Pretty, Glowing Highlights: A Swatch Comparison


Years ago, before the face highlight market exploded, I always wondered how model’s skin in magazine photos looked so young and dewy, like they were just naturally glowing.  Now I know that makeup artists use highlight and nearly all makeup brands have at least one type of highlighting product in their line.

Right off the bat I’ll say that I am absolutely not a fan of highlight that “can be seen from outerspace”.  For me, makeup is primarily about enhancing natural beauty and not about looking perfect or over-the-top or doll-like.  That’s just me, no judgment on others, but it does indicate what types of highlighters I like – glowing and natural.  No disco-ball aspirations here.

Here are my quick-takes and swatches of the highlighters of which I’ve had either full-sizes or samples of in the past year.  These are all cruelty-free, and mostly natural with no nasty toxic chemicals.


W3LL People Bio Brightener Stick (retail $23.99 USD) – This one has the simplest application – just swipe on and gently blend.  The color is the lightest of the highlighters I’ve sampled/owned, a pale white-gold with shimmer.  It’s a cream highlight, but it’s not heavy or greasy.  The consistency is more of a dry cream base.

Everyday Minerals Powder (retail $15 USD) – They have discontinued the product I actually own, but I’m pretty confident that their All Over Shimmer powders are an equivalent product.  These are more of a translucent glow that you can apply all over your face, if you wish (somewhat akin to the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders), or just on the high-points of your face.  As it can be used all over the face, the powder is very fine and very subtle but rather gives a nice glow.  Especially nice type of product for those on the oily side or prone to breakouts who do not want to use a cream product or something very shimmery.

ColourPop Lunch Money (retail $8 USD) – The consistency of this cream highlight is similar to a mousse texture – fluffy, light, and creamy.  The color is beautiful and is in the middle as far as impact – it packs more punch than an all-over powder, but is a bit more subtle than something like W3LL People.  I really love this highlight, it’s a soft pale golden hue that works really nicely with my fair complexion.  It’s not a green brand per se, but the ingredients are decent enough that I’m OK with using it on occasion.  The price point is great, too.


Modern Minerals Moonstone Cream Highlighter (retail $30 USD) – This cream highlighter was launched exclusively through the Beauty Heroes subscription box.  As of this writing, I am fairly certain that it can only be purchased through the Beauty Heroes online shop.  Moving on, this has been my favorite highlighter since I received it several weeks ago.  The formula is so silky, spreads over the skin like butter, and leaves a gorgeous gleam that is the Goldilocks of highlights – not too subtle, not too obnoxious.  Looking at the swatch on my arm, it looks as though it would be too dark of a highlight for my fair skin, but it works really well and is beautiful.  One caveat, I really dislike the packaging.  It feels cheap and looks unattractive – but what’s inside is worth it.

Silk Naturals Homecoming Queen Highlight (retail $4.50 USD) – While *technically* this is listed as an eye shadow, look through the reviews and you’ll find people who sing its praises as a highlight.  It is absolutely gorgeous.  This is pushing it in terms of subtle highlighter for me, but it’s not completely over-the-top.  It is such as beautiful pale gold color, and the price is unbeatable at $4.50 for a full-size (which is the eye shadow portion of product…but, for the price, who’s going to squabble?). As an aside, in the top photo Homecoming Queen is shown pressed in an eye shadow pan – but the product actually is sold loose and I pressed it myself.  (Want to know how to press your loose eye shadows?  Look here.)

Fior Minerals Sweets Ignite Illuminator (retail $24 USD) – This cream product is unique to the others I’ve tried in that it is free of shimmer and sparkle.  It’s purpose is to give skin a luminosity.  The color is a soft rose.  I don’t prefer it over my other highlights, but it would be a nice option for someone who really loves rose-toned highlights and doesn’t want shimmer and sparkle.

RMS Beauty Master Mixer – (retail $38 USD) There was a huge hoopla surrounding the release of this multi-use product earlier this year – understandably so, because RMS Beauty is hands-down one of my top all-natural beauty brands.  This is too dark on my skin when used as a traditional highlight.  To be fair, Rose-Marie Swift absolutely calls this a multi-purpose product and not strictly a highlighter.  However, when reviewed strictly on its merits as a highlighter, it would only work for someone with darker skintones than me.  When I tried to use it to highlight, I just ended up with rose-gold streaks on my cheekbones.  That wasn’t really the look I was going for.  It has other functions, thankfully, and would work for a sheer flush of color for the cheeks, as a subtle lip tint, or gorgeous gloss over the eyes.

And just for the record…Kjaer Weis Highlighter in Radiance (retail $56 USD) – I had a sample of this highlighter earlier this year.  By far, this was the highlighter I most wanted to try.  However, I was really disappointed in what it did for my particular skintone.  When it was lightly applied, it didn’t really show up or make an impact at all.  When I built it up more heavily, you could see it, but it looked unnatural due to the slight lavender undertones.  On others, it seems to work really well…but on my fair skin (neutral to golden-leaning undertones) it just didn’t work.

What’s your favorite non-toxic highlighter?  I really want to pick up RMS Beauty Living Luminizer next!


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