Unless you've been spending the past few years of your life living under a particularly beauty-starved rock, then you've already heard of and/or are obsessed with highlighting. The glow-enhancing, dew-ifying technique has inspired countless YouTube tutorials, hundreds of thousands of Instagram posts and one hilarious rap video. Here, we *highlighted* eleven of our current favorite formulas (in GIFs, obviously), and also chatted with celebrity makeup artist Fiona Stiles to find out her best highlighting tips (and what to avoid).
MAC Cosmetics Good Luck Trolls Beauty Powder in Glow Rida
Highlighting is all about adding radiance to skin by accentuating the high points of the face with light-reflecting pigment (or, in some cases, a creamy or slick texture — but we'll get to that a little later). This silky powder version imparts the prettiest, soft golden glow, so it's an accessible highlighter to start with if you're trying out the technique for the first time.
MAC Cosmetics Good Luck Trolls Beauty Powder in Glow Rida, $28, available at Saks Fifth Avenue
RMS Beauty Living Luminizer
Get a dewy glow with this all-natural cream highlighter, formulated with a coconut oil base that makes it especially great for dry skin. (P.S. Stiles calls this one out as a personal favorite.)
RMS Beauty Living Luminizer, $38, available at Birchbox
Too Cool For School Dinoplatz Pearl Bay Invasion Highlighter in Baby Pink Clam
"If I'm doing highlighter, I'm trying to mimic beautiful dewy skin and make it realistic," explains Stiles, who launched her eponymous makeup range last February (and has been outspoken about her lack of enthusiasm for the type of over-the-top makeup that abounds on Instagram). "For me, it's about texture and placement." This peach liquid is already an editor favorite, and with its silky, blendable formula, it's easy to see why.
Too Cool For School Dinoplatz Pearl Bay Invasion Highlighter in Baby Pink Clam, $33, available at Sephora
Anastasia Beverly Hills Moonchild Glow Kit
Get to celestial levels of glimmer with this six-shade highlighting palette that includes shimmer-infused powders ranging from a soft rosy pink to an icy blue. (And that green shade? Surprisingly wearable.) It's not exactly for the faint of heart, but it sure is pretty.
Anastasia Beverly Hills Moonchild Glow Kit, $40, available at Anastasia Beverly Hills
Marc Jacobs Beauty Glow Stick Glistening Illuminator
To get a natural effect, Stiles recommends cream formulas, because they blend more seamlessly into skin, versus powders, which tends to sit on top of the surface. "I always want it to look more like skin than makeup," she says. Swipe this stick highlighter on high points of the face and then blend it in with your fingers for an instantly glow-y complexion that looks realistic, not glittery.
Marc Jacobs Beauty Glow Stick Glistening Illuminator, $42, available at Sephora
Milk Makeup Holographic Stick
There's no other way to say it: The alien-like holographic finish of this versatile stick formula is just plain sick, and ideal for those who want to take their highlighting game to the next level.
Milk Makeup Holographic Stick, $28, available at Sephora
Kevyn Aucoin The Celestial Powder in Candlelight
While some people are very into making their highlight as bright as can be (see: the product just above this one), not everyone believes more is more. "If there's like a luminous foundation, powder and highlighter? It's just too much," says Stiles. This aptly named powder (a great option for oily types) wears like a dream and and lends a soft, warm sheen to skin.
Kevyn Aucoin The Celestial Powder in Candlelight, $44, available at Nordstrom
Glossier Haloscope in Topaz and Quartz
This one's another Fashionista favorite: Our beauty editor loves Glossier's version for its "shimmery, not glittery" finish — and the fact that it takes all of two seconds to apply. Plus, the moisturizing core packs a hydrating punch for those with dry skin.
Glossier Haloscope in Topaz and Quartz, $22, available at Glossier
Cover FX Custom Enhancer Drops in Moonlight
Mix these luminous drops into foundation for a subtle, allover glow — one will do the trick — or dab it on cheekbones for a more intense strobing effect. (Note: A little goes a very long way.) Alternatively, you can also highlight using different shades and finishes of foundation, which in addition to giving a supernatural effect, will also stay in place for a longer period of time. "When I do makeup, I’m thinking long-term," explains Stiles. "Sometimes I'll take a matte foundation and a luminous foundation and use the matte on the center of the face and the luminous on the outer part of the face."
Cover FX Custom Enhancer Drops in Moonlight, $42, available at Sephora
Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Poured Crème in Topaz
If you have dark skin, pearly shades can look chalky. Instead, look for a highlighter with golden or bronze undertones that'll make your skin positively gleam. "If you have products with light or white pigments, it's going to look ashy," warns Stiles. This new cream version of Becca's iconic pressed powder version is an excellent option.
Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Poured Crème in Topaz, $38, available at Sephora
Chantecaille Liquid Lumière Highlighting Fluid
This lightweight fluid feels like liquid silk, and the buildable formula contains bamboo, pea extract and glucosamine, all of which reduce visible signs of aging. Multitasking makeup? We'll take it.
Chantecaille Liquid Lumière Highlighting Fluid, $39, available at Nordstrom
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