The season's best highlighters are your shortcut to glowy – not glittery – skin (2023)

Highlighters have long been the show-offs of the make-up world. Sparkly and shimmery, wrapped up in gilded packaging, these illuminating powders and creams are designed with magpies in mind. But a great highlighter shouldn't be reserved solely for festivals and nightclubs – in fact, this season's best new launches are destined to become a key component in your everyday line-up. The trick is simply to choose the right one.

Sure, there’s a time and a place for disco-ball shimmer, but to really trick the light, a softer stance is better, as Glossier's European make-up artist Celia Burton explains. “Balms and creams have a texture that’s much closer to the skin’s natural form – we don’t tend to look powdery naturally. So to use highlighters (or blushes) with this consistency keeps the skin looking human.”

How to apply highlighter

The joy of balm and cream highlighters is that you can simply dab them on with your finger – but if you prefer a brush, a small synthetic foundation or concealer brush works just as well. However, be aware that buffing with a brush is likely to shift any base products you’ve applied beneath. “If you have a heavy-ish base on, use a finger. If not so much, use a brush,” adds Burton.

While creams and balms can deliver believable gleam like no other, nothing rivals a powder when it comes to impact and staying power. “A powder is good for a more ‘make-up-y’ finish, which isn’t a bad thing,” says Burton. Using a fluffy brush, swirl yours over a base of foundation and setting powder to ensure an even, airbrushed effect.

Where to place highlighter

When faking a glow, It’s not just the texture you should consider – positioning is crucial too. “Highlighter should be placed where light naturally hits the face – the cheek, top of the cheek bone, brow bone, Cupid's bow and chin,” says Burton.

The finishing touch

Really, an iridescent highlighter atop a foundation is all you need for a year-round glow, but a pop of blush can take things into even brighter territory. “Try applying the highlight after your blush: layering the two together helps to take down any metallic frostiness and keeps it looking really natural,” says Burton. “Again, I like to use something nice and creamy like Glossier’s Cloud Paint for blush: it’s lightweight, buffs out beautifully and has the best shade range.”

Here, see the best face highlighters to call on for a grown-up glow, day or night.

The 15 best highlighters to try this season

Best powder highlighter

Forever Luminizer




Dior's powder highlighter comes in a collection of warm, almost pinkish shades that are more flattering than a yellow-gold. The finish is fine and easily buildable: think candlelight, not disco-ball.

Best two-tone highlighter


Sheer Highlighting Duo




Shimmer is always sophisticated when done by Tom Ford. An in-demand piece from the annual Soleil collection, this highlighting palette features two sheer, tonal shades, both of which deliver tan-enhancing colour alongside satiny shine, rather than chunky flecks of glitter. They look spectacular worn as eyeshadow, too.

Best stick highlighter

Victoria Beckham £36

Reflect Highlighter Stick

The season's best highlighters are your shortcut to glowy – not glittery – skin (3)

Victoria Beckham Beauty

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Balmy without being greasy, Victoria Beckham's first highlighter delivers a light-reflecting gleam that always looks flattering. It contains tiny pearlescent particles that look softer and subtler than glitter, and can be simply swiped on the top of your cheekbones and blended with a finger.

Best shimmering highlighter


Beauty Light Wand



This is the product behind Phoebe Dynevor's show-stealing skin at the Harper's Bazaar Women of the Year Awards. In fact, it's quite the make-up artist's secret weapon, thanks to the way it creates creamy, wet-look highlights that balance red-carpet impact with a flattering finish.

The original Spotlight shade is a warm champagne gold, while Pinkgasm delivers a pearly-pink gleam that looks especially beautiful on very pale skin.

Best natural highlighter

Baume Essentielle




A high-pigment highlighter can look beautiful, but rarely believable. If you're looking for something to enhance a 'no make-up' look, opt instead for one of the new school of clever clear highlighters. This swipe-on stick from Chanel contains a translucent, subtly iridescent balm that looks juicy and luminous all day long. Dab it onto bare skin, or try it over a tinted moisturiser.

Best liquid highlighter


V-Lighter Face Base and Top Coat Primer




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Valentino Beauty had landed, and this liquid highlighter is perhaps the star of the whole collection. Available in two shades (one pearly, one peachy) and free from give-away glitter, it blends seamlessly onto the skin – or into a drop of foundation – to impart a sublime sheen. The luminosity lasts all day without smudging or settling into lines: no easy feat.

Best dewy highlighter

Westman Atelier

Lit Up Highlight Stick




As you'd likely expect from make-up artist Gucci Westman, this balmy highlighter leads to incredible-looking skin. The melting texture creates a wet-look gleam on the high points of the face, with just the right amount of pigment to bounce the light from cheekbones. A must-try.

