Glow For The Broke

Revlon Photoready Skinlights
Ramy Pure Juice Pearl Gloss Highlighter
Maybelline Dream Lumi Touch Highlighting Concealer

For a girl who spent much of her childhood impatiently smushing her chubby face against the glass makeup terrariums of the Chanel counter at Neiman Marcus while her mother had all the fun shopping for shiny new products, I find it strange that I was first introduced to the mystical world of highlighters by a laminated Halle Berry insert between shelves at the Target up the road from my house. Surely the Neiman's beauty department offered highlighters, but they were probably called something French—"lumiére" or whatever—leaving me completely in the dark to the fact that highlighters were even a thing. I needed the concept of an inner glow faked through strategic swipes of shimmer served straight and simple. Then came Halle and Revlon's "SkinLights." Skin...lights. Lights for your skin! Ding, ding, ding! I needed to reflect light. I remember buying two versions that day—the sweet-smelling loose shimmer powder and the pump-able liquid that came in a faux crimped tube rather than a stand-up container, which I now think is odd but back then I probably thought made complete and total sense.

And with that my world was changed. I've been faking proper hydration and full daily values of beta carotene for probably a decade now. Some days it's with organic coconut oil mixed with diamond dust, and some days it's with the last few drops of pinky beige shimmer slime from my non-tube tube of SkinLights—which now comes in a sleek, flat squeeze-able container. It's one of three exceptional drugstore highlighters I'm about to recommend:

Best Inner-Glow: Revlon PhotoReady SkinLights gives a warm, shimmery (not to be confused with "glittery") finish to cheeks, temples, collarbones, shoulders...wherever. That sugary floral scent from the SkinLights of my youth is gone, but the sheer liquid wash of health is still one of the best ways to spend $13 at CVS. Right after the 15-stack container of blank CDs, because I get that it's 2014 and all, but you still never know when you'll need a blank CD.

Best Safety-Jacket Reflectiveness: Ramy Pure Juice Pearl Gloss Highlighter isn't readily available at every drugstore (yet!), so I mourn for those not within walking distance of a Duane Reade Look Boutique (which is a drugstore beauty section on steroids—the Essie display has better lighting than some operating rooms). This stuff is unbelievable. The silver-white solid cream gives an alien sheen to cheekbones and lids.

Best Portable Pen Toucher-Upper: Maybelline Dream Lumi Touch Highlighting Concealer is much thicker and more opaque than the familiar Touche Éclat, which I appreciate. It really sticks—even on skin that's prone to oil slicks. And the finish is glow-y but definitely more matte than, say, the SkinLights. If it contains any shimmer specs, they're microscopic. So don't worry about drawing attention to a blemish if using as a concealer, this stuff's power comes from it's ability to deflect rather than noticeably reflect.

—Annie Kreighbaum

Photos by Tom Newton.

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  • Addison Cain

    I love this post! Physician's Formula Mineral Glow Pearls in Bronze are another great one.

  • Talia

    Dream Lumi is really good, and definitely exactly like Touche Eclat. I bought the Dream Lumi recently because I wanted illuminator likenow but couldn't justify the YSL price for an impulse buy. :)

  • Beauty or Something

    The Duane Reade look boutique is dangerous, but so much fun to play around in. I love the story in this post. Nice!

  • Mary Kate Slattery

    Knew this was Annie just from the title...A++

  • Emily Shea

    The Maybelline Dream Lumi is insane! I love it so much. I also am addicted to the Hard Candy Baked Bronzer in Tiki! It's like $8 at Wal Mart and it is gorgeous.

  • nooneputsbabyinthecorner

    I love using the Milani Shadow Eyez stick in Champagne Toast, both as an eyeshadow and a highlight. It looks great on the orbital bone up to the temple, browbone highlight and in the inner corner of your eyes.

    • ITG Annie

      Milani does great metallics. Deedee from the Dum Dum Girls loves their felt-tip liquid liner for shows

  • dameagatha

    When I was in like 7th grade, I spent many hours in KMart staring at walls of makeup, looking for the "foundation" or "base" Seventeen mag told me to use before realizing it's just skin-colored liquid called...dun dun dun..."makeup" on the package.

  • Willa

    The Sonia Kashuk highlighter stick at $10.99 is a great beginner highlighter. I use it on my eyes, nose and cheekbones. It's not too overwhelming to wear to work everyday!

  • lisa robb

    Great suggestions

  • Clever Girl Reviews

    My go-to is Becca SSP in Pearl. My other go to is oddly enough Revlon Photoready liquid makeup. It's super subtle. If you hate super obvious shimmer and can't afford something like Becca, give it a go.

  • Brittany

    I like any kind of ITG post that recommends drugstore products. I find it unrealistic to expect every reader to have a couple hundred dollars in their shoe to buy makeup. More posts like this would be fantastic.

  • fm

    Revlon skinlights, best liquid highlighter ever. im so happy they brought it back. i just recently through out the old one that i've had since 2004, (yup, go on judge me) when they rolled out the new version.

    • ModernGrace

      I still have the powder, which I kept because it's like fairy dust in a good color.

  • Haiku Jew

    Let's go for the glow
    drugstore beauty products rock
    sorry, Sephora.

  • Catbird

    Everything about this post is perfect.

  • Guest

    I love NYX Born to Glow Liquid Illuminator. I use shade 2. Best $7.50 you can spend on drugstore cosmetics, IMO.

  • Samantha

    I really underestimate drugstores - great finds!

  • Penelope Rivas

    Dream Lumi is probably my favorite brightening concealer, ever! Another important drugstore product: Maybelline Expert Eyewear Shadows in Vanilla (for lighter skin tones) and Linen (for medium and dark skin tones). These eye shadows double as excellent highlighters. Plus, they're like 3 bucks.

  • Mimi

    I just wanna say the egg idea was genius.

  • Adrienne Angelos

    You're a genius for showing us how they look on eggs. I mean, seriously brilliant.

  • Megan P.

    RMS beauty living luminizer is highly pigmeted for that perfect looking glow and it's gorgeously organic! It can be purchased at There's also Josie Maran argan illuminizer

  • ModernGrace

    I need to start using the Dream Lumi again. The YSL version is a waste of money to me.


Revlon PhotoReady Skinlights Face Illuminator
Ramy Pure Juice Pearl Gloss Highlighter
Maybelline Dream
Maybelline Dream Lumi Touch Highlighting Concealer