Cutting down my bronzer collection turned out to be really easy but reducing my highlighters proved to be a bit more challenging.
I know lots of people like to use bronzers to contour but not me. I prefer to use bronzers on the high points of my face, wherever the sun would naturally hit, to add some warmth and sun-kissed glow to my pasty skin. For that reason I tend to gravitate towards warmer bronzers rather than cool toned or very neutral brown bronzers.
My favorite bronzer is Physicians Formula Mineral Wear Talc-Free Mineral Airbrushing Bronzer SPF30 in Light Bronzer. The talc-free formula means it doesn’t look chalky or powdery on the face and it’s great for people who have dry skin. This is a warm bronzer with fantastic color payoff and a beautiful satin sheen (no shimmer or sparkle). It’s available in two shades; I prefer the lighter one.
Purging my highlighter collection was almost as painful as purging my blush collection because I love highlighters as much as blushes, if not more. My skin is so dry and naturally matte that I rely on highlighters to fake a healthy glow and take away dullness. They’re an everyday staple for me.
When I sat down to edit my stash I was sure I was going to end up with a powder highlighter. Generally speaking, powder highlighters are easier and quicker to apply than cream highlighters. In my experience cream highlighters tend be fussier, requiring more careful placement and blending; if you blend creams too much or too aggressively you can move or sheer out the foundation you already have underneath them. Powders are easier; I can pat some on without even looking really. But when the dust finally settled, surprisingly, I was left with a single cream highlighter.
Out of all the highlighters I’ve ever used my favorite is RMS Beauty’s Living Luminizer. It’s an off white/ivory highlighter with a super subtle pearlescent finish. There’s nothing glittery or obvious about this product and it’s a lot easier to apply compared to other cream highlighters because it’s almost transparent. For the swatch above, I had to layer it three or four times for my camera to even pick up on the white base. To put it another way, imagine coconut oil with a pearlescent sheen except with a more user-friendly, non-greasy texture. The Living Luminizer provides natural looking radiance while still allowing your own skin to shine through.
In my opinion, RMS’ Living Luminizer is really the best highlighter, at least for me. I normally wear cream foundations but I’ve been testing out a powder foundation recently. Initially I was worried about wearing a cream highlighter over powder but I haven’t experienced any problems with it. Because Living Luminzer doesn’t deposit much pigment, just lots of glowy sheen, I don’t have to worry much about making sure it’s blended out correctly. I can easily pat some onto my cheekbones with my fingertips and it never looks blotchy, patchy or streaky.
I love RMS’ Living Luminizer but if I had to choose a favorite drugstore/low-end powder highlighter it would have to be the Physcians Formula Shimmer Strips All-in-1 Custom Nude Palette for Face & Eyes (I prefer the lighter Natural Nude shade for my skin tone) and for mid-range/high end I’d pick Stila’s All Over Shimmer Powder in Kitten.
Both are customizable highlighters that feature pink and bronze shades, so these are definitely on the warmer end of the spectrum. I tend to wear the pink half of Stila AOS Kitten alone or mix both halves together; I don’t often wear the bronze side alone but that’s just my personal taste. The same with the Physicians Formula highlighter; I focus on the lighter top half to highlight with or mix all of the shades together.
The textures of both are on the softer side and they’re both very pigmented, so I recommend lightly touching the powder with your brush to pick up product rather than swirling your brush in the compacts.
They provide a lot more shimmer and glow than the likes of Shiseido High Beam White and Kevyn Aucoin Candlelight but they’re not nearly as frosty or sparkly as theBalm’s Mary-Lou Manizer or BECCA’s Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed powders.
Here’s a look at all of the bronzers and highlighters I purged.
I kind of shocked myself when I let go of theBalm’s Mary-Lou Manizer. For a time I was totally in love with its extreme, frosty glow but when I reevaluated my collection I realized it was simply to golden for me.
The biggest disappointment for me was Dior’s Amber Glow. It was simply too similar to the much more affordable Physicians Formula Vegas Strip to justify the price tag. I was also underwhelmed by Laura Mercier’s Matte Radiance Highlight which kicked up a lot of dust and was so messy. Too Faced’s Candlelight Glow and their bronzers, including Milk Chocolate Soleil bronzer, were also bummers; all of their face/cheek products I’ve tried are very hard/firmly pressed in the pans so it’s difficult to pick up product with a brush unless you really scrub at them or use a scratchy brush and they’re not very pigmented in my experience. I love bareMinerals’ pressed READY eyeshadows and luminizers so their READY bronzer in Skinny Dip came as a huge disappointment. I liked the color but, similar to the Too Faced cheek/face powders, Skinny Dip is a harder pressed powder so the color payoff isn’t great and you practically have to attack it with a brush to pick up any product.