This Old School Highlighter Trend Is Back on Our Radar

Updated 05/22/18
best highlighter powder: Woman with glowing cheekbones
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When it comes to highlighting, powders will give you serious sheen and shimmer. In recent years, balms and liquids have had us experimenting with different textures, but for a hyper-real glow, powders are it. They’re also incredibly easy to use. Where creamier textures require some skill (they’re slippery buggers), the powder is much easier to control. Using a fan brush or beauty blender can allow you to direct the particles to the high points of your face with ease. Or make like Beyonce’s makeup artist Sir John and apply a cream or liquid before layering powder over the top for serious longevity. The quality of highlighting powders have come a long way too—finely milled and often creamy to the touch to avoid chalkiness. They’re also usually buildable, so they can take you from subtle wash to high impact in a couple of strokes.

Dust them onto cheekbones, brow bones, over the cupid’s bow, on the chin and even across the forehead near the hairline for a glowing complexion. Not sure which powder to pick? Here’s our rundown of the seven best highlighter powders.

MAC Hyper Real in Get It Glowing
MAC Hyper Real in Get It Glowing $35
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MAC’s trio of finely milled highlighting powders in warm, gold-toned shades is perfect for summer when you have a bit of a tan. A creamy powder formula means there is little fallout, so the highlighter goes and stays where you want it to. Build the sheen up from subtle glow to full-on illumination.

Nyx Born to Glow!
Nyx Born to Glow! $9
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The most affordable of the bunch is this drugstore option that certainly rivals the more expensive highlighters out there. Nyx’s formula is packed with crushed pearls and adds a serious glow to the face. In fact, it’s Nyx’s most intense highlight option. It comes in three shades to suit all skin tones and is great if you’re new to highlighting.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder
Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder $40
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This highlighter’s designed to mimic different types of light sources (from dawn sunshine to candlelight) with a powder that has light-diffusing particles to manipulate the way the naked eye perceives your complexion. It’s made to be dusted all over the face. With a few swipes and blemishes, uneven skin tones and fine lines are instantly less noticeable.

Fenty Beauty Killawatt Freestyle Highlighter in Trophy Wife
Fenty Beauty Killawatt Freestyle Highlighter in Trophy Wife $26
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This cream-powder hybrid in a yellow gold melts into the skin, making it seriously easy to blend into place. It’s has a megawatt sheen and suits all skin tones. You can use it in the usual places, but it can also be applied to your lips to create a metallic-foil effect. Not only that, but Fenty Beauty is also cruelty-free.

Laura Geller Baked Gelato Swirl Illuminator in Ballerina
Laura Geller Baked Gelato Swirl Illuminator in Ballerina $26
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Laura Geller is best known for her baked powder formulas. Her cream formulas are baked until they become powder, creating a smooth, velvety texture. These swirly illuminators impart a sheer and radiant wash of shimmer all over the face or can be used more strategically. There are four shades in the line-up: Ballerina, a pink mocha; Gilded Honey, a gold shimmer; Peach Glow, an apricot beige and Charming Pink, a silver-toned rose.

Laura Mercier Face Illuminator in Seduction
Laura Mercier Face Illuminator in Seduction $32
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On darker skin tones, this rich pearlescent bronze highlighter will look incredible. Use it on the eyes in the day or ramp up the shine by dusting onto cheekbones, décolletage or even down your shins come night time. The formula glides on like a cream but with the texture of a finely milled powder. Oh, and it’s oil-free, so it won’t block pores.

Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed Highlighter
Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed Highlighter $32
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Becca’s pressed highlighter is a total cult buy. It adds an expensive luster to any complexion with four shade options: Moonstone (a pale gold), Opal (a golden peach tone), Rose Gold and Champagne Pop. There really is a highlighter for every skin tone. When dusted all over the face, this sets your foundation in place and gives a lit-from-within glow. Alternatively, you could direct it to the high points of the face like you would a traditional highlighter.

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