Best Highlighters (2021) | Editor's Top Picks

Best Highlighters (2021)

Whether you’re looking for a liquid, cream or powder highlighter, this editor-approved and -tested guide to the best highlighters available in 2021 will help you sift through the numerous highlighters on the market. In order to add some of the newcomers, old favorites were removed, but with such steep competition, I’ve also made it a point to ensure that there is greater variety in types of highlighters at different price points.

Every product recommended below has been tested and reviewed by me, your editor-in-chief, and I test thousands of products every year–so they’ve earned their way onto this list. To read more about a specific shade or view swatches, make sure to use the drop downs and buttons below, as we’ve tried to make this guide comprehensive and easy to use!

Rare Beauty Positive Light Liquid Luminizer Highlight

It's supposed to have "superfine, light-catching pearls" that can be built up from "soft sheen to pure pop." Per the description, it is intended to be used as a standalone highlighter--applied over liquid, powder, or cream--or mixed with foundation. It worked well on bare skin as well as over foundation, and it was mixable, though the style of applicator made it less readily mixed into foundation compared to a dropper. I had slight lifting issues with certain shades, but it was less prone to doing so overall. Read more...

Availability
SephoraSephora

Sydney Grace Highlighter

The highlighters are supposed to be "smooth and pigmented" that "blend like a dream" and "last all day long." The majority of the shades in the range are incredibly pigmented with a creaminess to the texture that makes them a cinch to apply and blend out on my skin. Read more...

Availability
Sydney Grace

ColourPop Lite Stix

The formula is supposed to "blend effortlessly" with a "natural, skin-like finish" that can be layered or applied on bare skin. The brand recommends applyling directly from the tube for heavier coverage and using a brush to pick up product for less coverage, though the coverage "easily builds colour to your heart's desire." Read more...

Availability
ColourPop

Milk Makeup Flex Highlighter

The formula is supposed to apply "seamlessly" to skin and hydrate skin with a "weightless pearlescent base" that gives "next-level glow." There's no specific description about coverage, but the promotional swatches showed all shades as opaque. The formula is as smooth and as silky as described; it felt like a thinner, powdery cream than it felt like a true powder. Read more...

Maybelline MasterChrome Metallic Highlighter

It’s supposed to have a “chrome effect” that can be applied “lightly for a subtle glow” or built up for a “bold melted metal look.” The texture was soft, smooth, and blendable that was delightfully creamy to the touch, but it was still more loosely pressed (without being powdery), which made it particularly easy to apply with a slew of brushes. Read more...

Natasha Denona Super Glow Highlighter

The formula is supposed to be a "super-soft powder" that "mimics skin's natural texture for a slick, seamless finish that won't settle in fine lines" while creating a "multidimensional glow" and "glass-like sheen." The powder has a denser consistency with slight slip and creaminess, but it definitely feels like a powder. Read more...

Sydney Grace Loose Highlighter

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Sydney Grace

OFRA Highlighter

The formula is supposed to have a "liquid to baked technology" that has "unparalleled pigment payoff" that can be used as a highlighter as well as an eyeshadow or as a blush topper." It's a very pigmented formula with a high-shine, metallic finish that will be most suitable for someone who wants an intense highlighter. Read more...

Dior DiorSkin Nude Luminizer

It's a new line of powder highlighters that are supposed to give the "face a multidimensional glow" with a "high concentration of shimmering pigments." It's an update on their previous Luminizers but with lighter-weight packaging (and no included brush, which wasn't anything to write home about anyway!) and a lower price. Read more...

MAC Extra Dimension Skinfinish

The Extra Dimension Skinfinish formula is supposed to give “the perfect glow to the skin” with a “creamy powder formula” that wears for “10 hours.” It’s a powder highlighter that I’d describe as a moderate to intense highlighter, and they come in varying hues with some that might work as highlighting blushes/bronzers are on some skin tones and true highlighters on other skin tones. In general, the formula is very pigmented, blendable, and wears around eight to nine hours on me.

Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed

The Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed formula is described as having an "ultra-reflective shine" with a "creamy" texture that "applies seamlessly." In general, the texture of the highlighters is incredibly smooth, silky, and finely-milled with frosted to metallic finishes and the occasional more sparkly finish. Read more...

