Cream Highlighters for a No-Makeup Dewy Glow

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Highlighting is one of my most favorite makeup trends. I love all the highlights, from a subtle sheen that adds a little bit of dimension to the “I don’t sweat, I glisten” look to a visible-from-space pop.

Lately, I’ve been all about using versatile cream highlighters to get my dewy glow. While I love powder highlighters, sometimes they can look like they’re sitting on top of skin. Cream highlighters can melt right into skin to make it look like your own glow from within – especially when you get the right shade match.

Today I’m sharing my 5 current favorite cream highlighters that melt into my fair skin for a natural radiance!

ColourPop Lunch Money

There’s a reason I’ve hit major pan on this guy – I love it! ColourPop’s formula is smooth and easy to use. I saturate my elf Small Stipple Brush with this highlighter and apply liberally. On the first passes, there’s just a subtle shine, but it can built up to be more intense and sweaty-looking.

The shade Lunch Money is *perfect* for me because it’s just a hair lighter than my skin with a bit of gold-beige warmth. It looks like I’m catching the light, not the highlighter.

Perhaps you can tell in the pics that I really, really like this highlighter because I actually hit pan. I recently ordered a back-up, plus a few other shades from the line to play with in the future!

→Available for $8/0.15 oz at Ulta or ColourPop’s site

Glossier Quartz

Glossier’s highlighters are on the subtle side, as you might guess based on the brand’s aesthetic. That makes them great for minimal makeup days; like you’re not even wearing highlighter, but you are 😉

Quartz itself kind of looks like a golden beige in the stick, but on skin, it is more pearly.

I swipe Quartz directly on my cheekbones to glisten. So easy and it honestly just looks like my skin. I especially like to pair it with a Cloud Paint (usually Dusk) lately! Just a note: I like to apply the Haloscope before the Cloud Paint because the stick can pick up some of the blush if applied on top. I’ll often apply Quartz generously over my cheek area and then apply Dusk, so my blush ends up with an extra boost of luminosity.

→Available for $22/0.19 oz at Glossier’s site

(Here’s my referral link where you can save 10% on your first order and I’d get store credit)

MAC Double-Gleam

The Extra Dimension Skinfinish formula from MAC is one of my favorites. It’s a hybrid between a cream and powder, so you get the best of both worlds.

I use Double-Gleam similar to how I use Lunch Money; i.e. I douse myself in it. Double-Gleam is a more reflective though, so I can get away with using a little less than ColourPop’s highlighter. The shade is like a cool-toned light gold – perfect for my cool, fair skin. So, even though it is a pretty intense highlighter, I end up with a (good) sweaty/glisteny look.

The only con with Double-Gleam is that I have to make sure my skin is thoroughly hydrated through the day, or else it can start to break up on my skin. This is really only an issue for me in the winter when my skin is super dry. Now that it’s warm outside, my skin is more normal. Even if it does break up a bit, a little Fix+ with some minor blending restores the flawlessness.

→Available for $34/0.31 oz at Ulta, Nordstrom, Macy’s, MAC’s website, etc.

NARS Copacabana

Stick highlighters make things so easy. I usually use my finger to grab some product and dab onto my cheekbones; using directly from the Multiple stick is a bit awkward since it’s larger than the other sticks mentioned here.

I love that there’s a pinkish hue to Copacabana. It adds a little interest without being too much. There’s a bit of cool-toned sparkles in the formula, but it doesn’t look like there’s glitter on your face. I couldn’t even really capture it in my swatches (at the end of the post).

NARS Multiples are designed so that you can use them multiple ways, but I find they’re best as cheek products. I personally wouldn’t wear this shade on my lips anyway. For eyes, the formula here is quite slippery and creamy; my hooded lids have basically no chance to keep this crease-free, even with primer. Still, amazing highlighter for face!

→Available for $39/0.5 oz at Ulta, Sephora, Nordstrom, Saks, Macy’s, etc.

Trestique Maldives Luminescent

I got this little deluxe sample from Sephora at one point and fell in love! This is another swipe-and-go highlighter; I apply directly to my skin and blend a bit with my fingers.

The champagne color is reflective and pretty, but can blend into my skin tone for a subtle look. It’s a bit darker than the other shades here, giving a more sun-kissed effect. It’s beautiful paired with a nude blush and bronzed cheeks.

While I only have the mini version, the full-size comes with a sponge on the other end to blend. I can’t comment on how the sponge works (it’s refillable, so probably it can be easily removed to clean), but I imagine it would be convenient for travel or on-the-go application.

→Available for $28/0.21 oz at Sephora

Highlighter swatches:

Cream highlighter swatches, L-R: ColourPop Lunch Money, Glossier Quartz, MAC Double-Gleam, NARS Copacabana, Trestique Maldives Luminiscent


What are your favorite cream highlighters? ↓

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