For summer, it’s no surprise that matte finishes have taken a back seat to the dewy glow. And getting that coveted sun-kissed look (without the UV damage) is easier than ever. Just add a liquid highlighter to the mix.
With products launching left and right, there’s no shortage of highlighters on the market. So what sets liquid formulas apart from the pack? One of the biggest pros to adding a liquid highlighter to your makeup bag is that it’s a dynamic product.
“They can be applied directly to the skin and worn alone, layered under or over makeup, mixed into complexion products like foundation and concealer, added to your skincare prior to makeup application, and even applied to the body as well,” celebrity makeup artist Allie Renee says. She also notes that liquid highlighters are super buildable. This allows you to “have a lot more control over your glow.”
How do you find your ideal highlighter shade?
With so many products out there, it can be hard to figure out which shade works best for your skin. “For a naturally radiant glow, choose a shade that is lighter than your complexion and harmonizes with your undertone,” makeup artist Lucy Halperin, who works with celebrities like Kate Mara and Caitríona Balfe, says. This method helps to give you that ideal subtle finish you can build upon if you want to.
How should a liquid highlighter be applied?
According to both Halperin and Renee, the best way to apply a liquid highlighter is to the high points of the face, which include the top of your cheekbones, the bridge of your nose, and your Cupid’s bow. Renee further explains that if you’re choosing to apply products with your fingers, it’s best to gently apply using your ring finger.
“Your ring finger is your weakest finger, so it allows you to be more precise about where you are applying your highlighter,” she says. “You pick up less of your complexion products, and you have the added benefit of warming the product, which in turn provides a seamless, skin-like glow.”
How are liquid highlighters different from other powder and cream highlighters?
Aside from the many ways they can be applied, liquid formulas often look more natural. “Liquid highlighters are different than powders or creams, because they are more diverse in how and where they can be applied,” Renee says.
Ready to add some new liquid highlighters to your cart? We’ve rounded up 15 of the best picks to check out.
Best Multitasking Highlighter
Hueglow is a one-stop shop with its serum-meets-moisturizer-meets-highlighter formulation. You can wear it under your makeup, as a final touch, or even add a few drops to a moisturizer before heading out.
Best Subtle Finish
The Impossible Glow
The Impossible Glow comes in three shades, and the formula is extra hydrating. It’s packed with ingredients such as hyaluronic acid to hydrate, sea kelp, and lemon fruit water, which is rich in vitamin C.
Bionic Glow Illuminating Liquid Highlighter
Milk’s liquid highlighter is one of Renee’s faves. “This is a clean ingredient formula and is hydrating and plumping,” she says.
Best for Mature Skin
Liquid Lumiere Highlighting Fluid in Brilliance at Nordstrom
This super-smooth formula works best after foundation application. Tip: Use your fingers to gently tap onto the areas you want to highlight.
Best Long-Wear Formula
Positive Light Liquid Luminizer Highlight
This silky highlighter goes on almost like a second skin. It has a luminous finish that keeps your skin feeling soft.
Best Natural Finish
Glowy Super Gel Lightweight Dewy Highlighter
For those who love a less-is-more makeup approach, a lightweight liquid highlighter is the way to go. “I love using this sheer formula for a natural delicate glow,” Renee says.
My Clarins Shimmer Drops Highlighter Drops
- Might Not Complement All Undertones
“Liquid highlighters are great for all skin types, including textured skin,” Renee says. “The beauty about using a liquid formulation is how versatile it is. It gives a gorgeous lit-from-within glow.”
Wallet-Friendly Price Tag
The wild arctic cloudberry in this formula is packed with antioxidants for a brighter-looking appearance. Apply solo or mix in with your favorite serum.
Most Saturated Glow
Illuminator Liquid Highlight
If you really want to go for the glow, then this is probably the best pick for you. This liquid highlighter is high on shine and adds a warm shimmer to your face.
Strobe Light Liquid Highlighter
“Highlighter tips in my book are, go easy, dab your highlighter on with care, step back, look in a mirror, and then go in for more if needed. Most importantly—blend,” Halperin says.
Best for Uneven Skin Tone
Mood Lighting Luminizing Glow Drops
Halperin notes that though highlighters are great for all skin types, drier skin might benefit more from a liquid texture. These best-selling glow drops have the feel of a serum, while light-reflecting pigments give your skin a touch of radiance.
Best Subtle Finish
No Makeup Highlighter
This barely-there formula gives you a dewy finish without looking like you’re wearing too much makeup. The best part? It helps to improve the appearance of dullness and discoloration over time.
Best High-Pigment Pick
Light Lock Highlight Fluid
“Go with shades you love, but generally the warmer tones go great with a darker skin, and the cooler tones go with lighter skin shades. But there’s no fixed rules when it comes to makeup. Go with what makes you feel good,” Halperin says.
Liquid Light Serum Highlighter
Whether you use your fingers or a brush for application, the best part about this highlighter is its multipurpose use. You can apply it to the high points of your face for a strategic glow, dab some on your eyelids for a subtle shimmer, or even swipe it on the high points of your body like your décolleté and collarbones.
True Match Lumi Glotion Natural Glow Enhancer Lotion
“I love to use a creamy highlighter, as it’s more versatile and blends better than a powder,” Halperin says. “To add an extra depth of shine, you can include a drop of a lightweight oil. I like the REN Evercalm Barrier Support Elixir, which helps to add a bit of extra shine and luminosity to skin.”
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