The Best Highlighters of 2016, the Year of Realizing Stuff

I kept saying that this was going to be the year of the highlighter and no one wanted to listen, but just look at us now!

*tap tap tap*

Is this thing on?

Okay, now that I have your attention, I have an announcement.


Fuck your year end list.

Any year end list that doesn't have Ariana Grande's "Into You" coming in at number one is, by my standards, null and void. Oh, your list doesn't involve music? IRRELEVANT.

What a year, am I right? My 2016 started off with the doctor literally cutting a chunk out of my ballsack. I thought to myself "Well, at least the year can only go up from here!" LOL, wrong. Should've read the sign.

I guess we all know that 2016 has been a complete trash fire so there's no point going on about that. There were some good things to come out of this year, though. For starters, we finally got a new album from JoJo! We can now get blue lipsticks in the drugstore! "Into You" by Ariana Grande! Oh yea, and all those new highlighters.

I kept saying that this was going to be the year of the highlighter and no one wanted to listen, but just look at us now. We're all glowing brighter than we ever thought imaginable with a whole slew of products making it possible.

Lucky for you, I've rounded up the 10 best highlighters released this year and ranked them, creating the only year end list that matters.

10. Beverly Hill Highlighter by OFRA, $39.95

So, I really like OFRA, and if you're not using them, you should get familiar. This showed up at my doorstep this summer and it took me a minute to get this on my face.

BUT WHEN I DID, whew! It might not look like it from the pan, but this will give you a high shine, mirrored highlight with the most minimal effort on your part.

I was not ready. Each of the five sections is pigmented enough for you to get the most out of every color when used individually, or mix them all together for a lot of dimension. Needless to say, I always start with lavender and go to the pearl or the champagne on either side.

Truthfully, these photos don't even do it justice.

9. Urban Decay Afterglow 8-Hour Powder Highlighter in Fireball, $28

I'll keep this one short because maybe this one isn't breaking any new ground, but, it's a heater.

When Urban Decay launched their three Afterglow Highlighters this summer, I was stoked on Aura, the pearly pink shade. When I first saw Fireball, a fiery bright orange in the pan, I was like...hard pass.

Until, I swatched it and saw that pink flex.

It's very noticeably pink, pinker than half of the actual pink highlighters I have. I love it. What's even better is that the orange pigment doesn't build up on your skin, creating a weird shadow where there's supposed to be a highlight. This shit is real good, and I'm hoping Urban Decay expands the range.

8. Celestial Duochrome Highlighter by Makeup Geek, $20

Makeup Geek gave us seven new duochrome highlighters this year and truthfully, they're all bomb, but Celestial โ€” the lavender shade โ€” is obviously the one I gravitate toward.

You get a lot of product, the pressed powder is pillowy but doesn't wear down fast, and the highlight really pops.

One light touch will give you a subtle glow, but it builds fast so you can blind all your haters. The duochrome highlighters also come in blue and this weird and awesome chartreuse, along with your expected peaches and pinks. I'm...all about them.

7. Pure Nude Highlighter by RAMY, $28

It took me a minute to fuck with this one, too, but when I did, I was mad at myself for waiting so long to do so.

It's a cream highlight you can tap onto anywhere with your fingers for a shiny, reflective glow. I love this because it looks especially incredible on bare skin. I'd use any of these highlighters on days when I'm wearing no makeup, but this one is what I reach for the most when I'm just wearing brows and mascara. Actually, in the photo below, I'm not wearing anything but brows and this highlight.

It catches the light, making your skin look fresh, bright, and beautiful, but the highlighter itself is subtle (unlike the blue highlights I've been wearing all damn year.)

6. Haloscope in Quartz by Glossier, $22

I know that some of you are all in your feelings about Glossier, and that's fine. I like them and I use a good handful of their products religiously, including this baby.

It's another versatile product that looks great over makeup, but I prefer it over bare skin. Here I'm wearing it over their skin tint, which is not my preferred base, but, you know โ€” when in Rome.

YO. The highlight is light but builds and blends beautifully, and I can still get it to a full, high beam, Tynan highlight without a whole lot of effort. The oil core is packed with coconut oil, castor oil, and sweet almond oil to keep your skin not only reflective, but, yes, that signature Glossier dewy all day.

