Its safe to say that highlighters quickly took the makeup industry by storm a few years ago. Although highlighting has been a thing forever amongst make up artists, used on set and the red carpet, they just weren’t something that was a makeup bag staple, and now we can’t live without them!
I hope I’m not the only one… but I feel like everyone my age were bumbling along doing our makeup, not thinking too much about it, maybe wishing we were better at eyeshadows but whatever, no biggie. Then all of a sudden it was like, why are your eyebrows like that? Don’t you pencil them in? Do you use product and a brush or just pencil them in? What shape should you have for your face? Your brows are too thick, Yours brows are too thin. What on earth??? And immediately after that it was the contouring, Where should I be contouring for my face shape? Do you use cream or powder contour? What highlighter do you use to offset the contour? Do you do strobing? Have you heard about baking? SLOW DOWN.
It was one thing after another to add to our daily regime and I know that I wasn’t the only one feeling slightly dazed and confused! I found myself wondering if everyone else had always been doing all this? Or was I just late to the party… Did the make up industry get sick of seeing us normal people with crappy eyebrows and half hearted makeup and start spoon feeding us ‘How To’s?
Either way, as a 17 year old I remember it being slightly intimidating by it all, I was only just finding my feet with makeup and my own style, and then feeling the pressure to learn all these new tricks of the trade was daunting AF.
Fast forward to now, 7 years later and 24 years old, I feel like I’ve managed to get a handle on it.. kind of! I know one thing for sure, out of the eyebrows, contouring, highlighting or baking fads, highlighting is my favourite.
I remember buying my first one, I went to the MAC counter at Harvey Nichols and said to one of the artists ‘I want a highlighter please’, she looked a little puzzled as if I was going into Victorias Secret and saying ‘I need a bra’. I didn’t realize at the time that there were cream, liquid or powder ones, or that there were different shades etc. I just knew I wanted a highlighter! She literally said ‘erm right, what type? liquid or powder?’ and all I came up with was ‘anything.. what one do you use?’. She showed me a little creamy one that was pink toned with shimmer and said that was the one she was currently using. She told me to use it with my fingers to warm up the product and then dab it on my cheek bones and that was it, sold!
What I had bought was the Mac Cream Colour Base… its supposed to be for your eyes but is widely used as a soft dewey highlighter. For me I’m so, so glad that this was recommended for me as my first highlighting product! Its impossible to go overboard with this or look cakey, it just taught me how to use a highlighter and where to put it without looking too much.
Right now I’m having to make a conscious effort not to buy any more highlighters but I just can’t help it, I LOVE them!
Im going to talk about my top highlighters that I have on the go right now, some I barely use anymore and probably wont re-purchase once they run out, others I have already re-purchased and will again.
Revolution Vivid Baked Highlighter in Golden Lights – £3.00, 10g
This highlighter should come with a warning label stamped across it. It is SO pigmented you have to use it sparingly! If you go in heavy handed and sweep it across your cheeks I promise you’re going to look like the tin man from Wizard of Oz. Used sparingly and building the glow up gradually and you will end up with the best result. The only thing that stops me using this daily is the texture, I find that its so powdery that is separates throughout the day and can end up looking a bit cakey on me. For this reason i’ll usually use when I know I’m not going to be wearing makeup for too long, a few hours at a time and you’re safe! This might just be my skin though I suppose – everyone is different! For £3 though… theres no reason not to give it a try.
Charlotte Tilbury Bar of Gold – £32.00, 4.5g
Im going to be completely honest here, I had such high hopes for this highlighter and I was so excited for it to arrive at my door after seeing all of the hype about it online but so far I really don’t think much of this product. The packaging is quite basic… its cardboard?! Not what you expect from a CT product at all. The actual size of the item is very small, As soon as I opened my highlighter the actual bar fell straight out of its packaging! On reading reviews this seems to happen a lot, but I’m not actually sure whether its supposed to come out or not? I just picked it back up and placed it back in, but obviously for £32 this isn’t what you expect.
Im not sure if the one I received has faulty formula? Ive used a tester of this product at work and the consistency is a little different to mine, therefore my opinion of Bar of Gold might be a little off. The tester I used was highly pigmented and went on to the brush super easily, maybe this is because they are using it all day every day on customers?Where as I find with mine I really have to work with my brush to pick any product up, Ive even scraped the top layer with the back of an earring before to make it less difficult. Once I manage to get it on my face I do like Bar of Gold, but because I have to work so hard to pick up enough product it isnt my go-to highlighter.
One thing I will say for gold bar is the colour is bang on. It isn’t for anyone who likes the white highlighter look – like what the Revolution one can give. If you’re after a nice golden glow, the type you get when you take a selfie in the sunlight on a summers evening (you know), then this is the highlighter for you!
Rodial Instaglam Glow Highlighting Pen – £25 (discontinued)
Well, I didn’t realise this product was discontinued until just now and thats blown my bubble!
For anyone who is a fan of the Iconic illuminator drops you would love this pen just as much. The packaging is simple and easy to use, no mess, you just twist the bottom of the pen and it squeezes the product up and through the brush for you, the brush is the best size too! You can just draw the highlighter onto your skin and then I blend it out with a beauty blender or my fingers. The liquid highlighter has golden undertones and is so bright and shimmery, even though I have had this item a while I can’t help but swatch it every time I use it! Once the highlighter dries there is absolutely no budging it, when you run your fingers over the swatch there is no transfer at all!
