10 Best Highlighters 2021

Skin lacking lustre? Meet the very best highlighters!

Bring on the shine, encourage the shimmer, and glow from day to night with the very best highlighting products.

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If you’re hoping to achieve a standout makeup look, there’s no doubt that the best highlighter will help you get there. The perfect finishing touch for any makeup style, a good highlighter will make your features pop.

If you like your makeup to look a little more natural, you might’ve always skipped highlighter, deeming it ‘a bit too much’ for everyday wear. The good news is, you don’t have to smother your face in sheen to make a highlighter work for you. A simple dusting of a subtle formula can reflect light and enhance your natural glow.

Highlighter makeup comes in many forms. From glistening powders that sparkle and shine to iridescent cream highlighters that dab on for a subtle finish, good highlighters aren’t just for makeup experts.

Giving you a glowy, dewy finish and creating an illusion of health, the best highlighter draws the light in and helps add structure to your face.

The perfect accompaniment to bronzer and contour, the best highlighter is easy to apply and oh-so-attractive. From a liquid highlighter that really packs a punch to the best organic highlighter makeup, there’s a formula that will help give you the glowy, healthy look that you’ve always craved.

What’s the purpose of highlighter makeup?

The purpose of highlighter makeup is to draw attention to the most structured parts of your face. By highlighting the tops of your cheekbones, your Cupid’s bow, and the tip of your nose, you catch the light and draw attention.

Strategic highlighting adds definition to your face. Carefully applying highlighter enhances your natural features and gives you a glowy, youthful finish. You can choose a highlighter to make a bold makeup look really pop or just add a subtle glow to a natural look.

What are some top makeup highlighter tips?

You don’t need to overthink how you apply highlighter. Whether you’re looking for a natural ‘inner’ glow or a dazzling look to top off a bold makeup look, applying highlighter is simpler than you might think. If you’re struggling to apply highlighter, here are some top tips to help you get that all important glow.

Top tip 1: Preparation is key.

To ensure your highlighter applies to the skin evenly, it’s important you look after your complexion to get the best base. If your skin is dry and flaky, even the best liquid highlighter might cling awkwardly and make your skin look uneven. To help keep your skin clear and prepped, make sure you remove your makeup every evening and moisturise your skin to keep it soft. It sounds like pretty simple advice, but soft, smooth, supple skin wears highlighter better. If you’re struggling with your complexion but love the look of highlighter, a good primer will give your skin the smooth base your highlighter needs.

Top tip 2: Mix with your foundation.

If you love the look of dewy, fresh skin, dusting on a powder highlighter might not be the best approach. Instead, you could mix a little bit of the best liquid highlighter makeup in with your foundation. This will instantly lift your skin’s look and give you the dewy finish you crave. It’s a great way to cover your skin the way you like, with a little extra glow to finish.

Top tip 3: Choose your formula.

There are many different types of highlighters available. So, how do you know which format will work for your skin? The best blush highlighter that comes in a powder formulation will work well on skin that tends to get oily and shiny. A cream contour highlighter palette will carve out your cheekbones and elevate your look. And a jelly highlighter will top the skin perfectly and give you a healthy glow.

Top tip 4: Apply it to the high points of your face.

In the same way a contour adds shadow to give your face a more chiseled effect, a good highlighter should do the opposite and draw the high points of your face out. Just a sweep of highlighter across the tops of your cheeks, on your Cupid’s bow, and along the bridge of your nose will make your gorgeous features really stand out. Avoid putting highlighter on your T-zone. And if you prefer a more subtle highlighter, use a formula with finer particles.

What to highlight your face with?

Whether you’re looking for a dazzling, sparkling highlighter to catch the light from every direction, or something subtle and pretty, we’ve found the highlighting formulas that you’ll love to get onboard with.

From the best highlighter palette to matte highlighter makeup, check out these products to brighten up your look.

Every highlighter is different. For a look that really stands out, you might want to pick up a powder highlighter. For something a little more subtle, gorgeous MAKE UP FOR EVER Ultra HD Soft Light Liquid Highlighter should do the trick. Delicate and elegant, this light, liquid formula gives your an irresistible glow. Loved by professional makeup artists across the globe, this formula easily adds a soft, subtle sheen to an everyday look. Mix this liquid with your foundation to brighten your complexion and make it shine with health. If you prefer to apply the formula directly to your skin, dab it with your fingers and blend, blend, blend! Made without sparkles or an intense metallic shine, this subtle formula gives you a radiant complexion that beams with beauty.

