The Best Highlighters for Every Budget

06 September 2015

Hi lovelies! I don't know if any of you have heard, but strobing is kind of a big deal right now. Lately, it seems like every cosmetics line out there is coming out with their own highlighting product. With so many options out there, it can be a bit daunting to find the perfect highlighter.

Luckily, I've done the work for you! Over the past couple of years, I have tested out nearly every highlighting product on the market. From $3 bargains to $45 splurges, read on for all of my top picks.

theBalm Mary-Lou Manizer ($24)
Although I hate to play favorites, I think this may be my holy grail highlighter. Mary-Lou Manizer is a gorgeous shimmering champagne with a hint of gold. It is so creamy and pigmented, that even the lightest swipe of a brush will give a serious glow.

Wet n Wild Fergie To Reflect Shimmer Palette in Rose Champagne Glow ($6)
This massive highlighting powder weighs in at .4 oz of shimmery goodness. Although the shade is called Rose Champagne, it is one of the most purely pink highlighters I have tried. I like to use this highlighter over matte blushes to give the apples of my cheeks a fresh look.

Manna Kadar Sheer Glo Shimmer Lotion ($34)
If powder highlighters aren't your thing, Sheer Glo is a fantastic liquid option. Unlike some liquid highlighters, this formula is simply luminous— never glittery. Try mixing it with your foundation for a gorgeous lit-from-within glow.

e.l.f. Studio Baked Highlighter in Moonlight Pearl ($3)
This was one of the first highlighters I ever purchased, so it always holds a special place in my heart makeup drawer. Unlike Mary-Lou Manizer, this baked highlight goes on light and sheer. This makes it great for everyday wear, but probably not ideal for those that like a dramatic glow. However, at three dollars, this is a great option for anyone on a tight budget.

Stila All Over Shimmer Duo in Kitten ($22)
Those of you that have been with me since the beginning know how deep my Kitten obsession goes. Although I don't love this shimmer duo quite as much as the iconic Kitten eyeshadow, it is still a beautiful product. The color is a very soft beige-pink unlike any other you'll find on the market. It's smooth, subtle, and perfect for lighter skin tones.

Hard Candy So Baked Bronzer in Tiki ($9)
No, I promise I'm not confused. This "bronzer" is so light and shimmery that it doubles as a highlight for most skin tones. The best part? Tiki is a near-perfect dupe for Mary-Lou Manizer. The only real difference is that Tiki is not quite as creamy and pigmented. You'll need a couple of extra swipes if you really want to pack on that shimmer.

Chella Highlighter in Ivory Lace ($18)
If you've been there, done that with traditional highlighters, this pencil is a great alternative. I like to use Ivory Lace below my brows, down the bridge of my nose, on my cupid's bow, and any other small places where I want to add light.

Estée Lauder 5-Tone Shimmer Powder in 02 Bronze Shimmer ($45)
While this shimmer powder is a bit of a splurge (and a bit difficult to track down), it is one of the best I have found. Use the lightest shade for the most intense highlight, or swirl together all five colors for a beautiful bronze glow.

Now that I've shared all of my favorite highlighters, I want to hear all about yours! Share your holy grails in the comments below, or tweet me @SarahBreden!


  1. the NYX illuminator is my favorite!!

    1. I'll have to try that one! Thanks Christina!

  2. Mary-Lou Manizer is my favorite, as well as Lorac Spotlight... it's definitely more subtle than the first, but still beautiful. I keep seeing good things about Hard Candy Tiki, so I think I need to pick it up!

  3. Hmmm, I don't yet own a Balm lumizer, though one day it is an obvious must. But I definitely need to try that Hard Candy one! Until recently, when I finally branched out and tried some new ones, including Becca, I only used Physicians Formula highlighters (not the new nude ones though), they've always been my go to for amazing quality highlighters :)

  4. it was a little bit of a splurge for me but Becca's Champagne Pop has been my holy grail. I've been trying for years to find the perfect highlight for my pale skin and it's PERFECT.


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