Best Highlighter - Liquid, Powder and Cream For Every Skin Tone

best highlighter

It’s time to consciously uncouple from contouring and swiping muddy shadows on your skin. By adding light – and light alone – an unassuming little squidge of highlighter can take your skin from zero to dewy 90s supermodel in the blink of an eye.

We also like that it's a perfect low-maintenance summer make-up look, especially if you've been upping your skincare game of late.

Unfortunately, that’s also where the highlighter journey starts veering off course.

While you want to lean on the shimmery stuff for carving out cheekbones and erasing sallowness, you don’t want to look overly shiny or frosty like a glazed doughnut.

Here’s how to get it right…

Step 1: Find The Perfect Highlighter Shade

Like with foundation, you’ll want to consider your skin’s undertones.

‘Pale skin works well with pearl or champagne shades while medium to deep skin tones suit a warm peach-y gold finish,’ says make-up artist Charlotte Tilbury, who knows a thing or two about the transformative effects of light on skin.

best highlighter

Step 2: Learn Where To Strategically Apply Highlighter

Centre of forehead: Take a pea-sized amount ofliquid highlighter and, using a damp beauty blender or flat foundation brush, work it outwards to blur away any fine lines. If you have oily skin, take a big fluffy brush and add just a whisper of iridescent powder to avoid looking greasy.

Under the eye, top of the cheekbone and temple: Dab cream highlighter under the eye, curving it upwards along the cheekbone to the temple. Jennifer Aniston’s make-up artist Gucci Westman suggests sweeping foundation over the top. ‘That way people aren’t asking you what highlighter you’re wearing, you just look like you have great skin.’

Chin: To balance sheen elsewhere on the face, add a touch of powder highlighter to the centre of your chin.

Cupid’s Bow – Avoid anything too frosty to create the illusion of fuller lips.

Bridge of the nose – Using an eyeshadow brush, blend tiny dots of liquid highlighter down the centre of the nose.

Tear Duct: Apply with your ring finger to immediately brighten eyes.

Best Liquid Highlighter

Becca Ignite Liquified Light Highlighter in Strength, £32, Cult Beauty

best highlighter, Becca Ignite Liquified Light Highlighter in Strength, £32, Cult Beauty

Becca has become a beauty byword for the kind of sheen that screams healthy skin. Either apply a couple of drops directly to the skin for a soft-focus glow or mix a little with your daily moisturiser and body lotion for a grown-up gleam.

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Best Highlighter Palette

Huda Beauty 3D Highlight Palette in The Bronze Sands Edition, £40, Cult Beauty

best highlighter, Huda Beauty 3D Highlight Palette in The Bronze Sands Edition, £40, Cult Beauty

This quartet of buttery shades ensures sunlight dances over black skin. Sweep the creamy Melted Strobe on the high points of the face and then layer on the pearlescent powders - the lighter shade on top of cheekbones, the darkest underneath and the rose shade on the apples - for more a intense '3 D' skin finish.

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Best Highlighter Brush

e.l.f. Highlighting Brush, £4.50, Feelunique

best highlighter brush

A tapered brush, with bristles that are both fluffy and firm, is ideal for depositing and blending highlighter around the perimeter of the face.

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Best Highlighter Pen

Charlotte Tilbury Beauty Light Wand, £29, Cult Beauty

best highlighter

Charlotte Tilbury is all about that Hollywood glow, handily packaged in a wand with a cushion applicator. In six dreamy shades, this radiance potion bathes skin in a believable candlelit glow free from giveaway glitter.

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Best Highlighter Stick

Glossier Haloscope, £18,

best highlighter Glossier

Part crystal-enriched shimmer, part solid balm, you'll know the highlighter is there but it will look incredibly natural. Bonus: the stick is handbag-friendly for on the go glow-ups.

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Best Face Highlighter

Victoria Beckham by Augustinus Bader Golden Cell Rejuvenating Priming Moisturizer, £92, Net-a-porter

best highlighter, Victoria Beckham Beauty Victoria Beckham by Augustinus Bader Golden Cell Rejuvenating Priming Moisturizer, £92, Net-a-porter

This is a glow moisturiser with a twist. Equal parts illuminator and hydrator, it's also the stuff of skin magicians as it contains vitamins and amino acids to strength and speed skin renewal courtesy of Augustinus Bader, the skin doctor of the moment. This 'Golden' version of the original features crushed peach-coloured micro pearls, not pigment, so every skin tone shines through. Just keep turning your face in the light and see if we're not right.

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Shop our edit of more of the best highlighter shades below. Shine bright!

Fiona Embleton

Fiona Embleton has been a beauty editor for over 10 years, writing and editing beauty copy and testing over 10,000 products. She has previously worked for magazines like Marie Claire, Stylist, Cosmopolitan and Women’s Health. Beauty journalism allowed her to marry up her first class degree in English Literature and Language (she’s a stickler for grammar and a self-confessed ingredients geek) with a passion for make-up and skincare, photography and catwalk trends.