The 15 Best Highlighters for Dark Skin Tones, According to Black Women

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Everybody loves a good glow. You know the one—we’re talking a warm shine that gives you that golden hour look at any time of the day, without overdoing it on the glitter. And that’s why there’s nothing worse than thinking you’ve found your perfect highlighter, only to discover that it leaves a stark, unnatural contrast or a chalky, powdery finish.

For deeper skin tones, it's important to choose shades that are warmer—think bronzes and rosy golds. You'll want to avoid any shades that are too cool or icy. To help weed out the weak, we went straight to the source and asked a handful of Black women which highlighters they recommend and/or use on their own skin. Whether you're looking for a liquid, cream, or powder illuminator, we've got you covered.

Keep reading for the best highlighters for dark skin tones.

Best Overall: Āether Beauty Supernova Highlighter in Yellow Diamond

Āether Beauty Supernova Highlighter in Crushed Yellow Diamond

 Courtesy of Āether Beauty 

Vegan, cruelty-free, clean? You name it, this highlighter’s got it—minus the icky ingredients. This product is made with women of color in mind, so you can count on it to be brown-skin friendly without the chalky residue. It also has crushed diamonds in the formula, so that you can shine bright like a diamond, literally. 

“Diamonds actually help to moisturize and protect the collagen in your skin," Āether Beauty founder Tiila Abbitt says. "But, then you also get the spiritual side of all of these minerals that are added. Diamonds actually help to embrace the strength of one's character.”

Best Long Wear: Fenty Beauty Killawatt in Trophy Wife

Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Killawatt in Trophy Wife

 Courtesy of Sephora

When Trophy Wife hit the market, we saw shimmering gold all over our timelines, and for good reason. The weightless, cream-powder formula lasts all day long and gives your cheeks that sought-after glow. Model and owner of Slaid in Braids, Helena Koudou says, “it’s not too bright or too bold, it’s just perfect and it blends well with my skin.”

Best for Medium Brown Tones: Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed Highlighter

Becca Cosmetics Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed Highlighter

 Courtesy of Sephora

When your brown skin is much too dark for fair skin products but still too light for ultra-rich tones, it can be tricky to decide a shade for you. Thankfully, this cream-based formula blends into a range of skin tones for a shimmer ideal for any occasion, according to visual artist Leah Chin.

“This highlighter is my favorite," she says. "My go-to makeup look is natural glam, and this highlighter gives me the best of both worlds. It’s very bright and luminous but doesn’t give a powdery and overly shimmery look. Instead, I consistently end up with a glowy and dewy look, which I love.”

Best Splurge: Pat McGrath Labs Sublime Skin Highlighting Trio

Pat McGrath Labs Sublime Skin Highlighting Trio

 Courtesy of Sephora

This multi-use highlighter pulls out all the stops, making it worth the splurge. The iridescent pearl-infused, gel-powder formula is great for eyes or cheeks when you’re looking for a metallic shine to accentuate bone structure and take your look up a notch. Users of all skin tones rave that this highlighter reflects light beautifully and delivers head-turning pigments.

Best Budget: Wet n Wild Mega Glow Highlighter in Precious Petals

This highlighter’s buildable coverage gives you the ultimate shimmer and shine without breaking the bank. Stephanie Johnson, digital creator of Flowers for Steph, cites it as her favorite. “It’s buildable and gives a pretty glow," she says. "This highlighter has golden tones, which always pair well for deeper skin tones because of its natural reflections.”

Runner-Up, Best Budget: Wet n Wild Highlighter Powder in Awesome Blossom

Wet n Wild Highlighter Powder in Awesome Blossom

 Courtesy of Wet n Wild

For those who love a rosy shimmer, this pressed powder highlighter brings on the glow for cheeks that look warm and healthy. Lustra Miller, an educator and former pageant queen, calls this her go-to for everyday beauty. “I love a good drugstore brand," she says. "I only need a little with a highlighter brush and it gives me a nice glow.”

Best Drugstore: Milani Baked Highlighter in Bronzed Splendore

Okay, it’s time to break the fourth wall, because I know first hand that this highlighter is everything. While on a road trip to the middle of nowhere, I forgot my makeup bag, so I stopped into a drugstore with hopes of getting the basics for a full face. I stumbled upon this Milani highlighter and I was so impressed with it. It’s super buildable, making it flexible for a natural glow or a more dramatic evening look, and it’s very comparable to some of my pricier highlighter options.

