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Best Highlighters | Holiday 2016 Gift Guide

Best Highlighters | Holiday 2016 Gift Guide

It’s that time of the year again:  holiday gift guides aplenty!  This year, I’ve broken out my gift guides into best of selections for blush, eyeshadow, highlighter, lipstick, lipgloss, palettes, and brushes.  These guides feature permanent formulas so that they can be useful anytime during the holiday season or even into next year.  For limited edition holiday products, you can check out our list of the top 50 highest-rated holiday products, which updates as I post more reviews for holiday products.  I hope you find this list of top performing highlighters useful 🙂

Kevyn Aucoin The Celestial Powder

Kevyn Aucoin The Celestial Powder

Kevyn Aucoin The Celestial Powder ($44.00 for 0.11 oz.) is a luminous, powder highlighter that strikes the right balance between being noticeable without emphasizing the skin’s natural texture. The shimmer is fine, while the powder is silky and smooth. There are only three shades at the moment, and the one I use the most is Starlight, which works as a highlighting blush on my skin tone.

Availability

Sephora, Nordstrom, Beautylish, Neiman Marcus,

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Cover FX The Perfect Light Highlighting Powders

Cover FX The Perfect Light Highlighting Powders
Cover FX The Perfect Light Highlighting Powders

Cover FX The Perfect Light Highlighting Powder ($34.00 for 0.28 oz.) is described as a “silky, pressed highlighting powder” that is “ultra-blendable” and “never looks dry.” It’s a good highlighter if you don’t already have several in your stash; there are three shades, and they are lovely but dupable, so given how many highlighters have been released in the last few years, you might have little need for one more. The texture of the formula is soft, smooth, and blendable–a little dusty if anything but not dry or powdery on the skin–and has a moderate to high sheen applied. One of three shades–Candlelight–seemed to emphasize my skin’s natural texture a bit, while the other two (Moonlight and Sunlight) looked more similar on my skin tone (there should be a more noticeable difference on much fairer and darker skin tones).

Candlelight is a rich, coppery bronze with warm, red undertones and a sparkling, metallic sheen. It was richly pigmented, and on lighter skin tones, it could be used as a bronzer or a coppery blush. It should be lovely on deeper skin tones as a highlighter or highlighting blush. The texture was a little drier to the touch, and though it did not look dry on the skin, I wondered if that was what made the overall texture of the powder more prone to emphasizing my skin’s natural texture. This shade also had more noticeable sparkle when applied. On me, the color started to fade after eight hours of wear. Cover FX Candlelight (P, $38.00) is less shimmery, darker (95% similar). Makeup Geek Sunlight (LE, $20.00) is more shimmery, lighter (95% similar). Makeup Geek Ignite (P, $20.00) is more shimmery (95% similar). Colour Pop Glo Up (LE, $8.00) is less shimmery (95% similar). Anastasia Bronzed (LE) is more shimmery (95% similar). Colour Pop Avalon (LE, $8.00) is brighter, warmer (90% similar). Colour Pop Candyman (P, $8.00) is darker (90% similar). Tom Ford Beauty Lust for Life (P, $45.00) is less shimmery, less pigmented, cooler (90% similar). Bobbi Brown Bronze (P, $46.00) is less shimmery, darker, cooler (90% similar). The Estee Edit Beachy (LE) is cooler (85% similar). Laura Mercier Seduction (P, $44.00) is darker (80% similar). See comparison swatches / view dupes side-by-side.

Moonlight is a light peachy gold with warm undertones and a frosted sheen. It had semi-opaque color coverage with a soft, smooth, and lightly dusty consistency that blended without issue. I didn’t feel like it made my pores look any bigger, but it had more noticeable shimmer compared to Sunlight but less noticeable compared to Candlelight. The highlighter started to fade after seven and a half hours of wear. theBalm Mary-Lou Manizer (P, $24.00) is more shimmery (95% similar). Tarte Moonlight (P) is lighter (95% similar). Sleek MakeUP Equinox (P) is darker (90% similar). Tom Ford Beauty Warm (Winter 2016) Highlighter (LE, $55.00) is darker (90% similar). Cover FX Sunlight (P, $34.00) is more shimmery, darker (90% similar). Looxi Beauty Bombshell (P, $7.50) is more shimmery, warmer (90% similar). Dior #001 (LE, $65.00) is more shimmery, darker, cooler (90% similar). Colour Pop Highly Waisted (P, $8.00) is less shimmery, darker (85% similar). bareMinerals The Brilliant Sunset (LE, $26.00) is darker, cooler (85% similar). NYX Narcissistic (P, $9.00) is less shimmery, darker (85% similar). Becca Champagne Pop (P, $38.00) is darker, warmer (85% similar). Tarte Lit (P) is more shimmery, darker (80% similar). Charlotte Tilbury Norman Parkinson (LE, $32.00) is less shimmery, darker (80% similar). Smashbox Shimmer (LE) is darker (80% similar). Dior Glowing Nude (002) (LE, $58.00) is darker, warmer (80% similar). Becca Opal (P, $38.00) is more shimmery, darker (80% similar). bareMinerals The Premiere (LE, $26.00) is darker (80% similar). Urban Decay Aura (P, $30.00) is less shimmery, darker (80% similar). Makeup Geek Nightlight (LE, $20.00) is more shimmery, darker, warmer (80% similar). See comparison swatches / view dupes side-by-side.

