Nowadays makeup is a part of our everyday lives, just another vital step in our daily beauty routine. However, it has not always been the makeup that we think of and know today. The history of makeup dates back millions of years. Over time, cosmetics have evolved across all cultures, offering a wider range of products with more and more creative applications.

By now, makeup has become a true art form and means of expression. Not only does it adorn our skin, but it can incredibly transform our features. In this sense, illuminators, also known as highlighters, are some of the star products. If you want to learn about the power of this cosmetic tool, pay attention.

Key Facts

  • Highlighters are intended to bring light to our face, giving the complexion a natural glow.
  • Unlike concealers, a highlighter does not disguise or soften our features, rather it enhances and defines them. This allows us to shape and accentuate our facial features in an beautiful and natural looking way.
  • There are different types of highlighters differentiated by their form of application and desired effect.

Ranking: The best highlighters on the Canadian market

This section runs through a compilation of the 5 best illuminators available to you on the market. We give a breakdown of their distinct characteristics, comparing the positives and negatives of each one. We hope that this way, you’ll be able to easily find the highlighter that is best for you.

No. 1: Wet n’ Wild, Mega Glow Highlighter

Wet n’ Wilds multifaceted highlighter can be applied on all parts of the face to accentuate features like the cheekbones and eyes, giving the face a pearly finish. It’s color is an elegant and subtle shade of champagne that easily adapts to your skin tone. With this illuminator, the face acquires a soft, fresh and rejuvenated appearance.

This easy-to-blend formula is 100% cruelty free. The founders are proud members of PETA’s ‘Beauty Without Bunnies’ program, offering amazing products of quality that are available to everyone, including animal lovers. The highlighter comes with a small built in mirror, making it great for use anywhere you go.

No. 2: Maybelline New York, Studio Master Chrome Metallic Highlighter

This Metallic Highlighter comes in two different shades that warm the face with a soft metallic sheen. The makers at Maybelline suggest applying the highlighter lightly for a subtle glow, or opting for heavier application for a bold, shimmery metallic look. The metallic pearls create a reflective chrome sheen for intense illumination of your best features. The soft powder formula allows for seamless application.

This highlighter is ideal for bringing out the best features of our face, enhancing our natural complexion. It is available in a wide range of colours that suits all skin types. This product has been dermatologist and ophthalmologist tested, making it a safe option that works with your skin and body instead of damaging it. Because it is comedogenic, it’s great for those who have acne.

No. 3: Maybelline New York, Facestudio Master Strobing Stick

This product by Maybelline gives all the illuminating power of a highlight but in a convenient and easy to use stick form. The lightweight, creamy texture boosts the natural glow of our skin with its micro pearl formula. This highlighter stick is especially good at producing a strobing effect, a technique that adds depth and dimension to the face, making the skin appear radian from within.

Tested by dermatologists, the Facestudio Master Strobing stick is non-comedogenic and non-allergenic, making it great for use on sensitive skins. The 9g highlighting stick comes in 3 different tones. It’s a product for skin types of all ethnicities, ages and types. For optimal results, draw a C from the arch of the eyebrow to the cheekbone and blend gently.

No. 4: L’Oreal Paris, True Match Lumi Glow Drops

L’Oreal Paris has produced a highlighter that improves the complexion not only by brightening the high points, but by hydrating the skin to increase its overall natural glow. It’s light and fresh texture easily fuses with the skin, allowing for precise and smooth application. These Glow Drops offer lighter shades to highlight, and darker shades to contour the cheekbones.

This 2.5ml liquid illuminator comes in an exclusive and convenient marker form. It has pigments that capture and reflect light incorporated within its formula, which is also enriched with microspheres of hyaluronic acid for intense hydration. This works to combat wrinkles and other signs of ageing, providing sustenance to the health and vitality of our skin.

No. 5: Technic, Get Gorgeous Highlighting Shimmer

The Highlighting Shimmer is a liquid illuminator that comes in a 35ml container. This non-comedogenic gel provides a soothing and pleasant texture that absorbs cleanly into the skin. It leaves the skin feeling light and fresh. This shimmer highlighter is great for those with oily-skin, as it acts while reducing the appearance of acne and redness.

