Contouring & Highlighting 101 - Favorite Highlighters

06 August 2012

I AM ON A BLOGGING ROLL RIGHT NOW. And it feels so good. I think sometimes you just need breaks...or in my case a hibernation cycle or something. Anyway, I'm getting back into the game. This is a part of my little mini series on contouring and highlighting and this post is on the highlighting products that I like.

It ranges from all different price ranges and a lot of these products are not actually meant to be highlighters but I use them as such anyway. I didn't swatch any of the products in any of these "favorite" posts because, well, I'm lazy and also these are cheek products and not eye shadows and a super sheer swatch does not necessarily mean the product would be sheer when applied to your face! That, and, uh, I'm lazy. Some of these products might have reviews, and if they do, I will link to them.

This is picture-heavy and will still be pretty long, so let's get this show on the road!


Contouring/Highlighting 101 -- Favorite Blushes -- Favorite Bronzers




  • MAC Magically Cool Liquid Powder in "Cajun": This stuff is definitely interesting. It's 70% water, so when you apply it on your face, it sort of feels like a cream or a liquid. That it and does feel cool. I got mine from the Venomous Villains collection but this is now a permanent item. It has a definite sheen to it and it is way too light for me to use as a bronzer, but it's a nice golden highlighter. Plus this product just feels cool. Stupid reason to buy a product, haha, but I'm a sucker for gimmicks! I'm not super fond of loose products, so I don't reach for this a ton, but I like it! $30 from MAC.
  • Physicians Formula Healthy Wear™ SPF 50 Bronzer in "Medium": Another bronzer that is way too light and shimmery to be a decent bronzer for my tastes. This is a decent enough bronzy highlight though. I got this as part of a BOGOF and if you wear bronzer as an over-all type thing and not just as a contour, this product could be cool for you as well because of the super high SPF! Which is always a good thing. It's also paraben free and hypoallergenic. I don't use bronzer over my whole face and even if I did, this is still way too light for me. It's not going to show up like a super glitzy highlight, but I do like it and get some use out of this product, especially during the summer! It is kind of pricy though so I would definitely wait until there is a sale or if you find it as a BOGOF. $14.95 at Physicians Formula.
  • Milani Baked Bronzer in "Glow": I'm not quite sure why I purchased this, to be entirely honest. I knew going into it that I hated shimmery bronzers - and this one is borderline glittery. It's so pretty though, and it's a GREAT golden highlight. I'm not sure if anyone would want to use this shade as a highlighter though. It's a typical baked product in appearance and also in format - you can use this wet or dry. So if you wanted a really intense glow going on, just dampen your brush and swipe away. I can't say too much about this as an all-over bronzer but it is a gorgeous golden highlighter. Out of the three bronzers pseudo highlighters, I like this one the absolute best. You can also use it as an eyeshadow too, haha. $8.99 at Milani.
  • Hard Candy Blush Crush Baked Blush in "Honeymoon": So we had the "bronzers masquerading as highlighters", now I have one blush. This is another baked product from the brand Hard Candy, which is only sold at Walmart. I purchased this a while ago and it looks great but it was so light that there was just no way I could use this as a blush. Baked products usually have a ton of shimmer to them and this blush is no different. But damn if this doesn't make a great highlighter. Out of all of the highlighting products I have, this is probably my favorite drugstore one. If I ever thought I would run out, this would be the only drugstore product I'd run to repurchase on this list. $7 at Walmart.
  • Happy Booster™ Glow & Mood Boosting Powder in "Translucent": Moving onto a couple of powders that claim to be finishing or setting powders. Okay, I just want to throw it out there that I have huge pores. They're big and noticeable and I sometimes get paranoid that people can see them miles away, like craters on the moon. So the last thing I want to do is apply a shimmery, glittery face powder...all over my face. Not only that, but I'm pretty oily. So, again, don't want something that is going to add an all-over glow, ya know? As a setting powder, this product is a huge fail. But as a highlighter, A+! It's a nice beige highlighter and looks surprisingly natural as a highlight. Plus I love the way it smells. Whether or not this product actually makes me straight up happy...well...$13.95 at Physicians Formula.
  • Revlon PhotoReady™ Translucent Finisher: Here's another product that is supposed to be used as a setting powder. You can actually see the chunks of glitter in this product. I know a lot of people had complained about the foundation, which I had actually really enjoyed since the glitter never really showed up for me, but this product is visible. If it didn't contain the glitter chunks, I'd probably really like it as a setting powder. HOWEVER it does make a really nice highlighter, because it's so bloody glittery and all. I don't think I had really tried that when I initially purchased and reviewed it but I have been using it as such lately w/ great effect. I think it helps that it's summer and I've tanned a bit because it makes this powder show up a little lighter now. $12 - $14 at Revlon.
