Yasssssss to highlighters! They're so much fun to use and look at. Who doesn't like admiring a pretty face with a "come-through highlight?" On the flip side, I've been seeing a lot of people abuse highlighters — but that's none of my business.
At the moment, these four products are my favorite illuminators. I'm always on the lookout for highlighters that will flatter my complexion because not all of them are suitable for all skin tones. Nars and Maybelline are my day ones. The other two are newer purchases that I've added to my collection. All of these products would work for women with darker skin tones.
When I first swatched ColourPop's Avalon on my forearm, I thought it was beautiful. It's a copper, cream-powder hybrid highlighter with warm orange to red undertones. It feels very satiny on the fingertips and has a pearlized finish, so when it catches the light it shifts from gold to pink. It also blends well. When I finally got around to wearing it on my face, I had mixed emotions. I was not expecting it to be so legit lol! The color payoff, texture and longevity for $8 are too boss and I was stunned, intimidated, impressed and confused. You see, it has a pearlized finish which means it's frosty/shiny and a little goes a very long way. In my opinion, that's key for natural-looking makeup. So, be careful with pearlized illuminators because they have the shiniest finish. Eventually, I figured out how to work with Avalon so that it doesn't look so intense on me. It works for me because when I tan in the summer, my skin undertone goes from warm/golden to red. I use my fingers or a flat foundation brush to apply this highlighter. A brush helps produce a more sheer finish whereas your fingers provide the most coverage. So, if you're new to highlighters and want to try the ColourPop, a flat foundation brush or duo fibre brush will suffice to start. ColourPop also promotes the use of these tools on its site.
As far as the Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Topaz, I use my fingers, foundation brush, powder brush or fan brush. Really, it just depends on my mood or what's within reach or how much coverage I want. I like the Becca highlighter, but I wasn't always fond of it. Becca's highlighter in Topaz has to be one of the most hyped highlighters ever, and once I tried it - my only reaction was "oh, okay" and not "slayyyyy." But, whatever. I'm not going to be fake. I use mine faithfully lol. I sometimes suffer from FOMO, so I had to buy it. I would describe this product as a golden, creamy-yet-light powder highlighter. It has the right amount of gold shimmer, but doesn't look like glitter. It's cute, long-wearing and feels like silk.
Maybelline Master Hi-Light Blush is my favorite drugstore product. It's actually an illuminating blush. So, you can skip the blush when using this because it's a two-in-one masterpiece! It offers a soft, luminous glow in any type of light. However, it's not as moist and silky like the ColourPop or Becca. The formula is actually a bit dry, which is not a deal breaker for me because the color payoff is exceptional for $9.99! Master Hi-Light is a sort of marble/mosaic of four shades of blush that gives you a warm flush of light when applied to your face with a brush. It doesn't have as much shimmer as the others and that's what I really like about it. There's a great balance due to the two matte blush shades it includes. I recommend using a brush for this particular product. It actually comes with a mini brush underneath the pan. I've never used it, though. By the end of the day, the color wears off, but I can still see a bit of a glow in the applicable areas. I have a tip for how to make it last longer. Keep reading.
Nars Illuminator in Laguna is a bronze illuminator. This will be your go-to if you're looking to achieve a true, natural glow. I repeat, if you want to go bare with just mascara and lip, this is a must-have item. It has a brown, creamy base with gold shimmer that provides a soft-and-sheer finish. This will not leave any kind of annoying cast including white or pearly ones. I like to mix it with my foundation/tinted moisturizer in the winter. It give me a very warm glow. Tip: Sometimes, I use it as a base highlighter teamed with Maybelline. I find that it helps the Maybelline Master Hi-Light last longer since it has something to adhere to.
A honorable mention is the Anastasia Beverly Hills Glow Kit.
It's a palette that includes four "metallic powder highlighters."
I only use Golden Bronze. Everything else looks like shimmering ash on me. ABH describes it as a "sultry, warm bronze with a gold-flecked finish." I would describe it the same way. The palette will last a very long time as they are highly pigmented. Golden Bronze is intense, but also long-wearing and feels like velvet on my fingertips. I recommend swiping this on once with a brush and a light hand, if you want a more natural glow. I tend to use this for nightlife while I'm on vacation since it's so luminous. It's also very good for photo shoots.
What are some of your favorite illuminators? Please share.