Reviewers love this product by Technic. It’s hybrid pigments give depth to the face while creating a subtle luminosity, lighting up the whole face. The Get Gorgeous Shimmer can be applied alone or in combination with your foundation. It’s a versatile product that can be incorporated at any point in your beauty routine!

Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about highlighting products

It is vital that you’re familiar with all the characteristics and qualities of highlights before purchasing one. Below, we have included the most relevant features to consider when it comes to choosing illuminators. Moreover, we’ve addressed the most frequently asked questions and most common concerns amongst buyers.

Woman applying highlighter

Illuminators give you the finishing touch of your final look.
(Source: Drobot: 49340133/

What is a highlighter exactly?

These days, you’ve probably heard of highlighters mentioned as one of the top cosmetic products, with its popularity continuing to rise significantly as years go on. But do we really know what a highlighter is? As its name suggests, highlighters or illuminators are cosmetic products designed to bring light and brightness to the face. It contains different particles that reflect light, brightening our complexion for a youthful, more radiant look.

Normally, it is applied to the face to outline certain features like the cheekbones, nose and chin. This gives more dimension and depth to our complexion, greatly affecting our overall appearance. However, it’s uses are quite versatile, and its function can be extended to be used on other parts of the body as well.


Highlighters provide even more benefits when used in combination with other types of cosmetics. They are a great supplemental product to our overall makeup routine that can greatly improve our look.

What are illuminators used for?

Highlighters are used to give light to the areas of the face that need it the most. By accentuating the natural curves and lines of the face this product enhances our features to obtain a natural glow and diminish signs of skin degradation. You could say the illuminator is the magic wand of all cosmetics. It brings the sparkle of brightness that our skin needs with a simple touch.

An illuminator works by creating optical illusions that, in turn, exaggerate and shape our features in a profound and yet subtle way. This effect is obtained by adding touches of light to modify the angles and dimensions of the nose, cheekbones or chin. The result, a more sophisticated, defined and sharp look, while at the same time being fresh, soft and natural. This product is the perfect complement to complete a flawless look – The cherry on top for a perfect finish!

Powder Illuminator

When using powder illuminators, a brush is recommended.
(Source: Johnson: 34323453/

When should I use a highlighter?

There are no strict guidelines that define exactly when you should use an illuminating product. Highlighters stand out because of their versatility. The ways in which we an use and apply highlighters are endless, simply because it is a product that can be applied alongside almost any other cosmetic to enhance their effects. A few touches of an illuminating product will give extra vitality and dimension to the face.

This type of product can be a very useful thing to have on hand for a night out on the town. The illuminator can be applied generously or a bit more conspicuously, it all depends on the desired look. For late night events or prominent celebrations, a good dose of highlighter will give the skin an exciting and magical shimmer that will make you stand out in a crowd.


Remember that you can use a highlighting product to enhance and improve your makeup whenever you need it.

What ingredients do highlighters contain?

We know that illuminators boost and amplify the natural luster of our face. But how do they do it? Their secret comes from their composition, its special formula includes light-reflecting components, often referred to as mineral microparticles. Once applied, our skin receives an extra dash of brightness in the areas you wish to enhance.

Moreover, some highlighters contain additional components that increase their already effective brightening qualities. This is due to the multitude of tiny substances that have the ability to increase microcirculation within the blood – which is responsible for the tone of our skin. They often incorporate exfoliating or depigmenting substances as well, giving our skin a soft, radiant appearance.

Woman with illuminator” width=

What is the difference between an illuminator and a concealer?

A common misconception among users is that these products are interchangeable, when in fact there are slight but distinct differences between an illuminator and a corrector that give them separate and specific jobs. However, because they are both used as a supplemental product that improves the effects of other makeup products, they are often mistaken. Alas, they are not the same and shouldn’t be used interchangeably, as they are used to achieve totally different effects.

Although both products work to emphasize the defining features of the face, the results of each are quite distinct, once you recognize them. The concealer serves to correct imperfections such as spots, pimples or dark circles. They effectively cover flaws, making them go unnoticed. On the other hand, the role of the illuminator is actually to do the completely opposite. It serves to enhance and bring out certain features instead of covering them.


