Every time I get my makeup done, I have to be very adamant about the fact that I don't go near blush. Makeup artists think I'm crazy, consistently lamenting the importance of "color in your cheeks" and "dimension on the face." And, I get it—it's been drilled into our brains that we're not supposed to look "washed out." But blush just doesn't do it for me. On others, I love it. A cute pink flush looks amazing on my friends, co-workers, and whatever celebrity I'm stalking on any given day. Nars's Blush in Orgasm ($30) gives an ethereal glow unlike any other. But the thing is that my alabaster skin tone makes it so I'm constantly blushing. I flush when I'm happy, sad, angry, or just sitting at my computer typing. I'm basically see-through, and I don't like the idea of adding more redness to my face.
That being said, I'm not opposed to highlighting my cheeks; I just go about it in a different way. Enter: illuminators. With the recent explosion of all things strobing, so many incredible brands on the market have been honing their energy in on highlighters. I love a tiny bit of pink, flecks of gold, or even just clear, dewy gloss blended across my cheekbones. It feels modern and cool rather than rosy and (don't hate me) played out. I feel like a more grown-up, chic version of myself with just a swipe of highlighter in on the high planes of my face. Plus, so many formulas are packaged in easy-to-handle sticks that don't require brushes or even a mirror to apply. That, my friends, is the future of makeup.
So in an effort to get you on board with my sans-blush way of life, I've included my absolute favorite products that deliver serious lit-from-within glows—minus the redness. Keep scrolling to find your new must-haves.
By far my favorite of the bunch, this strobing stick is also the least expensive. (Cue a quick happy dance.) The formula is so creamy—as it’s combined with micro-fine pearls to boost your skin’s glow. It has hints of moonlit colors like silver, mauve, and gold for incredible added dimension across all your best features.
Similar to Maybelline's version, Haloscope is creamy and super easy to blend (read: very difficult to mess up). The outer halo is infused with actual crystal extracts with a solid oil core of vitamin-rich moisturizers for a hydrated, dewy finish. The best part? It’s never dry or too glittery.
Before I got into highlighter sticks, I was completely loyal to this sheer, opalescent highlighting powder. It's so subtle, but it illuminates your skin to make your cheekbones look razor sharp and glowy at the same time. It also helps to blur imperfections just like candlelight IRL.
A new must-have in my arsenal, this easy illuminating stick is just that—easy. It’s long-wearing (so reapplication is never an issue), oil-free (no more blotting papers), and moisturizing (buh-bye, dry skin). The formula features light-reflecting materials to instantly illuminate your skin in the most beautiful of ways. And yes, it looks very pink. But it applies like shimmer and doesn’t ever look overdone.
For more product alternatives, read about why I'm over makeup primer (and what I use instead).