Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.
Highlighters are 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.
Best Overall: Revlon PhotoReady Insta-Fix Highlighting Stick
Byrdie senior editor Lindsey calls this highlighting stick the real deal, noting that it works just as well as her prestige favorites. It boasts light-filtering technology that draws attention to key parts of the face. "They’re buildable, so you can apply just a touch for a subtle glow or keep layering for more striking luminescence," Lindsey says. "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.”
Best Budget: wet n wild MegaGlo Highlighting Powder
You just can’t beat this wallet-friendly glow-maker that’s a favorite amongst highlighter newbies, beauty junkies, makeup artists, and more. The velvety smooth powder dresses the cheekbones, cupid’s bow, or wherever you apply it with an ultra-pearly finish that never accentuates texture or visible pores. No matter if you prefer a subtle sheen or an intense glow this highlighter will work for you.
Best Liquid: NYX Professional Makeup Born to Glow Liquid Illuminator
The opalescent quality of this fluid makes it super wearable and also very versatile. Mix a drop into your skincare (think: serum or cream) or base product (think: tinted moisturizer or foundation) and smooth all over for a lit from within glow. The light-reflecting pigments will help blur any imperfections, making for an even more flawless base than if you were starting with even the most full coverage foundation. The more you add into your products, the less coverage they’ll have, so if you like a finish that’s more high intensity, this technique may not be for you. Instead, dab some of the liquid highlighter onto your cheekbones with a damp beauty blender. Though the effect won’t be exactly the same as if you mixed it with your foundation, it’s a nice compromise.
Best Stick: wet n wild MegaGlo Makeup Stick
The best thing about a stick highlighter is not needing any extra tools. All you need is a few swipes and you’re looking more put together than before. Even if you don’t have a stitch of other makeup on or didn’t get a wink of sleep, you’ll look glowy and well-rested.
Best Powder: Maybelline Face Studio Master Chrome Metallic Highlighter
One of the things you need to look out for is glitter pigments in highlighter. Luckily, this one is formulated without any chunky glitter and will glide on smooth, melting into skin ever so gently. It’s described as a metallic sheen and that’s exactly what you’ll get with this. It won’t settle into fine lines, but instead, blur them and give the appearance of a smooth complexion.
Try tapping it on with your ring finger (it’s the weakest, so it won’t tug, especially around the delicate eye area) for a more diffused look that’s on the natural side. Makeup artists love using a formula like this on the brow bone—it creates the illusion of an eye lift and will help to shape the brow, too.
Best Cream: Flower Beauty Glisten Up! Highlighter Chubby Stick
Finding a cream highlighter that gives you a gorgeous glow that lasts can be quite the challenge. Many cream formulas tend to slip and slide all over the face creating a sweaty, not glowy, look. That is until we came across this gem from Flower Beauty.
The self-sharpening chubby stick houses a smooth emollient cream infused with ultra-refined shimmers and melts into the skin, leaving behind a soft-focus gleam that never appears too shiny or sweaty on your complexion. The silky cream always gives a natural-looking radiance and never cakes up when applied over other products. What makes it a true stand out glow-getter is how well it layers over powders.
Best for Fair Skin: e.l.f. Cosmetics Baked Highlighter in Moonlight Pearls
Anything that’s pearlescent will flatter fair skin tones. Stick to shades with a cooler appearance like blue and green shimmer flecks instead of warm tones like pinks and oranges—the latter will make it look like you weren’t too sure about where your blush should go.
This illuminating powder, in particular, is finely milled and won’t make it look like you have chunks of glitter on your face. For a more intense sheen, dip your brush in water first and then swipe this on skin. It even works well as an eyeshadow if you’re going for a more monochromatic look.
Best for Dark Skin: Physicians Formula Butter Highlighter in Rose Gold
It’s called butter highlighter for a reason. It’s so velvety, it actually feels like butter on the skin (and it’s formulated with a power-packed trifecta of butter: Murumuru, Cupuaçu, and Tucuma that moisturize the skin). Upon the first touch, it’s creamy and then it turns into a powder, giving it more staying power for all-day wear.
The rose gold shade, in particular, is perfect for darker skin tones because it has rich pigments that match the warmth in deeper tones. While the champagne option might look ashy, this one leaves you with a subtle hint of radiance that catches the light and dazzles.
Best Palette: L'Oreal True Match Lumi Glow Nude Highlighter Palette
Whether you’re trying to recreate the full face of highlighter look or just like having options, this quad of four powder shades has got you covered. Armed with two universal glowy highlighters, a blush, and bronzer tone, you’ll be glistening in no time. Get creative and try multiple shades on your face to come up with your own unique hue or stick to one if it suits you.
Best for Body: Hard Candy Glow All The Way Glamazon Bronze Face & Body Luminizer
When highlighting your arms, legs, and chest you want to choose a formula that creates a soft sheen as opposed to a metallic finish. But many oils slide right off the body making you look like you just came out of the ocean or off of the running trail. That’s why we love the shimmering body highlighter from Hard Candy.
The glowy cream comes in a gorgeous bronze shade that works for fair to deep skin tones. The fast-setting formula stays put after application. Just squeeze a small amount into the palms of your hands, then apply to clean dry skin.