Sunlight is a light-medium peachy gold with warm undertones and a luminous sheen. This one seemed to have the subtlest, least shimmery finish on the skin–more luminous and smooth–and did not emphasize the appearance of my pores or my skin’s natural texture. It had good pigmentation that was easy to use at full intensity or with a lighter touch for sheerer coverage. The texture was soft, smooth, and just a touch dusty at times, but it applied well, blended out with ease, and wore for eight hours before fading. Cover FX Moonlight (P, $34.00) is less shimmery, lighter (90% similar). Sleek MakeUP Equinox (P) is more shimmery, darker, cooler (90% similar). Dior Glowing Nude (002) (LE, $58.00) is more shimmery, darker (90% similar). bareMinerals The Brilliant Sunset (LE, $26.00) is cooler (90% similar). Tarte Moonlight (P) is lighter (90% similar). Becca Opal (P, $38.00) is more shimmery, darker (90% similar). Looxi Beauty Bombshell (P, $7.50) is lighter (90% similar). bareMinerals The Premiere (LE, $26.00) is less shimmery, darker (90% similar). NYX Narcissistic (P, $9.00) is cooler (90% similar). Becca Champagne Pop (P, $38.00) is more shimmery, darker (90% similar). Makeup Geek Nightlight (LE, $20.00) is more shimmery, darker, warmer (90% similar). theBalm Mary-Lou Manizer (P, $24.00) is lighter (90% similar). Colour Pop Highly Waisted (P, $8.00) is less shimmery, darker (90% similar). Smashbox Shimmer (LE) is darker (85% similar). Charlotte Tilbury Norman Parkinson (LE, $32.00) is less shimmery, darker, cooler (85% similar). Dior #001 (LE, $65.00) is darker, cooler (85% similar). Urban Decay Aura (P, $30.00) is less shimmery, darker (85% similar). See comparison swatches / view dupes side-by-side.

Cover FX The Perfect Light Highlighting Powder Candlelight
8.5
Product
10
Pigmentation
8.5
Texture
8.5
Longevity
4.5
Application
89%
Total
Cover FX The Perfect Light Highlighting Powder Moonlight
Moonlight
Moonlight
9
Product
9
Pigmentation
9
Texture
8
Longevity
5
Application
89%
Total
Cover FX The Perfect Light Highlighting Powder Sunlight
Sunlight
Sunlight
9
Product
10
Pigmentation
9
Texture
8.5
Longevity
5
Application
92%
Total

See more photos & swatches!

Cover FX Sunlight Custom Enhancer Drops

Cover FX Sunlight Custom Enhancer Drops
Cover FX Sunlight Custom Enhancer Drops

Cover FX Sunlight Custom Enhancer Drops ($42.00 for 0.50 fl. oz.) is a medium-dark copper-shimmered bronze with warm undertones and pink and gold pearl. Becca Rose Gold (P, $38.00) is darker, warmer (90% similar). Tom Ford Beauty Moodlight (Candlelight) (LE) is cooler (90% similar). Colour Pop Butterfly Beach (P, $8.00) is less shimmery, darker, warmer (90% similar). Lancome Glowing Lights (P, $30.00) is less shimmery, warmer (90% similar). Jouer Topaz (P, $24.00) is more shimmery, lighter (85% similar). Laura Geller Ballerina (P, $24.00) is less shimmery, lighter, warmer (85% similar). MAC Pearl Sunshine (LE, $22.00) is less shimmery, darker, brighter (85% similar). Becca Rose Gold (P, $41.00) is less shimmery, darker (80% similar). See comparison swatches / view dupes side-by-side.