5. Crystal, from the Jouer Glow Palette Mermaid Collection, $44

I am offended and here's why. This summer, Jouer, a brand that I love, released the above palette of five cream highlighters. It included their three standard highlighters (left), plus two limited editions, a pink and a lavender (right). Individually, they retail for $22, this palette went for $44.

Okay, not only is that a DEAL, but the two limited shades had me through the roof, especially Crystal, the lavender on the far right.

I'm almost like, not ready to discuss it. Crystal was a pearly lavender base with a very noticeable fuchsia flash. I took it everywhere with me, used the hell out of it, and now it's gone. GONE GONE GONE. It's unfair.

I will say that Jouer's main three shades, the pearl, gold, and bronze (which they call "champagne,") are fantastic, a total dream to work with. I've been begging them to bring Crystal back as soon as it sold the fuck out.

4. Soft Frost Extra Dimension Skinfinish by MAC, $33

MAC really came through for me with this one. It's so good that there's not much to say, it speaks for itself.

The Extra Dimension Skinfinish is exactly what a power highlight should be. It's buildable, you can go nuts with it (clearly) and it never builds up making the powder itself look icy on the skin. It's all highlight.

And that lavender flash? I mean...

Most important? It's a permanent part of MAC's collection, so lucky for you (ME) it's not going anywhere.

3. Strobe Stick by Maybelline, $9.99

Maaaaan, I almost put this at number one, for the simple fact that it's. So. Good. I really don't feel like it's gotten the shine that it deserves. The formula and finish are so crazy that I really don't understand how it didn't become yet another viral beauty sensation this year, but I guess everyone was too busy contouring with steak knives or whatever.

But let me keep it cute. The Strobe Stick applies incredibly smoothly. It's creamier than any stick highlight on this list โ€” or cream highlight for for that matter. It just glides right on. In these photos, I'm wearing it on my bare face, but it won't disturb or move any foundation you're wearing below it. And the glow?

Don't even start.

It looks like a powder, applies like a cream, and builds like nothing you've ever used before. You can get a simple, soft glow, or really pull out all the stops and be a walking lens flare. The choice is yours.

It's just too good. And this is a drugstore product, people! This is what you're always asking for!


2. The Moonchild Glow Kit by Anastasia Beverly Hills, $40

This dropped at the same time as the Sweets Glow Kit, which is the one I thought I'd be all about because of that huge pan of a reflexive lavender highlight, which is just as beautiful as I expected. Once I started playing with Moonchild, though, it was a wrap.

This Glow Kit has, like, three different shades of blue, an ice white, a green, and a pink. They're all duochromes and each one is bananas.

Dude, I don't even like blue and this turned me on to using blues for a highlight and I'm never going to stop.

I maintain that when you use just a touch of blue, it doesn't read blue on your skin. A blue highlighter used lightly just makes your skin look super fresh and clean. But I guess I shouldn't be saying that, I've never used a highlighter "lightly."

Trying to embrace this blue mishap ๐ŸŒ€๐Ÿ’ ๐Ÿ’™

A post shared by Tynan Sinks (@tynanbuck) on

I was so into the blues that it took me a while to get around to Pink Heart, which is also stunning.

Looove a pink highlight, don't you?

It's okay, you don't have to say it.


A post shared by Tynan Sinks (@tynanbuck) on

And now, for NUMBER ONE...

1. "Into You" by Ariana Grande

But actually.

1. The Holographic Stick by Milk Makeup, $28

I guess the Holographic Stick had to be number one. It's the perfect storm of everything I love in a highlighter: cream formula, in a stick, with a truly holographic finish.

Don't yell at me because it's sold out everywhere but I'm still writing about it. It's sold out because it's that good. I'm doing you a favor by getting you ready when it comes back!

I've been wearing this a ton, and getting mad compliments on it. A handful of people have even been like, "Is your highlight the Milk Holographic Stick?" Calling it out by name. They KNOW.

And I love this picture, showing the Holographic Stick popping off in a dark bar last summer.

Here I am applying it a few months ago, showing it in all its glory.

So there you have it. The best highlighters (AND SONG) of 2016. I can't wait to see what 2017 has in store for us.

  • What were your favorite products of the year?