The Best Powder Highlighters For That Bright and Illuminated Finish

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Faces don’t emit light (obviously). The color comes from light bouncing from our skin, and there are various makeup products that use this to your advantage. Highlighters, for example, help amplify the light that comes off your skin, making it shine and glimmer more than usual.

Highlighters are like other certain makeup products in the sense that they somewhat need to match the skin tone of the user, to a degree at least. They aren’t all that pricey, however, and you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on highlighter kits to get that professional-looking glow. And that’s where we come in.

If you think that cheap means poor quality, think again. We’ve found five powder highlighters that won’t cost you a whole lot of money but will still deliver exceptional results. There are a few different options to choose from, so we recommend checking all of them out to see which one really stands out to you.

Detailing the Leading Powder Highlighters of 2022

LIFUS Highlighter Palette  —  Best Overall

powder highlighter reviews

Key Features

  • Soft texture
  • Can be used on various parts of the face
  • Long-lasting
  • Usable for months

Not sure what tone you should get for your powdered highlighter? Then how about an entire palette? This palette comes with four different tones for light to medium skin that will make your face shimmer and illuminate in different ways. The texture of the powder is soft and silky, and you won’t feel its thickness all that much when it’s on your skin, so it’s great for everyday use.

The highlighter can be used on various parts of the body, including cheekbones, lips, brow bones, and more. Since there are four skin tones, you can either mix and match different skin tones on one face, or share the palette among family or friends. It’s a pretty versatile palette, and with its long-lasting factor, you’ll be using it for months to come with no issues at all.

Physicians Formula Butter Highlighter  —  Best Formula

Key Features

  • Smooth consistency
  • Dries up into a powder
  • Various tones available
  • Good for sensitive skins

This next highlighter is still technically a powdered highlighter, but you wouldn’t think it is due to its formula. Applying it on your skin feels like applying body butter or cream, as it’s got a liquid-smooth consistency to it. However, once the cream settles and dries up, it turns into a powder, making it not only very easy to apply, but also quite difficult to remove, so it’ll last you the entire day fairly easily.

The butter comes in various colors or tones, so you can pick one that suits you the most. Physicians Formula’s products are known to be safe for sensitive skin, so don’t worry if you have sensitive skin, as it’s been made to cater to people like you. You won’t have any hypoallergenic reactions and no known harsh ingredients are used in the formula.

Wet n' Wild Powder Highlighter  —  Most Affordable

powder highlighter reviews

Key Features

  • 0.19 oz of highlighting powder
  • Costs less than $5
  • Cruelty-free
  • Contains vitamin E

We mentioned earlier that the powdered highlighters on this list are fairly cheap, and among the products on this list, wet n wild MegaGlo Highlighting Powder is by far the cheapest. At just a little over $4 per pack, you’re getting 0.19 oz of highlighting powder, which is already a good deal on its own. But don’t let the price fool you: this product is made to cater to people with light and medium skin tones with a variety of options.

The highlighter uses micro-fine pearls to result in a special glow that shimmers and adds texture to the finish. It’s also made out of ingredients such as Vitamin E, Murumuru seed butter, Shea butter, and more. Finally, the formula is 100% cruelty-free and always will be, so if you’re adamant against animal testing, then this is a good business to support.

Maybelline Powder Highlighter  —  Best Look

powder highlighter reviews

Key Features

  • Versatile formula
  • Vibrant look
  • Metallic finish
  • Made by Maybelline

Highlighters don’t always need to shimmer and be bright. One of the main reasons people use highlighters is because it adds another layer of texture to the skin. This is the case with Maybelline’s own highlighter powder, with a chrome metallic finish that makes your skin look bright, vibrant, and smooth. It may not be a natural look like the one you’d get with a bronzer, but if you’re going for something that’s otherworldly, this highlighter’s a great way to achieve that look.

The powder is quite versatile, as you can achieve a strobing effect with it or a sculpted look when combined with contour. Maybelline’s always been known for its good makeup products, and this highlighter is no exception to this. While there are only two tones available, it’s a niche product anyway, so having more than one option is already pretty good.

Milani Baked Highlighter  —  Most Ethical

powder highlighter reviews

Key Features

  • Made by LA-based company 
  • Cruelty-free
  • Provides both matte and shimmery finishes depending on product
  • Many options to choose from

Highlighters can provide either a shimmery or matte finish depending on the type of highlighter used. Milani’s baked highlighter line provides both options, so if you’re looking to mix up your look every now and then, you can get both finishes for varied looks whenever you go out in public. The formula is 100% cruelty-free, so you won’t be supporting any animal abuse when buying this product.