Custom Enhancer Drops are a liquid formula that can add a “highlighting, strobing, or bronzing effect” to your favorite liquid products or used alone on top of (or underneath) your other products (including powder); two of the six shades are bronzing and four are more shimmery/metallic for highlighting. It is a buildable coverage product, so that you can use as many or as few drops as desired for the effect (and it will depend on how you use it; mixing with a moisturizer for all-over may require less product than spot application on cheeks after other makeup is applied!). These are similar to formulas like Giorgio Armani Fluid Sheer (runs a bit sheerer overall, less buildable), Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector (Liquid) (much sheerer), and NARS Illuminators (sheerer, usually contains larger shimmer/glitter particles). The major difference is the intensity of the pearl and buildability in coverage (easier to get to full coverage but still easy to retain sheer coverage).

What’s neat about these is that they are versatile as you want them to be; they really do perform well mixed with various liquid and cream products (moisturizer, foundation, tinted moisturizer, primer) while also working under and over makeup, and they really are buildable from sheer to opaque coverage. Initially, the formula might seem incredibly pigmented, but the thin, liquid consistency makes it very easy to sheer out. They are actually sheerer than they seem upon initial swatching or application, as the consistency naturally creates a sheerer layer as soon as you work it across the skin. That being said, unless you’re mixing with a base product, one drop is likely overkill for spot application. These have a strong sheen but very fine shimmer, so it produces more of a pearly, glowing effect on the skin–lightly dewy with moderate shine and some noticeable shimmer. They dry down within 10-15 seconds of blending out the product and feel like a powder but with better hold (I get almost no transfer, and it doesn’t noticeably lift or move), so the sheen you see is from a damp or wet product, it’s the reflective quality of the pearl. You can, however, build these up to opaque coverage, and at that level, some of the shimmery shades can emphasize the texture of the skin. The formula also wore well on me, ranging from eight to ten hours with minimal signs of fading. I’d expect that this formula will work for someone who likes moderate highlighters with luminous, shiny, pearly finishes or likes all-over warmth (in the case of the bronzing shades) with a satin-to-matte finish.

Sunlight had the most intense finish of the four, though it wasn’t much more intense than Candlelight or Celestial. The texture was thin, so it was easy to spread and blend on the skin as well as to mix with various liquids and cream products. The product felt lightweight on the skin, especially after it dried down, as it feels and looks more like a powder. I didn’t notice any emphasis of my skin’s natural texture or pores when I wore this as a cheek highlighter at medium coverage. It had buildable pigmentation from semi-sheer to fully opaque, but a little still goes a long way. The best way to work with it is to err on the side of less is more and then build-up, if necessary, to achieve the coverage level you desire. One to two drops was plenty when I mixed in with my moisturizer or foundation for all over luminosity, while I needed less than half a drop to apply on top of bare skin or makeup on specific areas. Once applied, I had enough time to blend and diffuse the color as I wanted before it dried down, but once it dries down, it is much harder to blend so I recommend doing one area at a time to ensure you’re able to get the blended application you want. This shade lasted just over eight and a half hours on me as a cheek highlighter and didn’t impact the wear of my base products when I mixed it in with them.

Here’s an in-depth look at how I’ve used and trialed all the shades:

Alone: I’ve patted them over bare skin, liquid foundation, and liquid foundation with setting powder on top. For best results, I like to tap my brush against the applicator (not even using the droplet applicator to get a drop out) and then stipple the product onto the skin. I tend to apply both my bronzers and highlighters more along the cheek areas, so I would stipple a few times along my cheeks or cheekbones and then lightly buff in small circles. It worked equally well just dabbing my fingertips against my skin and using the side of my fingertip to sweep and blend the product out. I was particularly impressed by how well it applied over powder, as the sheerer, smooth texture didn’t disrupt base products and move foundation or turn the area patchy. When testing for wear, I used its longevity on bare skin as my major measure for the rating, but I did wear the shades mixed in and layered with a multitude of products to ensure that the formula wasn’t prone to shortening the wear of other products.

Mixed with Primer: I tried it with both water and silicone-based primers, and I had no preference for one over the other with respect to these drops. I used one to two drops for all-over luminosity; I preferred one drop myself, as it gave me a dewier finish that wasn’t over-the-top for my preference. If you wear a lighter-coverage base on top of primer, mixing with primer could work for all-over glow/warmth, but if you wear light-medium or heavier coverage, I would suggest mixing with your foundation or applying on top of your foundation as it gets lost under heavier coverage.

