Glow, radiance, luminosity, shimmer, effulgence — whatever word you may throw at it, we all know the look we’re after here: A mythical creature, preferably waterborne, glazed in the soft light of a full moon. Or something like that. While a remarkably pigmented powder formulation can get you there, I think dabbing on one of the best liquid highlighters listed ahead is an even better approach, especially if you're into the dewy thing. These fluid formulas contain moisturizing ingredients like glycerin, vitamin E, and plant-based butters and oils for easy blendability and a non-sticky feel. And because the best highlighter for you will be one that compliments your natural skin tone, most of the products below — besides the primer — come in a (relatively) wide range of shades.
There are almost as many ways to apply liquid highlighter as there are synonyms for its effects. For an allover glow, mix a drop or two with your foundation, or wear it in lieu of a primer. Straight-up, you can dab it on the high points of your face — cheekbones, browbones, bridge and tip of nose, Cupid’s bow, and around your temples (plus your ears, if you’re taking Bretman Rock’s lead). You can mix a little with your body lotion, too, because why not?
No matter where you want to put it, pick up one of the best liquid highlighters featured below and let it work its magic.
1. The Best-Seller
A couple thousand reviewers on Amazon love this L’Oreal Paris liquid highlighter for its soft, fresh, radiant finish. As one person wrote, “It will not make you look like the tin man from Wizard Of Oz.” Think Glinda the Good Witch, instead: Lit from within by the sheer goodness of your heart. (Hydrating shea butter and jojoba esters help with that, too.) This one is subtle enough to wear all over your face, either under your foundation or on its own.
- Available shades: 4
2. Best Glittery Highlighter
Sometimes, you want to look like the opposite of a fairy queen with a spotless moral compass. Sometimes, you want to look like a Euphoria extra. That’s where this Pacifica highlighter comes in. These four, rave-appropriate shades range from space-age silver to groovy amethyst, with either holographic or glitter finishes. For all their boldness, the formula and effects are sophisticated: Reviewers say these highlighters are not sticky, blend beautifully, and that the glitter is fine, not chunky. Bonus points for the doe-foot applicator, which makes it easy to apply in whatever sweaty bathroom stall you may find yourself in.
- Available shades: 4
3. Best Shade Range
There’s an Anastasia liquid highlighter for everyone in this seven-shade range, which runs the gamut from pearl to rose gold to bronze. This high performer is not for the faint of heart — just a couple drops gets you a gleam you can see from the moon (an unsubstantiated claim). The gel-like formula is a bit thick, so it blends best with a stippling brush or your fingers, rather than a sponge. It dries down quickly, too, so harness your inner Capricorn and be efficient with it.
- Available shades: 7
4. Best Primer
Protective antioxidants and moisturizing panthenol edge this Physicians Formula highlighter into “makeup-skin care hybrid” status, so you can feel more than okay about slathering it all over your face. On the makeup side of things, it gives your skin a blurred effect, which’ll make any foundation, concealer, or BB cream you layer over the top glide on that much more smoothly. Of course, you can also use it to spot-treat the high points of your face; the lightweight, fluid consistency blends really nicely.
- Available shades: 1
5. Best Budget Highlighter
Budget-friendly, party-ready makeup is what wet n’ wild does best, so it's no surprise that they make a killer liquid highlighter for under $5. One swipe delivers high-impact shimmer, and nourishing ingredients like murumuru seed butter and vitamin E make it feel comfortable and smooth on your skin. It comes in six shades, too — an impressive selection for a drugstore brand.
- Available shades: 6
6. Best Cream
This RMS Beauty Luminizer is a cream highlighter, not a liquid, but it adopts some of the liquid’s better qualities: Namely, it melts seamlessly and looks (but doesn’t feel) a little wet and dewy. Unlike most of the liquids on this list, though, the finish here is neither metallic nor glittery nor pearlescent. It simply glows. A lovely choice for the minimalists among us. It contains mostly certified organic ingredients, too, like coconut oil, cocoa seed butter, and castor seed oil, which all work to soften and enrich your skin.
- Available shades: 4