I’m a highlighter junkie. I’ll be the first to admit that. And although my powder highlighters take pride of place in my collection, lately I’ve found myself reaching for a lot of liquid and cream highlighters. Maybe it has something to do with me taking a little more time to do my makeup nowadays, or maybe it’s because every brand seems to be jumping on board with the trend. But the extra, sneaky little step before setting down my face has been making all the difference. It provides a beautiful lit-from-within glow without ever looking over the top. It also makes any other powder highlighter I apply later pop like never before.
I’ve been trying out a bunch of them, all slightly different from one another. There are liquids, creams, sticks… whatever takes your fancy. And apart from anything else, creams are often much more travel friendly! But I wanted to let you know which of the bunch were worth picking up for yourself.
I’ve included this one before in a glowy primer round-up but as I mentioned there, it’s probably better suited for precise application, rather than as a base. It’s quite a light, pearlescent shade and as you can tell in the swatches, has quite a bit of base colour to it, making it not as awesome for those with deeper skin tones. But dabbed on lightly to the cheekbones, the brow bone and on the cupid’s bow, I’ve really been enjoying it. I love that it doesn’t have a metallic finish to it, unlike some others that I’ll mention shortly, so it just blends out to add a gorgeous lit-from-within sheen to the skin. You really only need the tiniest bit of product to make a difference. As is often the case with Bourjois products, it is heavily fragranced, so keep an eye out if your skin is sensitive to that.
Everyone seems to be talking about these illuminating drops from Iconic London saying they’re just as good, if not better than the Cover FX drops that took the world by storm. Shine is the lightest of the three shades I received and it is beautiful. A pearlescent silvery pink, perfect for lighter skin tones. One drop on the cheekbones is all you need, this liquid illuminator is intense. I’ve been dotting it on my cheekbones and blending it out and it is really beautiful. It’s not for the faint-hearted but it can be blended out or built up depending on how you feel. It also works as a beautiful base to apply powder highlighter on top of, adding an extra bit of oomph. I didn’t realise how pricey these are, however, even more expensive than the Cover FX when I personally don’t see too much of a difference in formula.
I’ve got a couple of shades of the Custom Enhancer Drops but Celestial always seems to be my go-to. It’s a very similar shade to Iconic London’s Shine but with a hint more pink to it. The formula is very similar to Iconic London’s but I think these are probably a little thinner, making them easier to blend out and also a tiny bit less intense. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though, because these can definitely still amp up the intensity. It’s a similar application method, too, dotting them onto the cheekbones with my finger. And the effect is so gorgeous and luminous. I’ve also been known to mix a drop of this in with my more matte bases to add a bit of glow. For someone who was a little intimidated by the formula when I first purchased, I’m certainly getting plenty of use out of them now.
L to R: Bourjois, Iconic London (swatched lightly), Iconic London (built up), Cover FX
I’ve had this creamy MAC beautyfor ages, since picking it up from the U.S. years ago. I personally think this would be a great beginner option, which is sort of what it was for me for years. Shell is an easy to wear, subtle but buildable pinky-champagne, a fairly universally flattering shade. The shimmer isn’t over-the-top and the lightweight formula blends in effortlessly. It adds a lovely sheen to the skin so I love adding it to all of the high points of my face – cheekbones, forehead, cupid’s bow, down the center of the nose – to really make me look lit from within. It’s pretty much foolproof – as long as you remember to use a patting motion when applying rather than a swiping motion, to make sure it doesn’t move around any foundation or concealer underneath.
Although now I seem to be more of a fan of Colourpop’s powder products, it’s important to remember when the hype all began – with their creams. This little pot of joy applies like a cream but then changes to a powder finish and again, the shade is just perfect. Smoke N Whistles is a stunning champagne shade but it doesn’t have any pesky glitter in it. It just blends into the skin beautifully to add an intense glow. It’s a little heavier than the MAC option but just as easy to work with. I’ll admit this has been sitting in my drawers for ages and it just hasn’t been getting the love that it’s deserved. But damn, it is gorgeous. The shade range from Colourpop is also awesome, so totally worth a look at just $8USD a pop.
An even easier way of applying cream highlighters, in stick form. These Nudies from Nudestix caught my attention straight away because the whole shade range looks incredible. Illuminaughty is the highlighter of the bunch with next to no base colour, instead imparting a beautiful almost-pinky-purple pearlescent, iridescent sheen to the skin. Now this formula is a real straight up cream staying quite dewy and a little tacky even after blending out. They stay in place better when powdered down, I find. I simply swipe this onto my cheekbones and blend it out with my fingers. If it’s dewy skin I’m after, this is the one I reach for. The dewy, pearlescent glow it provides it absolutely perfect for summer or for days when my skin is a little duller and needs a bit of help. This is one you’ll probably have to swatch for yourself to see what I mean.
I hadn’t tried anything from the Luma Beauty range, but it was pretty much an instant love affair when I tried out this one. At first this pinky highlighter looked a little scary, as it is quite intense when first striped onto the cheekbones, but it blends out really well into the skin and adds a gorgeous dewy glow without any glitter. I’ve been pairing this a lot with a dewier BB cream and I think this will be a killer combination for the warmer weather coming up. Wandermusk has a fairly strong pink pull to it and I was a little put off originally but I find it actually works well on my pale skin, there’s other shades in the range that look a little more golden. Make sure you check out this hidden gem next time you spot Luma Beauty in stores.
L to R: MAC Shell, Colourpop Smoke N Whistles, Nudestix Illuminaughty, Luma Beauty Wandermusk
My top picks from the bunch? For the beginners or for a subtler easy to achieve dewy glow, try out MAC’s Cream Colour Base or Luma’s On The Glow stick. For a night out, it’s hard to go past the two liquids from Cover FX or Iconic London, depending on which shades take your fancy. But realistically, I’ve been loving them all. Sure, to some it might be an unnecessary step. But for those who feel like something’s missing in their quest for glowy skin, make sure you try out a cream or liquid option.
Do you prefer cream or liquid highlighter?
*some products in this post have been provided for editorial consideration, honesty as always!
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