Finding the best liquid highlighter is all about the right amount of glow, value for money, and ease of application. Sometimes it can be hard to find all three in one product! So we’ve come to the rescue with a rundown of the best cream highlighter and liquid highlighter options on the market. And at the end of the day, we’ve had to conclude that when it comes to highlighters, nothing quite beats the versatility of liquid formulas.
This list should cater for all budgets, practical concerns, and skin types, so make sure and read all 15 because your new favorite foundation could just be hiding right here…
The 14 Best Liquid Highlighters:
1. Dermablend Glow Creator
This is a truly innovative product that packs a ton of impact in just a couple of droplets. A little goes a long way, which is great when you’ll want to slather your whole body in this (and yes, you can!)
Packaged almost like a serum in a bottle with a pipette for controlled application, this pearly, smooth liquid comes in a small array of shades but is made to suit the whole spectrum. Watch as it blends effortlessly into your skin, making it look like you’re shining from within.
If that wasn’t enough, its oil-free, SLS-free, and vegan formula is suitable for all skin types. So don’t be put off by the dewy finish if you’re prone to the occasional zit!
We highly recommend mixing it in with your everyday foundation for a show-stopping combo of angelic luminosity and full coverage. (*chef’s kiss*)
2. theBalm Mary-Dew Manizer
If you’re looking for something quick to apply with a more natural finish, check out this portable doe-foot number from theBalm.
While you won’t get much out of this on your clavicle or shoulders, it gives great payoff on the face and can even be used on top of your lip and eye makeup! Illuminating not just to your usual highlight spots but to that matte lipstick you always wished would pop a little more.
The formula is enriched with jojoba esters and is overall pretty hydrating without being comedogenic. It’ll feel nice during application and is maybe the best liquid illuminator if you’re not wanting to flash too much cash.
3. Benefit Cosmetics High Beam
If you love pink as much as we do, it’ll be hard to keep your hands off this satin, almost cherry-blossom-colored formula. Not to mention the adorable nail polish-style packaging!
But if you’re worried about looking like a stick of bubblegum, fear not. This formula has a nice, sheer finish yet provides some of the shiniest results we’ve seen, definitely living up to the ‘High Beam’ promise in its name.
A lot of its shine comes from the naturally produced, shimmery ingredient mica. This is an incredibly effective, gentle ingredient that provides shimmer without upsetting the most sensitive of skin.
Combine it with your moisturizer to give your coverage a more luxurious feel, or apply it under blush or eyeshadow to add a gleam to your favorite pigments.
4. ILIA BEAUTY Liquid Light Serum Highlighter
This more luxury option truly lives up to its price point and is great for fans of “clean beauty” and vegan cosmetics. And, as the ‘serum’ in the name suggests, it’s specially formulated to be a skincare/cosmetic hybrid.
But what does this product do for your skin exactly? Primarily, it promises to protect you from pollution (which is fantastic as pollution is a big cause of oxidative stress) and also UV light. This gets a huge thumbs up from us!
Performance-wise, this is maybe the best liquid highlighter when it comes to the overall experience. The pump applicator makes for easy, portable application, and the gel-based silky formula feels light as air.
A little goes a long way with this stuff, but you’ll never have to worry about looking garishly glittery. The radiantly healthy glow it provides makes it perfect for every day.
5. BECCA Shimmering Skin Perfector Liquid Highlighter
If you’re budgeting for the upper mid-range and looking for a flattering, pearly finish, this product is perfect for you. And if you suffer from dry skin, even better!
This is a nice, skin-conscious formula with Cetyl Alcohol to soothe and repair dry, cracked skin as well as some Glycerin to hold moisture and nutrient-rich avocado oil. So it’s perfect for the winter or drier climates in general.
Infused with superfine pearls to reflect light, the liquid itself has a really user-friendly consistency and gives an instant dewy effect even on your most tired Mondays.
It sits really nicely over the foundation, and won’t disappear or fade if you want to bake over the top of it with some powder. Overall, this really is a powerhouse product that feels like money well spent.
6. EDDIE FUNKHOUSER Luxlight Glow Drops
Designed to brighten both your face and body, this super-concentrated vegan option is a perfect balance of quality and affordability.
As you’ll be able to guess from the uniquely shaped petite, clear applicator, you only need a little at a time with this stuff. Just a dash on your cheek or a drop on your collarbone will create a striking strobe effect.
The finished effect is probably a medium-shine but can easily be built up to an intense statement. This makes it perfect for going out to the club, where you’ll want to stand out and catch the light in all the right places.
As with any good liquid highlighter, this mixes in beautifully with foundation and can be diluted with your foundation or moisturizer for a subtle yet healthy glow.
7. Josie Maran Argan Enlightenment Illuminizer
If it’s a creamier texture you’re looking for, this could be the best cream highlighter for you. It’s super easy to blend and will care for your skin in the long run thanks to some powerful plant extracts.
You’ve got some madonna lily in here, which smells nice and is said to reduce dark spots. However, the most promising plant extract is Argan oil, which also smells divine but most importantly contains Vitamin E and skin-loving fatty acids.
