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 ($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.
Laura Geller Baked Gelato Swirl Illuminator
Laura Geller Baked Gelato Swirl Illuminator ($26.00 for 0.16 oz.) is a moderately shimmery powder highlighter available in four shades. The consistency is soft, smooth, and blendable, while the shades provide subtle color and plenty of sheen to the skin. They’re medium to opaque in coverage, but the texture is forgiving enough that it can be sheered out or applied with a fan brush for subtle luminosity. The shade I use most often is Ballerina.
Anastasia Illuminator ($28.00 for 0.35 oz.) is supposed to “impart a lit-from-within glow,” and they are a pressed, powder highlighter that is similar to products like MAC In Extra Dimension, NARS Dual Intensity Blush, Estee Lauder Gelee, and so forth. The formula is smooth, high-shine, and pigmented–so it is most suitable for someone who likes a very strong, more metallic highlight. The one I use the most is Starlight.
Cle de Peau Luminizing Face Enhancer
Cle de Peau Luminizing Face Enhancer ($55.00 for 0.35 oz.) is a softer, subtler powder highlighter. The powder’s texture is soft, smooth, and blends easily on the skin, while the shimmer is luminous and sits well on the skin without emphasizing pores or the skin’s natural texture. My favorite shade is Sand Beige (13).
Bobbi Brown Highlighting Powder
Bobbi Brown Highlighting Powder ($46.00 for 0.28 oz.) is only available in two permanent shades–Bronze Glow and Pink Glow–but the formula is smooth, luminous, and easy to use. There are also three limited edition shades floating around on various retailers (still available at the time of writing), and those three I heartily recommend if you find them!
LORAC Light Source Illuminating Highlighter
LORAC Light Source Illuminating Highlighter ($22.00 for 0.20 oz.) is a powder highlighter available in four shades–three gold-inspired hues and one pink one. These have a very soft, smooth, and finely-milled consistency, so they’re easy to control and apply to the skin without emphasizing pores. My favorite shade is Daylight.
Essence Pure Nude Highlighter
Essence Pure Nude Highlighter ($4.49 for 0.23 oz.) is an excellent highlighter, and the fact that it’s under $5 is just icing on the cake. It’s soft, smooth, and blendable with enough sheen that it’s noticeable but doesn’t look metallic. There is only one shade at this time, so let’s hope they add more to the range!
Laura Mercier Matte Radiance Baked Powder
Laura Mercier Matte Radiance Baked Powder ($40.00 for 0.26 oz.) is comprised of five shades, four which are more like hues of bronze and one that is a lighter, translucent champagne, Highlight 01. It doesn’t add a lot of color to most skin tones, but it doesn’t seem strongly white-based, so it is still a versatile shade. The finish of it is spectacular: just glowy enough to use on cheeks but subtle enough that it can be dusted more freely on the face or all-over.
Cover FX Custom Enhancing Drops (Illuminating)
Cover FX Custom Enhancing Drops (Illuminating) ($42.00 for 0.50 fl. oz.) 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. 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. My favorite shades are: Celestial and Sunlight.
Urban Decay Afterglow 8-Hour Highlighter
Urban Decay Afterglow 8-Hour Highlighter ($26.00 for 0.23 oz.) is available in three shades–a pale pink, peachy-orange, and champagne–but knowing Urban Decay, I remain very hopeful that they’ll expand the range in the next year. The texture of the highlighters is soft, smooth, blendable, and yields moderate or greater sheen. The shade I like the most in the range is Aura, as you don’t find too many permanent, cooler pinks.