Cult Beauty



This one looks a little intimidating squeezed straight from the tube, but melts into skin to deliver a sheer shine. Blend it into your foundation for all-over radiance, dab it strategically over cheekbones, or simply wear it on fresh, moisturised skin for an ultra-flattering result.

Le Blanc De Chanel Multi Use Illuminating Base





Chanel's classic illuminating liquid can be used in multiple ways: wear it as a primer for a soft hint of radiance, blend it into your liquid foundation to sheer out the coverage, or use it as the final step in your routine to pick out the peaks of your cheekbones. The pearly hue suits all skin tones.

Best bronze highlighter


The Impossible Glow

Cult Beauty



If you prefer all-over luminosity to spotlit cheekbones, Pai's new launch could be perfect. The natural oil blend looks worryingly pigmented in the bottle, but a single drop, blended into your moisturiser or foundation, equates to a sheer glow that works on all tones. Boosted with algae and hyaluronic acid, it comes with good-for-skin credentials, too.

Best gel highlighter


Glass Glow Face




Kevyn Aucoin has long been known for creating sophisticated, glow-enhancing face products. Quite unlike any other highlighter, Glass Glow is a non-tacky gel infused with light-reflecting particles. Don't try to blend it – it looks its wet-look best when simply dabbed over the highest points of your face. Darker skin tones, take note: there are some especially flattering, unique shades to be found here.

Space NK




This perfecting powder is a firm favourite with brides, thanks to the soft-focus radiance it imparts in all lighting conditions (even in the harsh flash of a camera). The pearlescent pigments are more finely milled than most, allowing for the smoothest results, and the shades are all soft, natural and flattering.

Best all-over highlighter

Strobe Cream




Powders can look patchy on dry skin, so a hydrating liquid will always be your best bet. MAC's Strobe Cream is a long-loved classic, now available in five light-reflecting shades. The secret to its popularity lies in its versatility: blend into your moisturiser or foundation, apply it on top, or sweep it over eyelids.

Best clear highlighter

Eclat De Beauté Effet Lumière




This one will not be for everyone – true to Gucci's standard-skewing aesthetic, it offers an out-of-the-box way to light up skin.Simple yet strikingly effective, the clear jelly brings reflective shine to cheekbones and eyelids, making skin look mega-hydrated without even a pinch of pigment.

Best blush / highlighter hybrid

Liquid Lumire Highlighter




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This blush/highlight hybrid is the perfect choice for anyone who also wants a touch of face-brightening colour. A truly elegant formula, the silky cream can be blended over cheekbones with a brush or finger, and is easily buildable for extra intensity.


What is the best highlighter for a dewy look? ›

8 Best Dewy Highlighters For Gorgeous Skin In 2022
  1. Best Vegan Formula:E.l.f. Jelly Highlighter. ...
  2. Best For Sensitive Skin:Undone Beauty Lip To Cheek Palette. ...
  3. Best Transfer-Resistant:Firstfly Pheora Body Luminizer. ...
  4. Best Long-Lasting Finish:Aesthetica Starlite Highlighter.
Sep 5, 2022

Are there highlighters without glitter? ›

Luckily, there are numerous non-glittery highlighters that give off a more wearer-friendly and natural-looking glow, from subtle to high-beam, and for all skin tones and undertones. Below, 11 of our favorites to help you get your glow on.

Which brand highlighter is best? ›

1. Maybelline New York Face Studio Master Chrome Metallic Highlighter. This metallic highlighter by Maybelline is the best highlighter for the face. It provides an amazing sheen to your skin.

Which is best highlighter or illuminator? ›

If you are a fan of lit-from-within glow, then illuminators are your best pick. Instead of focusing on the high points of the face, illuminators give glowing skin. Big beauty tips: You can either apply the illuminator directly to the skin or mix it with a foundation or even a moisturizer.

Do all highlighters have shimmer? ›

There are very few highlighters that are glitter-free, but there's no need for you to buy a bunch of new products or test out every product in a store because we did that for you. We found the highlighting powders, balms, creams, glazes, liquids, and sticks that will deliver that oh-so-subtle glow we all want.

Can highlighter look natural? ›

The purpose of a highlighter is to reflect light to give the face a radiant and dewy appearance. As a result, your complexion will appear more youthful and rested. Generally, a highlighter is applied after foundation, but you can also use a highlighter without foundation for a natural look.

