There's nothing I love more than highlighter. It's almost my favorite finishing touch product after a great brow pencil. After all, flawless arches frame the face, but diamond-esque cheekbones really make it pop. But you don't need to shell out a ton of money for an otherworldly glow — I tested out the best drugstore highlighters out on the market, and they are so glowy, people will definitely ask you what you are using.
Even before strobing became a thing in the makeup world, I've been on a quest to find the perfect slightly shimmery, slightly pearlescent, slightly bronzy sticks, creams, liquids, and powders that will deliver that J. Lo glow. I've found a few that I've committed myself to, for life. (ATTN: Tom Ford — If you ever discontinue Tom Ford Skin Illuminator, there's going to be beauty hell to pay.)
One of the best things about using highlighters (besides the fact that they make you look like a pretty mermaid when the light hits them at exactly the right angles) is that they're super versatile to apply. The traditional spot might be the cheekbones, or the slant right above them below your eye, but there are so many more areas of your face you can strobe! I know this because I once had a very deep convo with Stila Pro Makeup Artist Sarah Lucero backstage at the Rebecca Minkoff show to get her all-time best tips on the subject. She advised that the inner corners of the eye, the bridge of the nose, and the cupid's bow of the lips are just as stunning as the cheeks with a little sheen. Noted.
Even though I love me some Tom Ford, there are just as many amazing products that will amp up your blush/bronzer game and won't cost $65 or more. Those very items can be found in your local drugstore. I tested them along with fashion blogger (and my adorable niece) Frannie, aka The Blonde Prep, to see which ones hold up the best.
1. Maybelline Master Strobing Stick Illuminating Highlighter
Maybelline's creamy formula contains micro-fine pearls to deliver the perfect pinky-white strobe effect. Just make sure to layer it on if you are fair-to-medium skinned because this one can tend to go on a little light. (Frannie is wearing the 001 shade, which is Light Iridescent.)
2. Milani Brow & Eye Highlighter
Milani knows what's up with it comes to strobing other places besides your cheekbones, which is why they created a pencil exclusively for your brows and eyes. Frannie applied the matte end of the 01 shade High Glow on her browbone as a base and all-over shadow, then she used the other end for a brow arch highlighter and inner-eye illuminator. (She's wearing the matte beige color, but there's also matte cream and vanilla taupe, which is darker.)
3. NYX Born to Glow Liquid Illuminator
As Frannie says, "whereas the Maybelline product is a classic highlighter, this liquid illuminator by NYX makes you look like a hot tan goddess who just had a fun day at the beach." (She is wearing the Gleam shade.)
4. Wet n' Wild MegaGlo Highlighting Powder
This velvety-smooth highlighting powder enhances skin with a naturally luminous glow thanks to shimmering pearl pigments. Plus, the great thing about powder highlighters is that they won't smudge off your face as easy if you rub up against something — or someone for that matter. Wink Wink. (Frannie is wearing the Precious Petals shade.)
Wet n Wild MegaGlo Highlighting Powder in Precious Petals, $4, drugstores
Here's where you can really see the differences between the shades and textures:
From left to right: Maybelline Master Strobing Stick Illuminating Highlighter in Shade 100, $8, Amazon; Milani Brow & Eye Highlighter in Shade 01 High Glow, $9, Amazon; NYX illuminator in Narcissistic, $7, Amazon; NYX Born to Glow Liquid Illuminator in Gleam, $7, Amazon; Wet n Wild MegaGlo Highlighting Powder, $4, drugstores
If you're still experimenting with highlighter formulations or just want to add to your collection, consider these incredible drugstore finds!
Images: Frannie Acciardo; Courtesy of brands