The 7 Best Highlighter Palettes
Once reserved for professional makeup kits, highlighter blazed onto the consumer scene sometime around 2016. And the briefest of glances at your social media platform, magazine, or runway of choice will prove that this trend isn't going anywhere anytime soon — or, quite possibly, ever. With multiple shades in each, the best highlighter palettes let you double (or triple, or quadruple) down on the trend, while some perform double (or triple, or quadruple) duty with the addition of bronzing, contouring, and flush-enhancing shades. And gone are the chunky flecks of glitter of palettes past — instead, you’ll find finely milled powders that gleam more than they sparkle, which gives skin a soft, iridescent finish. The infusion of plant-based oils in some formulations impart a silky feel and buildable color, so you can go as light- or heavy-handed as you want.
Keep in mind, the magic of highlighter can be extended way beyond your cheekbones. Any of these radiant pigments can be used with equal conviction on your eyes, collarbones, shoulders, or anywhere else on your body that could use some shine.
Whether you’re aiming for freshly fallen angel, surfaced mermaid, or just a human under really good light, any of the seven best highlighter palettes from the list below can help you get there.
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1. The Overall Best Highlighter Palette
Anastasia highlighters are allegedly Kim Kardashian West’s illuminators of choice. That's the endorsement to end all endorsements, as far as I'm concerned, which is why I plan on making this Sun Dipped Glow Kit my next purchase. These four metallic shades have a wet, radiant finish, and their silky-smooth, ultra fine formulation makes application a breeze. This palette leans warm-neutral for a true (or cheated) summer glow, so all four shades are perfect for medium or darker skin tones. But the two lighter shades have white- and rose-gold undertones, so they’ll look just as beautiful on fairer skin.
2. The Best Splurge
Sold out on both Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus, this Oribe Illuminating Face Palette is the highlighter palette of choice for the Kelly Bag-toting uptown set. Its $68 price tag only underscores that fact, but reviewers who’ve gotten their hands on this coveted palette confirm that it’s worth the investment. Swirled together, all three shades alchemize for a perfectly balanced flush; Or, you can use them separately for a pearlized bronze, blush, and highlight. The formula is infused with bergamot and ginger root oils for a velvety feel, too. And its jewel-box packaging doubles as an objet d’art.
3. The Best Steal
For those of us without an Hermes-sized budget, this $8 Covergirl highlighter palette does a beautiful job of serving our radiance-boosting needs. The highlighter contains more visible glitter than most of the other palettes on this list, so reserve this for whenever you’re trying to channel your inner Diana Ross (that said, it would make a beautiful eyeshadow, too). Considering this palette’s eminently reasonable price point, reviewers are impressed by the pigmentation and longevity.
Each of the three palettes contains three shimmery powders in various shades of pink, bronze, and gold.
4. The Instagram Favorite
A favorite among influencers and makeup pros, indie brand Sam Marcel has remained a bit under-the-radar for many beauty consumers. But if there’s one product that can launch this vegan and cruelty-free brand into mainstream success, it’s their best-selling That Glow Glow Highlight Palette. With six shades ranging from sunny white-gold to creamy rose to rich copper, there’s truly something for everyone. And the pigmentation here is unparalleled: Just one swipe with your brush or fingers imparts a rich, creamy, lacquered gleam. The formula builds beautifully, too. Try layering two shades for a multidimensional finish.
5. The Drugstore Favorite
Essence may not be the first brand you think of when you’re shopping for highlighters, but their Pure Nude Highlighter Palette has achieved holy grail status among their many, many loyalists. It’s an especially good choice if you’re looking for a more understated gleam than the megawatt shine you’d get with most of the other palettes on this list. Despite its relative subtlety, reviewers rave about the smooth, blendable texture and gorgeous shades, which range from true gold to a pale champagne that rivals Becca’s Champagne Pop. Get the Sunlighter Palette if you're looking for something deeper and bronzier.
6. The Best Contour & Highlighter Palette
With four matte contour shades, two subtly shimmery highlighters, one matte highlighter, and one banana powder, this NYX palette contains literally every product you need to bronze, bake, and set your makeup and enhance and define your features. The diverse contour shade range makes this a foolproof choice regardless of your skin tone. And the palette itself is refillable, so you can mix and match with any other NYX singles you have in your collection (including eyeshadows).
7. The Best All-In-One Palette
A drugstore staple, this Physician’s Formula All-In-1 Custom Nude Palette is composed of 12 shimmery bricks that can be used on your face, eyes, and body. Enthusiastic reviewers say the finish here is glowy, not gaudy, and all the shades look amazing both combined and on their own. The brand’s signature hypoallergenic formula makes this a safe choice if you have sensitive or reaction-prone skin, too. The Warm Nude palette pictured above is perfect for those with dark skin and/or warm undertones, but opt for the Natural Nude palette if your undertones skew cool, or if you have lighter skin.