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Reviews and swatches of over 20 powder highlights, both drugstore and high end! Brands ranging from The Balm and Soap & Glory to MAC and Cle de Peau 🙂 Whether you’re looking for an everyday highlight or you want serious strobing, I have recommendations for the very BEST highlights!

Top 3 Highlights

It’s tricky for me to narrow it down to top 3 because I treat highlights like ‘colour’ products and pick depending on my mood of the day (which is your favourite child and such :P). Instead, I’ll tell you the three that have had most use as of late…

Soap & Glory – Glow All Out // For the illusion of glossy skin, the formula is very lightweight and I cannot detect powder on the skin at all. Additionally, the warm pink undertones brighten the complexion.

Laura Geller – French Vanilla Portofino Duo // For ‘strobing’ days, the Laura Geller Duo simplifies full face highlighting; satin shade above the arch of the brow, down the nose and on the chin, stronger shimmer shade just on the very tops of the cheekbones.

Cle de Peau – Luminizing Face Enhancer in 11 Pastel // A highlight that operates via two means: the white tone lifts areas of the face to enhance bone structure while the pearlescence adds luminosity. The crazy price tag is reflected in the formula, buttery soft to touch.

Other segments in the smackdown series that you might enjoy…

Undereye Concealer Smackdown #1

Undereye Concealer Smackdown #2

Cream Eyeshadow Smackdown

Eyebrow Product Smackdown

Longwear Eyeliner (Tightlining) Smackdown

Nail polish I’m wearing in this tutorial

YSL Beige Leger

Rings I wear in my videos

The ring on my left hand is NOT an engagement ring guys lol, it’s an heirloom.

Complete List of Products Mentioned

Physicians Formula – Shimmer Strips*

Milani – Illuminating Face Powder in Hermosa Rose

Physicians Formula – Argan Wear Bronzer in Light*

Soap & Glory – Glow All Out Powder

The Balm – Mary Lou Manizer Highlight*

Laura Geller – French Vanilla/Portofino Duo

MAC – Mineralize Skinfinish in Soft & Gentle

MAC – Mineralize Skinfinish in Lightscapade

Gorgeous Cosmetics – Prism Highlighter*

Make Up Store – Wonder Powder

Laura Mercier – Radiance Powder in Highlight 01

Becca – Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed in Moonstone & Opal

Beauty is Life – Multi Touch in 01c

Rouge Bunny Rouge – Highlight in Goddess*

Shiseido – High Beam White WT905

Surratt – Blush in Aureole

Kevyn Aucoin – Celestial Powder in Candlelight*
Available from Cult Beauty, I know this brand is tricky to find in Aus!

Cle de Peau – Luminizing Face Enhancer in 11 Pastel

Charlotte Tilbury – Filmstar Bronze & Glow

Marc Jacobs – Contour Powder in Mirage


I had so much fun filming this video 😀 Let me know your favourite highlights in the comments section and let me know if you would like to see a cream/liquid highlight smackdown!


* Denotes products sent for consideration. I’m always honest in my reviews 🙂

Complete list of products mentioned

Illuminating Face Powder
Illuminating Face Powder
Baked Split Highlighter Duo
Baked Split Highlighter Duo
Skin Perfector Pressed
Skin Perfector Pressed
Artistique Blush
Artistique Blush
Filmstar Bronze & Glow
Filmstar Bronze & Glow
Argan Wear Bronzer
Argan Wear Bronzer
Matte Radiance Baked Powder Compact
Matte Radiance Baked Powder Compact
Contour Powder
Contour Powder
Luminizing Face Enhancer
Luminizing Face Enhancer
Shimmer Strips Custom Eye Enhancing Eye Shadow
Shimmer Strips Custom Eye Enhancing Eye Shadow
Prism Powder Highlighter
Prism Powder Highlighter
Mary-Lou Manizer
Mary-Lou Manizer
* Denotes products sent for consideration. Iā€™m always honest with my reviews :)

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  1. What are your favourite picks for the super super pale? Even lightscapade has a hard time showing up on me unless i’m in direct sunlight.


