9 of the best cream and liquid highlighters money can buy
By Briar Clark
BEAUTYcrew Beauty Editor / February 08 2023
When it comes to highlighter, illuminator and everything radiance-enhancing, we have a tendency to gravitate towards cream and liquid formulations.
Because when it comes to creating an ethereal, otherworldly glow, nothing beats a moisture-rich formula — it’s our hack for imitating glass skin.
Want to join us in radiating a bioluminescent-level glow? Here are 10 cream and liquid formulations that’ll remind you just why you love highlighter so damn much.
Charlotte Tilbury Beauty Light Wand
Beloved by all, the Charlotte Tilbury Beauty Light Wand has its own dedicated sub-section of BeautyTok for good reason. Said to bestow a red carpet-worthy glow upon all who apply it, this pick is a go-to for celebrity makeup artists during awards season. If you’re about to stand in front of a camera, you’re going to want to have this on your face.
$60 at Charlotte Tilbury
FENTY BEAUTY Eaze Drop'Lit All-Over Glow Illuminator
After a liquid highlighter that’s subdued enough to wear in even the stuffiest of offices? Intended to be applied all over the face for a subtle boost of radiance, this illuminator can be layered under makeup or mixed into base products for a soft ambient glow.
$52 at Sephora
PAT MCGRATH LABS Skin Fetish Highlighter & Balm Duo
Pat McGrath may have a reputation for creating some of the best runway makeup looks the world has ever seen, but this handy 2-in-1 highlighter duo is actually a favourite of celebrity makeup artist Mary Phillips. Phillips used the radiance-enhancing formula in the shade ‘Golden’ to create luminous red carpet looks for both Hailey Bieber and Addison Rae at the 2021 Met Gala. Formulated with aloe, argan oil and hyaluronic acid, the highlighter imparts a natural dew that’s only further amplified by light-refracting pigments, while the balm adds a healthy sheen to skin where needed.
$81 at Sephora
RARE BEAUTY Positive Light Liquid Luminizer
An utterly weightless pick to be sure, Selena’s gone and done it again with this one. We’re talking an infusion of moisture and glow-boosting lotus, gardenia, and white waterlily and light-reflecting pearl particles that impart a radiant, dewy glow. Just in time for spring too? How convenient.
$44 at Sephora
Flavedo & Albedo High Glow
That strobe-level glow doesn’t have to come at the cost of compromised ethics with Flavedo & Albedo, who’re committed to a plastic-free kind of beauty. The pay off? An uber buttery-mousse texture that makes blending a dream thanks to a formula rich in natural hydrators and antioxidants, leaving skin with a hydrated, dewy radiance that lasts all day.
$44 at Sephora
Giorgio Armani Neo Nude A-Highlight
If you after that no-makeup makeup look then you can’t go past this water-based pick from Giorgio Armani, which effortlessly blends into skin for a watercolor finish. Plus, if you’re a bit wary of a liquid highlighter because of the mess you might cause, this pick promises a mistake-proof application every time. Don’t worry, you got this.
$69 at Adore Beauty
Westman Atelier Lit Up Highlight Stick
If glass skin could be packaged and sold, then we suspect it’d look a lot like the Westman Atelier Lit Up Highlight Stick. Think a sheeny glow that looks almost holographic in the right lighting – subtle but impactful. The fact that the formula also happens to be full of skin-loving, vegan-friendly ingredients that help to stimulate hyaluronic acid and collagen production is just an added bonus TBH.
$80 at MECCA
By Terry Brightening CC Serum
Beautiful on it’s own, under makeup or on top of the igh points of the face, this versatile, skin care-infused formula delivers a potent cocktail of complexion-perfecting ingredients. Optical glow technology creates a blurring, unifying effect on skin, while rose stem cells boost radiance and provide antioxidant protection.
$126 at MECCA
HOURGLASS Vanish™ Flash Highlighting Stick
Hourglass’ entire stick format range is to die for and their highlighting stick is no exception, delivering blendable, buttery wear with just a few swipes. Hollow microspheres are responsible for the weightless and effortless lustrous glow you’ll be touting post-application.
$76 at MECCA
Yves Saint Laurent Touche Éclat
We can’t talk about liquid highlighters without chatting about the OG in the category – can the real Yves Saint Laurent Touche Éclat please stand up? The iconic gold pen is formulated to minimise the appearance of dark circles, fine lines and signs of fatigue, as well as imparting skin with a subtle, radiance-enhancing glow that adds the brightness back into any makeup look.
$72 at Adore Beauty
Briar is the Beauty Editor at BEAUTYcrew. Her 'down for anything' attitude has resulted in more than a handful of hair transformations, and she doesn't mind being used as a guinea pig for the industry's most unusual products and treatments. Her work has also appeared on Refinery29, Girlfriend and beautyheaven.