This photo was when I was rinsing off the swatches, Rodial was the only one not to come straight off, it didn’t even budge until wiped off!
The formula and appearance of Rodial Instaglam glow is very similar to the Iconic drops. I put this highlighter to the ultimate test when I went to India, I had to catch my flight straight from work, and I forgot to pack any sort of makeup remover in my hand luggage with me. I applied my makeup at around 9am, lasted a whole 8 hour shift at work, 1 hour to Manchester airport AND the 11 hours to India… add on a few hours for waiting times at the train station/airport and when we went to the toilet after the final flight in New Delhi airport my friend asked how my highlighter was still fresh as a daisy – thats when you know you have a good product on your hands!
NARS Albatross Highlighting Blush – £24, 4.5g
I bought this highlighter purely because it was one that a makeup artist I follow used! Every time I saw a photo of her make overs that I liked, I noticed that this was listed as one of the products used, and so I went and bought it without even trying it on! The power of social media influencers hey?
This is quite a white highlighter with yellow undertones, it isn’t the most sparkly or pigmented so its quite nice for a natural but done up look… if that makes any sense? You do have to be careful with how much you use because of the yellow undertones, otherwise you start to look a bit sickly! I have re-purchased this twice, the texture is lovey, buildable, no fall out, doesn’t cake or separate, I think its just a good all rounder.
This highlighter is definitely on the pricier side – but it will last you FOREVER. It is massive, SO pigmented and in the nicest packaging. This is a splurge product, a pay day present to yourself if there ever was one.
I fell in love with this highlighter from the first swatch last year, and then I waited and waited deliberating whether it was worth the price until eventually it sold out. When the new VBxEL launched again this year the Modern Mercury made another appearance and so this time round I knew I had to have it.
A tip given to me by the Estee Lauder counter manager was to use the product with my brush sweeping the perimeter of the highlighter first, and use it outside to in. Eventually when the product does start to wear down it means i’ll still be left with a nice chunk of usable product in the middle – rather than trying to scrape around the edges. When you use the product inside out there is also more chance of it cracking and then you’re left with a broken highlighter… everyones worst nightmare.
Modern Mercury is a very, very warm golden colour, for this reason its one I reach to more if I’m tanned or if I don’t want that blinding highlight look, but a golden sun kissed bronze. Because its quite warm I tend to up the anti with my bronzer when I use this so that there’s more of a contrast, otherwise the highlighter will just blend into the bronzer seamlessly.
HOURGLASS Ambient Metallic Strobe Lighting Palette – £59, 3.3g x3
Okay so yes this one is pricey too, BUT you get 3 highlighters… so thats like £19.67ish each (this is how I justify palettes to myself)
This palette is vegan and gluten free which is always something to shout about, but thats not all this palette has to offer. The quality of the product is INSANE!! I have only had this a few days and I’m already in love, its becoming a fave VERY fast!
The powder goes on so smoothly, and its the easiest product to buff into the skin, it doesn’t leave you looking cakey or too powdery, it just seamlessly mimics the skins natural glow… but 100x better!
Since buying my Nars Bord de Plage palette, which I will go on to next, I haven’t found a highlighter which can quite take its place if I was to forget it, but I wouldn’t be disappointed to see this in my makeup bag if I was without my Nars one. Hourglass is a brand I always here people rave about, and I have always liked the look of their product but this is the first thing I have ever tried – and I wont be hesitating to purchase anything from Hourglass again!
When you split the cost of the palette by the three highlighters it works out at around £19.66, this is great for cruelty free conscious consumers or for anyone who just want a super high quality highlighter that is easy to use, blendable and that will still knock everyones socks off. I recommend 100%.
NARS Bord de Plage Highlighting and Bronzing Palette, £45, 3.4g x6
I left the best until last, the light of my life, the NARS Bord de Plage highlighting AND bronze palette! 4x highlight, 2x bronze and so amazing I bought a back up palette after just a few days of using my first one! They can all be used wet as well as dry for added intensity, and I use mine daily as an eyeshadow palette too.
The two bronzers included can both be bought individually, Laguna and Casino. All of the highlighters are exclusive to the palette at the moment.
Rivage is the lightest highlighter (top left), frosty with light golden undertones, I use this one religiously on my cupids bow, brow bone, the tip of my nose and the inner corners of my eyes. If I use it on my cheek bones I usually blend it with one of the other colours so it isn’t as bright. Crique is next (top middle), light golden loveliness glides onto the skin super easily – this one is made for the cheek bones. 100%.
Corniche (bottom left) is probably a colour I wouldn’t usually go for on its own, but I mix it with the others every day! This highlighter is light with pale pink, peachy undertones I feel like it has more glitter in than the other colours, so is more of a metallic finish. Last but not least, Galet, Galet is so beautiful!!! A richer shade of gold, more coppery colour that can be used as a highlighter and layered over the bronzers if you want a more glittery bronze than matte.
I also wrote about this palette here.
Thats my top highlighters for you! I really do apologize that all my photos are of already used and abused products. As I’m still new to this and most of the products I’m discussing are ones I have had a while, it means I didn’t think to photograph them when they were fresh as a daisy – this is something I’m definitely going to be doing as I buy things going forward!
Love, Chelsea xxx
Have you used any of these highlighters? Which ones are your fave? Do you want to try any of these? Does anyone apply highlighters wet daily? I only ever think to do this if I’m using them as an eyeshadow but maybe I should try this daily…? Please comment your thoughts below!