Mixed with Foundation: I tried it with tinted moisturizer, sheer coverage foundation, medium coverage foundation, and full coverage foundation. In general, heavier coverage foundations are a bit thicker than the ultra sheer formulas. I found one to drops was sufficient with tinted to medium coverage formulas, while full coverage was less receptive–it made the foundation dewier but wasn’t as luminous as with lighter coverage foundations. If I wore full coverage foundation, I preferred this patted on top at the end, rather than mixed.

Mixed with Moisturizer: Like primer, this method works well when you skip foundation or wear lighter coverage foundation. I can imagine this combination working well for those with flatter or more matte skin naturally, as it gives noticeable luminosity and dewiness. While I didn’t personally like the level of sheen it gave my face when mixed with moisturizer, I loved it for body–particularly on shoulders and decolletage. It is also gorgeous on legs. I really liked mixing one of the highlighting shades with a bronzing shade for a little color, warmth, and sheen on legs.

Cover FX Custom Enhancer Drops (Illuminating) Sunlight
Sunlight
Sunlight
9.5
Product
10
Pigmentation
9
Texture
9.5
Longevity
5
Application
96%
Total

See more photos & swatches!

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Cover FX Sunkissed Custom Enhancer Drops

Cover FX Sunkissed Custom Enhancer Drops
Cover FX Sunkissed Custom Enhancer Drops

Cover FX Sunkissed Custom Enhancer Drops ($42.00 for 0.50 fl. oz.) is medium brown with warm, yellowy undertones and a satin finish. MAC Matte Bronze (P, $25.00) is cooler (95% similar). Colour Pop Bon Voyage (P, $8.00) is more muted (95% similar). Tarte Shade (P) is cooler (90% similar). bareMinerals The Ocean View (LE, $24.00) is warmer (90% similar). Tarte Park Ave. Princess #2 (LE) is more shimmery, darker (90% similar). Urban Decay Bronzed (P, $28.00) is darker, warmer (90% similar). Givenchy Ambre Saison (P, $52.00) is more shimmery, lighter, warmer (90% similar). Colour Pop Skinny Dip (P, $8.00) is darker, warmer (90% similar). Urban Decay Naked on the Run Bronzer (LE) is warmer (85% similar). Tom Ford Beauty Terra (P, $68.00) is darker (90% similar). Giorgio Armani Sun Glow (90) (P, $64.00) is lighter, warmer (85% similar). Colour Pop Carry-On (P, $8.00) is darker, warmer (85% similar). Giorgio Armani Sun Kiss (100) (P, $64.00) is darker, warmer (80% similar). See comparison swatches / view dupes side-by-side.

Custom Enhancer Drops are a liquid formula that can add a “highlighting, strobing, or bronzing effect” to your favorite liquid products or used alone on top of (or underneath) your other products (including powder); two of the six shades are bronzing and four are more shimmery/metallic for highlighting. It is a buildable coverage product, so that you can use as many or as few drops as desired for the effect (and it will depend on how you use it; mixing with a moisturizer for all-over may require less product than spot application on cheeks after other makeup is applied!). These are similar to formulas like Giorgio Armani Fluid Sheer (runs a bit sheerer overall, less buildable), Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector (Liquid) (much sheerer), and NARS Illuminators (sheerer, usually contains larger shimmer/glitter particles). The major difference is the intensity of the pearl and buildability in coverage (easier to get to full coverage but still easy to retain sheer coverage).

What’s neat about these is that they are versatile as you want them to be; they really do perform well mixed with various liquid and cream products (moisturizer, foundation, tinted moisturizer, primer) while also working under and over makeup, and they really are buildable from sheer to opaque coverage. Initially, the formula might seem incredibly pigmented, but the thin, liquid consistency makes it very easy to sheer out. They are actually sheerer than they seem upon initial swatching or application, as the consistency naturally creates a sheerer layer as soon as you work it across the skin. That being said, unless you’re mixing with a base product, one drop is likely overkill for spot application. These have a strong sheen but very fine shimmer, so it produces more of a pearly, glowing effect on the skin–lightly dewy with moderate shine and some noticeable shimmer. They dry down within 10-15 seconds of blending out the product and feel like a powder but with better hold (I get almost no transfer, and it doesn’t noticeably lift or move), so the sheen you see is from a damp or wet product, it’s the reflective quality of the pearl. You can, however, build these up to opaque coverage, and at that level, some of the shimmery shades can emphasize the texture of the skin. The formula also wore well on me, ranging from eight to ten hours with minimal signs of fading. I’d expect that this formula will work for someone who likes moderate highlighters with luminous, shiny, pearly finishes or likes all-over warmth (in the case of the bronzing shades) with a satin-to-matte finish.

