Despite the fact that I'm borderline obsessed with highlighter, I don't write about it much. It's been over three years since my last collection post. Maybe I'm just too busy trying foundations and raving about lipsticks; regardless, I've done my highlighter stash a disservice, and that must be rectified.
Now, when I announced on Instagram that I was writing this post, I received some wonderful recommendations from followers, like "Tell us how long they last." Part of the problem, though, is that...I don't generally have a problem with my highlighters fading. This is partially because I use creams and liquids exclusively, and they're more likely to "stick" to your skin, and partially because my skin is uber-dry, so makeup clings to it. That said, I'm going to do my very best to give you a useful description of the finish, color, wear, packaging, and purpose of all of these highlighters.
Please note that this information was accurate at the time of this post. Prices change, new shades are created, old shades are discontinued, formulas are altered, etc. I mean, damn, MAC lipsticks weren't even $15 when I bought my first one, and now they've crept up to $18, fifty cents more per tube at a time. Time is a great thickener of
Lastly, my birthday is coming up next week! If you've enjoyed my blog and want to show your appreciation, please consider (but don't feel required to) leave me a "tip" on Ko-Fi. I donate all of the tips to charity; right now, my charity of choice is Pro Literacy. If that's not in the cards for you right now, no problem! I love "happy birthday" comments and emails as well. :)
MAC Strobe Cream in Pinklite
Cost: $34 for 1.7oz, $12 for 1oz
Packaging: Squeeze tube.
Other Shades: Goldlite, Peachlite, Redlite, Silverlite (1oz size only available in Pinklite)
Color: Faintly pink and opalescent.
Description: I've gone through at least three of the travel size Strobe Cream tubes, and now that they've expanded the shade range, I can see me emptying dozens more. This is actually a luminous moisturizer, and you can absolutely use it in that capacity if you don't mind the shine and need just a bit of hydration. Because of the thin lotion texture, it appears incredibly natural and seamless on the skin and gives you that no-makeup-makeup, "I slept really well" look. I usually use this as a highlighter on foundation-free days for work (left photo), or I mix it in to my foundation and use a dab more on top of my cheekbones for a soft glow (right photo). Note: the travel size tubes are actually cheaper by the ounce, but as of right now, you can only get them in the original Pinklite shade.
Purchase: MAC Cosmetics
ELF Beautifully Bare Targeted Natural Glow Stick in Morning Dew
Cost: $4 for 0.08oz
Formula: Oil Stick
Packaging: Twist up stick.
Other Shades: Pink Pearl Glow, Champagne Glow
Description: I was pretty bummed when I realized the Ciate Dewy Stix contained some of my no-no ingredients, then thrilled when The Critical Babe mentioned this much cheaper product as an alternative. While the other two shades are a bit garish and sparkly, Morning Dew is completely clear and gives you a "wet skin" look in seconds. That's not shocking when you look at the ingredients and feel this product on your skin: it's an actual oil stick, not a traditional highlighter. This means it will look super glossy and gorgeous without being sparkly, but it will also stay tacky on your face and may seriously clog some people. Also, while $4 is a great price, you're not getting a ton of product here, so keep that in mind if you plan on using this highlighter regularly.
Purchase: ELF Cosmetics
Glossier Haloscope in Quartz
Cost: $22 for 0.19oz
Formula: Cream Stick
Packaging: Twist up stick.
Other Shades: Topaz, Moonstone
Finish: Glossy; can look wet in some lights.
Color: Very Pale Champagne
Description: Like the ELF Beautifully Bare Targeted Natural Glow Stick, this is an oil-laden highlighter in stick form. I refer to it as a "cream stick," though, because it has a smoother, less oily texture and a bit of fine shimmer in it for a dash of color. (It still stays sticky on the skin.) That might sound unattractive, but I love the ease of this highlighter, which I can swipe on and blend out in less than a minute. The mixture of smooth oils and barely-there color make it ideal for photographs, where it catches the light will still looking incredibly natural. This is probably my personal favorite Glossier product. I have tried the other two shades, and while Moonstone was a bit meh to me, I really liked Topaz. It's just too warm and dark for my skintone.
Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Beauty Light Wand in Spotlight
Cost: $38 for 0.4oz
Packaging: Squeeze tube with a sponge tip applicator and on/off mechanism.
Other Shades: none
Finish: Glossy; slightly metallic when layered.
Description: The cost of Charlotte Tilbury products generally makes me want to die, but because this one was a decent size and everybody was bragging on it, I decided to throw my Nordstrom gift card at it. I'm glad I did, because I totally get the hype! It's a champagne-colored highlight with fine shimmer that gives you a light-catching, slightly glossy look; you can layer on a little extra and get a more metallic shine, but it's never going to be overdone. Now, is it as wet-looking as something like the ELF stick? No, but the benefit of the Charlotte Tilbury is that the liquid formula actually dries down. This means you can use it around your eyes as well. (Peep it on the inner corners of my eyes in the right photo.) I also like that the tube has a little on/off mechanism to prevent the highlighter from seeping out in your luggage or your handbag. The sole downside for me is that this is the only shade available, and because it is more golden, I have to use it on a full face of makeup to make it "fit."
Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Pearl
Cost: $41 for 1.7oz, $19 for 0.68oz
Packaging: Airless pump for full size, squeeze tube for travel size.
Other Shades: Moonstone, Opal, Topaz, Rose Gold, Champagne Pop, Prosecco Pop (0.68oz size only available in Moonstone and Opal)
Finish: Ranges from natural to metallic, depending on how much product you use.
Description: Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector is the OG "WOW THAT LIQUID HIGHLIGHTER" product, and it's still a tough one to beat. While it's costly, you get a ton of product, and the littlest dot goes a long way. Apply a small amount with a flat brush for a natural look, or layer it on with your fingers for that metallic "Instagram Glow." This is definitely a shimmery highlighter, but at least in the shades I've tried (Pearl and Moonstone), it's a very refined shimmer. Still, I'm not a fan of mixing this in to my foundation; it's just too shiny. The "Pop" shades purportedly contain chunkier glitter. Also, be aware that this formula contains sunscreen ingredients that some people find sensitizing. I've had my tube of Shimmering Skin Perfector since college and it's still almost half full, so I will be getting rid of it at the end of the year to be safe. If they ever make Pearl available in the easier-to-finish travel size, I will absolutely repurchase it.
Milk Makeup Holographic Stick in Mars
Cost: $28 for 1oz, $14 for 0.25oz
Formula: Cream Stick
Packaging: Twist up stick.
Other Shades: Supernova, Stardust
Color: Peach glow with faint purple shimmer.
Description: I wanted this highlighter in its original lavender shade, Supernova, for quite a while, but when I swatched them in my local Sephora, I realized that Mars looked much prettier and more refined. The peach base almost blends in to my skintone, leaving me with some shine and a bit of purple shimmer that's only visible when you're very close to me. In other words, this is sparkly and far from natural, but it isn't outright glittery. The texture of this cream stick is a little more powdery than the Glossier or ELF products, and it dries down more on my skin. It's not a shade I reach for regularly, since I tend to prefer "natural" or "glossy" to "shimmery," but it's damned pretty and works well for nights out. Note: while the 1oz size of this is technically a much better value, that's a ton of highlighter to finish up, and I'm not sure most people could manage it. I definitely encourage you to get the minis instead.