No makeup look seems to be finished nowadays without a good sprinkle, dusting or shimmy-ing of a good highlight. Like the contour, this has become serious business for makeup lovers.
Back to Basics : Highlighting.
What is highlighter even for? Highlighing is using a paler shade than your skin tone, often with a shimmer (but does not have to be!) that is applied onto the areas of the face that you want to accentuate and enhance. Popular areas to highlight tend to be : cheekbones, the nose, brow bones and cupids bow. It’s particularly effective when used in combination with contouring which is the opposite to highlight ; which uses deeper shades than your skin tone to push areas back and make them seem less obvious. Hence when used together you can quite dramatically chance the appearance of the structure of your face and/or body.
Cream & Liquid Highlighters.
I love all formulas of highlighter and have a ridiculous amount in both my professional makeup kit and personal stash. I tend to use mainly powder on myself as they just work better on my oily skin. However in my kit, I tend to favour a good cream or liquid highlighter, and often a mix of both to get that really high-sheen editorial look. It gives an appearance of almost wet-dewy skin which I love and also, I find a liquid highlighter really versatile in the fact that you can wear it under, within and over the top of your makeup or skincare. Below is a few editorial images from photoshoots I have worked on when I’ve used highlight to enhance and give the skin some sheen, with differing effects.
As I’m such a highlighter lover, I have compiled a list of my current top 10 favourite cream-liquid highlighters for both in my pro kit and in my personal collection. They range from £7 to £61.
My Top 10 Liquid Highlighters.
BUDGET (£10 & Under)
First up let’s start with the budget favourites : NYX Liquid Illuminators (£7) are possibly my favourite on the high street as they have a really strong pay-off and glow and are SUCH a good dupe for the NARS liquid illuminators. I love the shade ‘Sunbeam’ on a paler skin which is a silvery/pink tone and I love the ‘Gleam’ on a warmer skin or when I am tanned in the summer. GOSH do some fabulous liquid glow in the form of these little squeezy tubes : Lumi Drops (£7) . These are perfect if you like a more subtle glow and I find they work really well mixed in with your foundation. Last up in the budget picks is the Topshop Glow ‘Gleam’ (£10). This is a really pretty warmer hue and it’s a slightly more robust cream formula so you only need a touch to give enviable radiance on your skin.
Mid range (Under £35)
Ermmmm firstly say hello to the cult classic, original highlighter which has been around for like a zillion years : the NARS Cocopabana (£29). This is a beautiful cream stick but not-too-soft formula that is an absolute makeup artist must-have and I have had pretty much the whole set of these in my pro kit for over 10 years. Easy to use, swatch in on wherever you fancy and blend with ther fingertips. A great highlighter for those who aren’t too fancy. PS I love the South Beach on darker skin.
Chantecaille have the Liquid Lumiere (£33) which are absolutely FAB and completely under-rated IMO. As in, you don’t see people talking about these as much as they probably should and I’m suprised they aren’t more popular. Micro-size pigments ensure that this highlighter looks chic on any skin and I just love the handy, travel-friendly tube. Also : The price! I was expecting this to be in the £40 + range but this is actual quite a bargain for a Chantecaille product!
I think one of my most-used in my pro kit is the BECCA Shimmering skin perfector Opal (£34) and I’ve had this for many years. It is a great rose gold tone, works on pretty much all my clients and it is very multi-purpose. This is more of a moisturiser with glow, as opposed to your straight up highlighter, so I will often use this as a primer/ mixed with base and then use a highlighter over this (and often the powder version of Opal!) = for the ultimate glowing, gorgeous skin.
Cover FX Custom Enhancer Drops (£34) caused quite a stir when they launched….was it last year? They sold out so quickly and it was pretty hard to get your hands on any of the shades. My favourite is the paler shade, Celestial, which is a super silvery, VERY bright highlighter, that is great if you want super sheen. On it own, it’s almost too much so I find this one best to be used very sparingly or mixed in with something else to sheer it down. I have a big gripe about this packaging as it just wears off hence why it was also included in my ‘Beauty Fails of 2016‘ so it’s a LOVE-HATE.
High End (£40 +)
Kevyn Aucoin has to be pretty much attributed to the invention of modern day highlight and contour products. Like fo’ real. His makeup range were one of the first, if not THE first to bring a contour and highlight product onto a counter and it was technique he was absolutely know for. Enough Gushing. A couple of years ago the brand transformed his best-selling highlighting powders into 3 liquid formulas ; The Celestial Skin Liquid Highligher (£42) with candlelight being my favourite.
My absolutely go-to for utlimate glossy skin = Tom Ford Shade & Illuminate (£56). I remember seeing Charlotte Tilbury using it on a model and I literally had to have it immediately and purchased it the next day. I use this strictly in my kit and it is probably one of my most-used highlighters for any kind of editorial fashion shoot. It’s very greasy-feeling (which is what I like!) so this is why I prefer it for photoshoots as I think if you use a lot of this on a normal skin, it may come off after a few hours.
By Terry do 4 shades of their CC-Lumi serum (£61) which aren’t highlighters per-se ; they are infused with skincare so ARE a hybrid skincare-highlight product (hence the ahem pricetag). These are not your full on highlighters to be worn in dibs and dabs over makeup; they are more subtle, chic, understated for those who don’t want the full on glow. I love these under my makeup as a primer, as they also colour correct and enhance the skin, plus you don’t want all those skin-loving ingredients being wasted OVER the top of your foundation. I have a few of the shades with perhaps the 1 (pictured) and the 4 being my most-used. If you have high-colouring/ redness then the 3 Apricot Glow is a great colour-corrector. If you are more sallow and need lots of brightening them opt for the 2 Rose Elixir.
I think we have such a good choice with the high street brands really ‘upping’ their game over the last few years, so whatever your budget, you can find a really great highlighter that works for your skin. I tend to use mainly budget ones on myself, and the more fancy ones are in my kit.