Sunkissed is the lighter of the two bronzing shades. I suspect that this shade will be more suitable for fair to medium skin tones, and it might not show up well on darker skin tones. On my light-medium complexion, I get a hint of golden warmth and subtle color. It had medium, buildable color payoff that was fairly easy to use, as the liquid consistency was thin enough to spread well across the skin without becoming uneven or drying down immediately, but it wasn’t so thin that it became impossibly sheer. The product is blendable until dries down, and the thinner the layer, the faster it would dry down, so you have some time to work the product across the skin and then a little while longer (about 10-15 seconds) until it sets on the skin and becomes harder to diffuse/blend out. I could use up to two drops mixed in with moisturizer/foundation without it altering the depth of my color too much, but I found I preferred one myself. I like Sunkissed best mixed in, while I like the darker Sunset if I want to use one as a bronzer on top of my makeup–for my skin tone. This was the shortest-wearing shade of the six at eight hours.

Here’s an in-depth look at how I’ve used and trialed all the shades:

Alone: I’ve patted them over bare skin, liquid foundation, and liquid foundation with setting powder on top. For best results, I like to tap my brush against the applicator (not even using the droplet applicator to get a drop out) and then stipple the product onto the skin. I tend to apply both my bronzers and highlighters more along the cheek areas, so I would stipple a few times along my cheeks or cheekbones and then lightly buff in small circles. It worked equally well just dabbing my fingertips against my skin and using the side of my fingertip to sweep and blend the product out. I was particularly impressed by how well it applied over powder, as the sheerer, smooth texture didn’t disrupt base products and move foundation or turn the area patchy. When testing for wear, I used its longevity on bare skin as my major measure for the rating, but I did wear the shades mixed in and layered with a multitude of products to ensure that the formula wasn’t prone to shortening the wear of other products.

Mixed with Primer: I tried it with both water and silicone-based primers, and I had no preference for one over the other with respect to these drops. I used one to two drops for all-over luminosity; I preferred one drop myself, as it gave me a dewier finish that wasn’t over-the-top for my preference. If you wear a lighter-coverage base on top of primer, mixing with primer could work for all-over glow/warmth, but if you wear light-medium or heavier coverage, I would suggest mixing with your foundation or applying on top of your foundation as it gets lost under heavier coverage.

Mixed with Foundation: I tried it with tinted moisturizer, sheer coverage foundation, medium coverage foundation, and full coverage foundation. In general, heavier coverage foundations are a bit thicker than the ultra sheer formulas. I found one to drops was sufficient with tinted to medium coverage formulas, while full coverage was less receptive–it made the foundation dewier but wasn’t as luminous as with lighter coverage foundations. If I wore full coverage foundation, I preferred this patted on top at the end, rather than mixed.

Mixed with Moisturizer: Like primer, this method works well when you skip foundation or wear lighter coverage foundation. I can imagine this combination working well for those with flatter or more matte skin naturally, as it gives noticeable luminosity and dewiness. While I didn’t personally like the level of sheen it gave my face when mixed with moisturizer, I loved it for body–particularly on shoulders and decolletage. It is also gorgeous on legs. I really liked mixing one of the highlighting shades with a bronzing shade for a little color, warmth, and sheen on legs.

Cover FX Custom Enhancer Drops (Bronzing) Sunkissed
Sunkissed
Sunkissed
9.5
Product
10
Pigmentation
9.5
Texture
8.5
Longevity
5
Application
94%
Total

See more photos & swatches!

