Last updated: September 26, 2020

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For so many American women, putting on makeup is just another part of the daily routine. But makeup hasn’t always been this omnipresent. This history of makeup extends back millennia, and today’s products are vastly different, and more varied that what human beings once used.

Makeup is now widely considered an art form (i.e. makeup artists). Makeup isn’t just part of human self-decorating, it can also dramatically change how we appear to the world. The below guide was made to provide you with all of the information you will need to buy the highlighter product that is right for you.

Key Facts

  • Highlighters are used to create light and shine on areas of the face, head and neck.
  • Unlike a concealer, the purpose of a highlighter isn’t to hide certain features, but rather to enhance and brighten them.
  • There are a range of different highlighter styles available in different formats that are designed to create various effects.

The best highlighters on the U.S. market

In the following section we have curated a list of the 5 best highlighters on the U.S. market. Each one also includes the primary characteristics and features so you can compare and contrast the products. This will help you find the right highlighter for you.

Maybelline New York – Facestudio Master Strobing Stick

Maybelline New York is a brand name that really does not need an introduction. The company has been making some of the most well-loved cosmetic and beauty products on the U.S. market for decades. Their Facestudio Master Strobing Stick is a non-comedogenic lightweight highlighter that has American dermatologists’ stamp of approval. It is dead easy to use. Just lightly swipe on the areas you want to provide some lift and highlights to and blend in. Works well on collar bone, cheek bone, cupid’s bow, and eyebrow arch areas.

This product comes in two great shades: light – iridescent and medium – nude glow. This is a great highlighter for people of all skin types and tones. Whether you have oil, dry, or combination skin, this will not clog pores. Facestudio’s stick format is designed to go on easily and hold well throughout the day on any area of the face and neck. The micro-fine pearls activate to give your skin an incredible, almost three-dimensional boost and glow from within. Simple, elegant radiance at an affordable price is what you get when you purchase this highlighter.

Physicians Formula – Butter Highligher (Pearl)

Physicians Formula has been making amazing cosmetic and beauty products since 1937, when allergist Frank Crandall came up with his “physicians formula” as a gift to his beloved wife Edith. Edith had lupus and was desperate for a makeup that would be delicate enough for her sensitive skin. And thus, Physicians Formula was born. Their Butter Highlighter is a incredibly luxurious, three-dimensional cream-to-power that gives you a stunning, warm, and elegant glow day and night.

This is a very lightweight cream that blends quickly into any skin type. The super soft pearls and pigments give you a nice smoothed out skin texture without looking unnatural. You get a divine highlighted finish that is sure to make a big impact on the people around you. This is a “butter” highlight because it is infused with a number of naturally-sourced plant butters, including Murumuru Butter, Capucu Butter, and Tucuma Butter, all from the Amazon rain forest. It has essential fatty acids and is pro-vitamin, so your skin is nourished while you highlight it.

NICEFACE – Shimmer Stick

NICEFACE’s Shimmer Stick is actually a two-in-one product, as you get two different colors when you buy this. They are both waterproof and give you long-lasting highlights that stand up to your daily routine. Designed to go on effortlessly and provide you with a creamy, textured, highlighted look all day, just twist and swipe for shimmering beauty. The top of the highlighter is flat and wide so you can expertly highlight cheek and collarbones with precision. With NICEFACE’s Shimmer Sticks you get a highlighter that is great to tuck into a bag for everyday use, anytime, anywhere.

The two colors are absolutely gorgeous for highlighting and can even be applied by themselves for a light makeup look. Color 1 is a light pearl pink, and color 2 is a light gold. Great for any skin tone, this fantastic dual product has something for everyone. Whether you want subtle highlight for during the day use, or something more glamorous for a night on the town, these two Shimmer Sticks would be valuable additions to anyone’s everyday makeup arsenal.

L’Oreal Paris – True Match Lumi Glotion Natural Glow Enhancer

L’Oreal Paris is yet another cosmetics brand that is found in the makeup kits, purses, and bags of women all over the United States. This company has been keeping women looking fantastic for decades, and their True Match Lumi Glotion Natural Glow Enhancer is a great highlighter addition to any modern woman’s makeup arsenal. This highlighting glow lotion is designed to be applied all over the face as you would a moisturizer, rather than a spot, or targeted treatment like other highlighters on the market.

The way you use this product is first to choose a shade that is slightly lighter than your skin tone. It is then applied to the tops of your cheekbones and blended in well for natural-looking highlights. You can also get a shade that is slightly darker than your skin tone and apply it to the hollows of your forehead and cheeks to get a subtly bronzed contour. This way, you play with light and shadow to create a great natural highlight that people are sure to take notice of. For a drugstore product, this is something that even true makeup connoisseurs will be quite impressed with.

