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These days, highlighters come in every finish imaginable—dewy highlighters to top off the deceptively simple no-makeup makeup look, liquid highlighters that come out of the bottle like molten metal, and creamy holographic highlighters that add a pretty, shimmery flush of color all over your cheeks. Not sure which one is right for you? That's what we're here for, to help you wade through the seemingly endless options.
Read on for the top highlighters on the market, from a silky coconut formula to an impressively pigmented budget pick.
Best Overall: Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed Highlighter
Becca’s range of highlighters is top-notch. This one, in particular, is a Byrdie fave, but really more like an all-around fave. Just take a look at the thousands of positive reviews and you'll see what we mean.
Thanks to a pearl-infused formulation, the Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed Highlighter creates a beautiful warm glow, with 12 shades in both warm and cool undertones to choose from. The selection of gold highlighters, like Gold Lava, Topaz, and the bronzy Chocolate Geode, enhances your natural glow without too much work. The silky formula lasts for hours and produces a natural radiance that’s like sunlight on your face. Obsessed.
Runner-Up, Best Overall: RMS Beauty Living Luminizer
This one's a cult favorite among women who know a thing or two about makeup—and for good reason. This product will give your skin a sheer, glowing look without making it look like a disco ball. It's also packed with good-for-you ingredients, including coconut oil, rosemary extract, and vitamin E. As a bonus, you can use it beyond just your face. Add a glow to your chest, collarbones, shoulders, and more with ease.
Best Luxury: Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat All-Over Brightening Pen
It's been said that one of these highlighter pens is sold every 20 seconds around the world. Talk about a cult classic.
Touche Eclat is more a highlighter than a concealer and is meant to illuminate your best features. As an illuminator, it works brilliantly. Simply dot just below the brow and under the eyes, along the nose and under the lip, and anywhere else on your face that collects shadows.
Best Drugstore: NYX Professional Makeup Born to Glow Liquid Illuminator
Affordable and effective, this liquid highlighter is as good as it gets for less than the cost of lunch. Add a few drops to the high points of the face (or body) and blend it out for a natural, subtle look that catches the light in all the right ways. We like to layer it over foundation but you can also choose to wear it on its own.
Best Cream: Glossier Haloscope
If you prefer natural-looking makeup with little fuss, this one’s for you. The Haloscope highlighter looks a little peculiar at first, with a hydrating balm in the center and a creamy highlighter wrapped around it, but the results are anything but. Together, they spread a subtle, dewy highlight over cheekbones and the high points of the face.
The highlight you get from the Haloscope isn’t glittery, since it’s meant to impart a natural sheen rather than anything that’d be visible from space. Packaged in a plastic twist-up stick that doesn’t require too much precision, the easily blendable Haloscope can be used from virtually anywhere.
Best Powder: Laura Geller Baked Gelato Swirl Illuminator
The swirl pattern of this highlighter is meant to remind you of the indulgent Italian dessert it’s named for—gelato. The smooth highlighter comes in a simple circular compact and applies without any of the dryness often associated with powder formulas. A single layer results in a subtle glow that lasts for hours, and the glow can be intensified with additional layers on top.
Best Stick: Hourglass Vanish Flash Highlighting Stick
As seen with its Ambient Lighting powders, you can count on Hourglass to pull through with glow-enhancing formulas. This highlighter is no different. The triangular shape of the Vanish Flash Highlighting Stick makes applying on the brow bone (or any other areas on the face) a breeze. Unlike other stick formulas, the Hourglass version isn’t overly creamy or gritty so that it drags the foundation underneath. It’s smooth enough to run over cheekbones and everywhere else you may want some luminosity.
Best Liquid: Marc Jacobs Beauty Dew Drops Coconut Gel Highlighter
This pick from Marc Jacobs lies somewhere between a liquid and a gel highlighter. It’s infused with coconut (which you can smell, faintly) to hydrate the skin and comes in three shades: a warm rose gold, golden peach, and soft bronze. Take our word for it: You'll be completely in love with the flattering, silky finish on the skin.
Fair warning: With this super-pigmented formula, it’s easy to overapply. One drop is enough, believe it or not, for the entire face.
Best Drops: Cover FX Custom Enhancer Drops
It's not always easy to find a highlighter that works for pale skin, but that's where these skin-illuminating drops shine. They're completely customizable so you can achieve the level of bronzing and illuminating that looks completely natural, even on lighter skin tones.
Apply a few drops straight to the skin or mix it in with moisturizer or foundation for an all-over glow. The molten liquid drops don’t appear glittery at all—just very, very shiny. The more drops you use, the more luminosity you'll get. Once the highlighter goes on, it sinks right in for a silky, foil finish.
Best Budget: J.Cat Beauty You Glow Girl Baked Highlighter
For the price, this highlighter can't be beaten. It's a glittery highlighter and creates a luminous finish on the skin that catches the light quite nicely. Choose from nine shades, ranging from a pinkish bronze to shimmery pistachio green. Oh, and if your skin has texture, don’t worry—the smooth formula skims over scars and acne without emphasizing anything.