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The Best Highlighters

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This week, when the heat came on in our apartments, and we swapped our unbuttoned-down-to-there chambray shirts in favor of up-to-our-ears wool sweaters, we thought of Tom Pecheux, who once told us that when wearing such “dry… matte fabrics, it’s important to have a glow.” Not that every season isn’t highlighter season at ITG, but we take special care to appear well-lit when we don’t have the help of the blazing sun—the consumptive vibe isn’t for everyone. And while there will always be a place atop our cheeks and in our hearts for RMS Living Luminizer, Nars Copacobana, and the Pat-McGrath-favored Madina Chic & Shine, we'd also like to shine a light on some of our other favorites.

There are a few points of entry in the highlighter game, and they're all tied to skin tone. Strobing creams will usually do the job no matter what, but when it comes to powders, it's fairly easy to shade match: Those with pale complexions, for example, should look on the pearlier side of the spectrum. Olive skin tones work best with light highlighters that have rosy or gold undertones (depending on if your skin skews more pink or yellow). Highlighters that are golden and even bronze-y work best for dark and deep skin havers.

All set? Great, now you're ready for the best part: product recs. Here are the best light catchers that have caught our attention since we last discussed them with you:

White Light/White Heat

MAC Strobe Cream: Among white highlighters, Strobe Cream lends the subtlest the-light-just-finds-me glow. Trusted by Aaron de Mey to give “‘watery’ reflections” to the models at Kenzo's Spring 2014 show, and editor Azza Yousif to “attract light” to everywhere from her eyelids to her collarbone, the pearly liquid gives an instant pick-me-up to tired, dull skin.
Tom Ford Illuminating Highlight Pen in Lavender Voile: Another icy option. The vaguely purple highlighter pen's brush allows exacting application, and its shimmer-concentrated formula creates a more metallic finish.

Is It About Pink?

Chanel Le Blanc in Rosée: Getting a little warmer here. It's an office favorite for making your skin smell incredible and look plumped and well-rested, even when it’s really, really not—it's a lift for your face and mood. Suggested as a makeup base, it can also be dabbed on under-eye circles for a no-makeup-makeup optical illusion, or applied in all the right places underneath the rest of your makeup for an understated but apparent effet lumière.
Benefit High Beam: For those in search of higher wattage, High Beam's precision-granting brush and ultra-shimmery liquid create cheekbone-popping and eye-widening results.

Golden Girls

Chanel Soleil Tan de Chanel: There’s nothing wrong with a little golden glow come summer, fall, or dead of winter. Tan de Chanel is a whisper of bronzer wrapped in a faintly gold illuminator that is used around these parts to look, as we say, “alive.” Best doled out to the entire cheekbone, it's the kind of highlighter you wear when that's all you're wearing.
Riri Hearts MAC in Diamonds: Of equal importance because, well, it goes without saying that no one knows how to shine bright quite like badgalriri. Diamonds is best for topping off your makeup, with a touch on your cupid's bow, down the center of your nose, on your brow bone, and anywhere else you want to catch All of the Lights.

Get Matte About It

YSL Touche Éclat: Remember when Wayne Goss blew our minds by revealing that the cult-favorite concealer was actually a highlighter? Yes, it turns out you don’t even need shimmer to reap the benefits of highlighting. This, dear readers, is magician-worthy contouring.
Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer: Used in a shade or two lighter than your skin tone, and following Goss' tutorial, either one of these concealers-cum-highlighters will deliver extra-pouty lips, erased laugh lines, “lifted' eyes, and an overall brighter complexion. Expert tip: Apply a swipe just under your cheekbones to make them look Aymeline-Valade extra sharp.

Full Face Reflector

The Liquids: For those of you seeking all-over incandescence, Buxom Divine Goddess Luminizer is the faintest of the full-face illuminators, imparting the look of a full day of freshly Embryolisse-d skin, rather than a full-blown J. Lo in “Waiting for Tonight' shimmer fest. Conversely, Giorgio Armani Fluid Sheer is here for the occasions when you want to look like a member of the Cullen family caught in low-morning light (believe us, there are times).
The Powders: Dipping a big kabuki brush in Guerlain’s holiday offering Crazy Pearls, which are not as crazy as they sound, will give a rosy, blood-pumping flush to your face. And Jane Cosmetics—P.S. Jane is back!!—offers an Ever After-type luster for the mere price of lunch with its Multi-Colored Illuminating Powder.

As for technique, you can really apply highlighter anywhere you want to create depth or draw light—again, let Goss be your guide.

Photos by Mathea Millman.