These Prismatic Illuminators Prove You Can Highlight With Any and Every Color

Step away from the champagne highlighters.
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Publish date:
June 10, 2016
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Highlighting is my favorite part of my beauty routine because a bit of glow looks great on everyone, can be worn bare-faced or with full face of makeup, and is hard to screw up. A good highlighter is versatile, easy, and flattering, as all beauty products should be.

The good news is that everyone is finally on the highlighting train with me because everywhere you look, another one of the big brands is dropping a new highlighter. 2016 is the year I've been waiting for. It's time to shine! It feels like people are finally softening up on the contouring and focusing more on bringing their best features forward with a little bit of gleam.

The bad news is that I'm sick to death of seeing the same shades over and over. Don't get me wrong, champagne and gold illuminators are great, but we can do more! Give me a lavender! Give me a pink! People are taking beauty risks left and right so I can't understand why we're seeing the same products with nothing brighter to take our glow to the next level.

I've been looking for brighter highlight colors and, since so few are being made, I'm just going to have to improvise. I rounded up my five favorite highlighters that will give you more than just a champagne sheen. Some are traditional highlighters, some are repurposed as such, but all of them are going to give you a colorful glow that will showcase your best features, brighten your skin, and add an unexpected pop of color. I know you're all going to love them because no one on the internet has ever disagreed with me.

Tonic Eyeshadow by Urban Decay

This shade is what inspired this whole piece. I knew that a couple brighter highlighters were in the works, but Tonic is what made me really go off the deep end.

One day this spring, I was having sort of an off day, so I dealt with my stress the way any normal person does.

https://twitter.com/TynanBuck/status/725757119933366276

I was wandering around, swatched to the elbow as usual, when this eyeshadow called out to me from the others.

This purple duochrome shadow with a sky blue to teal shift had me mesmerized, and I knew I had to use it on my cheekbones.

Urban Decay shot me the color, along with a few others, and I couldn't wait to get them on my face. Honestly, I wasn't sure if this would work, as my ideas have been known to crash and burn, but as soon as I saw this on my face I knew that my stroke of genius had paid off.

You'll have to excuse me because I am feeling myself.

No matter how lightly or heavily you apply this, the result is insane. Just a light dusting across your cheekbones is, you won't believe me when I say this but, actually wearable. It has more of a pop than you'll get from a regular highlighter, but it's not going to pull too much focus from the jump.

But we're not wearing this to be wearable, now are we? Build it up for a color-shifting, iridescent highlight.

I am so drunk with infatuation from this highlight I can barely see straight. Even built up, the purple doesn't build too heavily so you're not going to have any darkness on your cheekbones and temples where you don't want it. Blending up from a pink or lavender blush on your cheeks makes it even more flattering.

This is my favorite look of 2016 hands down bye.

Skin Frost: Mint Condition by Jeffree Star Cosmetics

Here it is. I told you guys I'd be back with it.

I already told you all about Skin Frost and how it's my favorite highlighter of the moment. Skin Frost goes in, and is perfect for a highlight junkie like me. But is a mint green shade flattering?

Surprisingly, when used with a soft hand, it's actually just as pretty as the other three, with little, if any, green cast.

But no one wants a soft highlight.

I mentioned last time that the Skin Frost color doesn't build up quickly, it puts the highlighter out front and the color pigments, whether pink or gold, take a back seat and work as a compliment.

But who says every beauty product has to compliment your skin tone? I mean, I get it, you want things to look nice, but who is drawing the line between what's natural and what's not? You know what else isn't natural? Cat eyes. Cut creases. Mascara. Contours. Fucking red lips. Who looks less natural: Me with a green highlight, or Kim Kardashian in full face at the MET Gala? It doesn't matter, we're both killing it.

(spoiler alert: Kim is killing it harder than I am but you get what I'm saying.)

Anyway, pile that shit on and glow icy green whenever you want to.


Crystal, part of Jouer's Mermaid Glow Palette

A glow palette? Now that is a palette I can get down with.

The Mermaid Glow Palette is made up of five cream highlighters. The three on the left are part of Jouer's permanent collection, and the pink and lavender on the right are limited editions which I am praying they make permanent. Why?

Look at this.

Lavender is my preferred highlight color, it's my preferred color for anything. I love ColourPop's Hippo, $8, which hits you with a frosty highlight that reads lavender when built up, but Crystal goes right for it.

It's a lavender cream base with a soft fuchsia shimmer that really pops. It doesn't read as glittery because the shimmer is very fine and the cream base dulls any mirrored reflectivity, but it jumps right off of the skin even when you're wearing just a little. It's kind of a bummer when a lavender product reads silver, but this is lavender and it means it.

A single Jouer highlighter is $22, this palette includes five full size highlighters for $44. I'm going to be using all five shades all summer but I'm for sure going to use up Crystal the fastest. (JOUER, MAKE IT PERMANENT. IT'S TOO GOOD.)

Urban Decay's Afterglow 8-Hour Powder Highlighter in Fireball

When I asked Urban Decay to send me Tonic to make my crazy highlighter dreams come true, they sent me their new products that are actually made to highlight along with them. Available in three shades, a champagne, a pink, and this peach.

I don't know why I picked this orangey-peach shade up. I hate orange. Urban Decay describes this as a peach with pink shift but I SWEAR TO GOD I see some blue in it, and it's incredible.

'There's no blue, technically, I guess I should come out and say that, but I've been wearing it a lot and still, I still stand by that I'm getting a little flash of blue in the hot pink shimmer.

See it? Maybe not. I think it's because the pink is so reflective that my eyes are playing tricks me.

The key takeaway here, other than that I might be colorblind, is that I thought I'd hate this highlighter and it is by far my favorite of the three, even beating out the pink. It's a juicy, neon metallic that I just can't get enough of.

Maybelline Color Tattoo Concentrated Crayon In Pink Parfait

Have you guys seen these new Color Tattoo Crayons? The first thing I thought of when I laid eyes on them was how great they'd be fore a highlight, in the right shade. The right shade, of course, is always pink.

A lot of the crayons are a little metallic, not in their shimmer but in that they look like actual metals: metal-beige or a metal-charcoal, they lean gray. Not this one! Pink Parfait is a clean, shimmery pink that's perfect for a frosty highlight.

Of all of the highlights in this roundup, this is the most subtle, I'd say. It starts off as a light sheen and builds up to a creamy pink glow. Apply directly to the face and blend out with your fingers, putting it directly where you want it.

This is a killer multitasker, available in the drugstore, that will glow your face up anywhere, anytime, and will still look cooler than everyone's Champagne Pop.

What do you guys think? I'm gonna be highlighting with crazy colors all summer and I encourage you to do the same! What's your favorite highlighter? What products do you repurpose, and for what? Tell me all your secrets in the comments and I'll try them out.

Tynan is glowy on Twitter @TynanBuck.