In case you haven’t noticed, highlighters are the most important makeup products of the moment. Whether you call it strobing, non-touring, or just flat out getting gorgeous skin—no other makeup product seems to be talked about and obsessed over as much as the highlighter. Even within the category, some products (ahem, Pat McGrath) have gotten so much attention that they’ve even crashed websites. To figure out what’s worth the hype and what’s not—I personally tried seven of the most buzzy highlighters of the moment and here’s what I thought.
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Marc Jacobs Spotlight Glow Stick ($42)
In stick form, the product looks pearly white with a tinge of yellow and a lot of very fine shimmer. It did not jump out at me as something that would look super warm or natural on. But once blended into my skin, the creamy stick did an incredible job of illuminating without appearing chalky, frosty, harsh or wet. The stick is formulated with a mix of silver and gold pigment to work across a range of skin tones, and on mine (light with yellow undertones), it blended right in without looking too bright. This highlighter is on the whiter side compared to many of the other popular ones on the market, but that coloring really makes it pop in photos.
Becca x Jaclyn Hill Shimmering Skin Perfector Champagne Pop Poured Crème ($38)
Part of Jaclyn Hill’s insanely successful collaboration with Becca, this cream highlighter allows you to get that beautiful champagne shimmer with just a swipe of your finger. The color payoff is neither too frosty nor too bronze, just very pretty (but very subtle) light golden shimmer that you can’t overdo. If you’re a highlighter novice or tend to have a heavy hand, this is the best choice for you.
Maybelline Face Studio Master Strobing Stick Illuminating Highlighter ($10)This new highlighter comes in two shades: 100 (Light) and 200 (Medium), and the lighter shade is definitely the standout product—at least for those with lighter skin tones. The product is compact, yet powerful and gives an amazing, lit effect with the first swipe. The lighter stick has a tinge of pink that looks extra ethereal on and does a beautiful job highlighting both skin and bone structure. The stick is a bit smaller than I expected, but is great for getting targeted results and fits perfectly around the eye area.
Glossier Haloscope ($22)
Instead of creating a wet, glowy effect, Glossier’s new highlighter gives off a very light, metallic sheen. I’ve seen the brand compare the effect to that of a CD caught in the light, which is a pretty apt description. Haloscope uses very finely milled crystals to create the look, but don’t worry, the product is buttery and feels moisturizing on. Because this product is less likely to look “sweaty” on the skin compared to other highlighters on the list, I tend to use it more liberally. The Topaz shade, in particular, does a really great job of doubling as a bronzer.
Urban Decay Afterglow 8 Hour Powder Highlighter ($26)
Before trying this product, I strongly believed that a highlighter had to be in cream format for it to give skin any kind of believable, lit-from-within glow. But Urban Decay’s highlighter is so finely milled that it doesn’t even look like a powder when applied, giving off a very soft, creamy diffused look. It comes in three shades, and even though they look like they could be blushes, they add a lot of luminosity to the skin, so is better used sparingly in areas that you want to draw attention to.
NARS The Multiple in Hot Sand ($39)
This product gives off a high-shimmer, high-impact finish that looks a lot brighter on skin than many other champagne/peach highlighters I’ve tried. The best way to use this is to apply the stick straight to skin and use finger to blend in. I was particularly pleased with how long the product lasted throughout the day.
Pat McGrath Skin Fetish 003 ($72)
It would be a huge miss not to include this product because it may be the most buzzed about highlighter of the season. Unsurprisingly, it’s sold out currently, but worth getting on the waiting list for. The genius is in the double-ended highlighting stick—the clear balm gives skin a beautiful wet glow and the pigmented section adds an almost holographic effect. To me, the stick is, hands down, the most impressive part of the kit, so here’s hoping they’ll sell it separately at a more palatable price point. For the full review, click here.