6 best highlighters for dark skin tones
Gone are the days of looking chalky and washed out, we've found your new favourite glow
Highlighters used to be the best kept secret of makeup artists around the world, but word got out and the 'glow up' has become a global phenomenon. Just one flick through Instagram will show dewy, shimmery and youthful faces, perfectly highlighted in the places where the sun naturally hits. Remember J-Lo in the "Waiting For Tonight" video? That’s the glow we all hope to achieve.
But searching the world of highlighters for the perfect shade when you have dark skin is tough. Formulas can come up ashy or too glittery. Thankfully the industry has been taking steps to cater for those with more melanin in their skin.
It does take a little bit of experimenting though. As we are stepping into the season of excess, often we are tempted to go all out. But less is always more. Highlighter is buildable, so there’s no need to cover your face in it. Start small and gradually build up to the perfect finish. There is a plethora of textures now available on the market, spanning from creams to powders and liquids to balms. And we have gathered the best so you can shine bright like a diamond.
Glossier Haloscope in Topaz: £18, Glossier
Any time Glossier drops a new product, it’s almost like a silently answered prayer. When the millennial-pink skincare brand first released Haloscope – a cream highlight that comes in a twist-up tube – us darker-skinned ladies let out a disappointed sigh. Yes the first shade, named Moonstone, was beautifully dewy but it did absolutely nothing for us brown girls. Enter: Topaz. A wonderfully silky, golden shade that flawlessly glides over the skin like an Instagram filter, adding a sunset warmth to your complexion.
It features a balm at its centre, ensuring the skin is hydrated and moisturised. This creamy highlighter can be blended using your finger tips, creating a natural lit-from-within look. If you’re looking for a more pigmented finish, then this product is not for you. It’s quite sheer, so perfect for anyone who prefers a no-make-up makeup look.
Soleil Tan De Chanel Sheer Illuminating Fluid: £32, Harrods
If you’re not one for powders, this illuminating fluid will completely change your life. Its liquid, weightless texture evens out skin tone and instantly brightens skin, thanks to its light reflective pigments. What we love about this highlighter is its ability to either be worn alone or with foundation. It doesn’t give off much colour, but instead a natural glow. Chanel’s Soleil Tan De Chanel's range really suits all skin tones which is why we love it so much. The illuminator fluid has real staying power too, which helps justify the price.
The only qualm we had was the heavy duty glass jar which is great for the environment, but reminds us of the days we spent smashing a Heinz Ketchup bottle against our palms to get the product out. Hit it too hard and you are covered in the stuff, creating a mess. We suggest using the product that spills out onto the lid, to avoid necessary wastage.
Iconic London Luminous Powder: £32, Harrods
Iconic’s products have been, well, iconic to say the least, and its luminous powder is no different. Almost creamy to touch, the shimmer drenched pigment in this formula delivers a delicious, glossy finish on darker skin tones in just one sweep. Pop a little on your brow bone, cupid’s bow and cheek bones for an all-over glow. Our tester applied the powder with a dampened brush for a silky finish.
Fenty Beauty Killawatt Foil Freestyle Highlighter Palette: £42, Harvey Nichols
Ladies: prepare to have your wigs snatched. Fenty Beauty just keeps delivering the goods over and over again. As part of RiRi’s holiday collection, the limited edition Killawatt Foil Freestyle Highlighter Palette is the product we’ve always wanted. Think a highlighter palette so good it can double up as eyeshadow. The colours are highly pigmented and suit all skin tones, giving just the right amount of shimmer without making dark skin tones look dusty. The formula is incredibly blendable, so use a fan brush to get that colour poppin'.
Beauty Bakerie Illuminator in Glistened: £27, Beauty Bay
This black-owned brand has been on the social media circuit for some time, and is well known for being the inspiration for industry dupes and more importantly, their lip whips that are incredible. And their highlighters are just as jaw dropping. Their collection is impressive, spanning from bronze to rose gold, to more wild shades like green and soft lavender. Glistened, a stunning bronze shimmer, gets all the brownie points for simply making everyone look like a glistening Queen.
NARS Illuminator Super Orgasm: £23, Net-a-Porter
NARS liquid illuminator comes in various shades, but Super Orgasm is truly special. Not to be confused with Orgasm, Super Orgasm takes climaxing to another level. Its rich peachy-golden shade truly makes melanin POP thanks to the lightweight formula that instantly dries down to a powdery finish. It can be added on the brow bone for an extra glow-up, your decolletage and cheekbones. We love it all over to be quite honest, and without makeup for a sweet shimmering blushed finish.
The Verdict: Best highlighters for dark skin tones
The absolute winner for us was the Glossier Haloscope in Topaz because the shimmer is gorgeous and it looks amazing with and without makeup, delivering a beautiful glow. Chanel’s Soleil Tan De Chanel Sheer Illuminating Fluid comes in at a close second with its silky-finish proving to give off a natural glow. But if you really want those cheek bones to pop, we’d suggest Fenty Beauty’s Killawatt Foil Freestyle highlighter palette.
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