Honestly! It was getting out of hand. One day the team looked around, and the ITG beauty closet that was so carefully cleaned and organized not too long ago was experiencing some strange highlighter bounty. So we did what any other dutiful beauty team would do: took them out of their assigned drawer, engaged in a thorough inspection, and shared our favorites with you.
Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick
A starter highlighter, bronzer, and potentially blush all in one—let Bobbi’s fan favorite product (for those who know anyway…) sweetly, gently romance you into the ways of the glow-up. Take a big puffy brush (no, not a fan brush) and swirl to your heart’s content all over the various color blocks (Bronze is easy to love, but take your pick from four colors ranging from coppery to peachy to pinky). The shimmer is finely milled, so there’s no chance for glitter chunks, and the added color means you’re not limited to just your cheekbones. Buff anywhere for a subtle highlight that screams your quality of life is just better than other people’s.
The One That's MUA-Approved
MAC Hyper Real Foundation
A foundation that’s actually a... highlighter! Oh MAC, you are such a comedian. This is one of [checks website] ten highlighters in their makeup oeruve, and it somehow stands apart from all the rest. For starters it’s their only liquid, and it gives off a pearly, iridescent shimmer—no crazy chunks to be seen. Still, it’s not a subtle effect; a conservative dab is all you need to for a decent amount of coverage. Two colors to choose from, Bronze FX and Gold FX, the latter of which looks deceptively white opal-y in its frosted vial. It is not dirt cheap but it is on sale, so better get to clickin’.
Most Likely To Show Up In A Selfie
Maybelline Master Chrome by Face Studio
Sometimes, you just want a face of pure refraction—not a glimmer, not a subtle “sheen,” but a prism of unadulterated light bouncing off your cheekbones. Maybelline’s line of Master Chrome highlighters are finely milled and impressively pigmented, meaning it’s that much easier to build it into an impact perfect for your tastes. Just keep in mind that a little goes a long way—physically and financially—where a $9.99 price tag is all it takes for the high points of your face to beam light into the next zip code.
For A Baby Highlight
Revlon Shoot The Moon Glow Gelée
What’s not to love about this little pot? It rhymes with wheeeee! So there’s that, to start. Sometimes highlighters can show up chalky, but since this one is housed in a clear base, it comes across sparkly, with tiny champagne flecks on skin that look like tasteful sweat (you know, how they sweat in the movies...). The jelly texture is bouncy and cool to the touch, and it kind of melts on your face instead of sitting on top. It’s also 11 bucks—again, looking for something not to love here...
The Shiny Sheen
Chantecaille Liquid Lumière
A product that tempts you with smearing it across your whole face (you can if you want to), Chantecaille's face illuminator sheen mixes well with other products, but also blends nicely into your skin—a classic cream highlighter. Looks especially lovely on high points of the face and in places you'd like to wake up a little bit. The shade comes out like a rosy blush color...AKA your best vacation skin.
Mecca Cosmetica Enlightened From Within Illuminating Balm
Australia’s got some sort of thing about highlighting. Just as the team was admiring the myriad of highlighters from Mecca Cosmetica (at least six formats), we remembered Becca—another Australian brand that offers another 15 options. Not that this is a problem; the whole world benefits from their apparent national obsession! The one we decided to spotlight is the balm—not a format we see very often. A bit stickier than illuminating drops or primers, which gives you a bit more control. Also shows up nicely on lids and lips without being too much of a glitter bomb. Reach for this one when you want the subtle sheen of being a face oil user, without the slick side effects.
For the face that feels unhighlightable and the girl who loves product more than the wearing of it, there is Guerlain Meteorites. Those little spheres of sparkly, rosy glow add a kaleidescope of dimension. Lucky that they appear more glittery in their tin than they do on your face. They also smell like powdering your nose is supposed to and will outlast all your other highlighters, no matter how often you use them. A Top Shelf product if there ever was one.
Pat McGrath Labs Sublime Skin Highlighting Trio
Pat McGrath, supreme Mother of mania-inducing makeup items, has shown her benevolence once again with this trio of blinding highlighters. The name of the game here is dimension—what looks like your usual highlighting lineup of bronze and pearlescent opportunities changes completely once these creamy orbs catch light. Bronze Nectar is your molten bronzer-highlighter moment, and pearlescent Fine Gold and Iridescent Pink reflect into an otherworldly gold and rose. Bonus: a lightweight finish that makes it look like your cheeks were just made that way. Glow big or go home, as we like to say. (And we think Pat would agree!)
The Natural-Looking Powder
Dior Nude Luminizer
So you want a highlighter that looks like a highlighter (read: not a subtle skin finish), but not too highlighter-y. Specific, but within reach with Dior’s six powders. Each one gives off a glow that shimmers just a little bit, and you can brush on more if shimmering a lot is more your speed. Universal and eager to please, as ever.
Photographed by Tom Newton