If there's one product in the whole world of beauty that really gets me going, it's highlighter. My never-ending pursuit of Jennifer Lopez–level glowy skin is anchored by a solid skincare routine, but there's no denying that highlighter is the glue that holds the whole luminous endeavor together.
It's my firm belief that a good highlighter can be the difference between a good day and a great day, and, in fact, it's one of the only makeup products I still wear consistently. As coincidence would have it, all my co-workers are similarly obsessed, and boy oh boy, do they have some good intel for you.
Since Zoom calls with team Who What Wear almost require sunglasses due to the radiant complexions of everyone from our editor in chief to our fashion and beauty editors, I figured I'd ask my pals to drop their favorites for your viewing pleasure. Here, find the 15 editor-approved highlighters we love most (one of them appears in this list more than once, so you know it's lit) along with photo evidence of their superiority.
Anna LaPlaca, Associate Editor
"I have this duo palette and have come to really love the highlighter side. It's a warm, golden color, so wearing it feels like I just came from the beach—you know, that sun-kissed glow. The fact that it's a cream highlighter is also nice because I've gotten into the habit of applying it not just to my cheekbones but also on my brow bone, the top of my nose, and a little bit right above my upper lip, which I think helps to brighten up my complexion overall. Plus, you know it layers well with the blush."
"This is one of those rare products I really juiced until the last drop. I used to be obsessed with the brand's powder highlighter for years, but making the switch to a cream formula, especially one like this that's packed with hydrating ingredients, really went a long way in helping me achieve a more natural, everyday glow. "
Erin Jahns, Beauty Editor
"Courtney knew the black hole she was throwing me into when she asked us to share our favorite highlighters. I live and die by highlighter. Flat, matte skin is just nottttt my jam, and I have no shame in being noticeably glowy. (And yes, quarantine has really cramped my style in that regard.) However, I've still managed to discover a new favorite highlighter this year, and it's this super-shimmery liquid illuminator from Iconic London. Guys—this stuff is crack. It melts and blends so easily into your skin and just hits the light so damn right. I can barely put it into words except it's truly amazing. And you will immediately understand my loss of speech once you try it! Just be forewarned, you only need a small dose. (Less than a pea-size dollop is usually sufficient for my entire face.) I can't even imagine what would happen if you mixed a pin-size amount into your foundation, but I think it would be epic. "
"Charlotte Tilbury is known as the queen of all things glowy, so it should come as no surprise that her highlighters are truly superb. I'm a hard critic when it comes to liquid or cream formulas since I generally prefer powders, but it would be impossible to do anything short of gush over this wand. Even if I was sick, hungover, and completely sleep deprived, I'm convinced tapping a little bit of this on my face would immediately resurrect me. As a tip, I've found I prefer to dab a little on the back of my hand (a little goes a very long way), dip a damp Beautyblender in, and tap and buff it into my complexion wherever I need some glow. It blends sooo nicely and doesn't slip and slide around your face over the course of the day or night."
"I have literally used this powder highlighter from TheBalm since college (maybe high school?). I honestly can't remember at this point. No matter how many powder (or even liquid) highlighters I try, nothing beats the glowy, ethereal payoff of this compact. It's affordable, which I appreciate, and whenever I get asked what highlighter I'm wearing, it's almost always this one. I have all my friends and family members on a TheBalm highlighter diet—there are a few shades to choose from—and have yet to hear someone say it's anything short of magic."
"Alright, I'm cheating a little bit because, technically, this is a highlighter and blush, but the shimmer and subtle color pop from this duo are too pretty to not include. I've naturally toned down my highlighter use since quarantine started, but I've found myself dusting a little bit of this onto my Cupid's bow, cheekbones, and brow bones almost daily—especially if I want a little extra something-something for my Zoom meetings. I know $84 is steep for a highlighter, but trust me. I wouldn't recommend it if I didn't think it was well worth the investment."