Best Classic: MAC Teyana Taylor Mineralize Skinfinish

Mac Teyana Taylor Mineralize Skinfinish

 Courtesy of MAC

We’re always open to a new makeup brand to fall in love with, but MAC has been leading the beauty industry for decades now and we can count on them to consistently deliver for all skin tones. 

Fashion publicist and creator Jennifer Burchette praises this radiant vitamin E-infused face powder because the full collection was made with hues in mind for Black women. "Teyana Taylor made the collection in hopes of inspiring Black women, highlighting how our black is beautiful and anything is possible. How can I not support that?” she says.

Best Subtle Glow: Trinny London The Right Light Highlighter in Sunlight

Trinny London The Right Light Highlighter in Sunlight

 Courtesy of Trinny London

This subtle cream highlighter offers a natural glow sans the glittery shine. The hydrating formula blends into the skin seamlessly for low key radiance, or you can build on it for a bolder highlight. Users rave that it is moisturizing, easy to blend, and catches the perfect amount of light all day long.

Best Intense Glow: Milk Makeup Flex Highlighter in Glazed

Milk Makeup Flex Highlighter in Glazed

 Courtesy of Milk Makeup

If you’re a “more is more” kind of person, then this highly pigmented highlighter is the choice for you. Dallas based makeup artist Julia Idaewor raves, “It’s shimmery, yet creamy at the same time. It’s not too light, not too gold, and most importantly, it doesn’t leave that dry chalky look on your cheekbones. It gives you a very subtle, inner glow. It’s truly the perfect highlighter for black women.”

Best Bronze: BECCA Cosmetics Shimmering Skin Perfector in Chocolate Geode

Becca Cosmetics

If you love a sultry, bronzy glow, then this one is for you. It has a rich chocolate brown color enhanced with gold pearl shimmers that make it especially flattering on dark skin tones.

Courtney Danielle Bryant of Curls and Couture says, "This has been my go to for years. I mix it with moisturizer or oil for more of a glisten, or I just dust it on dry for a full beat." 

Best Balm: Danessa Myricks Beauty Dew Wet Balm in Hot Water

Danessa Myricks

Courtesy of Beautylish

This creamy highlighter hydrates your skin as it enhances your glow, bringing out the most of your natural highlights. The translucent formula is infused with jojoba oil and other skin-softening ingredients, so it’s better for your skin in the long run.

South Carolina based makeup artist Nykia Breon swears by this shade. “It gives that natural glow-from-within finish to the skin and it’s a different formula from your average powder or cream highlighter," she says. "It can be applied on the skin alone, underneath makeup, or on top of foundation.”

Best Cream: Tai Lite in Grace

Tai Lite in Grace

Courtesy of Tai Lite

When you have a beautiful deep complexion, you might’ve been told to stray away from vibrant colors in the past, but that is anything but true. Makeup artist and creator of Tai Lite, Tai Ceme says, “I love the shade Grace because of its versatility and bold color. The way the deep lavender compliments dark complexions is just magical. I also love how the glow pigments can be a sheer finish or a vibrant glow, depending on how much you use.”

Best Loose Powder: Beauty Bakerie Frosted Mini So Icy Illuminator

Beauty Bakerie Frosted Mini So Icy Illuminator

 Courtesy of Beauty Bakerie 

Glisten and shimmer with this highlighter that reflects gold, pink, and silver boldly on any skin tone. It brings together all of the things you love about a deep blush with the light reflecting qualities of a highlighter. It’s versatile enough to use on your cheeks or your lids, and it offers buildable coverage to go from a natural to a bold look. 

Best Palette: The Lip Bar Face Palette in Stuntin’

The Lip Bar Face Palette in Stuntin’

 Courtesy of The Lip Bar

This 4-in-1 face palette takes the guessing out of deciding which highlighter/blush combo is right for you. Available in six easy to use complexion coordinated palettes (Stuntin’ is for cinnamon complexions), you can achieve a full makeup look fast. It comes equipped with a setting powder, blush, contour powder, and, of course, a highlighter for a flawless, glowing finish. 

Proper product placement is crucial. When applying, resist the urge to overdo the shine. Instead, strategically add soft touches only to the areas you want to pop: the top of the cheekbones, brow bone, forehead, Cupid’s bow, center of nose, and maybe a dab to the center of the chin.

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