    1. Maybe you’re looking for a shade to lift as opposed to shimmer (which is only visible in direct sunlight)? In which case, try the Shiseido High Beam White or (as Shelly suggested below) a white iridescent eyeshadow šŸ™‚

  2. YES!!! Always!!! We want a smackdown between cream & liquid highlighters. (notice I say we, because I’m speaking for the rest of America) LOL!!! And yes also to the tutorial. Always yes!

  3. Was very excited to see this! I was persuaded to buy Soft and Gentle the other day and as beautiful as it is, it is a little too much glitter for day time… I wish I had seen this a week ago so I could have purchased lightscapade instead! Very big yes to a liquid highlighter smackdown! (PS I’ve tried watching other beauty youtubers, but you and Sharon are the only people I’ve found worth listening to!)

    1. I would have to agree with you regarding Soft and Gentle – I find it a bit chunky, particularly on my slightly older skin šŸ™‚

    2. Yes, the iridescence isn’t super fine in Soft and Gentle. If you have Soap & Glory available to you, it’s worth trying out šŸ˜‰
      PS: Sharon is uber lovely, one of my close friends. I not-so-secretly stalked her on youtube prior to ever meeting her LOL.

  4. Yes, would definitely like to see a cream/liquid highlight smackdown! I love your smackdowns (especially the posts because I love the long reads – bring me all the details!)
    Also, I’d really like to see a smackdown of your favourite skinlike foundations (for different skin types) and face concealers šŸ™‚ xx

  5. Loved this, I’ve just managed to get my hands on the Jaclyn hill becca champagne pop OMG so beautiful! Becca would be mad not to make it permanent – it’s the perfect shade for us fair/medium skin toned gals out there. This one is my top pick for the night time (although I do wear it in the day sometimes as it’s just so god damn beautiful) and the Physicians Formula shimmer strip for the daytime. I will say the Becca one has to be carefully applied otherwise it can draw a little too much attention to fine lines on my 32yo skin! šŸ˜‰

  6. One of my favorite highlighters, that I’ve never heard anyone talk about, is the ELF blush in pinktastic. Its a pretty golden pinkish shade that works really well with my pale skin. Another good drugstore option is Wet and Wild Reserve Your Cabana bronzer. It’s not a bronzer at all. It’s a nice more matte option (but not totally matte) for pale skin.

    Mary Lou Manizer is my most used highlight. Another higher-end one I enjoy that you didnt mention is NARS Albatross.

    I just got Charlotte Tilbury’s Norman Parkinson highlight. I haven’t got to play with it much, but I think it’s too dark for a highlight on me. It will likely be a blush topper. Truth be told, I just wanted the packaging so I don’t care.

    1. Hey Staci!

      I checked out the ELF counter here in Australia (which I suspect doesn’t hold the full range) and I couldn’t find any highlights šŸ™ I will keep my eyes peeled for Pinktastic!

      I owned the NARS Albatross a few years back but it always looked *very* yellow on me, not golden but butter yellow. Strange.

      Charlotte Tilbury packaging is gorgeous šŸ˜‰

  7. The Hourglass palette is beautiful! Have you used it? I’d love to see a cream/liquid highlighter smackdown. I want to try some to see if I get a more “fused into skin” look, but I really don’t know where to start… Your recommendations are always a good place to start šŸ™‚

    1. Hey Mila,
      Sure šŸ™‚ MAC Lightscapade is quite hard to touch in pan, so the brush picks up less product than the Cle De Peau, which is soft and buttery to touch.
      The CdP is more white in swatches, while the MAC Lightscapade has greater saturation (I’d call the colour sorta mother of pearl, very complex).
      Both can be built up to an equal shine, but the Cle de Peau is more luminous in one application, me thinks.
      Hope this helps šŸ™‚

      1. Thank you, Karima!
        I think it helps as I am considering buying cle de peau highlighters in shades #11 and #14.

  8. Yes to the cream smackdown!
    A powder highlighter I like for every day wear is the Ellis Faas Glow Up. It is finelly milled an give a subtle, soft focus glow.