Jasmine Fox-Suliaman, Audience Engagement Editor
"I'm all about embracing the dew without doing too much. And more recently, I've been loving adding a little bit of Nudestix's Magnetic Nude Glimmer Highlighter on in the mornings. It's the perfect amount of extra glow without it being overbearing."
Kat Collings, Editor in Chief
"I will confess I am a highlighter novice. I was always afraid highlighter would look far from natural on me, but this Cle Moonlighter has completely changed my mind. It promises 'shine equivalent to that of moonlight glistening on water,' and while my mermaid, moonlight vibe is still a work in progress, I love how it added an extra something to my beauty look. I'll also note that the shimmer is super fine, landing this on the more subtle end of the highlighter spectrum. Win!"
Allyson Payer, Senior Editor
"I love an easy-to-use highlighter, and this one truly doesn't get easier. It has some pigment to it, so I even skip blush sometimes when wearing it. The sponge applicator tip helps to keep me from overdoing it on the glow and is perfect for dabbing at the inner corners of the eyes. Lastly, it's super blendable and not overly glittery, so you can get away with wearing it during the day."
Courtney Higgs, Associate Beauty Editor
"I'm hopelessly devoted to cream and gel highlighters, but this pressed powder quartet is one I'll never quit. It's the freakin' best, and I'll tell you why. First of all, the four different shades make for such versatility. You can tailor the highlight to match the vibe of your makeup so easily. Plus, swirling your brush around to pick up a little bit of every shade makes for the dreamiest, most beautifully complex glow you've ever seen. I'm about to hit pan on this guy, and I will absolutely be ordering another one well before I run out."
"This highlighter gloss isn't for the faint of heart. There's nothing subtle about it, and that why I love it so much. A little goes an extremely long way—I'm talking a quarter of a pump here. Just dot the product along your cheekbones and get ready to blind anyone who crosses your path. To tone it down, apply it under your foundation or translucent perfecting powder for a more lit-from-within look."
"If ever I find myself living the life of an international pop star à la Fenty Beauty boss Rihanna, I'd write a song about this highlighter stick. It's perfect for imparting a sun-kissed, glowy look on the cheekbones, but it also works as an eye shadow and even as a glimmering topper on your lipstick. Rihanna's longtime makeup artist Priscilla Ono gave me the pro tip to always rub the stick onto the back of my hand and then pick up the warmed product from there to apply to my face. Genius."
"L'Oréal always comes in clutch with trusty products that are cheap yet effective. This is one of those gems. It's great on its own, but I especially love mixing it into my foundation to fake that 'I just got back from a beach vacation' glow."
Michaela Bushkin, Senior Editor
"I only started using highlighter a few years ago, but I became a quick superfan. It's a can't-skip step in my daily makeup routine now—when I'm actually wearing makeup, that is. I've tried at least a dozen different ones, but my favorite is actually a drugstore buy, Neutrogena's Hydro Boost Illuminator. I love it for three main reasons: I can apply it with my fingers, it's less than $10, and the formula provides more of a glow than an overly sparkly shimmer. I switch off between the Sandstone and Rose Gold shades, but you really can't go wrong."
Sarah Yang, Managing Editor of THE/THIRTY
"As someone who isn't the most skilled when it comes to makeup, this palette is a total win. It has everything I need to contour and highlight my face and leaves little room for Sarah error! Whenever I put it on, I look and feel extra glowy and confident without seeming too overdone or not myself. You can layer on as little or as much as you want depending on the mood/vibe you're going for. Sometimes, I skip the contouring part and just use the highlighting powder when I want a little bit of a shimmery glow. Plus, it's compact, so it's easy to travel with or sneak into a smaller makeup bag."
Judith Jones, Market Editor
"I live for a dewy glow! There is an embarrassing number of highlighters and luminizers on my vanity! One of my absolute favorites I wear day-to-day is Palladio's Glowing Creamy Stick Luminizer (in Stunner). Enriched with ginseng and aloe vera, it glides onto my skin beautifully and leaves the perfect subtle, natural glow. Not bad for it's $8 price tag!"