Milani Strobelight Instant Glow Powder

The formula is powder highlighter that’s supposed to have a “radiant finish” and is available in seven shades. The consistency was similar to a lot of other “gelee” highlighters: smooth, soft but more firmly pressed (where there was no powderiness but was still pigmented) with semi-opaque to opaque coverage and a frosted to a metallic finish. Some shades emphasized my skin’s natural texture slightly when worn heavily. This formula will be most suitable for someone who likes an intense, more metallic highlighter and warmer-toned shades.

Jouer Powder Highlighter

The formula is supposed to be "long-wearing, highly pigmented" and have a "radiant finish." They are semi-opaque to opaque typically with a denser, creamier consistency that doesn't have any powderiness or dustiness to it. The powders apply well to bare skin, blended out easily, and tend to have a stronger, metallic sheen--definitely a more intense highlighter. They lasted between eight and nine hours on me.

Our Methodology

The way I approach my guides is by focusing permanent formulas that have stood the test of time–they are high quality, consistent, and all formulas that have performed well. Every shade is thoroughly tested and reviewed, and these are formulas where I’ve often tested every shade in the line of, so I really grasp each formula’s strengths and weaknesses!

More product guides: Best Blushes, Best Eyeshadow Palettes, Best Single Eyeshadows, Best Lipsticks, Best Lip Glosses, Best Blush Brushes, Best Eyeshadow Brushes.

Top Rated Highlighters from 2021

Check out the current top 10 highest-rated highlighters (individual shades) reviewed by the editor in 2021–this list will update automatically! This list is focused on any and all highlighters reviewed during 2021, and it includes individual shades (rather than consistently high-performing formulas, like the first list) that are both a mix of limited edition and permanent.

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I have such a love for Dior’s highlighters but I was also floored by the quality and value of Milani’s Afterglow. I may need to keep my eyes peeled for Moon Glow as well.

You just keep making this website better and better, Christine. No other site comes close to yours. I have several highlighters in my collection, but MAC Extra Dimension highlighter in Double Gleam is my all time favorite. I feel like its the perfect shade for my skin tone.

I have always known that there are a lot of highlighters out there but when you see a round up of the best it is pretty mind boggling. I think I have at least one from each brand and probably shouldn’t think about buying anymore but I am always tempted. Thank you for doing this Christine.

I have to be extremely careful with highlighters due to fine lines and skin texture. I found my perfect highlighter in Becca’s Berlin Girl. I love it’s sheer nude under pinnings, something I really haven’t seen in too many other highlighters.

I love Ofra the best – it’s such a unique formula, so buttery and pigmented and SHINY.

I’ve mucked about with all the Colourpop options and the Super Shocks are still my fave. And they’re not on the list but I really like the Makeup Revolution liquid highlighters as a much more affordable option to the Cover FX ones… and I will have to check out the Dior ones, definitely!

My favorites are from ABH, Becca, and Looxi Beauty. They have more unusual colors and great formulas. Looxi’s formula is a bit powdery, but they look stunning on. I’m still loving MUG Celestial: It’s just the perfect white with violet shift for fair skin.

I tried Dior Nudeskin for the first time this year, and I get the hype! So silky, luminous, and flattering.

I’m more a cream highlight person and Becca’s liquid Pearl and Flesh’s lightest shade (the name eludes me) are favorites.

If I go for a powder highlight it’s usually Mac’s Extra Dimension skin finish.

Hi!
I was hoping you could make a list of your best peach highlighters. You have a list of best peach blushes but now they are coming out with more peach ones so I’d love to see your list ! Thank you Christine.

Great post Christine! my favorite highlighters are beam the haters from ofra the collab with nikki tutorials, Makeupgeek Ablaze, Firework and Ignite, and melt cosmetics Genesis!

Ofra’s “Beam the Haters” is one of my favorite highlighters! I actually brought a backup. Melt’s Genesis is bomb too! I use it as a shimmery blush.

I think Colourpop is planning on discontinuing the blush & lite stix? Seems like they haven’t been in stock for a while now, which is a shame because I really like the blush ones.

Don’t mind me, I just need to share how heartbroken I am that the Maybelline Masterchromes I got with my last Ulta order both arrived smashed. Ulta’s return policy is so generous I’m sure they’ll exchange it, it just made me a sad. Will the poets ever grasp the language to convey the tragedy of broken highlighter?

I guess I’m not big on highlighters as I don’t have any of the mentioned ones, either the specific ones or from any of the brands. I do find that very odd, I must say.
I still use and like Mary Lou Manizer, I guess it’s sort of a go to one for me, but I would love to have one that is cooler. I guess the search will go on.

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