Best Highlighter 2022 | 14+ Powder & Liquid Highlighters Reviewed

There are so many genuinely brilliant highlighters launching right now, and they’re likely not quite what you’re expecting.

Seriously: gone are the days of shimmer-soaked liquids, frosted champagne powders and baffling rainbow-hued concoctions (let’s leave those firmly in the past, shall we?). Now, the best highlighters simply deliver skin that shines.

‘When highlighting first became a big thing it was about products that deliver the most dramatic results, and how we can put the most on our cheekbones to sculpt them to the heavens,’ says make-up artist Nikki Wolff. ‘Now, it’s about cleverly using highlighter for those little touches all over your face that give the effect of a natural glow, rather than a super-reflective cheekbone.’

How To Highlight Like A Pro

‘Highlighting is all about bringing light to the high points of your face, which creates dimension, so when you move your face around you get that 3D effect,’ explains Nikki. ‘It’s a super flattering way to give your skin a glow whilst subtly changing the shape of your face.’

‘Contouring and sculpting was a really big thing, but it’s so complex, whereas highlighting is a lot easier. There’s only really one rule, which is to find the high points of your face (the tip of your nose, your cupid’s bow etc.) and simply dab your highlighter there’

Liquid, Cream, Or Powder?

So, what’s the best route to beautifully highlighted skin? Imagine wet-look balms that don’t dry out, translucent liquids that bronze skin without masking freckles, and some frankly genius pigment-free sticks that’ll create that post-facial illusion.

When it comes to determining the texture that’s right for you, Nikki believes it depends on your skin type, as well as the finish you want to achieve.

‘I personally love liquid highlighters, even on oilier skin types. I’ll use a liquid product first then, if I need to set it, I’ll put a powder highlighter on top – just in the same way that you would set your foundation. With liquid highlighter you can create that dewy, healthy-looking spa skin without the reflective finish.’

It’s also important to consider colour, and the most flattering shades may not be what you’ve been led to think.

‘Often people will feel like they should go for a gold highlighter because it has a wonderful warmth to it. But, unless you have a deeper skin tone, gold can just look really metallic and a bit fake,’ explains Nikki. ‘I often go for quite light shades to highlight with, even on darker skin, because I want a pop of light rather than a metallic cheekbone. It’s a fine line of staying away from anything too dark but also avoiding highlighters that are too white and ashy.’

And her final words of wisdom? Leave the sparkle to the social media platforms. ‘Generally, leave the glitter to Instagram, rather than real life,’ advises Nikki. ‘Glitter photographs really well, so the videos you see where you’re like “Wow, what is that highlighter?” will usually feature a product with glitter in. But in real life, it doesn’t really work.’

Glass skin, right this way…

The Best Highlighters For Your Summer Of Glowing Skin


Reflect Highlighter Stick – £36

Victoria Beckham Beauty

Victoria Beckham’s fluted gold metal stick is the chicest option by a mile. But look beyond the packaging and you’ll also find one of the most impressive highlighter formulas we’ve ever seen. The single Pearl shade contains no pigment, yet has hollow ‘micropearl’ flecks, which create a warm, candlelit-style glow on every single skin tone. The balm is just dense enough to stay exactly where you swipe it, and stays looking intensely dewy for hours on end.

This is the one to go for if you want a tiny touch of colour that still looks entirely natural. Part of Milk Makeup’s skin-kind Bionic line, this molten liquid sheers out on skin to deliver warmth alongside a sheeny finish. Less is more here: apply three small dots to the tops of your cheekbones, blending out with a stipple brush or your ring finger. Try it on eyelids too.

Chanel’s sublime Baume Essential will forever be one of our favourite highlighters. The Transparent shade in particular is pure genius: it’s completely free from glitter, and simply bounces the light out from the highest points of your face, offering sculpting without the shimmer. It looks beautiful on bare skin, but plays well with foundation too, and can be topped up without pilling. Perfection.

Charlotte Tilbury


Charlotte’s bestselling Beauty Light Wands are perfect for those occasions when you want a little more drama. Each creamy shade is packed with metallic, light-reflecting pigment that makes cheekbones gleam without veering into disco-ball territory. Think: red carpet, not carnival. The sponge applicator can be a little too overzealous, so squeeze the tube lightly to avoid wastage, and pat in with your fingers for the best result.

It might be famed for its lamination-style Brow Sculpt, but Refy makes an outstanding highlighter too. This liquid formula might look like molten lava in the tube, but rest assured it’ll sheer down on the skin to create the most incredible wet-look shine. It’s definitely the dewiest option out there, so if glass skin if your vibe, consider the job done.

Glossier doesn’t bill Futuredew strictly as a highlighter, but trust us: it works. The ‘oil-serum’ hybrid can be slicked all-over for an ultra-dewy effect, but we like tapping it on the peaks of our cheekbones to create a completely transparent, wet-look sheen that doesn’t feel sticky.

If you prefer a lighter feel on your skin, head straight to Saie’s Glowy Super Gel. It’s 75% water, so feels as light as you’re expecting, yet contains pearly pigments that keep skin looking and feeling fresh. Starglow is your classic champagne sheen, while Sunglow straddles the highlighter/bronzer divide with a tan-deepening tint.


Mood Lighting Luminizing Glow Drops

This clever little bottle combines a dewy, almost balmy finish (akin to Glossier’s Futuredew) with satiny pigment. It does contain a touch of glitter, so we’d veer away from mixing it in with foundation, but on the peaks of your cheekbones, it’s beautiful.

Gucci Westman has created both balm and stick highlighters, and while both are beautiful, it’s the Lit Up sticks that really have our heart. The formula is intensely dewy yet completely non-tacky, and leaves behind an iridescent glow with absolutely no trace of glitter. Draw it lightly over cheeks – it won’t disrupt your foundation – and pat with a ring finger to blur the edges.

Jamie Genevieve’s liquid highlighter contains more pigment than most, but the effect is a golden blaze, rather than a shot of sparkle. It layers well over SPF and liquid foundations and doesn’t slip and slide throughout the day. A perfect middle-ground between the natural look and full glam.


Ambient Lighting Palette Volume II

It’s not quite a highlighter (or a bronzer, or a blush) but Hourglass’ truly iconic Ambient Lighting Powder is the key to glowing skin. These incredibly finely milled powders set your base while creating a soft-focus finish akin to your favourite Instagram filter. It won’t cake, settle into creases, or dull your skin: a flawless formula for those who prefer a satiny finish full-on dew.


Forever Couture Luminizer Highlighter

A classic powder highlighter with the most subtle sheen, Dior’s Forever Couture Luminizer is your everyday go-to. It’ll set your foundation in place and add a perky, pinky touch of radiance that wakes up tired skin in seconds. Try it on the inner corners of your eyes, or to make a smoky eye really pop.


Skin Illuminating Powder Duo

Designed to mimic both the brightness of sunlight and the subtle glow of candlelight, this is the perfect highlighter for taking you from morning to evening. Brush the lighter shade onto the highest points of your face and the deeper shade where you want to create shadow with a slight sheen.


Skin Fetish Duo – Golden

The Mother of make-up isn’t messing around when it comes to getting your gloss on. This double ended cream highlighter gives bronzey iridescent radiance on one end, and balmy dewiness on the other.

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