You don’t have to go all out when you apply highlighter. This Makeup Forever highlighter liquid adds a soft, subtle sheen to skin without making it sparkle. The perfect formula to mix with foundation or a tinted moisturiser, MAKE UP FOR EVER Ultra HD Soft Light Liquid Highlighter gives you that all-important lit-from-within appeal. Crafted to apply to the skin seamlessly, this product is an essential for most makeup artists who work on sets. Designed to melt into the skin for a healthy finish, this formula won’t create flashback in pictures. Use a damp sponge to dab the product onto your cheekbones. Then, apply a small amount to the bridge of your nose and on your Cupid’s bow to mimic a natural glow.

Contouring and highlighting has become such a popular part of the modern day makeup routine. How did we ever live without it! Of course, our makeup routines get more complex, the more products we have to carry around with us. The RCMA Makeup Highlight and Contour Palette offers some of the best contour highlight makeup for a chiseled, defined look. WIth a professional blend of pigmented cream shades, this easy to use palette contains everything you need for a healthy, contoured look. Cruelty free, artificial fragrance free and vegan, this creamy palette will help you define and shade your face exactly where you need with ease. With five shades to enhance your look, you can really play with makeup when you pick up this palette.

Created to produce a seamless finish, the RCMA Makeup Highlight and Contour Palette is highly pigmented and creamy in texture. In fact, with 50% pigment, this powerful palette offers full coverage and works to mask any imperfections on the skin too. Perfect for teens and up, the product can be built up to achieve the texture you crave. Easy to blend out to a sheer finish, this professional palette ensures you’re in complete control. Offering a natural, skin-like finish, the vegan and cruelty-free formula contains no fragrances, mineral oils, petroleum, or lanolin. Prime your skin before applying the cream highlighters or contours, and warm the product with your fingers before using. Apply a thin coat when you require some shine. Lightly buff the skin for a natural finish.

You don’t need to dust on a thick, sparkly powder to enjoy a luminous glow. Sometimes, the most subtle products give you the best results. Benefit Dandelion perk-me-up powder is easy to use and offers a delightful, subtle sheen. Suitable for all skin tones, this baby-pink blusher can be applied all over the face for a soft glow. Working perfectly to enhance the apples of your cheeks, this formula brightens your look in an instant without the need for glitter or shimmer. The lightweight, silky powder gives the skin a gentle flush, making it the perfect pick for an everyday glow. When you dust this powder across your face, you’ll instantly lift your look with a gentle glow from within.

If you love the idea of using a highlighter but don’t know where to start, Benefit Dandelion perk-me-up powder could be a great introduction to the trend. Lightweight, silky, and comfortable to wear, this powder lets you enjoy a naturally flushed look with minimal effort. Working to define the cheeks and add a hint of sheer, rosy colour, this powder works best when applied with a soft brush. It’s a great highlighter for everyday wear and special occasions alike. Use a circular motion and blend upwards to fully highlight the cheekbones. Build up the product with the brush to intensify the look and achieve a healthier appearance.

Some days, you want a subtle look. Other days, you just want to glow! MAKE UP FOR EVER Diamond Powder helps you achieve a dazzling look, combining sparkles with iridescence. The ultrafine powder gently dusts onto the skin and leaves a seriously impressive shine. Beautifully luminous and super-delicate, the powder works on your eyes, cheeks, lips, or body to let you shine how you've always wanted to. Use this product on top of a cream formula for real pop. Apply to your Cupid’s bow to enhance your lip shape. The perfect product to wear alone or mixed with other liquids and powders, you can build up the shine you crave with this versatile formula.

Whether you’re adding a hint of shine to your cheekbones or making your eyeshadow really stand out, MAKE UP FOR EVER Diamond Powder lets you achieve the look you desire. Perfect for layering over creamy products, this powder can be applied down the legs and across your collarbones to really make your skin glow. The perfect product for ‘wet-look’ makeup, the powder can be mixed with other formulas to customise your level of shimmer. The ultrafine texture applies beautifully to the skin, and the pearly finish truly catches the light. If you want to take your look to the next level, this powder will definitely help you get there.

Picking a highlighter can be confusing. Subtle sheen or heavy sparkle? Light cream or dense powder? There are so many options for you to sieve through! Benefit High Beam Liquid Highlighter is a soft, luminous pink liquid, that showcases cheekbones, brow bones, or anywhere you think deserves a little shine. The all-new applicator helps you precisely apply the product, and the radiant formula glides onto skin effortlessly to offer a satiny-soft finish that catches the light. Perfect for pale skin and dark skin alike, this pretty pink formula makes all skin types glow with health.

