Whether applied with a heavy hand or a delicate touch, there are so many amazing formulas and products dedicated to get the glow and sculpt you desire – no filter needed!
Photographer Alex Evans
Text, Makeup, and Art Direction by Sabrina Rinaldi
Powder formulas are the most common forms of contours and highlighters, and almost every brand has their version of it. They are universally flattering and easy to use. Depending on the pigment and formula, they can be lightweight or bold.
The Icons Collection Limited Edition Palette ($95)
This palette contains eight products in one! There are matte and shimmery highlighters, bronzers/contours, and even flattering blush colours. As a makeup artist who has to lug around 100 lbs of makeup on the reg, anytime I can get several amazing products in one palette, I have to have it! The colours and textures are amazing and apply beautifully.
KAT VON D
Shade & Light Contour Powder ($64) at SEPHORA
The contour palette comes with three matte highlighters and three matte contours in different tones, both warm and cool, allowing for mixing and matching. Sometimes matte formulas don’t blend as smoothly as their shimmery counterparts, but that is not the case with these powders. It’s also worth noting the Shade & Light Eye palette which has highlight, contour, and blush, along with a variety of matte eyeshadows.
Illuminate Palette ($35) and Contour Palette ($35)
The Sephora brand is great at taking what their customers love about other brands and churning out their own versions at a better price. These palettes are no exception. The Contour Palette comes with six matte shades – three highlights and three contours. Depending on your skin tone, you could use the colours in a variety of ways. They apply very well and have decent pigment. The same goes for the Illuminate Palette, which has an array of six different shimmery highlighters in a mix of warm and cool colours.
Hyper Real Glow Palette Flash & Awe ($39.50)
MAC is slaying the highlighter game with this trio of highlighters in one palette. The consistency is nothing short of luxurious with a flawless pay off. It’s definitely similar to the super popular highlighters from Becca, but you get three amazing tones in one palette.
Stick Highlighter & Contour
Stick highlighter and contour products are great for those on-the-go, travelling well and abiding by the “no liquids” rule when flying. They apply with ease and can yield result as minimal and flawless as their liquid counterparts.
Studio Skin Shaping Foundation ($48) at SEPHORA
While technically labeled a foundation, these sticks have a contour colour on one end and a highlighter colour on the other. As I’ve mentioned, I love a product that gives me the best bang for my buck while limiting how much I need to carry. The formula is the perfect natural matte – not too heavy or too light, covering imperfections flawlessly.
Insta-Fix Highlighter in Gold & Light Pink ($12.32) at TARGET
This brand has been around since 1932, and they continually put out great products at a great price. These highlighters are a perfect example of that. The shimmer and pay-off is comparable to that of its luxury brand competitors. The formula isn’t too greasy or oily, making it long-wearing and ideal for oilier skin types while still creamy enough for those with drier skin.
LA Lights in Hollywood and Highlight ($36) at SEPHORA
I love this highlighting stick! It’s so creamy with a bold kick of shimmer. The packaging comes with a built-in blender on the opposite end, but I found the formula worked best when applied and blended with my fingers. However, it may be too emollient for oilier skin types.
Watt’s Up! ($40) at SEPHORA
This stick highlighter with a built-in sponge is definitely tied with Smashbox as a favourite. It’s a perfect consistency, flawlessly blending the shimmery highlight into the skin. The shimmer is so fine and well-milled that glitter particles aren’t detected, and all you are left with is the perfect reflective highlight.
Liquid and Cream Highlight & Contour
Liquid and cream products have gained popularity in the last decade or so, especially in recent years given the rise of the “dewy skin” trend. Dewy skin is not just for fresh-faced models and the tricks of makeup artists; more and more consumers are wanting the softer, more natural look that a cream or liquid can provide. But don’t get me wrong, these formulations can still pack a punch if that’s what you desire.
ANASTASIA BEVERLY HILLS
Contour Cream Kit in “Light” and “Fair” ($40)
Contouring and bronzing very pale skin can be a challenge because most products on the market are too orange or pigmented for pale skin types. These shades from Anastasia are perfectly ashy, the ideal tone for those with milky skin. The “Fair” palette also has a shimmery, creamy highlight that I use daily on set.
MAKE UP FOR EVER
Pro Sculpting Palette ($55) at SEPHORA
This quad from MUFE has four essentials: a concealer/highlighter, contour/bronzer, a shimmer highlight, and a peachy-pink blush, all in a convenient package. This makes it a breeze to bring with you for quick application and touch-ups wherever you may be, whether for personal use or a makeup artist on set.
Dew the Hoola Soft Matte Liquid Bronzer ($38)
Why I love this creamy, liquid version so much is that it is a stand-alone product. There is not much else out there that has this same consistency for gentle defining and bronzing of the face. It’s also sheer enough that it could be used all over the face for a sun-kissed glow.
Hero SKU the Living Luminizer ($47.50)
I have to include this makeup artist favourite because not only is this highlighter one of the best for shimmer, dewy texture, and glossy finish, but it is also from the all-natural brand RMS. When a product can be this good and good for my skin, I have to have one for myself and one for my kit.
Jelly Beam Illuminator ($50) at SEPHORA
This odd jelly-like illuminator caught my attention because it has a consistency I have not seen before. It goes on creamy and glossy and dries to an almost lacquered finish. The shimmer is so refined that it reflects the most glorious highlight of all highlights.
Strobe Cream in Peach Lite ($40)
I worked at MAC in the early 2000s, and Strobe Cream was the only thing like it on the market at the time. It’s definitely the OG liquid illuminator. Now in a market full of shimmer creams, Strobe cream still stands the test of time. It’s updated version, Peach Lite, offers a sheer-tinted, warm, and peachy glow. It’s perfect for the face or body.