  • L'Oréal True Match™ Foundation in "W-1 Porcelain": Okay, so I've now talked about bronzers that actually make pretty highlighers, a blush that I prefer as a highlighter, and then finishing powders that make good highlighters. And now I have one foundation. Overall, this particular foundation is a good standard foundation if you don't need it to do anything super special. It's not that great if you have oily skin or super dry skin but if you're just blending it into specific areas it can work rather sportingly. This was one of the first drugstore foundation lines to carry a multitude of shades - I mentioned one of the darker foundations in my contouring products favs. If you don't want a super shimmery or glittery highlight or if you're afraid it won't come off looking natural, this type of product will work well. Or buy a matte white eyeshadow. I used to use this stuff quite a lot but I have a couple of highlighters that I love and this one is kind of on the back burner. I still reach for it in the wintertime though - sometimes my skin is too dry to handle tons of powder! This foundation is about $9 at drugstores.
  • NARS Highlighting BLush in "Albatross": So let's talk about ACTUAL highlighters. Yes, technically this is classified as a blush, but it is most obviously a highlighter. It's a slightly off-white powder w/ a golden sheen to it. I fucking love this stuff. Being Asian and having yellow undertones means that pink-toned highlighters can sometimes look weird on my skin. Golden ones tend to be more flattering and the best part about this product is that the golden sheen is just that - a sheen. It's so finely milled that it doesn't even show up at all like a shimmer...it's that lit from within candlelight glow product for me, personally, and I adore this. Go figure, my favorite highlighter would be the NARS product. Ugh. $28 from NARS.
  • On the top - Smashbox Photo Op Under Eye Brightener; on the bottom - Benefit "Moon Beam": These are both cream/liquid highlighters. The Smashbox one was my favorite highlighting product for a long time...probably around a year and a half. Again, it's got that lit from within sort of glow to it but no actual shimmer. It really dos help brighten up the under eye area, but I really liked using it as a cheekbone highlight because it was subtle and natural looking but still packed a punch. $19 at Smashbox. Moon Beam is quite nice as well...I do like it, but it's more an iridescent sheen as opposed to a warm one and can sometimes look a bit overdone. That being said, it's still a stellar product and I definitely recommend checking it out! Plus it appears to be on sale right now for $16.99 at Benefit. I don't know if this means it's being discontinued or what but it's normally $26.
  • Hard Candy Glow Away Bronzer/Highlight Duo in "Tahti" (on the left) and "Bora Bora" (on the right): Here's another product that is actually meant to be a highlighting product...although it DOES come w/ that fail!bronzer on the other end. This product comes in three shades total and I have the medium and the deep one and neither of those bronzers are dark enough to be a decent contour or bronzer. "Bora Bora" isn't HORRIBLE, they do contain shimmer which is noticeable on the face so I actually just use these things as highlighters. Originally I had just planned on getting the deepest one, but the highlight side on the medium shade is really interesting - it's a lavender tone w/ pink swirls. I don't think I've really ever noticed a lavender highlighting product before! This is a cream highlighter and the bronzer sides still leave a decent glow, so I can actually say that this product is worth checking out. $6 at Walmart.

Finally, these are either products that aren't available everywhere or mostly products that have been discontinued. I'm still including them in my list of favorite highlighters because you can still find these products in dollars stores and the like or on clearance in your local stores!


If you have a Meijer grocery store near you (basically, if you live in the midwestern part of the States, you should have access to the Studio M line. It's the house brand of cosmetics for Meijer and the baked products are really nice. This is a super standard beige highlight and I'm sure tons of brands have something comparable. I love this highlighter though. I think it was about $9 dollars. It's just called "Highlighter".


This is a random finishing mineral powder from Revlon. I owned it before and ended up giving it away because I had tried to use it as an actual finishing powder. It never occurred to me to try it as a highlight! It has swirls of pink, bu it shows up on the skin like an icy silver. I actually get a fair amount of use out of it now. It's just called "Brighten".


This was a LE Maybelline product that I did a review on here so I'm not going to ramble on about this too much. I still get use out of this product! It's called "Blissful Pink".


This is another Maybelline product. It's from the Mineral Power line and it's just the illuminator product. I think it's called "Nude". I just discovered that this shade has been discontinued (go figure). However it's still being sold in stores near me, so I don't think it's been discontinued for that long and you could probably still find it.

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