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Over the past few years, highlighter has practically become as essential to our makeup routines as concealer or lipstick. But just like these longtime staples, when it comes to selecting a highlighter, it's not a one-color-fits-all approach. For anyone who automatically reaches for the lightest shade of foundation they make (hi, it's me), the best highlighters for fair skin are soft, iridescent shades with pearlescent tones. Typically, bronze or gold highlighters are too warm for fair skin, but there are still plenty of silvery, champagne, pale pink, and lilac hues to choose from.
In addition to playing with a range of shades, you can also switch up the types of highlighter you use. Certain highlighters may be better for certain skin types, as well. Cream and liquid highlighters are great for a less pigmented, more natural-looking glow because the formulas tend to be less concentrated. They're also a good choice for anyone whose skin is on the drier side, as they don't look as cakey over dry patches and tend to contain more moisturizing ingredients. On the other hand, oily skin types may not like liquid formulas as much, which is where powder highlighters come in. They’re less likely to feel greasy, and powder formulas tend to be more pigmented so you can build them up for a bolder finish.
For the boldest, most long-lasting effect, you can combine two different highlighters. Start by dabbing a few drops of liquid highlighter across the high points of your face, then layer a powder highlighter (in a shade as close to the liquid formula as possible) over the top.
To help get you started with finding the best highlighters for fair skin, check out the options ahead.
1. Best Powder Highlighter For Fair Skin
If you like a highlighter with a frosty finish, Physicians Formula Butter Highlighter in ‘Pearl’ is a super-pigmented option with a shimmering, silvery tone. Though it looks like a powder in the pan, ingredients like murumuru butter, shea butter, and tucuma butter give the highlighter a creamy finish that makes it just as easy to swipe over the high points of the face with your fingers as with a brush. Because it's a pearlescent highlighter, you can also apply it at the inner corners of your eyes for a more wide-awake effect.
2. Best Highlighter Stick For Fair Skin
This Jane Iredale Glow Time Highlighter Stick in ‘Cosmos’ still gives skin a pearlescent glow that's flattering on fair skin tones, but with a touch of pastel pink for a subtle pop of color. The vegan and gluten-free formula includes moisturizing jojoba seed oil for a creamier finish that blends right into skin, whether you apply it straight from the bullet or use your fingers to tap the highlighter into your skin. Its creamy consistency also allows it to multitask as a cream eyeshadow in addition to a face and body highlighter. Plus, the stick applicator means it's safe to store in your makeup bag for on-the-go touch-ups without having to worry about a mess.
3. Best Liquid Highlighter For Fair Skin
L'Oréal Paris made it easy for every skin tone to find their most flattering highlighter with their True Match Lumi Glotion line that named each of its four shades (‘Fair’, ‘Light’, ‘Medium’, and ‘Deep’) after the skin tone for which they were created. ‘Fair’ is a frosted pink liquid highlighter that was designed to be used several ways. Because the shimmer isn't as concentrated as a powder or cream, you can mix a few drops of the highlighter with your foundation for a subtle, all-over glow (you can also apply it all over your skin first as a primer). Or, use your fingers to dab the highlighter across the high points of your face (your cheekbones, down the bridge of your nose, on top of your cupid's bow, along your brow bone, and at the inner corners of your eyes). Alternatively, you can apply the liquid highlighter with a Beautyblender for a sheerer finish, or with a stippling brush for a more intense effect.
4. Best Korean Highlighter For Fair Skin
This K-beauty find has a totally unique application method that's both clever and cute (and exactly what we've come to expect from Korean beauty products). The KAJA Roller Glow Highlighter comes with a mini roller sponge applicator that essentially allows you to paint the highlighter onto your skin. The highlighter itself is a pearly pink color with a light golden undertone, and it has a balm-like texture that's buildable and easy to blend once it gets warmed up on your skin. It includes moisturizing ingredients like camellia seed oil and jojoba seed oil, and the formula is cruelty-free.
5. Best Precision Highlighter For Fair Skin
When it comes to highlighting smaller areas like your cupid's bow, the inner corners of your eyes, and just under your brows along the brow bone, it can get tricky if you're using a makeup sponge or brush (or even your fingers). Anastasia Beverly Hills’ Highlighting Duo Pencil gives you pencil-level precision with its double-ended highlighter that can be sharpened to keep it pointy. Specifically created to highlight and define the brows, one side of the pencil has a matte, pastel pink highlighter, while the other houses a shimmery highlighter in a more pearlescent color. Both highlighters feature a creamy formula that's versatile and easy to blend.
6. Best "Clean" Highlighter For Fair Skin
Makeup artist Rose-Marie Swift was ahead of her time when she founded RMS Beauty in 2008 with the goal of creating easy-to-use and effective products with a conscience (the line focuses on using naturally derived ingredients, and many of the products are packaged in recyclable glass and aluminum pots). RMS Beauty’s Luminizer Highlighter is one of the brand's best-selling products, beloved for its ultra-creamy formula that imparts a subtle, dewy glow. ‘Magic’ (pictured) is an opaque champagne color that falls more into the bronze and gold category, but it's not too warm for fair skin tones. However, if you prefer more of a pale-pink highlighter, go with the shade ‘Champagne Rosé. Meanwhile, ‘Living’ is a barely-there, frosted shade that looks stunning on super-fair skin tones. The organic coconut oil, castor seed oil, and vitamin E in the formula help keep skin moisturized and soft, so it’s a great choice for people that are prone to dry skin.
7. Writer’s Pick
I personally like a lilac highlighter on my pale skin because it adds an unexpected hint of color and produces more of a holographic effect when you build up the pigment. Stila Heaven's Hue Highlighter in ‘Transcendence’ is a mix of lilac, pink, and pearlescent pigments, and the formula is one of my favorites. Not quite a cream, the highlighter has a bouncy, putty-like texture that completely melts into the skin without feeling heavy or greasy. You can apply it with a makeup sponge or brush depending on the finish you're after, but it blends just as seamlessly with your fingertips, too.
8. Editor’s Pick
This two-in-one highlighter is one of our editors' top picks for ver fair skin. Rituel De Fille The Alchemist Highlight Intensifier can be used on its own for a part translucent, part iridescent shine with a subtle hint of sparkle. The cream highlighter imparts a dewy finish on skin, and it's cruelty-free and formulated without common irritants (instead, it’s made of entirely naturally derived ingredients). This looks gorgeous on the eyes, too, whether worn alone or layered on top of eyeshadow.