Bougie vs. Broke: Highlighter Bonanza

I am aware that no one is fooled by highlighter, looking for the part in the heavens that must be shining on (just) the top of my cheekbones and tip of my nose when we meet. That’s cool, I love the excuse highlighter provides to swipe glitter on my face.

Bless those theatre nerds, figuring out years ago that highlighting the high planes of the face made it more arresting. Following their lead, MAC introduced “Strobe Cream” to the mass consumer in the 1980’s.

Highlighter blasted into the makeup product stratosphere in the 2010’s. I blame smart phones. With digital photography capability (and all it’s high resolution glory) in our pockets, sculpted and glowing skin became a crave-able trend.

bougie vs. broke: highlighter edition

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Tati Says More Is More (Highlighter)

Under the guise of research, I dove into YouTube, watching gurus apply and review shiny, shiny products (Tati Westbrook is my favorite, even if she’s not a non-problematic beauty guru).

Now I have a Sephora highlighter sampler pack, two Stila liquid highlighters, and two drugstore favorites. What happened and also help?

Long story short, now I’m a highlighter expert. Someone needs to benefit from this random (expensive) knowledge. And, today, that someone is you.

my collection of nine different highlighters
This is a perfectly acceptable number of highlighters to have and way to display them.


I apply highlighter with a small brush as it provides the most precision. I want to highlight the tops of my cheekbones, not smear it haphazardly on the sides of my face.  Also, I put highlighter on last and a small brush doesn’t disturb the other products on my face.

Turning straight towards the mirror and giving my reflection some serious side-eye helps me see exactly where the highest points of my cheeks are.

Highlighter goes on my cheekbones, the cupid’s bow, the browbone, the inner corners of my eyes, above my eyebrows, and down my nose.

I blend highlighter like eye shadow, trying for no harsh lines. Only a bit goes on my brush so it spreads evenly. A damp beauty blender can soften intensity if I apply too enthusiastically.
bougie vs broke highlighter edition pinterest graphic

Drugstore Highlighters:

  • Physicians Formula Butter Highlighter
  • Essence Pure Nude Highlighter

The Expensive Stuff:

  • Fenty Beauty by Rhianna Shimmer Stix Skinstick
  • Benefit High Beam
  • Artist Couture Diamond Glow Powder
  • Milk Makeup Highlighter Stick
  • Stila Glitter & Glow Highlighter
  • Cover FX Custom Enhancer Drops

Physicians Formula Butter Highlighter, Pearl

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White as  an angel’s wings, the Physician’s Formula highlighter looks celestial on my cheeks. In the pan this alabaster is almost intimidating, but it works. The formula blends and spreads easily, no white stripes on the skin.

This product has no discernible glitter, only sheen. The butter formula strikes the perfect balance between glowing and subtle. Physicians’ Formula lasts all day, does not transfer, and it smells like the beach.

I have minor texture issues with this highlighter, meaning that it slightly settles in my fine lines and exaggerates my  pores.

Consumers agree, giving this highlighter a 4.3 out of 5 stars.

ir?t=ishmom 20&l=am2&o=1&a=B075K784FKEssence Pure Nude Highlighter

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Oh, my. This one’s my favorite, y’all. I’m as gobsmacked as you, especially since the other contenders are, like, Fenty.

But this Essence Pure Nude! So natural, so buildable. Such an unusual color-not exactly gold, or peach, or rose gold. In the pan, the color is deceiving. But whatever color this is, it’s the closest to mimicking my actual skin. There are no glittery chunks, no pink or white tones present; the Essence highlighter truly prompts others to remark upon my well-restedness.

There are no texture issues with this product. None. That may be because the formula is so light. If you are one who craves drama from a highlighter you may be willing to trade texture issues for more sheen.

The Essence highlighter was rated a 4.2/5 stars on 20&l=am2&o=1&a=B01N5FKQ71

Fenty Beauty By Rhianna Match Stix Shimmer Skinstick

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This stick highlighter felt as if I’d gone into the kitchen, lifted the lid from my Pioneer Woman butter dish, and applied the goodness within down the bridge of my nose. That’s how smoothly this product went on; no pulling or skipping.