Cover FX Sunset Custom Enhancer Drops

Cover FX Sunset Custom Enhancer Drops
Cover FX Sunset Custom Enhancer Drops

Cover FX Sunset Custom Enhancer Drops ($42.00 for 0.50 fl. oz.) is medium-dark brown with warm, reddish undertones and a natural finish.. Stila Sending My Love Bronzer (LE) is warmer (95% similar). Tom Ford Beauty The Afternooner (Bronzer) (LE) is cooler (95% similar). Too Faced Gingerbread (LE) is lighter (95% similar). Kevyn Aucoin Desert Nights (P, $48.00) is warmer (95% similar). Guerlain #03 (P, $53.00) is warmer (90% similar). Laura Mercier Bronze (04) (P, $40.00) is darker, cooler (90% similar). Urban Decay Toasted (P, $26.00) is warmer (90% similar). Guerlain #02 (P, $53.00) is warmer (90% similar). MAC Tan Tint (LE, $29.50) is warmer (90% similar). Colour Pop Bronze Me (LE, $8.00) is darker, warmer (90% similar). MAC Scone (LE, $25.00) is warmer (85% similar). Kevyn Aucoin Deep (P, $44.00) is lighter, cooler (80% similar). Colour Pop Happy Hour (P, $8.00) is darker, warmer (80% similar). Giorgio Armani Sun Bath (110) (P, $64.00) is darker, warmer (80% similar). See comparison swatches / view dupes side-by-side.

Custom Enhancer Drops are a liquid formula that can add a “highlighting, strobing, or bronzing effect” to your favorite liquid products or used alone on top of (or underneath) your other products (including powder); two of the six shades are bronzing and four are more shimmery/metallic for highlighting. It is a buildable coverage product, so that you can use as many or as few drops as desired for the effect (and it will depend on how you use it; mixing with a moisturizer for all-over may require less product than spot application on cheeks after other makeup is applied!). These are similar to formulas like Giorgio Armani Fluid Sheer (runs a bit sheerer overall, less buildable), Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector (Liquid) (much sheerer), and NARS Illuminators (sheerer, usually contains larger shimmer/glitter particles). The major difference is the intensity of the pearl and buildability in coverage (easier to get to full coverage but still easy to retain sheer coverage).

What’s neat about these is that they are versatile as you want them to be; they really do perform well mixed with various liquid and cream products (moisturizer, foundation, tinted moisturizer, primer) while also working under and over makeup, and they really are buildable from sheer to opaque coverage. Initially, the formula might seem incredibly pigmented, but the thin, liquid consistency makes it very easy to sheer out. They are actually sheerer than they seem upon initial swatching or application, as the consistency naturally creates a sheerer layer as soon as you work it across the skin. That being said, unless you’re mixing with a base product, one drop is likely overkill for spot application. These have a strong sheen but very fine shimmer, so it produces more of a pearly, glowing effect on the skin–lightly dewy with moderate shine and some noticeable shimmer. They dry down within 10-15 seconds of blending out the product and feel like a powder but with better hold (I get almost no transfer, and it doesn’t noticeably lift or move), so the sheen you see is from a damp or wet product, it’s the reflective quality of the pearl. You can, however, build these up to opaque coverage, and at that level, some of the shimmery shades can emphasize the texture of the skin. The formula also wore well on me, ranging from eight to ten hours with minimal signs of fading. I’d expect that this formula will work for someone who likes moderate highlighters with luminous, shiny, pearly finishes or likes all-over warmth (in the case of the bronzing shades) with a satin-to-matte finish.

Sunset is the darker of the two bronzing shades. It had a warmer, redder undertone without strong yellow tones, so it didn’t look orange-y on the skin, which I find indicative of more natural-looking bronzers on more skin tones. I suspect that this shade will be more suitable for medium and darker complexions, while the other shade, Sunkissed, will work best on fair to medium skin tones. The texture was thin, smooth, and blendable on the skin as it dried down. Once it set, it was harder to maneuver without added force, but it was more forgiving in its dried-down state compared to the shimmery ones. It had more of a satin finish on the skin; it wasn’t fully matte but did not read shimmery or dewy either. It had medium, buildable coverage, and a little went a long way, as you might have guessed based on the range thus far! For my skin tone, less than one drop added warmth without changing my skin color completely when mixed with foundation or moisturizer. I only needed the lightest dab of product to bronze my cheek area (not even close to a full drop!). The color lasted for just over eight and a half hours on me.

Here’s an in-depth look at how I’ve used and trialed all the shades:

Alone: I’ve patted them over bare skin, liquid foundation, and liquid foundation with setting powder on top. For best results, I like to tap my brush against the applicator (not even using the droplet applicator to get a drop out) and then stipple the product onto the skin. I tend to apply both my bronzers and highlighters more along the cheek areas, so I would stipple a few times along my cheeks or cheekbones and then lightly buff in small circles. It worked equally well just dabbing my fingertips against my skin and using the side of my fingertip to sweep and blend the product out. I was particularly impressed by how well it applied over powder, as the sheerer, smooth texture didn’t disrupt base products and move foundation or turn the area patchy. When testing for wear, I used its longevity on bare skin as my major measure for the rating, but I did wear the shades mixed in and layered with a multitude of products to ensure that the formula wasn’t prone to shortening the wear of other products.

