No-breakout makeup: liquid highlighter

The best liquid highlighter drops from the drugstore to Sephora

Stephanie Papanikolas Avatar

Stephanie Papanikolas
Mar 26, 2020 · 4 min read

We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

It’s time to put away your strobing powders and fan brushes — from here on out, liquid highlighters are the way to glow. These bottled shimmers are super popular and super versatile — they work for everybody, from makeup minimalists to full-on glamazons. I analyzed the ingredients of all the liquid highlighters from drugstore and luxury brands to find the best ones without pore-clogging or irritating ingredients. Here’s what I learned!

How to apply liquid highlighter

Even if you’ve got your powder highlighter application down, liquid is a different rodeo. Here’s how — and where — to apply your liquid highlight.

Option 1: Dab onto the high points of your face like your cheekbones, the tip of your nose, and the center of your forehead. Apply a small amount with your fingers — a little goes a long way!

Option 2: Mix into your foundation or tinted moisturizer. Then, apply with a damp beauty blender (just wet it and squeeze the water out) all over the face. If you have dry skin, this is a good way to get a glowy-all-over look.

Option 3: Use as a base underneath your tinted moisturizer or foundation. First, use your fingers to apply it all over the face like a moisturizer. Next, let it set for about 10 minutes before applying other makeup on top.

The best drugstore liquid highlighter drops

Sleek MakeUP Highlighting Elixir

These highly pigmented highlight drops are infused with crushed pearls and jojoba oil to help your skin glow from the inside out. With a simple, fragrance-free formula, it’s ideal for sensitive skin. It comes in 3 warm toned shades for a bronzey finish.

$9.00 for 0.27 oz via Ulta.

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The best liquid highlighter drops of luxury beauty

Flesh Ripe Flesh Glisten Drops

With gelled water and mica pearls, these versatile drops can be added to other products or used alone to achieve an illuminated look. This fragrance-free formula is also packed with moisturizing ingredients, making it a great pick for dry skin.

$28.00 for 0.6 oz via Flesh Beauty

The best drugstore liquid highlighter

Revlon SkinLights Face Glow Illuminator

While this new product hasn’t been totally vetted by beauty influencers yet, the formula says it all! Not only is it fragrance-free and non-comedogenic, but it also has dimethicone as a main ingredient, which means it’s a 3-in-1 product that can be used as a highlighter, primer, and moisturizing base.

$11.99 for 1.0 oz via Ulta

The best liquid highlighter of luxury beauty

Anastasia Beverly Hills Liquid Glow Highlighter

If luxury is what you want, this liquid highlighter by Anastasia is one of the most highly rated of all time. In 4 shades with a shimmery finish, this high-impact formula really shines when used in a full-coverage pancake face. For a more natural look, use just a tiny bit and blend thoroughly.

$25.00 for 0.68 oz via Sephora

The best highlighting concealer

Wet n’ Wild Illumi-Naughty Highlighting and Concealing Pen

Does it get more versatile than a liquid highlighter that doubles as a concealer? If you want to brighten your under eyes without doing a full-coverage makeup look, highlighting concealers are a great option. Plus, you can use it like a regular concealer or highlighter on other parts of the face.

$4.99 for 0.05 oz via Ulta

The best liquid highlighter for body and face

Dior Backstage Face & Body Glow

Love to glow all over? Then don’t stop with highlighter on your face — this body highlighter by Dior can bring an elegant shimmer to your body, too. Use it on your legs, shoulders, and clavicle — in one universal shade, this highlight will give you a natural sheen, from your head to your feet.

$38.00 for 1.6 oz via Sephora

Whether full glam is your daily go-to or you like to just slap on some sunscreen and get out the door, a gentle skincare routine sets your face up for success. Sign up for a free month of Curology and see what custom skincare can do for you — just pay $4.95 (plus tax) to cover shipping and handling.

Stephanie Papanikolas Avatar

Stephanie Papanikolas

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