Best Highlighter 2022: The Liquids, Creams, Sticks, and Powders for an Immediate Glow

Highlighter, the cheekbone’s closest friend, comes in myriad forms, from pearlescent to dewy—and finding the best highlighter for you can take your skin from zero to luminous in two seconds flat. We all know how multi-purpose a good highlighter can be. When applied to cheekbones, the bridge of the nose, beneath the brow bone or at the inner corners of eyes, it’s a subtle way to add dimension and natural radiance, elevating a tired complexion and imparting that all-important glow. 

To answer all of your burning highlighter questions, Vogue has enlisted the help of makeup artist Mata Marielle, who breaks down everything from the best type of highlighter to use, to the ideal tools to apply them with. 

How do I choose a highlighter?

“Always look at undertones—golden and red undertones are best for darker skin tones, while rosy and coral undertones complement lighter skin well. If you are unsure, pearlescent and iridescent highlighters are your best bet, they complement every skin tone under the sun, giving skin a gorgeous glow with minimal effort.”

Is powder or liquid highlighter best?

“Liquid is definitely my favorite, it looks natural on the skin and blends seamlessly with makeup. If you are just starting out, a liquid or cream is best, as it is easier to fix if you make any mistakes and allows for easy layering.”

Should you put highlighter on before or after foundation?

“If using a liquid foundation, mix it in to give skin a lit-from-within glow. Use powdered highlighter after you’ve set all your makeup, it should be the cherry on top of the look.”

How do I apply highlighter to my face?

“I always recommend pressing liquid highlighter into the skin using the fingertips. If you prefer to use brushes, a concealer or dense stipple brush is best. For powder, apply using a fan brush; dust lightly on top of the cheekbone in an upwards motion, on the bridge of the nose and a little on the Cupid’s bow. In all honesty, there are no rules, no right or wrong. Experiment and see what works for you. Top tip when using powder highlighters? Always mix with oil and press into your skin—it will give you a glass-like look.”

Whether you prefer to get your glow with the help of powder, stick, cream, or liquid formulations, Vogue has tried and tested them all to compile this ultimate guide to the very best on the market. A tip we learned along the way? If you really want to make your highlighter pop, spritz your face with setting spray and then apply powder highlighter while it’s still drying—you’ll get a candlelit effect that won’t budge. Likewise, you can use your chosen highlighter to add radiance to your collarbones and the tops of the shoulders in warm weather.

Just remember the golden rule of strobing: only apply the product to the parts of the face that light would naturally hit. Below, discover the best highlighters for the job.

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