The Best Highlighter Sticks

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When you want to reach red carpet-ready levels of radiance in a flash, a highlighter stick is the quickest application route, since it doesn't require a brush and can easily be used on-the-go. Most of the best highlighter sticks will consist of a balm-like formula that glides over skin smoothly and imparts a weightless, shimmery sheen. Some highlighter sticks will give you a sheer, lit-from-within glow, while others produce a more reflective effect with colorful, holographic finishes. They can even include skin-nourishing ingredients like hyaluronic acid, castor seed oil, and green tea extract.

When it comes to where to apply your highlighter, the options are almost as diverse as the finishes and colors you have to choose from. The easiest way to remember where to dab on highlighter is to think of the places where the sun would naturally hit your face first (down the bridge of your nose, across the tops of your cheekbones, and under your brow bone). You can also put some highlighter on the inner corners of your eyes to fake a more wide-awake look, and at the cupid's bow to create the illusion of fuller lips.

From gorgeous golds to pearlescent pinks, shop the best highlighter sticks on the market right now, just ahead.

Best Highlighter & Contour Stick Duo

Highlighting and contouring go hand-in-hand, and the NYX Wonder Stick is capable of doing both, thanks to its clever, dual-sided design. One end holds a darker color that's ideal for enhancing the natural contours of your face (the hollows of your cheekbones, the sides of your nose, under your jawline, and the sides of your temple), and on the opposite end is a lighter shade with a hint of shimmer for highlighting. You could technically do a full face with this one little stick: In lieu of eyeshadow, use the darker shade on your eye crease and the highlighter on your lids and under your brow bone, et voila. All you need is a swipe of lip gloss, and you’re good to go.

  • Available shades: 6
Best Dewy Highlighter Stick

If you don’t care for highlighters that can be seen from outer space, this is the stick to add to your collection. The Glo Skin Beauty Glow Up Highlighter is all about giving your skin a natural-looking sheen, with its sheer, slightly iridescent finish that's meant to mimic a post-facial glow. Because it's a translucent shade, this dewy highlighter works on all skin tones, and it's also incredibly moisturizing, thanks to ingredients like hyaluronic acid, shea butter, and vitamin E.

Best Champagne Highlighter Stick

Lord & Berry's Luminizer in the shade ‘Moon’ is a silky-smooth highlighter that looks gorgeous on all skin tones. Dot the highlighter onto your skin for a soft, champagne finish or layer it on for a more golden effect. While you can definitely use a brush to buff this highlighter (or any of the highlighters on this list) into your skin, the brand's makeup artist recommends that you apply it straight from the bullet and blend it out with your fingers. Because the formula is so blendable, you can even use this as an eyeshadow.

Best Gold Highlighter Stick

When you want more of a bronze-gold glow (which looks especially gorgeous on darker skin tones), this W3LL People Bio Brightener Stick will give you a hydrated hit of shine. Despite being formulated with moisturizing ingredients like hydrolyzed jojoba esters, castor seed oil, green tea oil, and aloe leaf extract, it doesn't add any extra weight or feel greasy on skin. This stick goes on best if it's first warmed up with your fingertips, and it's also EWG-verified and certified cruelty-free by both Leaping Bunny and PETA. This would look gorgeous as eyeshadow, too.

Best Pink Highlighter Stick

Pastel-pink highlighters, like this one from Maybelline's FaceStudio collection, work especially well on pale skin with naturally pink undertones. While it certainly adds some shimmer, the strobing effect comes courtesy of micro-fine pearl particles, so there aren’t any chunks of glitter. The formula itself is creamy and easy to blend, whether you use your fingers or a brush.

Best Splurge

The Hourglass Vanish Flash Highlighting Stick has a unique formula that adjusts to your body temperature as you apply it to blend more seamlessly and smoothly into your skin. It was made with what the brand calls “microspheres” to give it a lightweight, barely-there feel, while the stick’s triangular shape was designed to allow for more precise application. ‘Rose Gold Flash’ (pictured here) looks stunning on just about everyone, but it’s also available in bronze, pink, gold, and champagne colors.