If you’ve been looking for a satiny-pink liquid highlighter to lift your look, it’s time to trust Benefit High Beam Liquid Highlighter. With an army of fans across the globe, the High Beam formulas from Benefit are easy to apply and always reliable. Perfect for augmenting a makeup look that's fallen a little flat, this buildable liquid highlighter always succeeds in pepping up your look. Turn the look up for day or night, depending on your preference. Apply the formula over your makeup to highlight, or wear under foundation to glow ‘from within’. Use the applicator to precisely apply the product. Blend with your fingers to get the subtle sheen you crave.

When you’re in a rush, nothing is more satisfying than a product that does double duty. The Clarins Glow-to-Go Highlighter Stick has 2 sides, both of which offer the skin a subtle lift and a little shine. If your skin is dehydrated, it’ll love the moisturising benefits of this gorgeous, glowy stick. Traditional highlighters can grab awkwardly on dry skin. This hydrating stick smooths over dry patches with ease, illuminating as it goes, giving you an even, natural-looking glow. The 2 shades are easy to wear and never overwhelming.

Sometimes, the best highlighters come with a hint of pink. The Clarins Glow-To-Go Highlighter Stick is a lustrous, creamy formula that gives the skin a gorgeous, lit-from-within glow. One end is a conventional blush shade, and the other end adds a sun-kissed glow. Perfect for fair or cool-toned skin, Shade 01 Glowy Pink adds a hint of illuminating colour. Shade 02 Golden Peach is great for warmer and darker complexions. Your skin will look so healthy, it almost shines! Apply on the apple of your cheeks. Blend out with your fingers or a brush for a subtle finish.

If you love a wet shine highlighter, you'll love Barry M Baked Tri-Blend Highlighter. Seriously pigmented, this multidimensional formula includes 3 vibrant shades in 1 pan. Vegan and cruelty-free, this formula glides on with ease and won’t irritate your skin. The perfect product to produce a radiant, standout glow, this highlighter features pressed, baked pigments that offer your look a more intense edge. Made for long wear and producing more than just a pop, this could be the perfect formula for you. Easily customisable, mix the powders into one intense shade, or wear them separately to build up a powerful look.

If you want your skin to glow like never before, you’ll love Barry M Baked Tri-Blend Highlighter. The baked pigments deliver serious shine on application. And the expert formula has been crafted for long-lasting wear. Intensely pigmented, the colours look smashing on their own or blended into a vibrant, standout shade. Use one colour on the tops of your cheeks, one on the inner corner of your eyes, and one on your Cupid’s bow to make sure your look drips with shine. But you can also keep it subtle with this formula! Simply dust a small amount onto a brush, and apply to your skin with a light hand. Apply to your collarbones and along your legs to complete your shimmering, shiny look.

Want to give you skin a luminous look? This gorgeous jelly formula reflects the light perfectly and blends out exactly how you like. Maybelline Master Chrome Jelly Highlighter has a soft gel texture and a high-impact, metallic gold colour. Offering the skin a pretty, pearly glow, the gel can be worn anywhere on the body. Easy to apply and blend, this gel highlighter elevates your look and gives you an enviable splash of shine. The formula glides onto the skin as a gel and dries to a chrome finish.

If you want to brighten up the look of your skin in a flash, dip into the unique Maybelline Master Chrome Jelly Highlighter. Crafted to create a golden brightness, this formula can be built up to achieve the shine and shimmer that you crave. Use as much of the formula as you need. Apply it to the tops of your cheeks, along the bridge of your nose, and on your Cupid’s bow. Apply the product lightly for a soft edge, or add layers for a dramatic finish. You’ll love the way this formula dries down quickly into a comfortable, easy-to-wear look. Apply the jelly with a brush or your fingertips and sweep across the targeted areas for a seamless glow.

Take your look to the next level with this dewy liquid highlighter

If you want less sparkle and more glow, you’ll love TheBalm Dew Manizer Liquid Highlighter. A multitasking product that elevates your look with minimal effort, this highlighter has a creamy texture that glides onto the skin with ease. Lightweight and non-clogging, this formula can be worn on the eyes, cheeks, and anywhere else that you’d like to shine with health. The creamy formula won’t tug at your skin or cling to dry patches. And you can feel safe in the knowledge that it’s been made using cruelty-free methods. A great product to take on the go, this highlighter pops easily into your bag to take your look from day to night in just a few swipes. If you're looking to add a sophisticated sheen to your look, you’ll love this highlighter from TheBalm.

