Makeup Geek Luster Highlighter Review, Photos, Swatches

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Makeup Geek Luster Highlighter
Makeup Geek Luster Highlighter
Makeup Geek Luster Highlighter
Makeup Geek Luster Highlighter
Makeup Geek Luster Highlighter
Makeup Geek Luster Highlighter
Makeup Geek Luster Highlighter
Makeup Geek Luster Highlighter
Makeup Geek Luster Highlighter
Makeup Geek Luster Highlighter
Makeup Geek Luster Highlighter
Makeup Geek Luster Highlighter
Makeup Geek Luster Highlighter
Makeup Geek Luster Highlighter
Makeup Geek Luster Highlighter
Makeup Geek Luster Highlighter
Makeup Geek Luster Highlighter
Makeup Geek Luster Highlighter


Makeup Geek Luster Highlighter ($20.00 for 0.25 oz.) is a light, rosy copper with warm undertones and a metallic sheen. There was a lot of shimmer and a very reflective finish, so the color appeared lighter swatched and applied to the skin than it did in the pan. This type of color is going to work well on fair to medium skin tones as a highlighter, but I expect it to work well as a way to lighten or layer over another blush.

According to Makeup Geek, the formula is supposed to be “super-smooth” and “incredibly pigmented.” The powder had a really soft, smooth texture that was dense without being firm or packed in, but it also didn’t have any powdery excess kicked up in the pan when used with a denser brush. It was quite pigmented, though I felt like I could apply more or less, blend and diffuse to get the desired coverage level. The finish has a lot of sheen to it, and I didn’t notice any emphasis of my skin’s natural texture, but it is not a subtle highlighter by any means. On me, the highlighter wore well for eight hours before fading.

What I’m not keen on is the price, because I don’t feel the price is in line with the brand’s pricing, regardless of the amount of product in the pan. The packaging definitely reflects the higher price, and for a brand that has always been sold as pan-only, I was disappointed that they did not release these in pans. I would have rather see less product in the pan but with a $12-15 price point (it takes a long time to finish a highlighter, and a little goes a long way with the formula).

FURTHER READING: Formula Overview for details on general performance and characteristics (like scent).

Formula Overview

$20.00/0.25 oz. - $80.00 Per Ounce

According to Makeup Geek, the formula is supposed to be “super-smooth” and “incredibly pigmented.” The majority of the range is beautifully done with smooth, slightly denser textures that are blendable and easy to work with. They have good pigmentation, though some shades are more buildable than "incredibly pigmented." Most shades lasted between eight and nine hours on me.

Browse all of our Makeup Geek Highlighter swatches.


Triethylhexanoin, Magnesium Myristate, Silica, Boron Nitride, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin. May Contain: Mica (CI 77019), Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Tin Oxide (CI 77861), Iron Oxides (CI 77499, CI 77491, CI 77492), Carmine (CI 75470)


PPermanent. $20.00.
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Makeup Geek
$20.00/0.25 oz.



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Makeup Look
On face:
  • Guerlain Lingerie de Peau Foundation
  • Laura Mercier Loose Setting Powder
On eyes:
  • Natasha Denona Polaris (116K) Eyeshadow
  • Natasha Denona Cosmo (109K) Eyeshadow
  • Natasha Denona Phoenix (113CM) Eyeshadow
  • Natasha Denona Spectrum (101K) Eyeshadow
  • Natasha Denona Gemma (106CM) Eyeshadow
  • Natasha Denona Electra (115CM) Eyeshadow
  • Natasha Denona Vega (111CM) Eyeshadow
  • Natasha Denona Orion (105DC) Eyeshadow
  • Natasha Denona Galaxi (112K) Eyeshadow
On lips:
  • Too Faced Honeybear La Crème
  • Makeup Geek Celestial Highlighter
About Reviewer
Review FAQ

Christine Mielke is the editor-in-chief and has been reviewing products for over 14 years.

She has normal-to-dry skin with occasional dryness on cheeks and nose. She has a light plus skintone with subtle, warmer yellow undertones (view her foundation matches here).

Learn more about her review process here.

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I definitely like this one, and you look marvelous in the photo, but I have the ABH dupe and the price point makes it far easier to say no. I’m with you on the packaging… wondering maybe if it has something to do with the formula: is it perhaps too fragile sold in pan only? I say this because sadly I have managed to damage a few highlighters without trying all that hard.. it’s the Jimmy hands.