Stila – Heaven’s Hue Highlighter

Stila’s Heaven’s Hue Highlighter is an incredibly lightweight product that has an almost bounce-like texture to it that blends effortlessly into your skin. You will hardly even notice this product is there, but will love the amazing natural glowing look it gives you. It is a soft, more subtle glow than some other products, which makes it great for everyday use. You can apply Heaven’s Hue with either a sponge or a makeup brush, massaging it thoroughly into your cheeks.

The goal with this highlighter is to make your skin appear as though it is being backlit from the iside out, giving both volume and texture to your face. It comes in three great shades (Kitten, Transcendent, and Bronze). Use the brush if you are looking for something more subtle, and your finger if you are trying to create a much more obvious glow. A product beloved by women all over the U.S. and definitely worth its price tag, Stila has created something versatile that you can tailor to fit any style.

Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about highlighter

Before you purchase a highlighter you should be fully aware of what the product offers. Below are some fundamental aspects to keep in mind so you know what you’re doing while browsing. We have also included answers to some of the most common questions asked by consumers.

Highlighter adds the final touch to your look.
(Source: Drobot: 49340133/

What exactly is a highlighter?

If the name highlighter rings a bell, you probably think of it as a trendy makeup used by women. But there is actually much more to it than that. A highlighter is a beauty product that is used to highlight certain features of your face and skin. It’s job is to illuminate.

It is typically used on various areas of the face (cheekbones, chin, nose, foreheads) to enhance features. You can also apply a highlighter to other parts of the body as well.

Many American women use highlighters on their own, in addition to combined with other makeups, for a “light” makeup look.

What is highlighter used for?

A highlighter is a effective cosmetic tool for bringing brightness and light to parts of the face that can often look dark. Highlighted features look more stunning and vibrant. You might want to think of a highlighter as a magic wand and instantly adds shine and glimmer to your skin.

In the hands of someone with experience and skill, highlighter is even capable of radically altering the appearance of certain features. It can be used to alter the angle of your chin, cheekbones, and/or nose. This is often employed to create sophisticated and glamorous looks, that also look natural. A good highlighter is always a nice finishing touch to any makeup.

For powder highlighters, it’s recommended to use a brush.
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When should I use highlighter?

There aren’t any hard and fast rule when it comes to highlighters. They are multi-use makeup tools, so you can use them wherever, whenever. You might want a simple compliment to something like a beauty blender , or you might want to completely reshape the look of your face.

Conversely, you might want to try it out for a nice evening look. You can use highlighter more naturally to create more subtle look,s or you can deliberately apply it more artistically.

Applied with a sponge, highlighter tends to give you a more natural look, while when applied with your finger, you get something much bolder and distinct.

What is highlighter made of?

Now that you no how to use a highlighter, what are they made out of? The secret to a good highlighter is in the composition. Primary ingredients in many include things like mineral micro-particles and other components that help reflect light. This is how brightness is added to our skin.

Additionally, highlighters contain ingredients that help to stimulate natural brightness in our skin. Some have ingredients have stimulate blood microcirculation, which helps improve skin tone. Many also contain exfoliating and de-pigmenting elements which help make skin appear more radiant.

Highlighters bring brightness, light and vitality to the face.
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What is the difference between highlighter and concealer?

A common source of confusion when talking about this product is the difference between a highlighter and concealer. Both have one thing in common: they are designed to help complement other products. There are also some fundamental differences, and the intended effects of each one are quite unique.

The primary difference is in their uses. Concealer is used to help disguise pimples, dark spots, or circles under the eyes. On the other hand, a highlighter does almost the exact opposite: it is made to draw attention to the areas where it’s applied.

There are certain key zones to apply highlighter and get the perfect look.
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What kind of product you choose depends on what you want to achieve. Sometimes it might make sense to combine the two, especially when contouring your eyes. You can use the concealer to create shadow and then augment with the highlighter to create the perception of more volume and depth.

What types of highlighters are there?

There are a lot of different highlighters out there, so there is something for every kind of woman in the U.S. They are typically categorized based on their texture and finish. Each different kind of highlighter is made for certain skin types and results.

When talking about texture, powders, liquid, and cream highlighters are the norm. When talking about finish, highlighters can be broken down into those which provide more, or less brightness and shimmer. In this respect, there are highlighters that contain things like glitter particles, those with a more pearly luster and matte highlighters. Below you’ll find a summary of the key information about each.

Types of highlighters Features Recommendations
Texture Powder Compact powders that give brightness and shine

Simple to use and apply

Able to be applied either on top of, or without foundation

Able to be combined with other highlighters

Great for oily skin
Liquid Very versatile

Light texture, simple to apply


Can be used under, on top of, or mixed in with foundation

Recommended for dry skin types
Creams Dense &amp creamy texture

Normally applied on top of foundation

Various forms

All skin types
Finish Glittery Intense, striking effect

Shimmering brightness

Great for going out at night and big occasions
Pearly shine Natural glow

Elegant, much subtler

Variable intensity

Can be worn daily or for special events
No shimmer Matte finish

Great at highlighting features and creating dimension

Suitable for daily wear

Where should I apply highlighter?