Mixed with Primer: I tried it with both water and silicone-based primers, and I had no preference for one over the other with respect to these drops. I used one to two drops for all-over luminosity; I preferred one drop myself, as it gave me a dewier finish that wasn’t over-the-top for my preference. If you wear a lighter-coverage base on top of primer, mixing with primer could work for all-over glow/warmth, but if you wear light-medium or heavier coverage, I would suggest mixing with your foundation or applying on top of your foundation as it gets lost under heavier coverage.

Mixed with Foundation: I tried it with tinted moisturizer, sheer coverage foundation, medium coverage foundation, and full coverage foundation. In general, heavier coverage foundations are a bit thicker than the ultra sheer formulas. I found one to drops was sufficient with tinted to medium coverage formulas, while full coverage was less receptive–it made the foundation dewier but wasn’t as luminous as with lighter coverage foundations. If I wore full coverage foundation, I preferred this patted on top at the end, rather than mixed.

Mixed with Moisturizer: Like primer, this method works well when you skip foundation or wear lighter coverage foundation. I can imagine this combination working well for those with flatter or more matte skin naturally, as it gives noticeable luminosity and dewiness. While I didn’t personally like the level of sheen it gave my face when mixed with moisturizer, I loved it for body–particularly on shoulders and decolletage. It is also gorgeous on legs. I really liked mixing one of the highlighting shades with a bronzing shade for a little color, warmth, and sheen on legs.

Cover FX Custom Enhancer Drops (Bronzing) Sunset
Sunset
Sunset
10
Product
10
Pigmentation
10
Texture
8.5
Longevity
5
Application
97%
Total

See more photos & swatches!

Cover FX Moonlight Custom Enhancer Drops

Cover FX Moonlight Custom Enhancer Drops
Cover FX Moonlight Custom Enhancer Drops

Cover FX Moonlight Custom Enhancer Drops ($42.00 for 0.50 fl. oz.) is a light-medium, golden bronze with warm, yellow undertones and multi-colored shimmer with more dominant pale gold and bronze pearl. Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Glow (Original) (P) is less shimmery, warmer (95% similar). Colour Pop Flexitarian (P, $8.00) is less shimmery, lighter (90% similar). Burberry Gold Glow No. 01 (LE, $68.00) is less shimmery, darker, more muted (90% similar). Charlotte Tilbury Sun Light (LE) is less shimmery, darker (90% similar). LORAC Twilight (P, $22.00) is warmer (90% similar). Josie Maran Argan Enlightenment (Original) (P, $28.00) is less shimmery, darker (90% similar). theBalm Mary-Lou Manizer (P, $24.00) is warmer (90% similar). Burberry No. 02 Nude Gold (LE, $68.00) is darker (90% similar). Anastasia Bubbly (LE) is more shimmery, warmer (90% similar). Dior Glowing Nude (002) (LE, $58.00) is darker, warmer (90% similar). Bobbi Brown 24 Karat (P, $46.00) is warmer (90% similar). Becca Champagne Pop (P, $38.00) is warmer (90% similar). Becca Champagne Pop (P, $38.00) is more shimmery, darker (95% similar). Laura Geller Gilded Honey (P, $24.00) is warmer (85% similar). Becca Opal (P, $38.00) is warmer (85% similar). Anastasia So Hollywood (P, $28.00) is more shimmery, warmer (85% similar). See comparison swatches / view dupes side-by-side.

Custom Enhancer Drops are a liquid formula that can add a “highlighting, strobing, or bronzing effect” to your favorite liquid products or used alone on top of (or underneath) your other products (including powder); two of the six shades are bronzing and four are more shimmery/metallic for highlighting. It is a buildable coverage product, so that you can use as many or as few drops as desired for the effect (and it will depend on how you use it; mixing with a moisturizer for all-over may require less product than spot application on cheeks after other makeup is applied!). These are similar to formulas like Giorgio Armani Fluid Sheer (runs a bit sheerer overall, less buildable), Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector (Liquid) (much sheerer), and NARS Illuminators (sheerer, usually contains larger shimmer/glitter particles). The major difference is the intensity of the pearl and buildability in coverage (easier to get to full coverage but still easy to retain sheer coverage).