How do you get lit from within glow? ›

Here's How You Can Get A Lit-From-Within Glow
  1. Step 1: Cleanse, Cleanse, Cleanse. The first and foremost step in any skincare routine is cleansing. ...
  2. Step 2: Exfoliate to Get Rid of Dirt and Impurities. ...
  3. Step 3: Hydrate with a Mask. ...
  4. Step 4: Nourish Your Skin with a Serum & A Moisturiser.
Apr 15, 2022

Can older woman wear highlighter? ›

Forget the powder highlighters. They do nothing for mature skin except settle into fine lines and wrinkles and give an overall dry effect. Cream products such as highlighters and skin balms are the way to go!

Where do you put highlighter on older skin? ›

For cream highlighters, dot on with your fingertips and then blend using a beauty blender sponge.
  1. Above the Brows and under the Brow bone Arch.
  2. In the Center of the Eyelid.
  3. Just above the cheekbone.
  4. On the apples of the cheeks over blush.
  5. Above the cupid's brow of the lips.
  6. Down the bridge of the nose.
Jul 20, 2022

How do you use highlighter over 50? ›

How To Use Highlighter On Mature Skin - YouTube

Which is better liquid highlighter or powder highlighter? ›

In short, while liquid highlighters work to give a subtle, lit-from-within glow, powder highlighters are added on top of your base makeup to add an extra shimmery glow to your look.

Is powder or stick highlighter better? ›

Both powder and cream highlighters are beneficial, with powder being favored for those with oilier skin and cream the pick for those who have a more dry skin tone.

Which highlighter is best affordable? ›

Glow like a pro with these 8 makeup-artist approved drugstore highlighters
  • Butter Highlighter. ...
  • Baked Highlighter. ...
  • PhotoReady Rose Glow Finishing Primer. ...
  • Skinlights Prismatic Highlighter. ...
  • Haloscope Stick. ...
  • True Match Lumi Glow Amour Glow Boosting Drops. ...
  • Strobe Cream. ...
  • FaceStudio Master Strobing Stick Illuminating Highlighter.
Jun 16, 2022

Which liquid highlighter is best? ›

  • Saie Glowy Super Gel Lightweight Dewy Highlighter. ...
  • Chantecaille Liquid Lumière Highlighting Fluid. ...
  • Benefit Cosmetics High Beam Liquid Highlighter. ...
  • Glossier Futuredew. ...
  • Fenty Beauty Liquid Killawatt Fluid Freestyle Highlighter. ...
  • Freck Beauty Slimelight Highlighter. ...
  • Jlo Beauty That Star Filter Highlighting Complexion Booster.
Jul 13, 2022

What shade of highlighter should I use? ›

Generally, you'll want to pick up a highlighter shade that's about two shades lighter than your skin tone for a natural-looking finish. You can also find the perfect highlighter for your complexion by relying on your undertones (you know, that secondary tone under your skin tone).

Do you put illuminator on before foundation? ›

Typically, illuminator is applied directly after you apply foundation and before blush. This will give you a noticeable glow. If you want a subtle glow, however, you should apply the illuminator below your foundation.

Can you use Illuminator without foundation? ›

This offering will definitely suit your needs. Featuring a lightweight formula, it can be used to illuminate skin all over or on specific areas to add some extra glistening to your look. We also dig that this illuminator can be used alone or with your foundation.

What is the difference between highlighter and shimmer? ›

The difference is that highlighters are intended for the high points of the face. They're complexion products. In contrast, when we're talking about a shimmer, we're almost always referring to an eyeshadow. Both highlighters and shimmers are intended to be shiny, and either might be referred to as “shimmery.”

What's the difference between highlighter and illuminator? ›

The main difference: Highlighter is for concentrated areas of light, while an illuminator creates the illusion of light more generally across the skin.

What is shimmer highlighter? ›

Coloressence Shimmer Highlighter is a multi-purpose shimmery powder that instantly enhances the aesthetic feels of one's makeup look. With a fresh radiant glow, providing the face with dimension.

How do you use shimmer highlighter? ›

How to Apply Shimmer & Highlights | Makeup Tricks - YouTube

Can you put highlighter all over your face? ›

Liquid highlight can be used all over the skin as a luminous base before foundation, or you can apply it to more specific areas for a targeted glow.

Can I apply highlighter with my finger? ›

Apply a Highlighter with Fingers

On the other hand, the warmth of the fingers allows the product to really blend into the skin and create a more intense sheen. Try swirling your finger in the highlighter and then patting the product directly onto your cheekbones, cupid's bow, brow bone, and bridge of the nose.

Can highlighter be mixed with foundation? ›

If you're a baddie that prefers a subtle-looking glow, you can make it happen. Mix a tiny bit of a liquid highlighter with your liquid foundation. Apply it with a makeup blender, like the L'Oréal Paris Infallible Blend Artist Foundation Blender, using quick dabbing and rolling motions.

