14 Best Non Glitter Highlighters

The best highlighters to get your base glowing...

Highlighters have officially taken centre stage in our make-up bags. But don’t worry – if you don’t want a face full of glitter, we’ve tracked down the best sparkle free formulas to leave you with a subtle shimmer. We’ve considered all skins – you’ll find the best highlighter for fair skin and darker skin.

Also, while you’re here, take a look at what happened when our Glow Gang got their hands on Iconic London’s new Illuminator Drops – and tested them on three different skin tones.

Nicknamed strobing, highlighting is all about enhancing areas of the face where light would naturally bounce off your skin – think cheekbones, temples, down the bridge of your nose and on top of your cupids bow.

If you’re into contouring we’re sure you already know all about highlighting, no sculpted face is complete without glistening cheekbones. While you use darker shades to make areas of the face appear less pronounced, highlighters do the reverse and draw attention to certain areas of your face. Sweep them over the highest points of your cheeks and down the centre of your nose, across your cupids bow and brow bones to create that sculpted silhouette. It’s a trick the celebs have been doing for years!

You’re not looking to create a bronzed post holiday glow, either (that’s bronzing, not highlighting). To get it right, steer clear of warm, yellow-based tones and go for cool shades with a pinky, silvery base unless you’re dark skinned.

“It’s about skin that looks moonlit not sunlit,” explains celebrity make-up artist, Lisa Valencia. “Obviously if you have dark skin, stick to golden highlights to avoid your skin looking ashy but everyone else will suit pinkier hues.”

Formula-wise, you can pick and choose. Cream highlighters and liquid highlighters can be mixed with your moisturiser or foundation and applied all over your face for a dewy finish. If these don’t take your fancy there are plenty of powders out there, use a brush to buff these into your skin and stop any tell tale stripes.


The Best Highlighter Palette


If you fancy mixing and matching a few colours, it’s more cost effective for you to buy a palette rather than splurge on lots of separate highlighters. There are lots on offer and if you’re after a selection of blendable shades we suggest giving Huda Beauty’s 3D Highlight Palette, £40. It comes in two shades, The Pink Sands Edition for lighter skin and The Golden Sands Edition for darker skin.


The Best Highlighter For Pale Skin

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Don’t make the mistake of going for a highlighter that’s too dark for your skin because you’ll end up looking like you’ve plastered your face with a sparkly bronzer. Fairer faces should look for white, pale pink and holographic highlighters with purple and blue undertones. Barry M’s Liquid Chrome Highlighter Drops in Precious Pearl, £6.99, will get you glowing without adding a warmer colour to your skin.


Best Highlighter For Oily Skin


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If you’ve got an oiler complexion it’s better to use a powder rather than a liquid highlighter as these can leave your skin looking a little slick and covering it with powder only covers up your shimmer. MAC’s Extra Dimension Skinfinsh, £24.50 is a great highlighter for oily skin, the powder formula helps wick up grease and there’s no need to layer your finishing powder over it, either.

The Best Highlighter For Darker Skin


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Highlighters for fairer skins are completely different tones to those for tanned and darker complexions. Rather than reaching for pearlescent pinks and holographic highlighters with purple and blue undertones, you want to choose bronze, golden and orange colours. Bobbi Brown’s Highlighter Powder in Bronze Glow, £35.50 is a deeper copper shade, making it the perfect pick for darker skin tones.


The Best Drugstore Highlighter

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A lot of highlighters out there are slightly spenny. But, you don’t have to drop a lot of dollar to get a winning strobe set. Sleek’s Solstice Highlighter Palette, £9.99, comes with two cream and two powder shades which you can mix, match and blend together for a full face of glow. Oh, and did we mention the whole thing comes in at under a tenner?