Rant & Rave: Cream Highlighters

Tell us what you love and hate about...

Cream Highlighters

I don’t like when cream products stay tacky on the skin, so as long as it is a cream-based product that dries down for the most part, I’d totally use them. I like that they can add subtle luminosity and more of a glow than a shimmer.

— Christine

We hope you'll consider supporting Temptalia by shopping through our links below. Thanks!

Compare Any Two Swatches

Curious how two shades compare to each other? Type in the shades below to get instant side-by-side swatches!

We hope you'll consider supporting Temptalia by shopping through our links below. Thanks!


Comments that do not adhere to our comment policy may be removed. Discussion and debate are highly encouraged but we expect community members to participate respectfully. Please keep discussion on-topic, and if you have general feedback, a product review request, an off-topic question, or need technical support, please contact us!

Please help us streamline the comments' section and be more efficient: double-check the post above for more basic information like pricing, availability, and so on to make sure your question wasn't answered already. Comments alerting us to typos or small errors in the post are appreciated (!) but will typically be removed after errors are fixed (unless a response is needed).

We appreciate enthusiasm for new releases but ask readers to please hold questions regarding if/when a review will be posted as we can't commit to or guarantee product reviews. We don't want to set expectations and then disappoint readers as even products that are swatched don't always end up being reviewed due to time constraints and changes in priorities! Thank you for understanding!

Comments on this post are closed.
We hope you'll consider supporting Temptalia by shopping through our links below. Thanks!

Love: I like that cream highlighters look more…well highlighted then powder formulas. And in the summer when it’s 98* and the humidity is at 100% it doesn’t slide off my face as quick or if it does, well that’s what I get for spending time outside.

Hate: Creams that stay tacky and then something sticks to my face and I don’t realize it. Taking extra care to make sure it’s fully blended. And its more of a time thing, I can apply powder highlighter in 10 seconds but with cream I find myself being more careful so it takes longer.

I hate when cream products lift my foundation underneath. Otherwise, I like using them as a base to lock on powder on top, or for a more subtle luminosity alone.

The one thing I very much dislike about cream highlighters is the way they often lift up or otherwise mess up my foundation when I try to blend them out. Benefit’s Watts Up is a lovely highlighter but when I try to use it on my cheekbones, I always have this problem if I’ve got some sort of foundation on.

Cream highlighters *can* be very good! I personally love the ones by Colourpop and also my 2 from MAC, Summer Wind and This Love. Although, strangely, I only use This Love as an eyeshadow base? Anyway, as long as they set and don’t feel goopy or sticky or greasy while on, I do enjoy using them sometimes!

I really don’t gravitate towards cream highlighters. I don’t like it when they remain tacky or when they mess with the foundation underneath. Also, my skin reacts easily to pressure so too much patting, swiping, or tugging causes redness which takes quite awhile to die down. My favorite highlighters are actually fluids like Tom Ford’s Spin Spin Sugar. I can warm a small amount between my fingers, lightly pat it on, then use my pinky-finger to gently blend the edges. It’s effortless and looks very natural. I also like a good powder highlighter applied with an über soft squirrel brush.

I find that they’re more prone to making my pores more visible than powder ones, so I don’t use them often. That said, I’ve totally fallen in love with the Joe Fresh shimmering primer, which I use as both a primer and highlighter (not at the same time).

The only cream highlighter I own is Becca’s Opal. I wish I had gotten the powder version instead. I find that it actually imparts less sheen than the powder highlights I own, and it’s just not worth the additional hassle – I find it easier to use a powder than a cream. Also, the shelf life of a cream is much less than that of a powder, so I think that it’s also going to be less value. I’ve decided to steer clear of as many cream and liquid products as possible, with the exception of lip products, for this very reason.

I like the natural look they give and think they’re actually great. (as long as they aren’t tacky as you said Christine) Of course the downside is the shorter lifespan they have compared to powder products, but if they come in smaller containers then that helps.

I find them harder to blend, and go patchy on me easily!

They also just don’t last on my oily skin!

I’m a powder gal through and through!

Love them so long as they play well with layering (so if they don’t set too sticky). They’re great to use alone and the obvious choice when you’re using a creamier foundation, blush, contour, etc. I love the ease. But I especially love them for adding more dimension or a juxtaposing color with more colorful highlights.

I love cream products over powder for almost everything. I find everything blends more seamlessly in cream formulations. I’m also not looking for a glitter stripe on my cheekbones or nose and cream highlighters are more wearable in a professional environment. Shadows are probably the only formulation where I like cream and powder equally.

I feel like cream highlighters emphasize my pores. I’ve got Becca Moonstone and the Tarte Kiss & Blush Palette which includes a highlighter, but I never use them.

Love: if their formula is like Colourpop’s (i.e. dries to powder) then I think they are lovely and often add a more strobed, editorial effect instead of a beaming or glittery highlight, which I prefer.
Hate: when they don’t dry down, like you mentioned, or when they don’t layer well over powder and gunk up or lift my product (because more often than not I have set my face and/or undereyes first because I forgot I was using cream). Unfortunately, they also often take a little more time and care to apply than powder, but to me it’s worth it.

I enjoy the more subtle glow that cream highlighters give. I have quite a few, the three lightest Becca poured, one from Lancome, a Smashbox, Watts Up, a few Colour pop, some that I know I’m forgetting and my favorite, the Living Luminizer from RMS. I always apply with my fingers, using the warmth to help soften and blend. I tend to use either very sheer foundations or tinted moisturizers and have never had an issue with my cream highlighters disturbing my base.
My only rant is the shelf life of any cream product really. I know I have enough that I will never use them up before they expire but I am still tempted by new cream highlighter releases!

Rave: My favorite cream highlighter is Charlotte Tilbury x Norman Parkinson Healthy Glow blush. It has a longer wear time on me than my TF Pink Sand and Pieno Sole, which I also really like. I wear cream products in the winter when the weather is cold. I do not have many cream products because I like to use what I have and at least attempt to make a dent in it.

Rant: My first cream blush many moons ago was a Bobbi Brown blush and I found it really tacky, so I didn’t really use very much. I find powder blushes have a longer wear time and greater vibrancy.

Rant: They don’t always like to play nice with my oily skin. They can be too subtle. I don’t like the sticky ones that never quite dry down, either.

Rave: For the most part, I like them. They’re easy to use and more difficult to over-do than a powder.

We try to approve comments within 24 hours (and reply to them within 72 hours) but can sometimes get behind and appreciate your patience! 🙂 If you have general feedback, product review requests, off-topic questions, or need technical support, please contact us directly. Thank you for your patience!