How can I make my face glow in minutes? ›

Milk Face Mask

This quick face mask requires just 1 ingredient and that's just milk. Dip a cotton pad in raw milk and apply it all over your face and neck. Keep it for 10 minutes and wash. This will leave your face fresh, glowing, and moisturised.

How can I get glowing skin in 2 weeks? ›

Skin Care Routine
  1. A. Cleanse Twice A Day. A squeaky clean skin is the first step in any skincare routine for glowing skin [2]. ...
  2. B. Exfoliate Your Skin Once A Week. ...
  3. C. Use A Toner. ...
  4. D. Address Skin Concerns Using An Active. ...
  5. E. Moisturize Twice A Day. ...
  6. F. Apply A Sunscreen. ...
  7. A. Raw Milk. ...
  8. B. Besan.
Sep 5, 2022

How do you make your makeup look dewy? ›

How to Get a Dewy Makeup Look
  1. Start with a hydrating primer. The most important step in achieving budgeproof dewy makeup is prepping your canvas. ...
  2. Apply a lightweight skin tint. ...
  3. Create a bronzed base. ...
  4. Add blush. ...
  5. Finish with a final layer of highlighter.

How do you use Dewy highlighter? ›


How do I make my highlighter look wet? ›

6 Dewy Highlighters for Glossy, Wet-Looking Skin

The key to achieving a wet, dewy look is to use a moisturizing formula applied with a damp brush or sponge. Now that you know the technique, check out six of our favorite glossy highlighters to use to get that Instagram-worthy finish.

How do you use a dewy stick? ›

Apply directly on bare skin to impart a fresh, dewy finish, or if wearing on top of makeup, swipe fingers over the balm, and then place it on your skin using the pads of the fingers in a rolling motion. Try sweeping your favorite powder highlighter over the top to amplify your radiance.

How do you make dewy glow? ›

How to Get Dewy Skin
  1. Exfoliate Regularly. ...
  2. Grab a Vitamin C Serum. ...
  3. Slather on SPF. ...
  4. Keep a Facial Mist on Hand. ...
  5. Use a Hydrating Primer. ...
  6. Mix Makeup and Skin Care. ...
  7. Use Cream and Liquid-Based Makeup Products. ...
  8. Extend the Dewy Love to Your Lips.
Apr 29, 2022

What gives face dewy? ›

To get a dewy look, use a humectant, such as glycerin or hyaluronic acid. “These usually come in serum form, but they could also appear in products that seek to fill in a hybrid slot between a serum and a moisturizer,” Gonzalez says. Try a budget-friendly option, like The INKEY List Hyaluronic Acid.

Do you apply highlighter before or after foundation? ›

As for powder highlighter and cream formulas, these are best applied after foundation to ensure your makeup looks even. (Don't forget to apply cream formulas before you set your foundation.)

Where do you put highlighter on mature face? ›

For cream highlighters, dot on with your fingertips and then blend using a beauty blender sponge.
  1. Above the Brows and under the Brow bone Arch.
  2. In the Center of the Eyelid.
  3. Just above the cheekbone.
  4. On the apples of the cheeks over blush.
  5. Above the cupid's brow of the lips.
  6. Down the bridge of the nose.
Jul 20, 2022

Do you put highlighter over concealer? ›

Concealers should be applied first before using a highlighter to hide blemishes and get an even skin tone. They should not be used on dry skin because they can make the area appear flaky and cakey.

How do you apply liquid highlighter without smudging foundation? ›

How to Apply Liquid Highlighter Without Breaking Up ... - YouTube

Can you put highlighter under foundation? ›

The purpose of a highlighter is to reflect light to give the face a radiant and dewy appearance. As a result, your complexion will appear more youthful and rested. Generally, a highlighter is applied after foundation, but you can also use a highlighter without foundation for a natural look.

Can you mix highlighter with moisturizer? ›

Liquid Highlighter Application

If you want a dewy look, then add a tiny drop to your moisturiser and apply it evenly on your face,” says celebrity Makeup Artist Bhavya Arora. “Use your hand to apply and blend if possible and if doing it over the foundation, then dab and spread instead of rubbing it in,” she adds.

Where do you put a highlighter stick? ›

“Typically, it's used on the highest points of the face and areas that you want to pop or stand out more,” says Shojaie. You can apply highlighter on your cheekbones, temples, brow bone, and even on your cupid's bow and along the bridge of your nose.

How do you use a highlighter stick for beginners? ›

How To - Highlighter Stick - YouTube

How do you blend highlighter sticks? ›

How to Use a Highlighter Stick ? - YouTube


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