Best Liquid Highlighters - Drugstore + High-End

While highlighting has been a major trend for the last few years, liquid highlighters have seen an uptick in the last year, as our powder highlighter collections have grown and brands look to new product types to sell to us. I’ve tried a lot of the liquid highlighters from $6 to $52, so I’m happy to present this list of the best liquid highlighters!

Liquid highlighters often differ from powder highlighters in the finish and how intense the shimmer is. Most liquid highlighters are subtle to moderate in finish, and they’ll range from a barely-there, skin-like glow to a more candlelit, lit-from-within glow that has subtle sparkle or pearl but more shine than overt shimmer.

Liquid highlighters offer added versatility as they can easily be mixed into or with other products. You can mix your liquid highlighter with your favorite liquid or cream-based foundation to give it a dewier, more luminous finish. On no-makeup makeup days, you can easily add a splash to a tinted moisturizer or even your morning moisturizer to give more glow to the skin.

They can be applied over bare skin or over foundation depending on what you’re wearing and how much you want the product to come through. You can even use a bronzy, warmer-toned liquid highlighter to create a bronzed effect for all-over that’s like quick self-tanner.

Best Drugstore Liquid Highlighters

Here are seven of the best liquid highlighters I’ve tested and reviewed that are easier on the wallet! “Drugstore” means a more budget-friendly, affordable option, though as accessibility to brands has increased, there are so many affordable brands that aren’t necessarily carried at your typical drugstore. One major reason to look for cheaper liquid highlighters is that liquid and cream products tend to go bad more quickly, so if you aren’t going to use it often, something that is a lower investment is the better call!

Best High-End Liquid Highlighters

For high-end options, there are a lot more formulas, but they really do tend to cluster along similar shade ranges and all of the recommended liquid highlighters below are high quality and perform well! I’ve chosen 13 liquid highlighters across a myriad of shades, intensities, and depths, which should give us a nice variety of top performers.

The selection below covers liquid highlighters that work particularly well for mixing in with moisturizer or foundation along with ones that can be used either way as well as some that I think are at their best as standalone highlighters.


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Kat Avatar

I only have four liquid or cream highlighters! My two liquids, which I love, are NARS 413 BLKR and The Estee Edit Flash Illuminator in Spotlight. I use both under or mixed into foundation. The Estee Edit one has a really interesting texture, almost balmy. I used to own the Josie Maran liquid, which was gorgeous, but I had to toss it when it got funky-smelling. My two creams are Kevyn Aucoin Candlelight and Glossier Haloscope in Quartz, both of which I apply on top of foundation. I like the Glossier one because it has a wetness to the way it looks, instead of just shimmer.

Nancy T Avatar

Having received a generous sample at the local Sephora, I am in love with Marc Jacobs Dew You! I’ve been adding a bit to my foundation and it just gives my skin a very soft, diffused radiance. Nothing OTT. But very naturally glowing. Definitely buying the full-size bottle in the future! Would love to see MJ make Dew You and that beautiful bronzer PERMANENT. (Love the soft coconut/ beachy scent to these!)

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