It being too fragile was my personal guess, Wendy! The packaging is quite sleek, and it’s not cheap in feel at all… but all that makes me wonder is how much of the uptick to a $20 price point is because of that? What I hear in the industry is that a lot of the per-product cost is just packaging.

They don’t *seem* fragile just touching/using/playing with them, you know? They aren’t stupid soft and feel like they’ll crumble, but hopefully, their testing showed them something that said, “compact only.” I, obviously, would rather maintain product integrity than have them all break upon arrival!

Maybe mug is sensitive because of other pkging issues they’ve had. They ought to avoid another debacle. But agree, might go for these in pan, rather than compact. Having a z-ful makes things so easy. This one is gorgeous and could be fairly universal.

I’ve seen a few videos where one of the highlighters was broken (received as pr)… So that tells me the formula might not be suitable to be sold in pans, now that I think of it. That’s a pity, because I would have preferred pans, too. And with a lower price and smaller pans I would have bought several, now I’m not sure if I’ll buy any… Yes, there are bundles, but then there’s also that I’ll end up with a huge pile of product that I’m never ever going to finish. But since these are A, maybe I’ll have to try them at some point 😉

This is nice highlighter and it rated well! Like you, I’m not too keen about the price either and that it doesn’t come in pan form. I mean to me, Makeup Geek is a good place to go to get singles in pan form to put into your customizable palette for a decent price.

Yep! I also feel like their mission statement (at least, how it came off to me) was to provide high quality cosmetics but make them affordable. Does $20 break the bank? No, not if you buy mid and high-end makeup already, but $15 is probably tops to me for drawing a line in the sand for what’s affordable for a blush/bronzer/highlighter kind of product. I just hope they don’t keep doing it – maybe the highlighters are really that super special – as the formula is fab so far.

I totally agree with you on the price issue. Marlena started the brand because she wanted to create something affordable and high quality at the same time. I feel like she has lost touch with why she started this in the first place. I get that the ingredients for these might be more expensive but like you said, why not offer them in pan form and lower the price? These highlighters are absolutely gorgeous but unfortunately I’m not going to buy any of them. First I don’t need 3 compact highlights that are going to take up space and second if I want to splurge I’ll go buy myself an ABH glow kit or a Becca highlighter.

The only thing I could think of about not offering it in pan-only is that they might break more easily, but I don’t know if that’s the reason. The packaging feels higher-end, so it’s obvious some of the price went there, and if I recall correctly, Makeup Geek mentioned they were custom (which is likely more expensive than buying from an existing catalog of components).

Look at what you just said – you’ll get a ABH Glow Kit. $40 for 4 shades, with a total weight of 1.04 oz., so they’re just about the same size but still cheaper ($10 a pan) and also removeable. ABH’s single eyeshadows are $12, for just the pan, unless you start buying in “bulk,” compared to MUG’s at $6. That’s why $20 just seems out of the pricing they’ve established.

The quality is excellent, definitely “worth” $20 and holds its own against higher-end and more expensive products for sure, but pricing is often far more arbitrary (it’s not like a Tom Ford highlighter is 2x better than Becca, but the price is twice as high!) and related to brand positioning (e.g. affordable vs. luxury, accessible vs. inaccessible).

I really really like this shade! Colours like these work both as a blush and highlighter for me. I’m a little surprised at the price range as you said! I was hoping these are available in pans as I rarely buy the pots!

Yeah, the price upsets me too. Some of their lighter duochrome shades are just CALLING me but my wallet is holding me back. The lure of MUG for me has always been the price point, how I could try different pigments and shadows without throwing the Jacksons down the drain. Now, though, the brand is upgrading their packaging and it’s making a huge difference in price. Makes me glad that I have such a love for indie makeup brands like Looxie and some shops on Etsy for similar results at half the price!

I understand, Sarah! I hope it’s not a sign of things to come, but we’ll have to see!

So far, they have been really nice and pretty consistent, but the pricing is a stretch compared their other offerings.

I’m really disappointed they didn’t release pan only options for these highlighters. They’re beautiful, but I feel like MUG is moving away from the the type of brand they started as. Marlena always used to stress that you are primarily paying for packaging when it comes to high-end cosmetics. I’m very confused by their move in this direction recently. Is it (the compact) pretty? Yes, but am I willing to pay a high-end price for a brand I’ve associated with drug storeish prices? Maybe… if there’s one shade I can’t live without, but I won’t be purchasing multiple shades anytime soon.

