Forget $40 Highlighters — These Drugstore Brands Are Just As Good

In this day and age of selfies, photo filters, and social media, highlighters are as popular as ever. That said, despite the large array of luxury products, a shimmery, high-quality highlighter doesn't have to break the bank. The best drugstore highlighters can illuminate and emphasize your complexion as effectively as some of the more expensive brands — but while remaining much more affordable and accessible. Here's what to look for as you begin your search:


When shopping, you should definitely take into account your purpose for using the highlighter. Will you be using it to emphasize specific areas, or will you be wearing it as a base under your foundation to create an all-over glow? Perhaps you'll be using it alone as your sole coverage for the day. Some highlighters can be used as a contouring product to add depth and definition, while others offer enough coverage to be used alone.


When referring to makeup, the term "pigmentation" is typically used to describe how rich and concentrated a color is. A highlighter that's more pigmented will help you to create definition when contouring, while something that's lighter and easier to blend will work on top of makeup or alone to give off a subtle, radiant glow.


There's also the subject of formula. In general, powders and palettes tend to be more popular when it comes to highlighters. They're usually the most pigmented, offering a lot of shimmer for an eye-catching finish. They're also an optimal choice for someone with oily or combination skin, as they tend to absorb oils and have more staying power throughout the day.

Cream-based sticks and liquid formulas are typically easy to apply and blend, which can make the process of wearing highlighter much simpler — especially when on the go. With this, however, it's important to note that liquids and creams are usually best for dry skin, since the formulas are inherently moisturizing and the extra hydration may be too much for oily skin.


Finally, you'll want to pick a shade that'll help you create the exact look you want. Experts suggest using a highlighter two shades lighter than your foundation to highlight, while you'll want to go a shade or two darker to contour or bronze. Most of the options offered below come in various colors for all different skin tones.

From powders to liquids, this guide will help you choose the best drugstore highlighters — and all of them are available on Amazon, too.


The Best Drugstore Highlighter, All Things Considered

Whether used on specific areas or all over the face, Maybelline's Master Chrome highlighter powder aims to create a glowing complexion. This product gives skin an effortless chrome-like effect with a reflective finish that, according to reviewers, certainly will not go unnoticed. Fans of this powder swear by its illuminating properties, and with more than 500 five-star reviews, it's easy to see why this affordable pick has become a favorite. It's available in four colors, and even comes in a two-pack if contouring is your objective.


The Best Budget-Friendly Highlighter

At $4 a tube, NYX's Born To Glow Liquid Illuminator offers amazing value alongside shimmery results. This liquid formula (which can be used as a foundation base or highlighter) aims to leave you with a natural, long-lasting finish and a glowing complexion. It comes in a variety of shades to complement many skin tones and features hundreds of great reviews on Amazon. It's also less pigmented than other options, so if you're looking for a subtle, use-alone product, this is it.


The Best Highlighter Stick

If you're searching for a highlighter that offers super-easy application, Maybelline's Master Strobing Stick may be just the thing you need. Thanks to its easy roll-up function, this creamy formula glides on with one swipe and can be used just about anywhere you want to shine. The formula is dermatologist-tested, and despite the fact that it's more hydrating than powders, reviewers say it "doesn't feel heavy or greasy." Instead, it makes the skin "look dewy and fresh."


The Best Highlighter For Sensitive Skin

Physicians Formula Butter Highlighter is the best choice for those with delicate skin, or for people who are prone to irritation and breakouts. Made with Murumuru, Cupuaçu, and Tucuma butters, this product is hypoallergenic and tested for safe use on and around sensitive skin and eyes. Its cream-to-powder finish is also enriched with fatty acids and pro-vitamins, which do an amazing job at softening, conditioning, and moisturizing skin. Finally, it comes in a wide variety of shades to complement a myriad of skin tones.


The Best Highlighting Lotion For Dry Skin

Made to be used alone or with makeup, L'Oréal's True Match Lumi Glotion will help you add a natural-looking, subtle glow to your daily routine. Most importantly, reviewers say it's great for people with dry skin because it "beautifully moisturizes" and "leaves a fresh, dewy glow." Infused with shea butter, the product not only looks good, but also feels good, offering all-day hydration that protects and nourishes skin. Get it in four different shades.


The Most Portable Highlighter

Whether you store it in your makeup bag, suitcase, or work-desk drawer, Revlon's Endless Glow liquid highlighter is a great option for creating glow on the go. The pigmented formula (which comes in various shades) offers intense shimmer and comes with a doe-foot applicator that makes it super easy to apply and blend. For extra convenience, it can be used over or under makeup and is stored in a compact bottle small enough to fit in your pocket.

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