What's your current go-to highlighter and tool to apply it?

I really love Estee Lauder Modern Mercury, which is what I’ve been reaching for when I get a chance. I use tapered highlighting brushes–an assortment–like Hakuhodo B5521 (or any of the 5521s), Wayne Goss 02, or SUQQU Cheek.

— Christine


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Sonya Mann Avatar

I’m enjoying ColourPop “Glazed” quite a bit! (Thanks for reviewing so many colors of that formula, by the way.) I use the Elf Small Stipple Brush to apply it, or sometimes my fingers.

Emily Avatar

Mine is the Kevyn Aucoin Neo-Setting Powder which, contrary to its name, is most definitely NOT a setting powder. The idea is that it’s mean to be a gradient of matte to shimmery powder but this stuff is pure highlighter in my eyes, anyway. Even the ‘matte’ side of the pan is fairly shimmery while the other end is so blindingly luminescent that you could probably see it from outer space. I could tell from the pictures that thistwasn’t going to be a setting powder (I thought perhaps it would be more of a finishing powder) so I’m not disappointed in it. I do think it’s a stunning highlighter – I’ve never seen anything so opalescent to be honest – but I do wonder how on earth I’ll ever pan a 21g highlighter in my lifetime.

I like the Wayne Goss fan brush (I have the undyed one from the new face set, which was the unexpected star of the set for me.) I’m also loving the Hakuhodo G6070 Kebo brush – it’s very airy and wispy, a small little brush made out of blue squirrel hair, and it picks up just the barest trace of product very deftly indeed. It’s a gem and I never have to worry about going overboard when I use it. Highly recommend it!

Emily Avatar

It’s available on the Hakuhodo USA website! Hopefully I can link it here:


It’s not the most attractive brush to be honest (looks a little mangled in person) but it’s great for pigmented, super shimmery highlighters.

I also have a new Hakuhodo highlight brush I love. It’s not listed on the site just yet I’m afraid but it’s the F6141 (squirrel/undyed goat hair mix). It’s a beautiful crescent shape, totally different to the Kebo 6070 but each are great. I love the F6141 for just highlighting the arc of my upper cheekbones and under my brow. I got the chance to see it in person as Hakuhodo had a special event recently where I live. I posted some pictures of it on makeupalley πŸ™‚ it should show up in a search if the link below doesn’t work.


Hope this helps!

Deborah S. Avatar

I use Becca Pearl powder highlight a lot when I look back at my past several months. It is light enough for my super pale skin. I do love Becca Rose Quartz and wear it often both as a blush topper and as an eye shadow. As a highlight it is too dark on my skin. I have been using my Wayne Goss fan brush to apply.

Taylor Avatar

My favorite currently is Forever Young from the Anastasia Beverly Hills x Nicole Guerriero palette. It’s such a beautiful glow and doesn’t appear dark on my fair skin.

A close second would be the Mary Lou-Manizer from the Balm. Also gorgeous!

Martha Avatar

Im fascinated with peach highlighters Peach Glow from Laura Geller and Peach Godess from Jefree star and I tap them on with a big sponge tip aplicator that came in the highlighting Laura Geller pallette, they seem to be absorbed by my skin and give it a firm glowy look to mi highlighted areas if I pat them on

Lulle Avatar

In the past few weeks I’ve been using Too Faced Blinded By The Light a lot. It’s subtle which is how I prefer my highlighter! I use a small round brush that’s pointed at the end to apply, Real Technique’s Contour Brush – which I think isn’t great at all for contouring but works very well for highlighting.

MacKenzie Avatar

I feel like I sound like a broken record on here LOL but Colourpop Lunch Money is just so good! I got my mom hooked on it as well! Anyway, I typically use my fingers or one of those mini beauty blenders to apply it.

Mariam Avatar

Benefit Watts Up is my favourite! I’ve gone through 2 in the past decade, even though I have a pretty sizeable highlighter collection.

Shannon. N Avatar

I’m still going strong with essence pure nude highlight! I love it for right now when I’m more oily. Because it’s not super super metalic.

I also have been known to go weeks at a time using colourpop flexitarian !

I always use ELF small tapered brush for highlighting!

K.T. Avatar

I’ve been using the Maybelline Master Strobing Liquid all spring & summer in the shade Light/Iridescent. I blend it over my cheekbones and browbones using my fingers and it’s effortlessly gorgeous. Best liquid highlighter I’ve tried from the drugstore so far.

Julia Avatar

I have a pretty ridiculous collection of highlighters and I love them all, but Modern Mercury might be my favorite! when I’m in a rush, I wear it on my eyes as an all-over shadow as well as on my cheeks. I have completely fallen in love with the Wayne Goss #15 fan brush for application (I have the old, dyed version) – it was my first fan brush and I’ve all but abandoned by #02 brush because I like the #15 so much!

Aj Avatar

These days I need more of a subdued shine/sheen than shimmer/glitter so I’ve been going for Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Poured in Opal.
I usually use the Real Techniques sponge since it gives me enough sheen without going overboard.

MIssJae1908 Avatar

I forgot to mention my favorite brushes: the Smashbox fan brush, Anastasia Beverly Hills A23, and my favorite is the ELF Highlighting brush. It distributes highlighter so evenly. I love it!