You’ll love how this stuff makes you feel sun-kissed and luminous even without no or very little foundation. The dispenser can be a little tricky, but the product itself is so effective yet understated that we can’t help but love it regardless.
8. Milani Soft Focus Glow Complexion Enhancer
Bringing things back to basics, this is an ethically packaged, ethically sourced product that delivers a warm, subtle highlight. And it also has some humectant (hydrating) properties thrown in too!
The ingredient list here is fairly standard, as you’d expect from the price, but does include hyaluronic acid. This is a great ingredient for anyone looking to combat the signs of aging or simply looking to maintain plump, hydrated skin.
(And don’t forget, even those with oily skin need hydration! In fact, it’ll help repair your skin’s barrier anywhere it’s been damaged by acne.)
The only drawback to this product is that it doesn’t play well with all foundations when layered. So for best results, mix with your foundation beforehand or wear alone for a summery radiance.
9. Maybelline New York Master Strobing Liquid
This formula is enhanced with the fine pearls sometimes seen in higher-end products, but at a lower price. And it comes in a squeezy tube so you can use as much or as little as you like every time.
Overall, this is a pretty straightforward product, but the shades are very pretty and it mixes well for the price. The pearly strobe effect is definitely there too and won’t make you look too wet-shiny.
A big plus with this product is that you get more of it per tube than a lot of other liquid highlighters. So even if you end up using it daily, you won’t have to restock any time soon!
10. L’Oreal Paris Makeup True Match Lumi Glow Amour Glow Boosting Drops
Coming in a serum-style dropper bottle (like Dermablend’s Glow Creator), this is a very pretty product. And we love how the see-through container lets you know when you’re running out. Not that you’ll have to worry too much about that, because a little goes a long way!
The main reason this makes our best liquid illuminator list is because of the performance. It blends so seamlessly into the skin and you only need one or two drops for a natural glowy effect.
It comes in two contrasting shades (a pearly pink and warm gold) which are both gorgeous. And you’re unlikely to need to retouch it because the staying power is impressive for such a reasonably priced product.
11. NYX Born to Glow! Liquid Illuminator
This cute, decently-sized tube comes in 4 distinct shades to accommodate a wide range of skin tones. And each one can stretch to a lot of skin shades individually thanks to the well-balanced, natural-looking pigment in these formulas.
It’s also nice to know that, like most NYX products, it’s vegan and cruelty-free!
Most of all though, we love how versatile this stuff is. It can be used to highlight specific areas, yes, but it also works as a subtle all-over sheen when mixed with moisturizer, sunscreen, or foundation and makes a great canvas under makeup.
The shine this brings to your skin is glowy, not glittery, and very flattering. We’re sure that both amateurs and makeup masters will be happy with the gently radiant effect this gives every time.
12. e.l.f. Jelly Highlighter
The hardy, convenient, and compact packaging of this product makes it a real winner when it comes to portability. You’re guaranteed no mess with this, even if it gets squashed at the bottom of a suitcase!
But aside from the travel-friendly packaging, the user experience of this formula is what really makes it stand out.
Fitting right in with e.l.f.’s philosophy that beauty should be accessible to everyone, this product isn’t just insanely affordable but super easy to use. The formula feels wet but solid enough to form a scoopable jelly, and sticks to the skin really nicely once dry.
All in all, the long-wear, unique texture, and price point here make this a no-brainer for anyone looking to enter the highlighter realm or wanting something that’ll last being jostled around in a handbag.
13. SACE LADY Liquid Glow Highlighter
If it’s the glittery, Instagram-ready look you’re after, you’re in luck with this super reflective highlighter from the Chinese brand SACE LADY, infused with natural oils and plant extracts.
We’ve mostly chosen products that can be paired down for every day as well as built up for a stunning effect. This one however is as intense as it gets. You won’t have to worry about standing out from the crowd, and this intense shimmer looks great on camera.
It does have a strong fragrance compared to most of its competitors, so you might want to steer clear if you’re avoiding fragrance. But apart from that, it’s a pretty solid product that shouldn’t cause irritation unless your skin is super sensitive.
14. wet n wild MegaGlo Hello Halo Liquid Highlighter
This highlight, which comes with a doe-foot applicator for easy use, packs a punch despite its affordable price tag.
Like many cheap and cheerful highlighters, it veers on the side of glittery, but sometimes glittery is just the ticket! And the formula also contains some great skincare ingredients for bonus benefits.
You’ve got some great non-comedogenic oils in here (sunflower seed oil, and the lesser-known but beneficial grapeseed oil). And on top of that, this contains Vitamin E as well as murumuru seed butter. Some of nature’s finest!
Joan S. Wilson is a lifelong makeup and skincare enthusiast. She used to work as a makeup artist for 5 years. Joan is always curious and wants to learn more when it comes to makeup and skincare. She tries her best to make other people’s skin health better. This is why Joan is so passionate about writing articles on beauty topics. She always looks for products that are high-quality, dermatologist-tested, and does that it says on the label. In every article, she shares her knowledge to make your life healthier and happier!