    Girl, you know we want to know what makeup you wear in every video šŸ™‚ is that pillow talk with pink hedoniste? Wild guess! And that eyeshadow is beautiful.

    Great smackdown, I truly enjoyed!

    1. Why haven’t I seen the Ellis Faas in stores?! Is this new?
      The lip is NYX Lip Liner in Nude Pink topped with a pink gloss that I can’t remember! I’m so pleased you enjoy the smackdowns <3

      1. How do you find the nyx nude pink lip liner compares to Charlotte Tilbury’s pillow talk? Pillow Talk seems to be the absolute perfect nude/MLBB colour and formula and I’m not having any luck finding a dupe! Also, your description of the Glow All Out powder as ‘wet-looking’ has me super intrigued, but every other review I’ve read says it’s very subtle. Could it be both?

      2. Hey Orla,
        The NYX is much paler and cooler pink, while the CT is warmer pink and deeper, not a dupe unfortunately! I would describe Glow All Out to be moderately reflective, if I use a denser brush it can be built to an intense shine šŸ™‚

  9. Cream highlighters smackdown would be lovely. I like the poured (pft…cream) highlighterd BECCA has. Moonstone (in lurve), opal (not as bronzey as pressed but lovely for those bronze days, and rosegold (borderlines as a highlight blush on some days). XD hsven’t tried the remaining 2 but they do look quite lovely.

  10. Ahhh I really wish we could get Soap and Glory in the U.S. Highlight is literally one of my favorite makeup items so yes to a liquid/cream highlight smack down. Not that I need any more highlighters in my life…(that’s my wallet talking though not my heart)

    1. The skincare and bodycare is at Ulta and, and the Sexy Mother Pucker lip products are on, and products from those same three categories can be ordered through S&G’s US site, but not the entire makeup range.

    2. I order Soap and Glory stuff from a website called Solretail. I was purchasing from them thru Amazon but started buying direct from them after finding out that it’s free shipping if I was spending 50 pounds or more, which I always seemed to be doing!

    1. Ps I use Nars albatross – I like the colour – white with gold flecks but it does get stuck in my fine lines – why ageing? WHYYYYYYYYYYY?

  11. HA! I did laugh at your Nighttime/Daytime bird reference. My friends and I often use the “Allen, Allen! Al!” reference. I bought the Soap & Glory highlighter after seeing you talk about in one of your videos and it really is gorgeous. And I’m glad you mentioned Laura Geller’s duo – French Vanilla is so subtle and lovely and yes, no one ever talks about it!

  12. i love your smackdowns! so informative! i have been wary of highlights, b/c i have such oily skin. but you have me intrigued with the laura gellar combo, i may be able to pull of the shinier side in the winter evenings. i also love the makeup store you mentioned, but it is not available in the u.s. at least, i couldn’t find it.

    1. The Laura Geller highlight is versatile, I think even oily skins could pull off the satin side šŸ™‚ Yeah Make Up Store only has a few stores in the US but I thought I’d mention it for my EU/Australian peeps šŸ™‚

  13. Hey Karima! I have always wondered why highlighter products, whether powder or cream, always come in big packaging since you use very little of it at a time. I feel like it will take aaaaages to finish the product, especially when you have so many of them and is used sparingly (unless you want to look like a disco ball). Just my thoughts =)

    P.S. My fave highlight looks are from the Dior shows. Love that sort of moonshiney gloomy 20s look

  14. You should definitely do a cream/liquid highlight video! I always am looking for highlighter reviews with an emphasis on the texture of the highlighter. I’m not a huge fan of obvious highlights or glitter, I tend to prefer a sheen, so I love your detailed reviews.

    A couple of highlighters you may want to check out since you’re as much of a junkie as I am:

    Laura Mercier’s Sensual Reflections is one of those multi purpose shades. It’s a beautiful flower pattern in the pan, and mixed gives a slight rose toned sheen. It’s very subtle and flattering. I wear it overtop blush or on it’s own dusted liberally on the cheekbones for a really pretty lifting effect.