We’ve found there are certain areas where applying illuminator gives the perfect finish.
(Source: Prykhodko: 83667967/

Weather you use one or the other, will largely depend on the results you wish to obtain. In certain cases, they function as a complementary products to each other but with opposing functions, as is the case of contouring the eyes. The concealer will cover under-eye circles to eliminate signs of fatigue, while the illuminator is applied to give more depth to the area.

What types of highlighters are there?

At the moment, there are is a large variety of highlighting products for all styles and tastes. In general, they can be classified according to their texture and the individual finish they provide. In addition, each highlighter is made to work on different skin types, providing specific results.

In terms of texture, there are highlighters that come in powder, liquid and cream form. With regards to their finish, there are illuminators that give a lot of full bodied shine, while others provide a softer, subtler shimmer to the complexion. In this sense, we can separate highlighters by their level of radiating components; those that give an intense pearlescent brightness and those that lighten the face in a softer and subtle way. Below, we have summarized the most important qualities of each type:

Texture Finish Type of illuminator Characteristics Skin Type
Powder Compact powders that provide brightness.Very easy to use and apply. Applied on top of the base or without base. Can be mixed with other illuminators and products. Particularly suitable for oily skins.
Liquids Great versatility. Light in texture and easy to apply. Moisturizing effects and can be used under, over or mixed in with the base. Ideal for dry skin types.
Creamy Compact creamy texture. Generally, used on top of the base. Comes in various formats. All skin types.
With glitter Intense and striking effect. Strident brightness. Used for a more dramatic look during evening events (parties, special occasions).
Pearlescent gloss Natural gloss. Elegant and subtle results. Variable intensity. Useful for everyday or special occasions.
No gloss Matt finish. They create enhanced dimensions to the face. Best for day to day use and more natural looks.

Where should I apply highlighter?

Experts in the world of makeup have found the areas of our face where an illuminator plays an essential role. These are specific regions that, when brightened, amplify the contours of the face providing an elegant and sophisticated look. Some of the places that almost always benefit from the application of a highlighter is under the eyes or in the nasolabial fold.

These areas often create unsightly shadows that can be corrected with a touch of highlighter. However, the cheekbones, eyebrows and tear duct of the eye are the most common locations for use of this product. In these areas, an extra touch of light is very flattering, as it outlines each feature. The area around the lips is frequently given less attention, but adding the slightest touch of illuminator works wonders to give the lips a fuller look.

L`ORÉAL ParisRecognized Makeup Brand

“With a highlighter, your cheekbones become more prominent, your nose looks more narrow and the lips become fuller.”

What is the best way to apply a highlighter?

Generally speaking, highlighters are usually applied after foundation. This is due to the low coverage qualities highlighters have. We must remember that its purpose is to complement the makeup we’ve already applied with a touch of light. Experts advise avoiding an excess of illuminator in the T-zone, since it is already naturally wide and prominent.

The best way to apply each highlighter will depend on the form it comes in. A makeup brush is recommended for powder highlighters. In the case of creams, they can be applied with nothing more than the fingertips, blending with light, smooth touches. Liquid illuminators can be applied with sponges or brushes, either mixed with the base product or solo.

Woman with illuminator

There are many differnt formulas depending on skin type and desired finish.
(Source: Yakobchuk: 48653466/

What adverse effects can the use of a highlighter have?

As we have seen, highlighters act as an accessory to improve the detailed touches our makeup already gives. It should be applied on well-defined areas in small quantities, normally on top of a cosmetic base. Because it is usually applied sparingly on top of other products, no adverse effects associated with the illuminator itself have been described.

However, as with all other cosmetics, there is the possibility of developing allergic or hypersensitivity reactions. Illuminators may contain certain products that are harmful to specific people that suffer from allergies or skin conditions. They may also be irritating in case of coming in contact with the eyes. Like all cosmetics, they must be used and handled with care.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of using highlighters?

In recent years, highlighters have become an essential component of any makeup regimen. They bring the possibility of illuminating the face to a whole new level. Brightening certain features to bring our inner vitality to the surface. Below, we’ve compiled a table with the main advantages and disadvantages associated with the use of highlighter products.

