Scroll To See More Images
I’m the worst, most obnoxious kind of beauty editor. You know my type: We don’t really wear makeup every day, opting instead for really good skin care, a great hairstylist, and “just a few dabs of concealer” here and there. (On the DL, go ahead and add a great dermatologist to that list. Without topical antibiotics, spironolactone, and a cortisone injection when necessary, I’d be left in the lurch.)
A full face of makeup every day? Honestly, not really my thing, and not because I deny the fact that foundation makes me look so much better, or that I’m a different, way more sexually appealing person with an expertly crafted cat eye. What it comes down to is simple: I am a person who enjoys sleeping for longer than they should be sleeping in the morning. So unless I’m going out on the weekend and have a few hours to get good and ready, I’m bare bones, “are you okay? You look so tired”-status makeup-free.
But the one thing I never leave the house without is highlighter. I rely on highlighter to make me look fresh-faced and dewy, so it better be damn good. Because I’m frequently promiscuous with beauty products, I don’t have a Holy Grail highlighter—I try them all as soon as they hit the market, because anyone who says all highlighters are made alike is so very, very wrong.
I tried a lot this year—let’s call 2015 my Year of Highlighter, and while we’re at it, let’s call every year before and after 2015 my Year of Highlighter, too—but only a few made it into permanent rotation. These five stand out to me as the best new releases I tried in 2015, and rest assured, fellow women who feel uncomfortable if their face is not glowing: They’re still available to buy into 2016 as well.
Chantecaille Liquid Lumière, $39
I love a well-made liquid highlighter that has just the right texture—lightweight, luminescent, more creamy than slippery or slick—and this one fits the bill and then some. The pearly Sheen shade is killer on fair skin, because it has a pinkish-leaning tone that looks healthy and radiant, not like you just have a mysterious streak of something pink on your face. There’s zero sparkle here, so it looks totally natural, if “luminous” were a natural state, and it doesn’t slide around, so you get that pearliness exactly where you want it and only there.
L’Oréal True Match Lumi Liquid Glow Highlighter, $12.99
In true True Match form, this liquid highlighter comes in three shades, each one meant to match certain skin tones. I prefer Ice, which, as you might imagine, is intended for complexions with cool undertones. It’s very lightweight and genuinely illuminating, not sparkly, so you can feel OK about mixing a dab in with your foundation on days when you’re feeling dull. A slightly tackier texture means it stays put, which is perhaps the most important quality in a highlighter when you have oily skin that errs on the shiny side.
BECCA Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed, $38
The texture of this pressed powder highlighter is unparalleled. It’s a powder, yes, but it feels creamy both in the pan and on your skin. How do they do that? The shade variety is excellent, too—with seven to choose from, that’s about five more than most highlighters on the market. A little bit of this goes a long way, but it has a really bright, gorgeous fairy lights quality about it that makes it tempting to load up on. I only suggest applying it liberally to your entire face if you have aspirations of blinding people on the street.
Anastasia Beverly Hills Illuminators, $28
The Kardashians are reportedly obsessed with this line of highlighters, and they do, admittedly, have wonderful pearly skin. Kim’s shade of choice, a true yellow gold, sold out in a ridiculously short amount of time, but the other three are just as glowy and appealing. The mosaic pattern in the compact sort of gives you fair notice of what’s to come, like, “I am so multidimensional and radiant that I look like I’m two different colors in photos, but that’s just me reflecting light.” But seriously, if you want skin that shines in the best way possible (i.e. like a Kardashian), here you go.
Tata Harper Very Illuminating Cheek Tint, $40
This one reminds me very much of another cult favorite highlighter that I enjoy wholeheartedly, but that doesn’t take away from the greatness of it. Yes, it’s costly; yes, the pot is tiny; yes, I bought it anyway, despite its similarity to another product I already own. Sunflower seed, coconut, and castor oils make it super smooth to apply, and skin-nourishing, to boot. The beeswax component makes it stick to skin, sparing you the trauma of realizing that your forehead has somehow become highlighted by midday.