Ask any makeup artists and they will undoubtedly say a good highlighter is a must-have on certain areas of the face. There are various facial features that when well-highlighted make our faces look more sophisticated. Under the eyes and in the “nasolabial fold” (the lines that run from both sides of the nose to the corners of the mouth).

These are areas that can often create unpleasant shadows, but which are easily brightened with some highlighter. Highlighter is also commonly applied along the cheekbones, or around the eyebrows (on or below). There are specific areas of our faces that look quite stunning when they are touched up by a dash of light. We can also apply highlighter around our lips to make them standout.

L`ORÉAL ParisLeading makeup brand
“With highlighter, your cheekbones appear lighter, your nose narrower and your lips more bulky.”

How should I apply highlighter?

Generally, highlighter is applied after putting on foundation. This is because it does not offer much coverage. After all, it is designed to complement other makeup by reflecting light. It is also recommended to avoid going overboard with highlighter in the T-Zone, as it is typically an oily area.

The best way to apply highlighter depends on the form you are using. For instance, highlighter powder is best applied with a brush or other makeup applicator. A cream is best applied with the fingers. Liquid highlighters can be applied with sponges or brushes, and combined with a mixed foundation, or stand alone.

There are different highlighters for different skin types and results.
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Can using highlighter have adverse effects?

As seen above, highlighter acts as an accessory to improve certain parts of our makeup. The goal is to apply a small amount to certain areas of your face, typically in addition to foundation. If this is how you use your highlighter, there shouldn’t be any issues.

However, as with all cosmetics, certain skin types and genetics mean some people run the risk of allergic or other adverse reactions. Just as with all cosmetics, highlighters tend to contain things that might be harmful or irritating to people with sensitive skin or allergies. Getting it in your eyes can also be incredibly irritation. Always use highlighter with care.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of highlighters?

In summation, a highlighter is an incredibly valuable tool in any modern American woman’s makeup kit. They increase brightness in important areas on your face, highlight key features, and generally make your face look better. Below is a short table that lays out the main advantages and disadvantages of using a highlighter.

  • Provide light and shine to the face
  • Draw attention to and enhances features
  • Counteracts appearance of fatigue
  • Versatile and simple application
  • Potential allergic or hypersensitive reactions

Shopping Criteria

When buying highlighter, it’s important to assess certain factors. In the below section we have laid out some of the most salient features to keep in mind when buying a highlighter. This will allow you to make the best decision possible and choose the right product.

  • Format
  • Finish
  • Purpose
  • Skin type


We’ve already seen how there are various types of highlighter which come in different forms. You need to have this in mind when purchasing a highlighter. The format you go with is dependent on things like your skin type and the effect you’re trying to create.

Powder highlighters are the most common. They are simply to apply and give you great, intense results. They are the best for oily skin. Drier skin types typically look better with more natural-looking applications, so liquid highlighters work best. Keep this in mind and you will always get the right product for you.


Highlighter is known for its versatility as a beauty product. You can use it to radically alter your natural features and create a dramatic look, or do something much more understated. Always know what look you’re trying to achieve.

For instance, highlighters that contain glitter give you nice sparkle and shine. A more neutral and sophisticated look can be achieved with a product that doesn’t have shiver, or very little of it. There are so many options, creating a great look is possible regardless. suitable highlighter.


Before settling on one highlighter or another, you should first ask yourself what you want it for. This will impact which product is best for you, and is a function of both the finish and form. For instance, you might want something you can wear every day that creates a look of freshness.

If that is the case, a highlighter with a matte or pearly finish makes most sense. Conversely, if you want something for going out at night and you want to draw attention, powder and highlighters with ample shimmer effects are the best choices.

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Skin type

Everyone has unique skin. How your skin responds to highlighter will depend on your genetics and your susceptibility to allergies and skin irritations. If you have oily skin, you are going to need a different product than if you had dry skin. Highlighters are just like every other cosmetic product in this sense, and many are made specifically with certain skin types in mind.

This means that if you have oily skin you will get a better result with powder highlighters. If you have drier skin, liquid highlighters are superior, and many come with built-in moisturizers.

Cream highlighters are highly versatile, and so can be used with all skin types.


It should now be clear why highlighters are such important parts of modern makeup artistry. They help enhance brightness, light, and vitality on our faces. They are also great for creating different effects and perceptions, such as depth and volume. Just a small amount of highlighter and a stunning array of amazing and artistic results are possible.

If that wasn’t enough, highlighters are the “off-roaders” of cosmetics, because they are made to suit every skin type and situation under the sun. It doesn’t matter if you have oily or dry skin, or want to create a highly specific effect, there are highlighters out there made for you. There is always something that will suit your needs perfectly!

If you enjoyed the above highlighter article and shopping guide, share it with your friends and family on social media. Additionally, you can drop us a comment in the section below!

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