reflective skin highlighters

The Best Highlighters for Luminous, Reflective Skin

Time to level up your glow.

By: Isabella Sarlija

Summer is upon us, and we find ourselves scaling back on makeup that feels too heavy or moody. That means sheer complexion products, juicy lip balms, and, of course, plenty of highlighter. But this season we’re longing not just for a natural dewiness, but something even more luminous: reflective skin. Think of the way light bounces off your skin after a day at the beach or jogging in high humidity. It’s a glow that makes itself known from a couple of yards away and is sometimes hazardous to your selfie camera. Subtlety may be for the workweek, but our summertime weekends are for some white-hot luminescence.

Don’t forget to enhance your inner dew factor by properly cleansing and moisturizing before adding makeup. Then swipe one of our 12 favorite formulas over your cheekbones, collarbones, and anywhere else you feel the need to radiate some glow.


NYX Professional Strobe of Genius Holographic Stick, $9

The purplish sheen of this stick highlighter only appears when you catch the light—whether that’s from the sun, the dance floor, or anywhere else your summertime travels take you, that’s your call. Also, you can’t beat this level of radiance for under $10.

Pat McGrath Labs Skin Fetish Highlighter & Balm Duo, $48

Have you ever looked at photos of models preparing to hit the runway during fashion week? If yes, then you are probably with us in admiring their poreless, taught, and, most of all, glowing complexions. Pat McGrath makes it possible to replicate that otherworldly luminosity with this makeup duo. We like to use the balmy end over top the pigmented end for a dew that is sure to reflect light to the heavens.

Patrick Ta Beauty Major Glow Highlighting Mist, $32

What does the glow of Rosie Huntington-Whitely, Gigi Hadid, and Allesandra Ambrosio have in common? They’ve all been blessed by Patrick Ta and his luminous skin expertise. This mist is the most straightforward way to deliver some hardcore results in terms of glow, without ever making the skin look unnatural. Use shade Look At Her for a light-reflecting highlight that will have strangers stopping in their tracks.

Tom Ford Skin Illuminator, $52

The peach-pink undertones of this cult-favorite highlighter make it universally flattering and ideal for replicating a healthy summer dewiness. It’s also oil-free, so if you want to go out and dance until dawn, you won’t risk it slipping down your face halfway through the evening. Bonus points for adding it to your body lotion for an all-over glow.

Kevyn Aucoin Glass Glow Face Liquid Highlighter in Spectrum Bronze, $32

If you are a fan of the glass-skin trend, then this is the product for you. This face gloss by industry titan Kevyn Aucoin deposits the perfect amount of sheen to the skin without ever making it look greasy. The golden shade is everything you’ll need to become a bronze goddess this summer.

Prime Beauty Glo Girl, $17

This loose powder highlight is not messing around. Sometimes you just need some glitter, you know? Add a little or a lot of shimmer to your brow bones, nose, the tops of your cheekbones, and anywhere else you want to draw some attention. Prepare for a tidal wave of compliments.

Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Match Stix Glow Skinstick, $25

When we think of our desert-island makeup products, this highlighter stick is undoubtedly at the top of the list. It’s translucent, so your glow still looks natural, but the iridescent finish helps it catch the light and emphasize the skin’s radiance. And although it’s a cream formula, we appreciate the fact that it never feels sticky.

Marc Jacobs Beauty Dew Drops Coconut Gel Highlighter, $45

This product did not come to the highlighter scene to play. Apply a few drops to the high points of the face for that sexy post-summer glow. Want to take it a step further? Mix a few drops of this heavenly liquid to your foundation or complexion product for some all-around dew.

Black Magic Carnival Bronzing Highlighter, $35

We’d be lying if we told you we didn’t want to at least fake the look of a tan this summer (although we’re still piling on the SPF). Whether you have a darker skin tone in need of a little extra *pop* or are looking for some healthy bronzing help, this strobing and sculpting highlighter duo’s illuminating pearls will have you radiating glow in no time.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette, $64

The soft-focus powder of this highlighter gives you that sort of romantic, candlelit glow that is flattering on everyone. With three shades to layer to your heart’s content, this palette will quickly become your secret weapon for seriously dewy summer skin.

The Organic Skin Co. In the Spotlight Pot, $29

Have you ever noticed that the best glow of the day happens a few hours after you apply your makeup? That’s because your skin heats up throughout the day, adding to your natural dewiness. To expedite this process, consider this highlighter by The Organic Skin Co. Its creamy texture, along with calendula and pomegranate extracts, moisturizes the skin, while the buildable luminizers allow you to easily amp up your glass-skin glow.

Clé de Peau Beauté Luminizing Face Enhancer, $95

The mix of lavender, mint, and peach powders (which contain two types of pearls) make this highlighter a master of illuminating your complexion under all types of light. The case was also designed by an actual jeweler—how chic is that? Layer the powder with your favorite fluffy brush for a high-impact look from day to night.

Part of the series: