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Glow For The Broke: The Best Drugstore Highlighters

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Revlon Photoready Skinlights

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Ramy Pure Juice Pearl Gloss Highlighter

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Maybelline Dream Lumi Touch Highlighting Concealer

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Revlon Photoready Skinlights

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Ramy Pure Juice Pearl Gloss Highlighter

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Maybelline Dream Lumi Touch Highlighting Concealer

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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.