  • Provides light and brightness to the face
  • Profiles and enhances our features
  • Combats signs of fatigue
  • Easy to apply and highly versatile
  • Possible allergic and reactions due to hypersensitivities

Purchase Criteria

When purchasing an illuminator, there are a number of factors one should take into consideration in order to choose a highlighter that works the best for their specific features. Below, we have included the most relevant characteristics that you should consider before purchasing one of these products.

  • Format
  • Finish
  • Desired effect
  • Skin type
  • Composition


We’ve already touched briefly on some of the different formats of highlighters and illuminators that are available on the market. Depending on the results you want, skin type you have, and preference of use, this is one aspect that isn’t of crucial importance, however will allow you to use the product in the most convenient and natural way possible.

Powder highlighters are by far the most commercialized and most common product format of this type of cosmetic on the market. Its application is very easy and its results are often intense and profound. These highlighters are best for those with oily skin. If, on the other hand, your skin is already dry and you are looking for more natural results, liquid illuminators will be a much better option for you. Assessing these different aspects will help you make the best decision.


Highlighters are products that stand out for their versatility. They can be used to achieve the most varied of results. You may be interested in bold and loud, more dramatic illuminators – or ones that do the opposite, providing a more subtle and natural look. You need to ask yourself what kind of a finish you want in order to choose the best illuminator for you.

For example, glitter highlighters provide a dazzling and sparkling shine. If you want a more neutral and sophisticated look, you should opt for dull or pearlescent illuminators. The options are endless, so there’s no doubt you’ll find the perfect highlighter, regardless of whatever finish you’re looking for.

Desired effect

Before deciding on one illuminator over another, you should ask yourself what you need it for. This consideration is intimately related to both the format of the illuminator and its finishing properties. For example, you may be looking for an illuminator to give you a cool yet alive looking complexion for your day to day, or a dazzling, luminous look for a night out.

For a subtle highlight, pearlescent or dull illuminators are best. Chromatic and metallic highlighters are best for providing extraordinary shine. In terms of the physical form of the cosmetic, liquid or cream products will be more discreet. For celebrations or night parties where you want to stand out, powder or glitter will be your best ally.

Skin type

Each person has unique skin with certain attributes. These varying traits will determine the needs of our skin and what product we need to meet those needs. Oily skin is going to require a different product than that of skin that dries very easily. Illuminators are no exception to these rules, the product you choose must adapt to your specific skin type.

On one hand, if your skin is rather oily, it’s better to opt for powder highlighting products. On the other hand however, in the case of dry skin, liquid illuminator products will be a better option. Each product has a certain degree of hydration ideal to benefit the requirements of the different types of skin.


Cream illuminators are very versatile, so they can be used on all skin types.


Composition is an essential aspect to take into account when buying any cosmetic. Its importance lies in the possibility of developing undesirable reactions resulting from the use of cosmetic products that contain free radicals and toxic substances. Some people suffer from allergies or skin diseases that can be aggravated by such products.

Therefore, before buying any highlighting product, it’s important to spend a few minutes reviewing its composition. We urge you to ensure that they do not contain any compounds or elements that could be harmful to your health. When in doubt, it’s always best to consult with a specialist first in order to avoid unwanted effects and reactions.


By now, you should have a full grasp of the magic touch highlighter can have and all the reasons behind its success in the world of beauty. Illuminators bring brightness, light and vitality to our face. Not only that, they allow us to create true optical illusions within our features. With a simple touch of lumosity, we can highlight key areas in our face and bodies for an impressive look.

As if that weren’t enough, illuminators are “all-terrain” cosmetics, as they adapt to all skin types and situations. Whether you have oily or dry skin, or you’re looking for specific features or finishes, there will be a highlighter product perfect for you. Last but not least, remember that you can choose the format that best suits you according to your preferences. They all have their own list of benefits!

So, are you ready to give yourself a touch of magic with the perfect highlighter? If you liked our article on illuminators, share it on social networks or leave us a comment with your thoughts.

(Featured image source: Yakobchuk: 100117417/

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