Cover FX Candlelight Custom Enhancer Drops
Cover FX Candlelight Custom Enhancer Drops ($42.00 for 0.50 fl. oz.) is a medium-dark, coppery-brown with warm, red undertones and fine gold, pink, and copper pearl. Cover FX Candlelight (P, $34.00) is more shimmery, lighter (95% similar). Makeup Geek Ignite (P, $20.00) is more shimmery (95% similar). Kevyn Aucoin Sunlight (P, $52.00) is less shimmery, lighter (90% similar). Anastasia Bronzed (LE) is more shimmery, warmer (90% similar). Colour Pop Santos (LE, $8.00) is less shimmery, darker (90% similar). The Estee Edit Beachy (LE) is less shimmery, cooler (90% similar). theBalm Betty-Lou Manizer (P, $24.00) is lighter, warmer (90% similar). Bobbi Brown Bronze (P, $46.00) is more shimmery (90% similar). MAC Gilty Bronze (LE, $29.50) is darker (90% similar). Colour Pop Glo Up (LE, $8.00) is less shimmery, warmer (90% similar). Colour Pop Avalon (LE, $8.00) is more shimmery, warmer (85% similar). Too Faced Sun Bunny #1 (P) is less shimmery, warmer (85% similar). Laura Mercier Seduction (P, $44.00) is darker, warmer (85% similar). Dior #004 (P, $56.00) is lighter, cooler (85% similar). Becca Topaz (P, $38.00) is more shimmery, lighter, warmer (85% similar). Colour Pop Poolside (P, $8.00) is less shimmery, lighter, warmer (85% similar). Makeup Geek Sunlight (LE, $20.00) is more shimmery, lighter (85% similar). MAC Golden Elixir (LE, $31.00) is less shimmery, lighter (80% similar). Disney by Sephora Golden Sands (LE, $55.00) is warmer (80% similar). See comparison swatches / view dupes side-by-side.
Custom Enhancer Drops is 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 (thicker, 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 are buildable from sheer to opaque coverage. Initially, the formula might seem incredibly pigmented, but the thin, liquid 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 little transfer if I touch the area with this applied, but if I rub vigorously, I will get product to move), so the sheen you see is the result of the reflective quality of the pearl not that the product remains wet. 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 all-over luminosity and likes adjusting and mixing highlighters with their base products or enjoys moderate-to-metallic highlighters with luminous, shiny, pearly finishes or likes all-over warmth (in the case of the bronzing shades) with a satin-to-matte finish. If you like barely-there shimmer or tend not to like noticeable shine, I would try it in person or look for another type of product.
Candlelight had buildable coverage that ranged from semi-sheer to opaque, depending on application and amount of product used. For reference, one droplet on the back of my hand covers that area (about 3″ x 3″) with semi-opaque coverage. I liked a dab of the applicator against the back of my hand, rather than a drop, if I was applying on targeted areas, like cheekbones or down the bridge of my nose, as a drop was far more product than needed. For mixing, I found one drop to be sufficient for a noticeable all-over glow that didn’t read metallic or like I highlighted my entire face, while two or more drops became more noticeable and also added color to my skin tone. The consistency is thin, easily spread across the skin or mixed in with other products, and blends well as it is drying down. Once it dries down, it’s not very blendable, so I recommend working one area at a time when using it alone (either under or over makeup) as there is some time to work but not a lot (this is the only downside to the product, but it is likely part of why it is longer-wearing). On me, the color lasted for nine hours when applied over bare skin. I did not find it shortened the wear of other products when I mixed it in and applied all over.
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 cheek bones 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.