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Art historians have long considered that Gustav Klimt’s “The Woman in Gold” is the artist’s best work, due largely in part to the striking female subject painted in gold leaf. A century later, and sparkling golden skin is still a fan favorite and desired aesthetic of women everywhere (J.Lo is one who's nailed it). Gilded gold leafing and portrait modeling have a modern-day equivalent: Glitter oils and an Instagram shoot.
That’s right, just as boutique cupcake stores began sprouting like mushrooms in the 2000s, glitter oils are showing up in beauty lines everywhere—sometimes as a cornerstone product of an entire brand. But which oil will be the outshining, Sprinkles Cupcakes (shout-out to Black & Whites!) of the glitter-sphere? I tried and rated nine products by four categories on a scale from one to five: smell, texture, wear-ability, and of course, glitter intensity.
Find out the best shimmer body oils below.
Best Overall: Tom Ford Soleil Blanc Shimmering Body Oil
Just like the brand’s signature Private Blend Soleil Blanc perfume, this glitter oil smells rich and like one of my favorite summer fragrances.
The oil is super silky and reminiscent of a dry oil.
It dries relatively quickly, especially with the help of a kabuki brush application. Even underwater, this sparkle stays put.
Glitter intensity: 5
The underside of my Snapple cap had a real fact: “Women’s hearts beat faster than men’s hearts.” 100% true for when I see a bottle of this glitter oil sitting on a shelf.
Best Moisturizing: Patrick Ta Major Glow Body Oil
There’s a heavy sweet smell of baked vanilla and frosting, similar to a fresh batch of Christmas sugar cookies. And who doesn’t love Christmas?
Silky and smooth, this is definitely a moisturizing product.
The oil doesn’t exactly dry quickly, or at all, for that matter. I’d caution someone to apply this only after you’ve gotten dressed, and to avoid silk clothing because even the most skilled dry cleaner would be hard-pressed to remove an oil stain from a silk dress. Although, when put to the underwater test, the oiliness went away, yet the shimmer remained. This is a great pick for poolside lounging.
Glitter intensity: 4
The shimmer can be likened to specks of sporadic gold dust gleaming on the skin. I had to apply several pumps to get the gorgeous glowing effect that Ta’s models were sporting at the press preview and all over Instagram.
Best Smell: Fenty Beauty Body Lava
I get a hint of lightly toasted coconut chips, and I love it.
The almost identical response from four people who tried on Rih-Rih’s Body Lava was, “Oooooh it’s so pretty—wait, why is it so sticky?” I couldn’t imagine the sand nightmare that would ensue from wearing this to the beach.
This passed the underwater test with flying glitters (sorry!). Like the Patrick Ta version, I find the stickiness completely goes away after a dip in the pool and all that’s left is perfect shimmering skin.
Glitter Intensity: 5
Rihanna did not come to play when she made Body Lava; it SHIMMERS. Outdoor light, indoor light, flashlight test—it aces all of them all. Rih told viewers in her Vogue makeup tutorial that Body Lava was a creation derived from her own need. After years of crushing up glitters and mixing it with oils on the beaches of Barbados, she formulated her own. And, seriously, who doesn’t want to glow like Rihanna?
Best Intensity: Milani Cosmetics Intense Bronze Glow
There’s a faint beachy smell, like a piña colada that’s a few chairs away from you and you’ve just caught a hint of it with a passing breeze.
This dries almost instantly. You won’t have to wait around to avoid oil stains on clothing as this thing goes right to work with blueprints and a sparkling briefcase.
This is totally water resistant, so splish and splash with abandon. Honestly, I needed multiple rounds of soap, water, and makeup remover to take this off; even then, some sparkle remained. It didn’t transfer onto clothing or furniture, either.
Glitter intensity: 5
Oh my stars, this is PIGMENTED. If you’re just looking for a hint of shimmer, don’t use this. Milan’s glow product is only for those looking for the real deal, or an extra side of extra-ness.
Best for a Subtle Glow: Tarte Sugar Rush Shimmertime Body Oil
Shimmer Time is part of Tarte’s Sugar Rush line of products, and like the name, it smells very sweet; I’m more of a musk-lover myself. The scent is reminiscent of toasted strawberry Pop Tarts with extra frosting, which isn’t my preference, but only because I’m gluten-free and very jealous.
The oil dries relatively quickly and feels nice and hydrating on the skin.
Even after a dip underwater, it leaves a thin coat of subtle shimmer. Opt for this shimmer on the days you want to glitter discreetly.
Glitter intensity: 3
This tinsel-level is definitely more subdued than others in the list.
Best for Dry Skin: Kopari Coconut Body Glow
Part coconut, part citronella candle at a beach party barbeque.
Ultra-silky, ultra-hydrating, and very oily. Great for super dry skin.
This is another oil that doesn’t exactly dry. I rubbed it in and fanned it down, but still, it was right on top of my skin. Beware of oil stains around this, or restrict its use to topless days by a private pool. After a swim, the oil wiped off almost completely, so be sure to reapply when you’re dry.
Glitter intensity: 5
This has a lot of golden concentrated sparkle on initial application. With only give pumps, I became a golden disco ball, and I’m not mad at that.
Best Quick-Drying: Sol de Janeiro Glowmotions
I love the smell of this rich and toasted-feeling serum. I get a wave of coconut covered kettle corn, and I’m hungry.
Nothing but a moisturizing, non-sticky feeling – ready for the beach, the pool, or just a few amazing selfies.
The minute I apply this, I start hearing “Jenny from the Block.” This dries quickly once it’s rubbed into the skin and doesn’t slip off after a dip in a saltwater pool.
Glitter intensity: 2
For those who love sheen versus glitter, this is definitely the product for you. Otherwise, glitter fanatics will be disappointed because this lacks traditional sparkle—I'm definitely not mad though.
Best for a Night Out: Anastasia Beverly Hills Hills Shimmer Body Oil
The scent of this reminds me of my favorite Bond No 9 fragrance, Greenwich Village ($405). There are hints of lychee, vanilla, and a sexy pool boy.
Glossy and gleaming, this girl is not getting sticky around here.
Sadly, this shimmer was quick to wash away in the water. Luckily, the size is convenient enough for travel and reapplications.
Glitter intensity: 4
In direct sunlight, this looks amazing. Indoors, however, it doesn’t show the extra oomph of pigment I would’ve expected from the color geniuses at ABH—but I don’t mind staying in the sun (with ample SPF, of course).
Best Texture: Beautycounter Glow Shimmer Oil
Bitter orange and sandalwood oil smell a bit like neroli in this clean blend. It’s really one of the few glitter oils of the round-up without an overtly artificial fragrance.
Jojoba oil is one of my favorite body moisturizers because the texture is very similar to the body’s sebum. I love how this blend of natural oils feels.
I like how this looks on my skin, despite the lack of sparkle. Underwater, the product disappeared completely, so there’s room for improvement in the water resistance arena.
Glitter intensity: 1
I looked under flashlights, natural light, and direct sun; sorry to report, but there’s little-to-no sparkle to be found. I love this line, so I’m crossing my fingers for more shimmer in the future.