We like glitter on our fingers and eyes (and maybe, if we’re feeling some kind of way, on our lips). We don’t like glitter on our cheekbones, or down the bridge of our nose—and definitely not on our forehead. Thus, we’re always disappointed when a highlighter—something that supposedly promises to give us a healthy radiance—ends up leaving flecks of sparkle behind and leaves us disco ball-esque. With that in mind, we’ve gathered our all-time favorite products that highlight and bring light—not glitter or sparkle—to the high points of our face. And with the help of pro makeup artists Kelsey Deenihan and Melissa Mangrum, rest assured you'll find your Holy Grail.
Meet the Expert
Scroll down for the best highlighters that are all glow and no glitter.
Becca Cosmetics Shimmering Skin Perfector
Like your favorite neighborhood bakery's vanilla cream pie, this highlighter is creamy, buttery, and oh-so-decadent. It features light-reflecting pearl pigments and can be built up for an ultra-radiant look or applied delicately for a more natural finish. Mangrum recommends the shade Chocolate Geode for richer skin tones, as it's a warm golden shade that gives a subtle glow—sans chunky glitter flakes.
Fenty Killawatt Freestyle Highlighter
Don't let the bright metallic gold hue intimidate you—the shade Trophy Wife by Fenty Beauty's luxe highlighter collection is touted by many as a go-to shade for glow-y fanatics. "A little goes a long way with this highlighter," says Mangrum. "It's highly pigmented and works on fair to dark skin. This is definitely for the 'more is more' guys and gals." Apply with the brand's Cheek-Hugging Highlight Brush ($32) for intense color payoff or use a feather brush and a light hand for something more wearable.
Chanel Les Beiges Sheer Healthy Glow Highlighting Fluid
Have parched skin? You'll need a highlighter that won't accentuate dry patches, fine lines, and texture. Mangrum says to go for a liquid highlighter if your skin skews dry, and touts this pick from Chanel as her favorite option because it's smooth as butter. "I love this because it works on all skin tones and has the most natural glow—it literally looks like skin is glowing from the inside out," she says.
Essence Pure Nude Highlighter Palette
As highlighting fiends, sometimes we need options, which is why we turn to this powder face palette by Essence. The brand's Pure Nude highlighter is something of a viral sensation for imparting a lit-from-within glow; this palette version provides you with shades that will suit any makeup look you're going for.
Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette
Hourglass’s subtle soft-focus powder is less of a highlighter and more of a sweep-everywhere illuminator. Sure, the palette comes with three different shades, but we like to sweep a fluffy brush over all of them, then powder our whole face. Rather than becoming a glittery mess, skin always looks softly radiant, smooth, and poreless.
E.l.f. Jelly Highlighter
We’re obsessed with this standout highlighter from E.l.f. The versatile formula refreshes tired skin in an instant—and you only need the tiniest drop. Plus, the wallet-friendly price tag doesn’t hurt. Deenihan recommends it because it blends beautifully into the skin and can be used on a bare face, mixed in with foundation, or over makeup. "This is the perfect highlighter for someone who doesn't wear foundation or uses a sheer to light coverage one," she says. Apply it with your fingers and tap it above your cheekbones, dabbing it in until it melts into your skin.
Rare Beauty Positive Light Liquid Luminizer Highlight
If you're looking for a second skin-like glow, look no further than this pick by Rare Beauty. Fans rave about how easy it is to apply, and that it doesn't leave splotches (or glitter) behind. "This liquid highlighter is excellent to mix in with foundation or use alone to create a soft, luminous finish," says Deenihan. When it comes to application, the choice is yours: either dot it directly onto the highlighting points of your face and blend with a damp beauty sponge, or apply a bit onto the back of your hand and use your fingers to melt it into the skin.
Black Opal True Color Illuminating Stick for Eyes, Lips, and Face
We love a makeup product that has skin-loving benefits, so naturally, this highlighting stick from Black Opal (which calls out antioxidants and aloe vera as part of its silky-smooth formula) is a winner in our book. The stick is like a magic wand, adding the most gorgeous, creamy glow anywhere you swipe. It's available in five shades that suit a variety of skin tones and can be built up for a megawatt finish.
BareMinerals Endless Glow Pressed Highlighting Powder
Enlarged pores won't stand a chance against this glitter-less pressed mineral highlighter from BareMinerals. Apply it with a fan brush for a subtle glow, or work it in with a tapered highlighting brush for cheekbones that pop. The formula is also photo-friendly since it doesn't crease, cake up, or flake, so find an Instagram-worthy backdrop and get ready to serve some serious model off-duty looks.
Tower 28 SuperDew Highlighter Balm
You know that radiance your skin exudes post-workout? Here's a balm that delivers just that, no sweat required. It delivers glossy skin with one swipe and has a translucent formula that'll boost your complexion instantly. If you're looking for all dew and no shimmer, throw this one in your makeup bag.