The highlighter can be applied using a brush and can really add emphasis to certain points of the face. As an LA-based makeup company, this line of highlighters is made for diversity, and anyone can use these highlighters thanks to the plethora of options available. If you love supporting brands that are made for the people, then you’d do well with buying Milani’s products.

Finding The Perfect Powder Highlighter: A Buyer's Guide

Using a powder highlighter can instantly turn your face into a beautiful glowing canvas for your eyeshadow, lip gloss, and other makeup products. Learn more about powder highlighters by reading more below.

What Is a Powder Highlighter?

A powder highlighter is a highlighter product that highlights certain parts of the body depending on where you apply them. They are made with powder-based formulas and are either applied as a powder or dried up to become powder after settling on one’s face.

Why Should You Use Powder Highlighters?

It adds contour to your face

Have you ever wondered how drawn sculptures look like they pop out more than regular 3-dimensional sculptures? The answer has to do with contour. In a 2D drawn image of a sculpture, you can easily outline parts of the face that you want to emphasize, such as the jaw, cheeks, lips, and the like. For a 3D sculpture, you are essentially at the mercy of proper lighting to emphasize certain parts of the artwork without using certain techniques.

Highlighters recreate this 2D-like effect on one’s face. It highlights certain parts of a face as if you were drawing them on a 2D canvas, giving them more contour and shape than you’d normally see on a regular face. It’s a drastically different look compared to one without makeup, for sure, but in the right conditions, it can really add to one’s overall look. 

It makes your face pop out more

While highlighters can be used as a method to contour the face, they can also be used to simply, well, highlight. You don’t need to recreate a cartoony look with highlighters even if you very well could. Simply making certain parts of your face pop out can do wonders for your face. For example, you can make your cheeks look fuller than they actually are when properly applied, so even if you don’t have defined cheekbones, they’ll still stand out.

Of course, there is such a thing as TOO much highlight. Imagine using a book highlighter on every single word on a page. Sure, everything is highlighted, but because of that, you don’t know what to look at anymore, since they all look the same. This also applies to makeup: applying highlighter everywhere will make the highlighter lose its effect, so pick and choose wisely when applying them to your face.

Types of Highlighters

Powder highlighters are just one type of highlighter that you can use on your face. Let’s look at a couple of other ones as well as dive a little deeper into the use cases of powdered highlighters.

Liquid highlighters

Liquid highlighters are highlighters that are made up of a mostly liquid-based formula. Because of its makeup, liquid highlighters are fairly easy to apply, though you’ll need to wait a bit before they settle on your skin. Liquid highlighters are great for a few reasons, the main reason being the fact that it is very easy to blend with other makeup products. Blending is much easier with liquid than it is with powder or cream, so liquid highlighters can be a great starting highlighter for those new to makeup.

Another reason why people like liquid highlighters so much is because it results in a natural-looking glow. Since the liquid sinks into your skin better than powder or cream, your skin will glow much more subtly, which makes it great if you don’t like the look of heavy makeup at all. It’s a personal choice, for sure, but if you’re a fan of natural looks, then liquid highlighters are your best friend.

Powdered highlighters

Powdered highlighters are the highlighters we’ve reviewed in this article. They’re generally thicker than liquid highlighters and slightly more difficult to blend since they’re made out of powder. However, don’t let these negatives turn you away from powdered highlighters, as they’re especially handy for people who want to make their highlights stand out.

When it comes to making highlights pop, powdered highlighters are queen. They stand out very easily, much more so than liquid or cream, making them great if you want to go all-out with your look. If you’re looking for something a little more subdued, however, then you’ll want to go for the middle man: cream highlighters.

Cream highlighters

Cream highlighters are like a mix between powder and liquid. While they aren’t as dry as powder highlighters, they aren’t as light as liquid highlighters, either, resulting in an interesting middle ground for a product. Cream highlighters are great for people with naturally dry skin, as the cream moisturizes the face as it settles.

One reason why you’d want cream highlighters is for their subdued look. Unlike the natural glow of liquid highlighters or the illumination of powder highlighters, you get a much more lowkey finish with cream, which is nice if you want to make your face pop but not by too much.

Powder Highlighter Price Range

Powder highlighters go for as little as $2-4 per pack, making them very affordable makeup products. Even brands such as Maybelline sell their highlighters for far less than $10. As such, you won’t need to spend that much money to get your hands on a powdered highlighter, but be prepared to spend a bit extra for premium makeup brands.