Take your look to the next level with this dewy liquid highlighter

With a smooth, buildable formula, TheBalm Dew Manizer Liquid Highlighter offers skin an all-over glow that’s easy to work with. Perfect to mix with a foundation or tinted moisturiser, this much-loved blend lets you glisten and glow as much as you like. Truly versatile, this formula accents your face, eyes, and lips with a healthy shine. Plus, the pigmented formula lasts as long as you need it to. Paraben-free and cruelty-free, this gentle blend won’t harm the skin. A great product if you’re looking to add a bit more shimmer into your life, this liquid formula blends out effortlessly with fingertips to a fuss-free finish.

Why choose one highlighter when you can have several?
Why choose one highlighter when you can have several?

If you’re a beauty product junkie who loves to play with makeup, you’ll love what you can do with the versatile Napoleon Perdis No Panic, Just Disco Highlighter Palette. Featuring 6 densely pigmented, shimmering shades, this fun, pressed palette instantly brightens up your look. Perfect for a night out or simply a day when you want to shine, these formulas lift your look and give you that all-important glow. If you want to hit the dancefloor in style, get your hands on this gorgeous, shimmering highlighter palette. Easy to build and blend, the shades let you shine as much or as little as you want.

From the frosty cool white of Soul to the champagne peach shimmer of Rhythm: with so many shades, how will you ever decide? The Napoleon Perdis No Panic, Just Disco Highlighter Palette is a highly pigmented highlighter palette that really packs a punch. Crafted to enhance your look and bring out your inner glow, the shimmering shades are as perfect for the stage as they are a daytime brunch. Create an all-over glow with this palette, or apply strategically to the eyes or face. Use the shades separately or mix up the colours to define your look. You’ll feel like celebrating whenever you apply these formulas. Use your fingertips or a brush to blend, and build up to intensify the look.

Highlighters are made to be fun! They instantly perk up your look by catching the light, so you stand out beautifully. Whether you love the idea of a new powder formula or you’d rather mix a shimmering liquid into your foundation, check out the above formulas to set your look off with a healthy dose of shine.

How to apply cream highlighter on face?

To apply a cream highlighter to your face, it’s always best to start with a good base of foundation. If you’d rather not wear foundation, make sure your skin is clean, dry, and moisturised before you add any product to it. Though using a brush or a blender is a good way to apply highlighter, you can also apply the product with your fingers to blend things out perfectly.

Glide the product with your fingers across the places you want to see shine. This will help catch the light and give you a flattering, youthful glow. With a dabbing motion, use either your fingers, a blender, or a dense brush to smooth the highlighter out for a gorgeous, glowy finish.

How do you put on highlighter makeup?

To successfully apply highlighter makeup, apply it sparingly. If you put too much product on your skin, you’ll overdo the look, and all that shine will defeat the purpose. Using a brush, a blender, or your fingers, apply a small amount to the areas of your face that you want to stand out. To add a little extra shine to your look, dab highlighter at the inner and outer corners of your eyes and gently blend. Again, remember that less is more—unless you’re going for a theatrical effect!

Of course, you might be looking to extend your dazzling look all over your body! Apply a face highlighter to your collarbones to gain a chic edge. Pick up a body shimmer to make the rest of your skin glow.

How to highlight cheekbones with makeup?

How you highlight your cheekbones really depends on the type of highlighter you choose to apply. For a seriously subtle look, just a dusting of a sheer illuminating powder blush gives you a glow. A cream formula works well when applied with your fingers. And a highlighting liquid mixes in with foundation perfectly.

To draw out your cheekbones and achieve a chiseled, defined finish, the best bronzer highlighter combo will work wonders. Contouring your cheeks slims down your face and adds definition, while highlighter makes your cheekbones pop.

Brand and product inclusions are at the sole discretion of Adore Beauty. We do not seek or accept payment from brands or individuals listed in our guides.

This article has been updated on 15/02 to replace discontinued products with our recent product recommendations. Amelia from our Customer Service team has helped to bring you our most recommended products and up-to-date information.

Need a recap? Here's the 10 Best Highlighters In 2021:

  1. MAKE UP FOR EVER Ultra HD Soft Light Liquid Highlighter

  2. RCMA Makeup Highlight and Contour Palette

  3. Benefit Dandelion perk-me-up powder

  4. MAKE UP FOR EVER Diamond Powder

  5. Benefit High Beam Liquid Highlighter

  6. Clarins Glow-To-Go Highlighter Stick

  7. Barry M Baked Tri-Blend Highlighter

  8. Maybelline Master Chrome Jelly Highlighter

  9. TheBalm Dew Manizer Liquid Highlighter

  10. Napoleon Perdis No Panic, Just Disco Highlighter Palette

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