    It Cosmetics Hello Light powder is also a really subtle sheen, no glitter (which personally I hate). It’s mid price range, a golden to neutral toned highlight. I find it works best in winter, used liberally over the high points of the face to counteract the flat look that wearing foundation on dry skin can give. It’s a great everyday highlight since it works with any color makeup and enhances the overall look rather than being a focal point.

    1. Is LM Sensual Reflections a permanent product? Sounds SO PRETTY OMG. Hello Light sounds up my street too (heck, I love all highlights) so I’ll see if I can swatch that šŸ™‚
      Thanks girl šŸ™‚

  15. Hi Karima! I’m glad I came across your blog–totally cheered me up during a crappy week. The smackdown video format is so nice to watch. A cream/liquid highlight video would be great. Now must go check out the Soap & Glory and Laura Geller highlights…

    1. Hey Jamie!
      Sorry to hear you had a crappy week, I’ve had one too. Hopefully things look up for us šŸ™‚
      I’m so pleased you like the smackdown series, it’s one of my favourites to film!

  16. YES please for cream/liquid highlight smack down!! Loved this post and all its links. My personal favorites are the CT filmstar, and Mac’s soft and gentle. XO

  17. I’m so psyched I stumbled into your website. I was looking for some Rouge Bunny Rouge reviews and your post on it was the first link to come up. I started browsing until I found this particular post on highlighters. Just awesome! I’m glad you showed some good picks for deeper skin tones. I had been thinking about buying the much hyped about Becca highlighter in Opal, but wanted a second opinion on it. You just made me want to buy it really bad. So thank you and keep posting more smackdowns. I’m always up for one of those! Lol!!!

      1. when i get stressed out at work, i turn to your videos to decompress.
        thank you for sharing your love of makeup with the world. you’re so talented and such a delight to watch!
        Sham Frip is absolutely the best beauty vlog!

  18. Of course we would love a cream/liquid highlight smack down!! Love the Shiseido high beam white because I just can’t stand too much shimmer/glitter on the cheeks..(oily skin girl problems). By the way this may seem a little off topic but what are your favourite nude/natural blush for someone who doesn’t really like to wear blush?

    1. Hey Lana!
      I actually want to do a blog post about ‘Blush for people who don’t like blush’ but until then, here are some favourites: Chanel Espiegle (rather shimmery, FYI), Illamasqua Lover (best for pale people), MAC Warm Soul (also shimmery), Tarte Exposed, Aerin Multi Color for Lips and Cheeks (cream) and most of the Hourglass Ambient Blushers (shimmer, but subdued).
      Hope that helps šŸ™‚ x

      1. Thanks for the recommendations Karima! Will definitely try them out šŸ™‚ Looking forward to that blog post šŸ˜€ xx

  19. So, so many wants! Why is Soap & Glory and Laura Geller so difficult to find in Australia? ): I may just settle for Becca now that I recently smashed my Mary-Lou Manizer.

  20. Hi Karima, may I ask what’s your favourite highlight BRUSH (any price point)?

    Having both Suqqu Cheek Brush & Chikuhodi Z4, I’m quite surprised to discover that I much prefer the Suqqu over Z4 (maybe it’s the airier & less densely packed bristles of Suqqu cheek that won me over–since their shape & brush quality are actually so similar)


  21. Thank you so much for doing this super informative video! It’s the best. I have a quick question for you… I *finally* got my hands on the Soap & Glory highlighter yesterday, and when I went to put it on, it seemed really hard and the brush barely picked up anything. Do you remember if you needed to sort of wipe off the top layer to get to the good stuff? Thanks!

  22. Fantastic and very informative review. I have purchased the soap and glory highlighter since watching this and it is a beautiful soft pink, obvious but understated. I love it, thank you. I also adore the new Kevyn aucoin starlight highlighter, pinky peachy on my very light skin tone, more obvious than candlelight but just as soft silky and blendable. I think it would look gorgeous on you karima. I know your uber busy but if and when you get the chance, a smack down on finishing/setting powders would be fantastic. I’m currently using suqqu loose glow which is amazing but I would love to know if there is a cheaper alternative out there. Thanks again.