In 2018, highlighters are on a victory lap, defending their title as one of the most talked-about and lusted-after beauty products. And why not? Everyone loves a dewy, illuminated face. It reads, I just returned from an amazing week at a spa somewhere in the tropics (even if your reality is more like I just finished a crazy workweek and still have a million things to do). Swipe, pat, or squeeze that highlighter on for a quick fix to any dullness or lack of oomph. In no time at all, you’ll look wide awake and lit from within—and you don’t even need to drop major bucks to achieve it.
Here we’ve rounded up the best drugstore highlighters that keep pace with their luxury counterparts.
“I’m a little wary of drugstore highlighters because I’m so in love with the way my Prestige highlighters work, but these sticks from Revlon are the real deal. They’re buildable, so you can apply just a touch for a subtle glow or keep layering for more striking luminescence. I also love that they come in both a gold and pinkish hue so I can switch them up depending on my makeup and skin tone that day.” — Lindsey Metrus, managing editor
Not only is this a pick under-budget, but it is also incredibly versatile. Depending on the shade you choose, it can also be used for blush, bronzer, or an allover illuminating powder! Hello, low-maintenance (and space-saving) makeup for summer travels.
“I’m addicted to highlighter, and I’m not afraid to admit it. I’ve tested every powder and cream formula that comes across my desk, which is why I can confidently say that Maybelline’s new one is better than many of the pricier ones out there. Makeup artist Erin Parsons showed me the product at a Maybelline beauty event a few weeks ago, and I think my jaw dropped at the formula—it’s creamy (but not greasy), light-reflecting, and dries down to the subtlest, most natural finish. It’s idiot-proof, too; just swipe above your cheekbones and down the bridge of your nose, then blend, blend, blend with your fingers.
Voilà! You look an ethereal being sent from above.” — Faith Xue, editorial director
If you’re not sure which type of formula you want, opt for this highlighting palette, which offers a cream formula and three unique powders. The variety of shades and inclusion of both warm and cool tones ensure that it will work for any skin tone. Pro tip: The shades also double as gorgeous illuminating eye shadows in a pinch.
“This offering is perfect for mixing into your usual liquid foundation for a little extra oomph. If you’re nervous about sporting an allover glow, dabbing it on the high points of your face after your apply your foundation works just as well.” — LM
For being one of the least expensive highlighters on the market, this pearly baked illuminator has some incredible payoff. A swipe of this nourishing, sheer powder (jojoba and sunflower oils are just a couple of the good-for-you ingredients) will give you an Instagram-worthy glow.
For a highlighter that’s just as fun to touch as it is to apply, this bouncy variation melts into the skin like butter while giving off a holographic sheen.
For those of you who prefer a powder (especially one with great color payoff), this product is the one for you. It’s incredibly smooth and finely milled, making for a more natural glow—a nice departure from some of the other over-the-top drugstore highlighters. Although it’s currently out of stock on the website, try sifting around eBay to snag one without a wait.
ColourPop highlighters are not only extremely affordable, but the range of color and tone is also truly amazing. From classic taupe and shiny bronze to bright coral and magenta, there’s a highlighter for everyone. They also double as fantastic eye shadows—why not stretch that beautiful pigment as far as you can? Please excuse us while we try on every single shade.
There’s something about this baked ombré product that gives off a certain joie de vivre in the wearer. There’s nothing more youthful than a shimmery pink cheek, and this one’s got the best of both highlighter and blush. Simply brush or pat a little of the pink on the apples of your cheeks to achieve the most beautifully flushed façade, and then top it off with that blindingly white highlight.
Now that you know which highlighters work best, learn how to apply them like a makeup artist.
This story was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.