What’s neat about these is that they are versatile as you want them to be; they really do perform well mixed with various liquid and cream products (moisturizer, foundation, tinted moisturizer, primer) while also working under and over makeup, and they really are buildable from sheer to opaque coverage. Initially, the formula might seem incredibly pigmented, but the thin, liquid consistency makes it very easy to sheer out. They are actually sheerer than they seem upon initial swatching or application, as the consistency naturally creates a sheerer layer as soon as you work it across the skin. That being said, unless you’re mixing with a base product, one drop is likely overkill for spot application. These have a strong sheen but very fine shimmer, so it produces more of a pearly, glowing effect on the skin–lightly dewy with moderate shine and some noticeable shimmer. They dry down within 10-15 seconds of blending out the product and feel like a powder but with better hold (I get almost no transfer, and it doesn’t noticeably lift or move), so the sheen you see is from a damp or wet product, it’s the reflective quality of the pearl. You can, however, build these up to opaque coverage, and at that level, some of the shimmery shades can emphasize the texture of the skin. The formula also wore well on me, ranging from eight to ten hours with minimal signs of fading. I’d expect that this formula will work for someone who likes moderate highlighters with luminous, shiny, pearly finishes or likes all-over warmth (in the case of the bronzing shades) with a satin-to-matte finish.

Moonlight had the subtlest finish of the four highlighting shades in the range, though I would still describe it as moderate to strong in finish with respect to shimmer and the amount of light it can reflect. For those who are more worried about an emphasis of the skin’s texture from shimmer, this might be the one to start with or swatched in person. The texture was thin, spreadable, and easy to work with when it was damp or drying down, and once it dried down, it tended to feel set in place, so it was harder to diffuse the edges without really buffing them out (and if you applied it over foundation, it could lift your base product due to the vigor needed to blend). It had buildable coverage that started at semi-sheer to medium, and it could be diffused to sheer or layered to opaque coverage. I find it works best applied in medium coverage layers and then built up in the places you desire. This particular shade did not add any noticeable color to my skin tone, but it likely will to those fairer or more pink-toned. The highlighter wore well for nine hours when I wore it alone as a cheek highlighter and didn’t interfere with the longevity of my foundation/base products when mixed in.

Here’s an in-depth look at how I’ve used and trialed all the shades:

Alone: I’ve patted them over bare skin, liquid foundation, and liquid foundation with setting powder on top. For best results, I like to tap my brush against the applicator (not even using the droplet applicator to get a drop out) and then stipple the product onto the skin. I tend to apply both my bronzers and highlighters more along the cheek areas, so I would stipple a few times along my cheeks or cheekbones and then lightly buff in small circles. It worked equally well just dabbing my fingertips against my skin and using the side of my fingertip to sweep and blend the product out. I was particularly impressed by how well it applied over powder, as the sheerer, smooth texture didn’t disrupt base products and move foundation or turn the area patchy. When testing for wear, I used its longevity on bare skin as my major measure for the rating, but I did wear the shades mixed in and layered with a multitude of products to ensure that the formula wasn’t prone to shortening the wear of other products.

Mixed with Primer: I tried it with both water and silicone-based primers, and I had no preference for one over the other with respect to these drops. I used one to two drops for all-over luminosity; I preferred one drop myself, as it gave me a dewier finish that wasn’t over-the-top for my preference. If you wear a lighter-coverage base on top of primer, mixing with primer could work for all-over glow/warmth, but if you wear light-medium or heavier coverage, I would suggest mixing with your foundation or applying on top of your foundation as it gets lost under heavier coverage.

Mixed with Foundation: I tried it with tinted moisturizer, sheer coverage foundation, medium coverage foundation, and full coverage foundation. In general, heavier coverage foundations are a bit thicker than the ultra sheer formulas. I found one to drops was sufficient with tinted to medium coverage formulas, while full coverage was less receptive–it made the foundation dewier but wasn’t as luminous as with lighter coverage foundations. If I wore full coverage foundation, I preferred this patted on top at the end, rather than mixed.

Mixed with Moisturizer: Like primer, this method works well when you skip foundation or wear lighter coverage foundation. I can imagine this combination working well for those with flatter or more matte skin naturally, as it gives noticeable luminosity and dewiness. While I didn’t personally like the level of sheen it gave my face when mixed with moisturizer, I loved it for body–particularly on shoulders and decolletage. It is also gorgeous on legs. I really liked mixing one of the highlighting shades with a bronzing shade for a little color, warmth, and sheen on legs.

Cover FX Custom Enhancer Drops (Illuminating) Moonlight
Moonlight
Moonlight
9.5
Product
10
Pigmentation
9.5
Texture
9.5
Longevity
5
Application
97%
Total

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