Christine Avatar

Personally I have been loving the Laura Mercier mineral illuminating powder in candlelight- it is such a pretty shade! I work evenings/ nights and a lot of highlighters I find very ‘daytime’, for evening I prefer a more diffuse/ softer glow. If I do need daytime I am still in favour of The Balm MaryLouManiser.

I use a mac contour brush I have had for ages for highlight- I think it is 168 but it is very worn, could be anything!

Ziwei Avatar

I was using cle de peau ‘s pastel highlighter in the winter and loved that glow, but in the summer my skin is so oily I don’t honestly need that boost of lit within glow. My skin produces enough oil on its own to do that. So in the summer I don’t have a go to highlighter.
I recently discovered ecotool’s contouring and highlighting brush pack, and the fan brush in there is amazing! A little big but the hairs are seriously so soft!

Ashley Avatar

I will always and forever reach for the Mary-Lou Manizer by theBalm, I usually use a Luxie 522 tapered highlighting brush.

Sarah Avatar

Out of pure laziness I’ve been using Jeffree Star/Manny MUA Eclipse as a highlighter when I do decide to do my makeup, mostly because it’s at the top of my pile and it’s easy to reach. I quite like it too, very blinding. Lately I just haven’t been doing my makeup.

I apply all my highlighters with the same Morphe tapered highlighting brush, I forgot what number it is but it does the trick.

Gwen Avatar

Highlighter is my favorite part of my makeup routine!

For everyday – The Balm Mary-Louminizer
I’ve had the same compact for a few years now, and I’m still trying to finish it!

For nights out and special occasions – Jeffree Star Ice Cold or Eclipse (LE)
These compacts are so huge, I don’t think I’ll ever need to buy another highlighter in this lifetime. The value is great for what you get. Very dramatic highlight.

For application, I go between my ELF fan brush and highlighter brush.

Sarah Avatar

Ice Cold and Eclipse are rather stunning! I like layering Eclipse with Peach Goddess if I want to blind everyone around me, haha!

I keep meaning to get Mary Lou-Minizer, but I worry it might be too subtle since I tend to favor a brighter highlight. But I hear so many wonderful things about it! I might give it a try. πŸ™‚

Gwen Avatar


I would definitely swatch Mary Lou if you can (in some Walgreens in major metropolitans – they have really large cosmetics sections that carry The Balm) to see what you think or check out some youtubers who wear it in their videos. It’s not as blinding as Jeffree Star’s, but I still really love it. I’ve had women ask me what highlight I’m wearing at professional events, so it’s definitely noticeable.

We both got lucky and got our hands on Eclipse!!!

Have a great weekend! πŸ™‚

Bunny212 Avatar

I love this Q! I use different highlighter & application methods depending on the formulation and whether I want to be subtle, or be detected from Mars. So here goes:

Cover FX Custom Enhancer Drops in Moonlight – dab w fingers, blend w Beauty Blender

MAC Extra Dimension Skinfinish in Show Gold – damp BB for high intensity, stipple brush for low
Laura Geller Diamond Dust (pan) – damp BB
Bobbi Brown Highlighting Powder in Pink Glow – dense contour brush

MAC Extra Dimension Skinfinish in Beaming Blush – damp BB for high intensity, stipple brush for low.
Jouer Citrine – dense contour blush
Cover FX CED in Sunlight – dab w fingers, blend w BB
Benefit Watts Up stick – blend w fingers

Beau Blooms Avatar

It needs to be said that I love almost all of my makeup equally; they are my precious babies. I have a TON of highlighters at this point at all price points. I rotate my makeup as often as possible, to ensure I get to enjoy as much of my collection as I can.

That said – and I’m sure I sound like a broken record – but Estee Lauder’s Modern Mercury (Victoria Beckham launch) is the ONE makeup item I would grab if my apartment caught on fire. Using that highlighter is an EXPERIENCE for me, start to finish. When in doubt, that is the one I reach for.

I don’t have a lot of highlighter brushes, but so far I prefer Chikuhodo’s Z2. It just works with my face structure. Applying highlight is effortless. And the squirrel hair allows me to start subtle (for work, say) and build up to the desired intensity on my personal time.

Donna Avatar

I always come back to theBalm Mary-Lou Manizer. Been using it for at least 6 years. I use the small dome brush I was sent with it and it works really well.

Karen Avatar

I switch highlighters all the time, today I used Rose Glow by Laura Geller and applied using a tapered “pro-highlighter” brush by Beauty Junkee.
The highlighter that I would consider to be my old stand-by is the Matte 01 by Laura Mercier. Also about 80% of the time my highlighter applicator of choice for powders is the Wayne Goss fan brush. (#15, the original one)

Helene Avatar

Tha Balm Mary Lou. I don’t use it all the time, but once or twice a week at least, Than I try to rotate all the other ones so I don’t have any being unloved and unused.
I apply my highlighters with my Laura Mercier fan brush, I don’t want them so noticeable and I think with the rather skinny brush I manage to keep it sheer.

Rachel R. Avatar

I have a few go-tos: Notoriously Morbid Osteomancy; City Color Cosmetics Intense Exposure Highlighting Powder (might be DC’d); e.l.f. Baked Highlighter in Moonlight Pearls; e.l.f. Blush in Gotta Glow (DC’d).

I usually use the e.l.f. Angled Blush Brush or e.l.f. Blush Brush, as powder is my go-to formula. For creams, I use my fingers or the e.l.f. Small Stipple Brush.

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