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The best liquid highlighter for your spring glow-up

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Liquid highlighters are a beauty lover's favorite

With the large range of highlighters available, selecting the right one for you can be a daunting task. In your search for the best, you should be sure to consider ingredients, finish, color and your skin tone. We assembled a collection of the best liquid highlighter options in the makeup industry. 

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What to know before you buy a liquid highlighter


If you have sensitive skin or are concerned about having a reaction to your liquid highlighter, checking the ingredients is a great place to start. Harsh formulas or chemicals can easily cause your skin to break out or have a reaction. Synthetic fragrances, parabens, sulfates and mineral oil can all cause allergies and should be avoided in cosmetic products when possible. 

You should also consider applying a moisturizer and hydrating makeup primer before putting on your highlighter or other makeup products, as this will create a barrier between the makeup and your skin. 

Skin tone

In order to create the glow and shine that highlighter is known and loved for, it is essential to choose the right shade for your skin tone. A highlighter that is too light for your skin tone will appear washed out and unflattering, but a highlighter that’s too dark will simply disappear into your foundation. If you are looking to add a natural glow to your makeup, you should choose a highlighter around two shades lighter than your skin tone.

What to look for in a quality liquid highlighter


Liquid highlighters come in a variety of colors and undertones for different skin tones and makeup looks, including rose, gold, bronze and champagne. If you have a lighter skin tone, a highlighter with rose, champagne or peach undertones will work best. For medium skin tones, you should look for a liquid highlighter with gold undertones. Deep gold or bronze highlighters are best if you have a darker skin tone.


Liquid highlighters come with a range of finishes to create different makeup looks. If you want to add a natural shine to brighten your makeup, you should choose a highlighter with a matte or glitter-free finish. To create a dramatic or bold look, choose a bright or glitter-heavy highlighter.

How much you can expect to spend on a liquid highlighter

Liquid highlighters vary in price depending on brand, finish and ingredients, but you can generally expect to pay $6 to $45 for a high-quality product.

Liquid highlighter FAQ

Should liquid highlighter be applied before or after foundation?

A. Although this may vary between specific products, liquid highlighters can generally be applied either before and after foundation depending on the look you want to achieve. For a subtle, all-over shine, mix a small amount of your liquid highlighter with your liquid foundation before applying it as your base. If you prefer a bolder or more targeted highlight, apply your liquid highlighter after your foundation.

Where should you apply liquid highlighter?

A. Highlighter should be applied to the areas of your face that naturally catch the light. Apply your highlighter above your cheekbones to make your face appear lifted and youthful. Lining your highlighter down the bridge of your nose will create a more defined appearance. To accentuate your eyes, put two small dots of highlighter in the inner corners and in the center of your eyelids.

Can you use a liquid highlighter if you wear a powder foundation?

A. For the best results, you should stay consistent with the form of products you are using. Liquid highlighter is made to be used with liquid foundation. If you are using a powder foundation, you should choose a powder highlighter; a liquid formula will move and wipe off your foundation during application. 

Best liquid highlighter picks

Rare Beauty Positive Light Liquid Luminizer

What you need to know: This highlighter creates a soft luminous look. It is available in eight shades and has a radiant shimmer finish.

What you’ll love: The Rare Beauty liquid highlighter is made without sulfates SLS and SLES, parabens, formaldehydes, phthalates, mineral oil and retinol palmitate. It is also vegan and cruelty-free. It is easy to build and layer for a dramatic look.

What you should consider: It is heavy on the glitter, and some users didn’t like the sticky texture.

NYX Born To Glow Liquid Illuminator

What you need to know: Born To Glow is a versatile, buildable highlighter with moisturizing elements. It is available in four shades with a creamy shimmer finish. It is vegan and cruelty-free.

What you’ll love: It can be mixed with foundation for an all-over glow, or you can opt for a targeted application to give you a dramatic shine.

What you should consider: This NYX liquid highlighter contains a lot of glitter. 

Ilia Liquid Light Serum Highlighter

What you need to know: This gel-based serum highlighter is available in three shades and has a radiant dewy finish.

What you’ll love: This Ilia highlighter includes natural botanicals and marine actives to hydrate your skin and protect against free radicals and ultraviolet light. It is vegan and free of parabens, sulfates SLS and SLES, formaldehydes, phthalates and mineral oil.

What you should consider: Some users reported that they found this highlighter hard to blend.

Charlotte Tilbury Beauty Highlighter Wand

What you need to know: This Charlotte Tilbury liquid highlighter comes in radiant and shimmer finishes, and is available in seven shades. 

What you’ll love: You can use this product as a highlighter or blush. It's cruelty-free and contains no parabens, formaldehyde, phthalates or sulfates. It has a nice blurring effect that helps hide imperfections. 

What you should consider: It's on the pricey end when it comes to liquid highlighters. 

e.l.f. Halo Glow Highlight Beauty Wand

What you need to know: The affordable e.l.f. liquid highlighter comes in champagne, gold and rose gold finishes. 

What you’ll love: This liquid highlighter is vegan, cruelty-free and infused with hydrating squalane. 

What you should consider: Some users report that the formula is not long-wearing.

Iconic London Illuminator Liquid Highlight

What you need to know: The Iconic London liquid highlighter has a radiant, high-shine finish and comes in three shades.

What you’ll love: It's a vegan formula with a variety of skin-healthy ingredients, including green tea that's rich in antioxidants, soothing chamomile and nourishing vitamin E.

What you should consider: It's on the expensive end for liquid highlighters.

L'Oreal Paris Makeup True Match Lumi Glotion

What you need to know: This budget-friendly L'Oreal highlighter comes in five shades with a subtle glowy finish. 

What you’ll love: This drugstore liquid highlighter is formulated with hydrating glycerin and shea butter. 

What you should consider: Users with oily skin don't like the product.

Dior Forever Glow Maximizer Longwear Liquid Highlighter

What you need to know: This Dior liquid highlighter has a radiant finish, and is available in seven shades. 

What you’ll love: You can use it as a highlighter, blush or bronzer. The formula is hydrating and long-wearing.

What you should consider: It's the most high-end product on the list with a price tag to match. 

Prices listed reflect time and date of publication and are subject to change.

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