor does it sink into my fine lines and pores (or highlight old acne scars). It just makes me look like my skin is healthy and glowing.

make up for ever shine on powder shade 3

I'm shining on like a crazy diamond.

Forget my two front teeth; this is all I want for Christmas.

Best Liquid: NARS Illuminator In 413 BLKR

NARS Illuminators are famous for their sheer consistency and glimmery texture, but it wasn’t until 413 BLKR that I fell in love.

nars illuminator 413 blkr swatch

NARS Illuminator, 413 BLKR.

I’m always worried liquid highlighters will move the rest of my makeup around when I apply them. Not a problem with this product. I like to tap this down the bridge of my nose and across my cheekbones for a shiny, pearlescent look.

NARS illuminator 413 blkr pale skin

The Champagne gold color is also really, really pretty.

I love that this is super buildable; just wait for the first coat to set before applying the second. It makes me look like I’ve covered my face in crushed golden pearls, which is one of my life goals.

Best Subtle Glow: Laura Mercier Matte Baked Radiance Powder

If you’re not sold on highlighter because everything is TOO shiny, this is the perfect powder for you.

laura mercier matte radiance powder swatch highlight

Laura Mercier Matte Radiance Powder in shade 01--Golden Nude.

This has a satin finish--not flat, but not super shimmery either. It’s just that little bit of extra dimension in your makeup that makes all the (radiant) difference.

laura mercier matte radiance powder highlight

Highlighted, but not TOO highlighted.

And did I mention that it feels like velvet on your skin? Because oh my god, it really does.

Best Cream: RMS Beauty Living Luminizer

Believe the hype: this highlighter is a vat of pure magic that makes me look like a beautiful shining opal.

rms living luminizer swatch

RMS Beauty Living Luminizer.

Living Luminizer LOOKS white but is actually made up of flecks of silver, gold and iridescent violet. Applied lightly, it gives you some natural-looking shine. Applied more heavily, YOU could lead Santa’s sleigh tonight. It lights up your skin like no other.

rms living luminizer

I feel like a J.Crew model!

Caveat: because this is coconut oil-based, it never quite “sets.” You may end up with marks under your eyes from your glasses if you wear this all over your cheeks, fellow four-eyed babes. Just re-blend with a finger!

Best Drugstore Highlighter (that isn’t really a highlighter): Maybelline Color Tattoo Metal 24 Hr Eye Shadow in Barely Branded

I was introduced to this shadow during Fashion Week, and it’s been my secret skin highlighting weapon ever since.

Maybelline color tattoo metal eyeshadow barely branded swatch

Maybelline Color Tattoo Metal eyeshadow in Barely Branded.

Shiny but not glittery, the thick cream of Barely Branded gives what I like to call “athletic shine”--that glow you get after you’ve been sweating and enjoying yourself. It’s metallic but not TOO metallic, golden but not TOO golden. It is truly the perfect shade and finish for everyone.

maybelline barely branded eyeshadow as highlighter

I'm so barely branded.

Though it creases on eyelids, it resists that on faces. Who knew that the best highlighter in the drugstore was an eye shadow?

Best Mixer: Rouge Bunny Rouge Seas Of Illumination Highlighting Liquid.

I hadn’t heard of this European brand until recently, but I’m already a total convert. This liquid highlighter is sheer, sparkly and utterly beautiful, like the inside of a seashell.

rouge bunny rouge sea of tranquility swatch

Rouge Bunny Rouge Liquid Highlighter in Sea of Tranquility.

Dabbed straight atop your makeup, this highlighter shines (pun intended). But mixed in with your foundation or tinted moisturizer, it lights up your entire face. 

highlighter mixed with foundation

Mixed in with Smashbox BB Cream, and tapped on overtop as extra highlight. And it doesn't change my BB's texture for the worse--just makes me shimmery!

If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere and looking for something to brighten your winter skin, this is for you. If you’re in the Southern Hemisphere and you want to look like a glowing summertime mermaid, you want to get this.

Best For Parties: BECCA Shimmering Skin Perfector in Champagne Gold

xoVainers, you told me about BECCA. And you were so right. DID MY HEART LOVE 'TIL NOW?

becca shimmering skin perfector champagne gold swatch

Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Champagne Gold. Dig this gorgeous compact!

This is so beautiful it makes me a little angry. The golden powder is exactly the right amount of sparkly--glittery, but not too much. It is DEFINITELY yellow rather than gold, so a little bit goes a long way. I like to wear this on my cheeks in place of blush, which feels really fresh to me.

becca champagne gold

I'm not going to make a Goldmember joke here, but you all know I wanted to.

I also use this on my eyelids as perfect gold eye shadow. Who doesn’t love a multi-tasking product?

  • Alright, my lovelies: what are you favorite highlighters/luminizers/shimmer powders?
  • Do you prefer metallic or sparkly? Which of these is your favorite forever?