The 10 Best Cream- and Liquid-Based Highlighters for Dark Skin

Updated 05/05/19

Rain or shine, glow season never stops. Highlighter fanatics, unite. This one's for my fellow dark-skin beauties who are looking for new highlighters to add to their collection. I don't discriminate when it comes to highlighters. However, lately, I've been super into layering cream and liquid formulas. They deliver a different type of glow, and I swear the sparkle is a little brighter than powder-based formulas. It's best to layer liquid- and cream-based highlighters on top of wet formulas, like liquid foundation and concealer.

More and more brands are launching highlighters in stick and pot forms. These are wildly convenient for a few reasons. For one, you can easily blend and apply them with your fingers, no brushes necessary. Secondly, they're magical multitaskers, allowing you to tap them wherever you see fit for a healthy glow. Liquid-based highlighters are also great for mixing in with your foundation or doubling as body highlighters, and don't forget about that décolletage. For dark skin tones, you can literally wear any shade of highlighter.

I lean on champagne, bronze, and rose-gold hues the most. Here are the best cream- and liquid-based highlighters for dark skin that are permanent fixtures on my makeup vanity these days.

Pat McGrath Labs Skin Fetish Highlighter & Balm Duo Golden $48
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I'm head over heels in love with this dual-sided stick that promises a dewy glow you can spot from a mile away. The bronze shade, which the brand calls a shimmering copper, looks the best on my skin tone. I start by using the translucent balm on the high points of my face and then layering that radiant-looking texture with this golden stick. It's so creamy because it's made with aloe, argan oil, and hyaluronic acid. So that second-skin look is secured with this stick. 

Flesh Beauty Touch Flesh Highlighting Balm in Squeeze $18
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I first took notice of this stick when Byrdie's senior editor, Hallie, and I donned full faces of makeup with Linda Wells's line, Flesh Beauty. This cream highlighter is equal parts sheer and buildable, so the level of luminosity is completely up to you. I enjoy pairing the Squeeze shade with a minimal makeup look. My skin looks like it's glowing from within when I'm wearing this.

RMS Beauty Beauty Living Luminizer in Peach
RMS Beauty Beauty Living Luminizer in Peach $38
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This silky illuminator is my absolute favorite product from all-natural line RMS. It has a satin, pearlescent finish that is best applied when blended with the warmth of your fingertips, IMO. It's loved by the entire Byrdie Team, and the best part about this little pot is it's a multitasker. I literally blend it anywhere I'm seeking a nice glow. 

Nars Illuminator Orgasm
Nars Illuminator Orgasm $30
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This oldie but goody never disappoints. Nars has always made shade-inclusive products, and this rose-gold illuminator looks extra-special on brown girls. It has a very liquidy consistency, so a little trick I do is mix this in with my go-to foundation to amp up the radiance. 

Nyx Makeup Born to Glow Liquid Illuminator in Sunbeam
Nyx Makeup Born to Glow Liquid Illuminator in Sunbeam $4
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I pull this gem out for vacation. When I'm in warm places, showing off my skin comes with the territory. I use this champagne shade as a body highlighter. It makes my skin glisten like no other in photos and IRL when I lather this all over my shoulders and décolletage. 

Lorac Light Source Illuminating 3-in-1 Primer in Dusk
Lorac Light Source Illuminating 3-in-1 Primer in Dusk $35
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I've been using this primer for years—so long that I can't even remember when I started. To be honest, I usually skip primers, but this is always a staple in my routine when I want my glow-up to look next-level. After working through my skincare regimen, I pump out a few drops of this dewy magic and massage it all over my face. My foundation plus this is the ideal couple. 

Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Liquid Highlighter in Topaz $41
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Everyone knows how good Becca's pressed highlighter in Champagne Pop is, but allow me to introduce you to this under-the-radar power player. The shade Topaz is formulated to work magic on deeper skin tones because the chocolaty-bronze hue pops against our complexion. It's made with light-reflecting pearls, so you already know the luminosity is unreal. 

Cover FX Custom Enhancer Drops in Candelight
Cover Fx Custom Enhancer Drops in Candelight $42
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These customizable drops are so innovative. They're a concentrated source of light, allowing you to transform any liquid-based makeup or skincare product into glowy goodness. The line is available in nine shades that all deliver a specific glow. However, I stand by the Candlelight shade for brown-skinned beauties. 

Giorgio Armani Fluid Sheer in Gold Bronze $64
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I know; I know. This one costs a pretty penny. But I guarantee this generous helping will last you a very long time. I absolutely love mixing this sheer illuminator with the Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation ($64). It's a match made in heaven. All you need is one pump of this and one pump of the foundation of your choice for a sun-kissed look. You can catch me wearing this all year round but especially in the summer.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Liquid Glow Highlighter in Metallic Amber $25
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This is a newer launch from Anastasia Beverly Hills that I've added to my glow arsenal. It's a light liquid highlighter that's so weightless you'll forget it's there. It's a potent formula, so I choose to dab a bit on my cheekbones and Cupid's bow. You can also create a glowy concoction by adding a few drops into your primer or foundation. 

Up next: Here are even more flattering highlighters for dark skin you need to try. 

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