When “strobing” first became a thing, I had no interest. I have a giant moon face and love to contour in order to fake some bone structure. While it was big in the makeup world, I saw few people try to recreate it in real life but what it did lead to was an increased interest in highlighting. That I could approve of. My Instagram feed was full of wet looking, blindingly bright, shiny cheekbones and I needed them for myself. Thus an obsession began. So today I have compiled my top highlighters of the moment to let you know how they perform, why I love them and how they compare to each other!
theBalm Mary-Lou Manizer
Mary-Lou is described as a honey-hued luminizer that diffuses light while adding a subtle glow. It is a cult favourite and one for the brave as it has a very full-on sheen to it despite what theBalm say. The yellow-tone does not lean too dark, even on my fairer than fair complexion and I could imagine it adding a gorgeous warm glow to those who are medium or darker skinned too.
The packaging is really cute with a click-close compact illustrated with a picture of the Mary-Lou character. theBalm does good packaging and despite the cartoon picture, this feels vintage-inspired rather than childish. There are two other shades available; Cindy-Lou Manizer which is a peachy-pink and Betty-Lou Manizer, a sun-kissed bronzing highlighter. theBalm have also recently released a small palette called The Manizer Sisters containing all three for €28.
All swatch photos feature one swipe of product to show pigmentation and then a built-up swatch to show colour.
Formula-wise, it is quite dense as opposed to light and powdery and at times feels almost wet despite being a pressed product. I have heard several people’s accounts of this smashing easily although thankfully, I haven’t experienced it myself (yet!) but it is definitely something to bear in mind. The pigmentation is strong from the first swipe and it is simple to layer it up to shiny robot levels if that is what you’re after.
Essence Merry Berry Highlighter – 01 I Love My Golden Pumps
This limited edition highlighting powder from Essence’s Christmas collection is described as having a light, powdery texture and a subtle golden shimmer for a beautiful glow. I instantly fell in love with the design when I saw this but I didn’t expect the product to impress me as much as it did. The shine is relatively strong and buildable to boot and although it doesn’t reach wet-look levels like some of the other contenders, it still adds a beautiful glow.
The packaging on this is lightweight plastic which I am not a fan of. For the low price point, I can’t complain too much but this is never going to be confused with something high end. What is stunning are the embossed stars that make up the highlight themselves. This is so pretty and festive that I just love looking at it and was even hesitant to use it at first for fear of damaging the design. It is only available in one shade but it is a good one – a pale white gold that looks glorious on my skin tone.
As Essence claim, the formula is a lightweight powder and because you can barely feel it on the skin, I was surprised by the pay off. It is buildable but as I said, you won’t be seen from space with this one. It is probably more suitable for those who like something a little more subtle like a lit from within glow.
You get 9g of product for €4.09 which is an incredible price point and definitely worth picking up if you’re into highlighters even a fraction. As I already mentioned, it is limited edition so I would urge you to pick it up as soon as possible. Essence is available in many pharmacies and Penneys stores.
Mac Mineralize Skinfinish – Soft & Gentle
This is described as a gilded peach bronze with a 77-mineral complex to highlight face and body. This is definitely a cult favourite and one that had been on my wishlist for a very long time. Any photographs online where the highlighter caught my eye seemed to credit this product. It became an obsession of mine and eventually I picked it up in Duty Free on my way to Prague in August. While this leans warmer than the others in this post and would be incredible on medium to dark skin, I still think I can get away with it on my light complexion, particularly blended with blush. There are four other shades available; Lightscapade which is a soft candlelit beige with multidimensional shimmer, Global Glow – a neutral tan with silver sheen, Cheeky Bronze which is a soft coral with golden shimmer and a soft reflective golden-bronze called Gold Deposit. Mac also regularly release other limited edition shades.
The packaging is a black compact with a clear panel to showcase the colour inside. It has a magnetic closure and is sturdy enough that I would have no fear of it falling open in my makeup bag. The product is dome-shaped and features stunning swirls and veins of golds and peaches.
The formula of this feels almost wet to the touch like Mary-Lou but it kicks up quite a lot of dust when you put your brush in it. At first I had a love-hate relationship with this product. Because it kicks up so much powder in the pan, I always imagined that it looked bitty and glittery on my skin but it was all in my head. This just adds a gorgeous golden glow. I also wasn’t impressed with the shine level, thinking it always looked more intense in the photos I saw online. Then I realised that it just needed to be built up and now I adore it.
You get 10g of product for €31 and it is available from Brown Thomas or Mac stores.
Makeup Revolution Vivid Baked Highlighter – Golden Lights
This is described as a unique formulation and shape of product – in pretty dodgy English despite the brand being based in London. It is a white-gold shade which is absolutely ideal for my fair skin but may not suit those who are much darker. I picked this up on a whim because I hadn’t tried anything from the brand before and it looked pretty. What surprised me was how hard I fell for it. There are two other shades available; Peach Lights and Pink Lights.
The packaging is a similar cheap plastic to the Essence release and it comes in at a similar price point. The product itself is also patterned although I’m not entirely sure what it is meant to look like. It reminds me a little of a seashell and it is pretty to look at.
This is quite powdery in texture and kicks up quite a bit of dust in the pan but when applied to the skin, it melds pretty seamlessly and doesn’t look cheap and obvious. The colour is stunning and the sheen is medium but buildable. So buildable, in fact, that you can reach crazy intense levels. My only issue is that it fades throughout the day. This one is perfect for those new to highlighting who want to experiment without splurging.
Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed – Moonstone and Champagne Pop
These are described as creamy powder luminizers like gemstones in a compact. They claim to be a unique blend of pigments with liquid binders for a creamy application. Moonstone is named a pale gold which is pretty accurate. Champagne Pop is labelled a soft white-gold with pinky peach undertones and is a limited edition shade in collaboration with YouTuber Jaclyn Hill. There are several others in the range; Opal which is a golden opal pearl, Topaz which is a golden bronze pearl as well as Rose Gold, Champagne Gold and Pearl which are pretty self explanatory although all of these seem to be available on different websites so it is hard to know what is limited edition, discontinued etc.
The packaging on these are my favourite. The product is housed in an unusual sleek silver compact with a black rubber outer ring and a satisfying click closure. It resembles a space ship in my opinion and is definitely the sturdiest on the list.
They aren’t wrong about the formula. This feels silky smooth to the touch and melds into the skin like no other. This offer serious illumination that is showstopping. Moonstone is perfect on my fair skin although from what I have seen online Opal is a very popular shade for those with a skin tone even slightly darker than mine.
Champagne Pop also works on my skin tone but I would imagine it would suit those with a medium skin tone even more. These also have the greatest wear time of the five lasting all day and looking as intense as the moment I apply them for the duration. I am in love. Pearl is definitely next on my wish list.
Even when broken down into price per gram, Becca’s Skin Perfector is the most expensive at €5.37 per gram while Essence’s offering wins the award for cheapest at 45 cent per gram.
However, choosing my favourite is simple with Becca reigning supreme. When they talk about a unique formula, they aren’t lying. This glides on to the skin, shines so brightly all day and gives me the most noteworthy highlight. It won’t be for you if you prefer a subtle glow but if you want a shine like you see on Instagram, you’re going to need it. If your budget won’t stretch, any one of the other four highlighters mentioned are worth picking up.
What’s your favourite highlighter?
Have you tried any of these?
Disclaimer: The Essence Merry Berry Highlighter was sent to me as a PR sample. I am under no obligation to mention it on my blog and it does not affect my opinion of the product in any way.
No affiliate links were used.