That’s kind of why you don’t see brands do actual jumps – brands pick their pricing based on the model they want to use. When you have lower prices, you tend to make less per unit but hope to make it up in bulk vs. a brand like Tom Ford doesn’t necessarily need to sell the product in bulk to turn a good profit. I don’t think you can really go that far up without pricing out a lot of your initial base, you know?

Everything I’ve heard is that the product part, to give you more, is a mere fraction of the total cost; that the cost is in packaging more than anything else (and then advertising).

Would I still buy them? I think I would. I really like them, but I would be more likely to grab only a couple that were more interesting/unique to my stash.

The price reflects the brand for the amount of product you get. They’re cheaper than the eyeshadows. I bought the fair bundle and like them a lot

I respectfully disagree – pricing is so often disconnected with quality but perceived value of the brand, its products, etc. The product is lovely, but the pricing is out of sync with the rest of their products.

It makes more sense to compare eyeshadow to eyeshadow, e.g. Makeup Geek Eyeshadow pricing vs. Anastasia Eyeshadow pricing, Makeup Geek Highlighter pricing vs. Anastasia Highlighter pricing. Just like you can look at most brands and see that generally, cheek color and face products are more expensive than their eyeshadow is.

Anastasia single eyeshadows are $12 for 0.06 oz. Their individual, standalone powder highlighters (that include a compact) are $28 for 0.32 oz. You might notice that the sizing across both ABH products is close enough to Makeup Geek’s eyeshadow and highlighter just to do a comparison at a glance. ABH is charging 2.3x their eyeshadow price for their highlighter. Makeup Geek is charging 3.3x their eyeshadow price for highlighter. Most brand’s cheek products are cheaper by the ounce or gram than their eyeshadow.

It is my opinion that the pricing is out of sync with the price points they have for their other products when I look at the jump in pricing compared other brands, and the price point of highlighters against other brands. That opinion is completely separate from the rating, as I do not consider value or price.

It’s a little too expensive for my liking too. If there’s a color that I’ll be dying to use for my wedding then I’ll probably think about getting a couple. I’ll have to wait for the rest of the reviews from you.

Btw, Christine I’m loving the new set up of your site!!! Temptalia have really come a long way… I’m so happy to see it grow.

This is a very pretty one that I feel could even work on my NC37-40 complexion! I do, however, anticipate getting the EE G&G with 1st Light in it. A waaay better bargain, I believe.

Oh, yeah, the Estee Lauder is going to be a lot cheaper – I mean, you’re getting 6 cheek colors, plus six eyeshadows, for like $10 more than the bundle pricing on 3 of these (and that assumes you like the three in the grouping).

Do you think this is light enough to be a highlighter for NC 15 skin? It sounds like something I’d love but I worry it’s just a little dark. I want to try one. Like everyone else, I don’t love the price so I don’t want to go hog wild.

This one is very pretty but it reminds me of the Tom Ford Highlighter in Bi Coastal which I already own. Christine will you be reviewing Tom Fords 2016 Winter Soleil Palette in Warm and Cool? I have an offer for 20% off which is not bad but I am waiting for your review and I am leaning toward the warm right now.

This shade is pretty but too deep for me. About the price point these are HUGE pans though but their not that much larger than Urban Decays. I wouldn’t mind smaller non-embossed pans if they could stabiles them for transit. But most indie brand charge this much now for the amount of highlighter product.

This is a very pretty color. I really wish they did release these in pans — considering the good quality for the price, and the nice range of shades they’ve come out with, it would be great to fill a Z-palette with a selection of these for my kit, because I think I could cover most skin tones. But I really hate prying larger pans out of compacts when they’re glued down, and, there’s the higher price.

I was also really disappointed in the pricing Christine. MUG is supposed to be AFFORDABLE. Now they’re trying to be higher end. I do want a few of these though as they seem really nice. But another thing that irks me is that MUG never lets us choose our own bundles to save a few bucks.

I hear ya, Bonnie! I think a custom bundle makes more sense, or just volume/bulk discounting in general (the same goes for their single eyeshadows – I am surprised they did not roll that out after MAC reduced their singles to $6). I like that they segment and say “this is best for fair/light/medium/dark” but we obviously cross boundaries, too. A lot of the darker shades would be nice blushes on fair skin, for example!

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