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, ideal for normal to oily skin. 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.






Shade & Light Contour Powder ($64) at SEPHORA

The contour palette comes with three matte highlighters and three matte contours in different tones, mixing 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 payoff. It’s definitely similar to the super popular highlighters from Becca, but you get three amazing tones in one palette.


Filmstar Bronze & Glow ($68) at NORDSTROM

When CT launched her cosmetics line her highlight and contour duo was instantly coveted by makeup artists and consumers alike. It’s easy to see why: both formulas blend well and the tones in each palette are very flattering for their intended skin colour. I love how the highlight in the medium/dark is a warm peach. Most highlighters will come across too frosty on darker skin tones, but CT takes this into consideration with her warm peachy highlight. 




#Instamarc Light Filtering Highlight & Contour Powder ($61) at SEPHORA

The duo highlight and contour palettes come in a range of colours for different skin tones.  They are a nice matte finish – for those wanting to avoid shimmer. The highlight powders are either pink, peach or yellow. When trying these I found the highlight tones to be too pigmented for my liking. As opposed to just giving a sheer wash of colour to colour correct – these actually applied colour and looked more obvious that I would have liked. 


3D Highlighter Palette ($59) at SEPHORA

I couldn’t do a review without testing out Insta-famous makeup artist Huda’s take on highlighters. The palette comes with 3 shimmery powder highlighters in a white, gold and peach and a creamy, taupe neutral. My favourite part about this palette is the creamy neutral that is included. Whenever applying any powder product – having a creamy texture to layer underneath it always helps to grab pigment and blend seamlessly (stay tuned for a tutorial I will do on this application process). So, this was a key selling feature to me. The shades and pigment are great and the payoff is nice and definitely buildable. 







If palettes aren’t your thing because you like to mix and match your brands and formulas – there are a plethora of individual highlight and contour/bronzing products on the market to suit all your glow goals. 


Extra Dimension Skinfinish in “Glow With It”, Mineralize Finish in “Cheeky Bronze, “Global Glow”, Bronzing Powder in “Refined Golden” ($34 each) 

Leave it to MAC to have a texture and tone for everybody. Whatever your skin colour or makeup needs may be, you are sure to find it at MAC. These individual bronzers with different textures and tones all accomplish their goal whether it is to be matte or shimmery. The payoff and pigment are intense in the best way possible.




Pro Bronze Fusion ($43) at SEPHORA

This powder bronzer has the added benefit of being waterproof – which is definitely a great feature for those wanting to wear a little sheer bit of colour to the beach or pool. 




Hoola Powder Bronzer ($38) at SEPHORA

I think it’s safe to say that the Hoola bronzer from Benefit is a legit cult classic. Most women have probably bought this bronzer or if not, have heard of it. And you can see why its loved by so many. Aside from Benefit’s commitment to the cutest packaging ever – this bronzer glides onto skin seamless in a shade that is universally flattering for most skin types. Once a winner – always a winner. Love this product. 



FENTY Killawatt Freestyle Highlighter in “Trophy Wife” (pictured), “Metal Moon”, “Mean Money” & “Hu$tla Baby” ($34 USD each)

RiRi recently stepped into the beauty arena with her own line of cosmetics to huge and overwhelming success. Trophy wife is an intensely gold pigmented highlighter that was talked about in beauty circles. Much like RiRi herself, this is a bold and statement-making highlighter. This is for a crazy night out or a red-carpet appearance. The other shades in the range are less in your face but just as pigmented and coveted. 




Luminizing Face Enhancer ($95)

On the other end of the spectrum is this delicate and soft highlighter from French brand Cle De Peau. The payoff is so gentle that is it ideal for the highlighting novice or those who wish for their highlighter to not enter the room before them. Definitely a go-to product for those who prefer “less is more”.   


Highlighting Powder in “Bronze Glow” (pictured), “Pink Glow” & “Afternoon Glow” ($59 each) at SEPHORA

To say these individual highlighters are luxurious is a gross understatement. Even looking at them in the case, you can see how buttery and creamy the formula is even though it is technically a powder. Each shade shimmers and shines perfectly on the skin. 




Dandelion Highlighting Powder ($38) at SEPHORA

Like Goldilocks who liked things not too much nor too little but “just right” – this highlighter from Benefit is “just right”. The perfect amount of shimmer and shine that would make anyone happy – even Goldilocks. 








Shimmering Skin Perfector in “Moonstone” ($46) at SEPHORA

I remember hearing about this product before I had actually seen it. It lived up to the hype because when this hit the market – it was the first to have such a creamy, indulgent texture that blended seamlessly into the skin. While the market now has other similar offerings, the Becca highlighters will stand the test of time as a must have.




