I Just Tried 50 Highlighters—These Are The Ones I'd Recommend

If the beauty industry had a most-frequently used phrase list, glow would sit comfortably at the top. So much so that it seems like we've all been desperately trying to get the glow, since Jennifer Lopez launched her Glow by JLo fragrance in 2002. 

I'm not sure if it's the vintage style that I connect with or just that I have an aversion to midday forehead shine, but I've never found the appeal or felt the need to chase the glowy look. I just like my complexion to lean more towards the matte end of the spectrum. 

Highlighters are an interesting category for me and powder highlighters have been a long-time staple in my routine, as I can boost my complexion but most importantly control the matte level. I've dabbled in other glow-enhancing products but they've given me more dew than I anticipated. 

But, as my foundation experiment proved, the glow life ain't all that bad so it's time to see what awaits me in the world of highlighters. World is the most accurate descriptor here, as there are highlighters aplenty. Highlighters are basically the spokespeople of Instagram beauty. Along with severe brows and super matte liquid lipstick, it's a look that has come to define the digital age of beauty. 


(Image credit: @gisellelpm)

So I wanted to see if the highlighters on the market right now, can live beyond the 1080px Instagram square. The goal of this experiment is to test for wearability, to see if they are realistic or look like a glitter fairy has landed on my face and most importantly see if the 'get the glow' goal has been accomplished. Here are my findings...

Kevyn Aucoin The Glass Glow Face and Body Illuminator in Spectrum Bronze 


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I have a confession to make, mustering up the courage to try this took me a good 2-3 business days. I tend to avoid any product that looks like liquid gold but here we are, and we are thriving. I tried this mixed in with foundation and blended on top and I am hooked, mesmerised and captivated. It gave me the kind of realistic glow that only a multi product skincare routine does. 

Chanel Duo Bronze et Lumiere in Medium


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I've been known to pay extra to take a suitcase when going on short haul trips, just so I can avoid cramming my beauty products in the plastic bag of doom. But one quick swipe of this and it's the only holiday product I might ever need. It's on the right side of glittery to brighten up my face, as well as adding extra dimension thanks to the additional bronzer. 

Charlotte Tilbury Glowgasm Palette in Lovegasm 


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I became so captivated by this palette that I took it too far. Once these intensely pigmented highlighters landed on my face I decided to just keep adding more. One hundred selfies and six layers later, my skin looked like a sheet of kitchen foil. The next day when my over-excitement subsided, I tried again with a singular layer and this, my friends, is the glow to end all glows. Hooked. 

Morphe High Impact Highlighter in Mirage


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I've had some highlighter mishaps in my past, usually when the shade has a pink or pearly undertone, which is too light for my skin tone. This however, was the perfect shade to give my skin a natural-looking enhancement and also doubles up as an excellent eyeshadow. 

Dior Diorskin Nude Luminizer in Bronze Glow 


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Bronze highlighters are just the way to go for darker skin tones, this shade warmed me up on a seriously dull day. There's an incredible amount of pigment packed in this sleek compact, so I only needed a touch for the intensity I wanted. It has such a soft finish for an all out glow too.

Jouer Cosmetics Powder Highlighter in Tan Lines 


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This highlighter is no joke, so much so that I scared myself with my over-zealous application. I had to spend more time blending it in, so I didn't look like I was fresh off a spaceship. It's worth it for sure as I don't think my face has ever glowed so hard.

Fenty Beauty Killawatt Duo in Mean Money and Hu$tla Baby


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The hype around Fenty Beauty's highlighters are completely warranted. If a highlighter can make you queue up for an hour or so, then it must be special. Special it is, as I felt like a shimmering goddess once I applied this duo. I mixed the shades together for a more well-rounded colour, but they work just as perfectly on their own. They're the perfect shade range if yellow gold tones don't work for you. 

Topshop Glow Powder Highlight in Solstice 


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When I swiped this over my cheekbones, I thought I'd be blending it in for eternity. It originally looked like one of those highlighters that looks great on the 'gram but just doesn't translate well in real life. Well, I was sorely mistaken as this highlighter was just as fine as sieved icing sugar, making it so easy to blend. 

Pat McGrath Sublime Skin Highlighting Trio


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There's a very distinct intergalactic vibe happening here and I'm not mad about it. The hit of purple combined really well with the dark gold, in a way that I wasn't expecting on my skin tone. It effortlessly creates that light bouncing off skin look, that I've not been able to master. 

Buxom Divine Goddess Palette


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This creamy palette of goodness made me feel like a makeup pro giving a live demo, as I was able to work it in with my fingertips with so much precision. It's so easy to work with and that's exactly what we need from a highlighter. With all the skill that's needed to perfect a lip or feline flick, I want to be able to add some glow in a hot minute. While the formula can initially feel tricky if you're used to powders, it's a joy to use. 

Yves Saint Laurent Touche Éclat Shimmer Stick in Copper


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If you walked past my bathroom when I applied this, you would have heard an audible gasp. I've not been able to get the classic Touche Éclat to work for me, but this is the very definition of a game-changer. The coppery tone is one of my go-to shades for both cheeks and lids, and the fact that it swipes on in a handy stick makes it even better. 

Anastasia Beverly Hills Liquid Glow in Patina 


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My cheekbones look like they've been drenched in melted copper pennies and I'm here for it. There's surprisingly not too much glitter in this liquid highlighter and as I don't have much time for glitter this is a huge plus. This also meant that I could mix this in with my matte foundation to add a sheer glow as well as buffing it in on top. I'll be grabbing this whenever I'm in need of a sun-kissed up-level. 

Surratt Torche Lumière in D'Or


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This should be in the classified section with a title of Desperately Seeking Light, as the particles really come to life when they hit the sun. This is basically the equivalent of swiping on a stick made of real gold dust. This one melted in so seamlessly with my foundation, giving my complexion the life it needed. 

Revlon ColorStay Endless Glow in Gold


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This little pot of gold, was just the medicine my face needed when the sun had been hiding for one too many days. It quickly transformed my spring makeup look for a summer one in an instant and for £10 it's everything I want from a quick complexion booster. 

IT Cosmetics Confidence In Your Glow in Instant Natural Glow


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I rarely wear blusher as I'm yet to find my perfect shade, one that doesn't make me look like an adult doll. This glow-inducing palette gives me the best of both worlds by merging them into one. I thought the pink would need to be a little darker for me, but it gave me the pop of healthy colour that I've been craving. 

Now my highlighter experimentations have reached a conclusion, I'm no longer in a rush for summer to arrive as my new go-to highlighters have boosted my complexion right up.

I'm sure you've been in fevered anticipation to hear my top picks and here they are: Charlotte TilburyAnastasia Beverly Hills and Chanel have all fought their way into my makeup bag and there they will remain. 

The shades that worked best on my skin tone were darker golds, copper and bronze tones. However, there's a lot of pearlescent and pink undertones in many of the highlighters out there, which aren't flattering on darker skin. For greater wearability head to the warmer shades and you can also mix highlighters in with your foundation to keep it low-key. 

Giselle La Pompe-Moore