Highlighter Highlights: Cream vs Powder? Benefit or MUA?

As a self-confessed flat face, I’m a huge fan of contouring and highlighting. I’ve reviewed lots of blushers and bronzers which I use for the contouring part and now, it’s time for the bright side!

When it comes to highlighters, there are so many types available it’s hard to decide. Cream highlighters, powder highlighters – gold toned, pink toned – where do we begin? Do we need so many? Why does it come in so many colours?

Never fear my pretties, I’m here to lay it allllll down. If you are new to the world of highlighting – check out my MUA powder highlighter review  and my Where To Apply Touche Eclat for my attempt to draw diagrams…!

But if you’re a seasoned highlighting pro, you know as well as I do that you want, desire and NEED the whole range of highlighters in your arsenal. Are you missing anything?

Here’s my pick of the bunch.

makeup highlighters benefit mua beauty cosmetics review blog

Why so many highlighters?

As with the rest of your makeup – different highlighters are used for different looks and effects. Your skin type and makeup application skills will work best with a specific texture and if you haven’t found it yet, you’re missing out!!

First, let’s talk colour. Whilst you can get white, lavender, pearl or gold – essentially, it boils down to warm tone vs cool tone and shimmer vs matte.

For the most natural effect, warm tones & olive skin should look at golden highlighters and pale, cool toned skin should look at pink/pearl colours. Think bout it – do you look better in gold, or in silver tones? 

 Neutral toned girls should be able to get away with both! I’m a neutral/warm tone so my collection is a bit of everything. (Oh yeah, and I’m obsessed with buying and hoarding makeup, so that may be related..)

Next, texture.

Cream highlighter – for a dewy glow, cream highlighters sink into skin and can be applied with brushes, fingers or even straight from the stick. Cream highlighters can give the most natural effect but they can also be the most intense if applied straight up!

My pick of cream highlighters is the Benefit Watts Up! which is a lovely rose/champagne colour and comes with a little blending sponge too. This is perfect for warm skin-tones and great with a tan. Topshop Glow Highlighter in Gleam came a close second but was harder to use as it comes in a pot.

Powder highlighter – use powder highlighter for a soft-focus, diffused effect which you can layer up easily for the intensity you want. Great for oily or sensitive skins, I often find powder easier to blend and more forgiving than cream highlighters. 

I recommend the MUA Undress Your Skin highlighter which I reviewed here. It’s great for targeted highlighting or even an all-over finish and IT’S SO CHEAP. It’s a great budget alternative for the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder or MAC Skinfinish.

Liquid highlighter – this can be pinpointed onto skin for razor-sharp detail or mixed into liquid foundations and blushers for an all-over glow. 

For me, the YSL Touche Eclat is ideal and my review shows all the ways you can use liquid highlighter, but I’ve picked the Benefit High Beam as it’s slightly more pearlized, the extra shimmer reflects light a bit more – and it’s a bit more versatile to use. I’d probably also nominate MAC strobe cream, if I owned it!!

makeup highlighters benefit mua beauty cosmetics review blog

As you can see, the textures, colours and finishes are all so different!! The Watt’s Up cream highlighter has an amazing golden tone, and the High Beam gives the sheerest finish.

And before you think of asking me, I couldn’t pick a favourite! I need them all for different occasions!

 And I STILL don’t have enough. For now – I favour shimmery highlighters as I’m after a dewy glow – however, come the summer and the heat (hopefully), I’ll be looking for a matte highlighter to add to my collection.

Oh, and I need a gold-tone powder next… and then a liquid gold higlighter.. and then a white one… just GIMME ALL THE HIGHLIGHTERS.

Do you use any of these highlighters? What is your favourite texture to work with?

 What highlighters do I need to add to my kit?! Give me your recommendations!


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Zoe Bayliss Wong
Zoe Bayliss Wong

Zoe is a Forbes ’30 under 30′ finance pro, style writer, presenter and panellist, working for a fashion startup and trying to live that best life in the most IRL way possible.

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  1. Rena Blank
    April 26, 2014 / 7:09 pm

    I can't pick a favorite type but Benefit is definitely my favorite brand! xx Rena Kiss and Make Up

  2. gemma
    April 26, 2014 / 9:46 pm

    I love Benefit, one of my fav makeup brand.xx

  3. Sara Trojaniello
    April 27, 2014 / 2:59 pm

    High Beam seems to be fantastic…I don't use often highlighter powder, but I have to buy one …so this post helped me 🙂

    • Zoe Dubs
      April 30, 2014 / 9:59 pm

      Every gal needs a highlighter in their makeup bag 😉

  4. Gwen Peacock
    April 29, 2014 / 12:46 am

    I really really want to try High Beam – it's been in my basket and out of my basket so many times. I think it'll have to come home at some point – I usually use powder highlighters like Ambient Lighting powder. peacockbeauty.net

    • Zoe Dubs
      April 30, 2014 / 9:57 pm

      I prefer powder for everyday as it's easier for me to use but the high beam is great for a sheer wash – very natural! x

  5. Emily
    April 29, 2014 / 1:33 pm

    I love the MUA powder, got both of the Benefit ones but neither hit the spot with me. I use the Seventeen Skin Wow Primer as a liquid highlighter though, it is pretty nice!Emily, bonjouremily.blogspot.co.uk

    • Zoe Dubs
      April 30, 2014 / 9:58 pm

      I like the Seventeen Skin Wow but I think the High Beam gives a little bit more of a 'natural' finish. Watts Up doesn't work on any of my pale friends but my darker skinned pals LOVE it. x