The Fenty Shimmer Skinstick is a similar pink as the Benefit High Beam, but with glitter. Chunks of glitter that somehow don’t look chunky on the face. Another baffling aspect of Rhianna’s sass sheen is that it comes off easily at night without transferring or fading during the day.

I commonly have texture issues with cream highlighters and this is no exception.

…I may not be the only one, as this product only received a 3.1/5 stars on Amazon.

Benefit High Beam

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Benefit High Beam is a beautiful wet pink mess for my face. The itty-bitty, nail polish brush-esque applicator makes for easy precision. As it’s liquid a little goes a long way, but it’s viscosity also makes it easy to blend.

I’m a big fan of this product, it’s worth the hype. It gives a opalescent sheen that catches the light beautifully. High Beam plays well with powder highlighters; it’s great for layering to create extra drama. This is my favorite product for highlighting the inner corners of the eye and the brow bone.

If I use too much I’ll have texture issues, otherwise, it’s fine. Pretty impressive for a liquid product.

High Beam earned a solid 4/5 stars on Amazon.

Artist Couture Diamond Glow Powder

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This highlighting powder so literally looks like crushed diamonds that I didn’t want to dip a brush into it. I have never seen finer glitter particles in my life. They sit gently on the skin and play well with other products. Not only are there no texture issues; the Diamond Glow powder has a blurring effect on my skin.

It’s not an everyday one for me, though. I live in Indiana and this highlighter IS NOT AROUND. And it transfers easily. Little A rubs his face against me a lot, at the end of the day he’s covered in diamond dust.

Amazon wants to know if I’d like to be the first to review this Artist Couture highlighter. Sure. 4.5/5 stars.

Milk Makeup Highlighter Stick

q? encoding=UTF8&MarketPlace=US&ASIN=B01BP8JBCI&ServiceVersion=20070822&ID=AsinImage&WS=1&Format= SL250 &tag=ishmom 20ir?t=ishmom 20&l=am2&o=1&a=B01BP8JBCIir?t=ishmom 20&l=am2&o=1&a=B079P86CM8ir?t=ishmom 20&l=am2&o=1&a=B000FBNYRUWhomp, whomp, here lies my least favorite highlighter of the bunch.

Janky face crayon that’s uncomfortable to apply, then sits on my skin in such a way that it looks like the dried mud in those withered puddles with a bunch of tiny cracks in it, has no color payoff, yet also doesn’t blend well.

This product received 4.4/5 stars on Amazon and all thirteen of those people are wrong.

Stila’s Glitter & Glow Highlighter
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This stuff is intense, like unicorn plasma in a bottle. On the wand, it looks like the old school ’90’s Wet n’ Wild body glitter. Is my bathroom a rave now? It’s too early for ecstasy and spastic dancing, Stila, go home.

I scoffed at the cost: why was this party glitter so pricey? Because it dries down fast without feeling drying or tacky. The Glitter & Glow highlighter doesn’t budge. No matter what. So you can rave all day, I guess.

If you like dramatic makeup you’ll love the Stila highlighter.

Cover FX Custom Enhancer Drops

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The golden hue of this liquid highlighter (positively infused with fine glitter particles) gave me pause at first. Then it dried down to a good imitation of my peachy/pink skin tone. Touche, Enhancer Drops.

A little goes a long way, I don’t recommend using the dropper to apply. If I use too much it drags into my under eye, looking weird and exaggerating texture.

Those with more oily skin types may not like this product as much as I do. The Cover FX drops received a 3.5/5 stars on Amazon.

What are your favorite highlighters? Or does the whole highlighter trend annoy you? Let me know in the comments below! If you try any of these, take a makeup selfie and tag me. If you share this article you’ll be visited by the Highlighter Fairy.

Check out my last Bougie vs. Broke here!

What's the best highlighter for you

bougie vs broke highlighter edition ish mom blog



Megan writes everything on Ish Mom. She possesses a bachelor's degree in psychology, a flair for theatrics, and a whole lotta nerve. She lives in the Midwest (and loves it) with her wonderful husband and three young boys.

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