Highlighting, contouring, strobing and baking—these makeup tricks are pretty much a part of life and this point, and none of it could be done without highlighter. But if you don’t have the right highlighter, well, thinks can get messy really fast. And by messy we mean it looks like we stepped out of a time machine that just got back from a turbulent ride to the year 2000. Yup, a bunk highlighter will leave you looking like a glittery, shimmery mess.
So to keep you from that early naughts shame, we rounded up our favorite highlighters that will make your cheekbones quite literally glow, as if your face were cast in a permanent Instagram filter. We promise if you blend them (really, really well, and with a gentle touch), you’ll look less like you fell into a tub of sparkles and more like a camera-ready Kardashian.
Originally published March 2016. Updated September 2017.
Josie Maran Argan Enlightenment Illuminizer
With a distinctly golden hue and a lineup of natural, good-for-you ingredients (hello, argan and grapeseed oil), this liquid highlighter is pretty much the elixir of youth to your skin. For a more subtle, all-over glow, mix a drop or two in with your favorite foundation or moisturizer before blending it over your skin.
Anastasia Beverly Hills Illuminator
No matter how you feel about the Kardashians, you have to admit that their makeup game is pretty unparalleled: Those girls glow. And they've got this very special highlighter to thank, because each of these illuminators shades imparts a ridiculously luminous finish that shines without any sparkle. No wonder they're constantly selling out.
Anastasia Beverly Hills
Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed
The liquid version of this silky powder is the stuff of legends, but we prefer the "pressed" take on it—so much less mess, and fewer opportunities to waste product. Plus, despite it being a powder, it has almost a creamy feel on your skin, and it reflects light like nothing else we've ever tried.
Kevyn Aucoin The Celestial Powder in Candlelight
You can brush this powder over the same ol' places you’d usually put highlighter—cheekbones, brow bone, temples—or you could branch out and try a hint of this shimmery, apricot-hued powder on your collarbones, shoulders, and eyelids. The glow it casts is so lovely and natural-looking that we’d hardly want to restrain it.
Nars The Multiple in Copacabana
This creamy stick highlighter wins awards for good reason: It’s the gold (or, should we say, shimmering pearl) standard for a multitasking highlighter. Blend it over your cheekbones for a super-natural glow, dab it into your lids for a subtle pick-me-up, or tap it on your temples to look instantly more awake.
Benefit Watt's Up! Cream Highlighter
Packaged in a dual-ended stick, this shimmer-spiked highlighter is a little glitzier than the other options here, making it perfect for a night out. And, thanks to its champagne undertones, it's especially flattering on any skin tone that's lighter than tan-to-olive.
RMS Beauty Living Luminizer
A staple of beauty editors everywhere, this champagne balm leaves your skin (yes, yours—it works on literally every skin tone) with just the right amount of luminescence. It's also formulated with hydrating ingredients like coconut oil and rosemary extract, so it feels just as good on your skin as it looks.
The 7 Best Highlighters for a Natural Glow