Other great on-the-go formulas are the stick highlighters and contour products. This formula travels well and abides by the “no liquids” rule when flying, and they can yield results just as minimal and flawless as their liquid counterparts.



Studio Skin Shaping Foundation ($48) at SEPHORA

While technically labeled as 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 perfectly.



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 payoff are comparable to that of its luxury brand competitors. The formula isn’t too greasy or oily, making it long-wearing and ideal for even 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. 




Match Stix ($25 USD)

Aside from the fact that the packaging is killer (the stix are magnetized and stick together) – there are 20 shades for every skin tone out there. This long-wearing, light matte formula is perfect for contour, highlight or all over coverage. Don’t buy it because you love Rihanna, buy it because it’s %&#$ing amazing.





Hoola Quickie Contour Stick ($38)

This stick version of the Hoola Powder Bronzer is just as glorious in tone, texture, and pay-off as its original version. Just the right amount of pigment to contour and chisel out features without anyone noticing. 






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.




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 to contour with for lighter skin types. The “Fair” palette also has a shimmery, creamy highlight that I use daily on set.




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. 


MAC Strobe Cream in Peach Lite ($40)

I worked at MAC in the early 2000s, and Strobe Cream was a one-of-a-kind product. It’s definitely the OG liquid illuminator. MAC now offers Strobe Cream in Peach Lite – which is a perfectly warm and peachy glow. I love is how sheer it is – it doesn’t need to be diluted, mixed, or layered, perfect for face or body.


Shade and Light Cream Contour ($64) at SEPHORA

The same as the powder version of this palette: Kat Von D gives you 3 highlight colours/colour correctors and 3 contour colours. The formula is as creamy as you hoped it would be. And the tone of the contour colours is warmer and more golden. For those who find Anastasia too ashy, you definitely want to check out this offering from Kat. 






Hollywood Contour Wand ($50)

What a wonderful product to work with! This tube of sheer, tinted bronze realness – applies perfectly through the sponge-tipped applicator. It is ideal for those who want just a kiss of colour and warmth to their skin. 




Shimmering Skin Perfector Liquid Highlight in Moonstone ($41 USD)

The liquid version of the powder highlight. This liquid is more cream than liquid and is ideal for either mixing into foundation or applying over/under foundation. It gives the most delicate and subtle glow in just the right way. 




Wonder Glow Soft-Focus Beauty Flash ($76.56) at NORDSTROM

CT’s wonder glow is just as amazing as the Becca version. Equally as flattering whether mixed in or applied over/under foundation. What I loved about Charlotte’s take on the liquid luminizer – is the additional dewiness it gives to the skin. It’s also so light in texture that it could be worn alone.




FreshFace Instant Glow Luminizer ($47) at SEPHORA

This version from Fresh smells exactly that: Fresh. It has a cucumber scent that instantly makes you feel like it’s a summer day. This cream is a golden, peachy tone that I love mixed in with my foundation. I also added some to body cream for an all over shimmer effect! 




Ultra HD Soft Light Liquid Highlighter ($36) at SEPHORA

This pinkish liquid highlighter goes on ultra-frosted and creamy but dries to a slightly less intense finish. A little goes a long way. 







I couldn’t review highlighters without testing a few of the holographic offerings out there. This is definitely a trend but one worth trying over the summer months. Holographic/iridescent tones reflect so beautifully in sunlight so make sure to try it yourself if you are going to music festivals and outdoor concerts. 




Holographic Stick ($34)

Probably one of the most popular versions – This stick highlighter imparts a perfectly dewy amount of holographic highlight to the face. Its lightweight formula keeps it from looking too heavy or overdone.




Extra Dimension Skinfinish in “Soft Frost” ($34)

This powder compact gives you ultra-holographic wattage! Definitely for those wanting an iridescent hit of colour to the face. 



You Glow Girl Iridescent Jelly ($15) at SEPHORA

This was another of those products I found while trolling the aisles at Sephora. It also has that same jelly-like texture. But suspended in the glossy goodness are these iridescent glitter particles. When applied it goes on so smoothly and then dries to a glossy finish. I strongly suggest doing this as your last step in your makeup routine by trying to apply on top of it ended up with some flaking. 




Holographic & Cheek Palette ($35) at SEPHORA

I love Sephora’s take on the trend. A six-shade palette that covers all the different iridescent tones. For someone wanting to try this trend but not break the bank – this is your best bet! 







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