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5 Subtle Highlighters for a Natural-But-Even-Better Glow

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[Photo: ©Marija Savic / Stocksy]

The one look I’m constantly trying to perfect—my “white whale” of beauty, if you will—has always been the ultimate healthy-skin glow. That subtle sheen that your skin takes on after a yoga class or a really good facial? I want that, bottled. Don’t get me wrong—I love an intensely shimmering highlight on the right occasion, but most of the time I just want my skin to look freshly moisturized all day (no small feat during NYC’s bone-dry winters). While I’m not sure that a magic bullet for a healthy, dewy glow exists (I might just have to drink more water, sigh), I’ve found some highlighters that get remarkably close. Read on for my top five subtle highlighters for healthy, well-hydrated radiance. No one will know it isn’t natural.

rms beauty Living Luminizer | $38

Makeup artist Rose-Marie Swift’s all-natural cream highlighter has gained somewhat of a cult following thanks to its universal shade (yes, really) and squeaky-clean formula (only seven ingredients!). When tapped on the skin, Living Luminizer’s super-finely milled, pearly pigments and hydrating coconut oil base create a fresh, slightly glossy sheen. It’s very sheer and doesn’t lean particularly warm or cool, so it reads as a soft shine on every skin tone. Unlike some other highlighters, I’ve never seen it look ashy on darker skin tones.


Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder | $46

This well-loved powder highlighter is really more of a finishing powder. The glow is so subtle that when you first apply it, the effect is almost invisible. But look closer and you’ll notice that it possesses a blurring effect that subtly plays with the light around you, making blemishes, lines and acne scars less noticeable. You can choose from six shades that mimic the visual effects of different types of light from moonlight to the warm glow of golden hour.


BECCA Skin Love Glow Glaze Stick | $28

BECCA’s infused Skin Love Glow Glaze Stick is a new player on the luminizer scene. Unique to BECCA’s lineup of more shimmery product, it creates a very natural-looking highlight. It has a moist, balm-like texture that glides over skin, leaving behind what I’d call a “glazed donut” sheen. It’s also packed with nice-to-skin ingredients like honey, licorice and squalane, giving it has a nice moisturizing effect as you wear it.


Kjaer Weis Highlighter | $56

Beyond winning a prize from me for best packaging (the compact feels substantial), Kjaer Weis’s cream luminizer nails the subtle glow. It comes in two shades—Radiance, a cool silvery shade, and Ravishing, a warm pearly shade—that sink into the skin quickly without emphasizing pores or settling into fine lines.


Kevyn Aucoin The Celestial Powder | $44

Leave it to the team at Kevyn Aucoin to create a highlighter that is basically starshine in a pan. Powder highlighters aren’t usually my jam—they often look, well, powdery—but The Celestial Powder is so finely milled that it settles over my skin like a sheer, soft-focus veil.  It comes in three shades for most skin tones: Candlelight, a pale golden champagne; Starlight, a warm pinky peach; and Sunlight, a rich golden bronze. All have a subtle blurring effect and zero visible shimmer particles, creating radiance that is truly seamless.