What started as part of an Instagram craze has become one of the fastest-growing beauty products with the best highlighter market said to be worth £52 million alone in the UK.
Highlighting and contouring are thought of as an art-form, a way to make your skin glow, to accentuate the shape and look of your features, and to ensure that whatever the angle of your face, you’re in the right light. BAFTA award-winning makeup artist Paul Gooch once said: “The techniques of highlight and shade are as ancient as portrait-painting itself.” You can read more about how to contour your face in our expert guide and read on for tips on how to apply highlighter.
Before you dive into our list of the best highlighter makeup, it’s worth explaining how to apply highlighter to nail the effect.
Highlighter, as the name suggests, is used to highlight and draw attention to areas of your face. If you were to shine a spotlight on your face, the areas where the light hits the most, which are typically the areas that protude and curve, are the areas where you need to put highlighter.
This means the end of your nose, the bridge of your nose, your Cupid’s bow (on your top lip), and your cheekbones. We also put a small amount of highlighter under our eyebrows to give the arch definition, and a dot of highlighter in the corner of our eyes to draw attention and make our eyes look brighter and larger.
The amount of highlighter you use, and where on your face you put highlighter, depends on your mood and the occasion. Our go-to daytime highlighter look is a small shimmer on the end of our nose and on our Cupid’s bow. This ramps up to our cheekbones and eyebrows when we’re going out.
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Why we love it: Who doesn’t love the thought of waving a wand and getting glowing skin? Inspired by the shimmer and shine of a Hollywood red carpet, this beauty wand is brilliantly blendable with other products, and sits perfectly on your cheekbones, nose, or anywhere you wish, all day and night. It not not only looks great, but it is also moisturising and not full of any nasty chemicals. What’s more, it’s available in six different shades ranging from a light shimmer to a darker blush. Perfect for most skin tones and occasions.
£9 | Buy now from Amazon
Why we love it: This palette gives you everything you could need for highlighting and colouring your face. With seven shades included, it is the ideal product for those of us with lighter or deeper skin tones. Each colour has high pigmentation which means the palette, on the whole, can last months or even years because you’ll only need the tiniest bit on your applicator. NYX’s main goal for this palette was for it to enhance the glow and features you already naturally have, and costing under £10, this product is truly a must-have.
£34.50 | Buy now from Space NK
Why we love it: This gorgeous product is designed to catch the light in an elegant and flattering way. It has a cream-like consistency but maintains the weightlessness of a powder when applied and is soft enough to be applied using either your fingers or a brush. This highlighter is also buildable so, depending on the event or your mood, you can add more or less. It’s an expensive product, but worth the investment.
£25 | Buy now from MAC
Why we love it: If you’re wondering which product started the whole highlighter craze off, look no further. MAC very cleverly (so it is believed) introduced the idea of applying a product to your face to boost the look of dull or tired-looking skin in the form of a strobe cream. This cream smoothes and hydrates skin, enhances clarity, and radiates what is already naturally there, all whilst being a perfectly good moisturiser. We salute you, MAC, for paving the way for highlighters everywhere.
£24 | Buy now from NARS
Why we love it: If you’re looking for a product that will do the job of both highlighter and blusher, and you dream of people telling you you’re glowing, look no further. NARS’ Illuminator uses a collection of ‘light-reflecting liquids’ that enhance your natural complexion and make you shimmer.
£14 | Buy now from Morphe
Why we love it: With seven amazing-sounding shades, Morphe has created a highlighter palette for all occasions. It has an extremely lightweight feel on the skin, while also feeling creamy to the touch. And one of the best things about it? It lasts ages. You only need the smallest dab of this product onto your skin to achieve the perfect glow. Morphe recommends applying it onto your nose, forehead, chin, cheekbones; just about anywhere, and this can be done using either fingers or a handy brush.
Victoria is founder and editor-in-chief of mamabella, freelance journalist and Mum. She has a passion for empowering people to feel beautiful whatever their age, size, skin type and budget