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Best liquid highlighters in 2024: Elevate your makeup looks from £8

Best liquid highlighter header woman applying make up to her face

Get glowing with the best liquid highlighters to enhance your features in an instant

If you’re looking to add natural radiance to your skin then the best liquid highlighters are worth a punt. Whether you’re looking to accentuate features such as cheekbones and eyes or combine with contouring products to sculpt your face, the best highlighting wands, drops and illuminating liquids will do the job.

No matter your skin type, naturally oily or dry, a highlighter can deliver a glow to skin that no other makeup product can match. You can also use them sparingly or layered to achieve your desired look. And with price tags that won’t break the bank, a liquid highlighter is well worth adding to your makeup bag.

Below, you’ll find our tried-and-tested pick of the top-rated liquid highlighters on the market. We’ve put them through their paces so you can make the right choice. Before you dive in, read our guide on the things to consider when looking to buy the best highlighter for you.

Best liquid highlighters: At a glance

Best pigmented liquid highlighterCharlotte Tilbury Beauty Light Wand (~£30)Check price at John Lewis
Best affordable liquid highlighterNYX Born to Glow Liquid Highlighter (~£8)Check price at Amazon
Best liquid highlighter dropsICONIC London Illuminator (~£32)Check price at LookFantastic

How to choose the best liquid highlighter for you

Which type of highlighter works best?

This will all depend on the job you want it to perform. If you’re looking for something to add a glow to just your cheekbones, then a wand will enable you to apply the product to the area with ease. On the other hand, highlighting drops used with a small brush enable more precise application – to the inner eye, for example.

For sheer value for money, you can’t beat a highlighter base: use it under your makeup to brighten your complexion, or over it to bring shape to browbones.

How do I find the perfect tone?

Those who want their highlighter to work as a blush should pay particular attention to the range of shades available for each product, to find one that delivers a perfect rosy glow. If you want a highlighter that leaves skin gleaming, then the more pigment in the product, the better. If a subtle, natural glow is what you’re after, avoid products with shimmer, instead opting for more buildable formulas.

How we test liquid highlighters

We’ve personally tested all the highlighters on the list below, following any instructions on the packaging.

We start by taking note of the ingredients of each product, and then apply each highlighter as stated – as a base, or on specific parts of the face as suggested. As well as paying attention to how a particular highlighter feels on the skin, we examine its immediate effects, as well as how well it wears over the course of a day. In addition, we assess the packaging and make a value for money judgement, taking into account the minimum amount you have to spend to secure a high-quality product.

The best liquid highlighters you can buy 2024

1. Charlotte Tilbury Beauty Light Wand: Best highlighter overall

Price when reviewed: £30 | Check price at John Lewisbest liquid highlighter Charlotte Tilbury Beauty Light Wand on a white background

The entire ethos of the Charlotte Tilbury brand is about achieving a glow, and if there’s one product you need to buy to do that it’s the Beauty Light Wand. The applicator is perfect for applying to the areas of the face that you want to draw attention to, while the formulation itself strikes the perfect balance of neither being too shimmery nor too subtle. When it first goes on it feels nice and tacky, and it’s sublimely easy to blend to whatever degree of luminosity you want.

What’s more, the product is available in an extensive range of shades, so whether you’re better suited to pink or peach tones, you’ll find a great match here. Pair it with the brand’s blush wand for the perfect cheek-sculpting duo.

In testing, it lasted all day, delivering a lovely natural glow to skin – and the design of the packaging meant that it was easy to use on the eyes, nose and cheeks. If there’s a downside it’s the price – and the fact that having used it, you’ll want to buy every other Charlotte Tilbury product available, too.

Key features – Quantity: 30ml; Best area to apply: Cheekbones; Over or under makeup application: Over; Number of shades: 7; Vegan: Yes

Check price at John Lewis

2. Iconic London Illuminator: Best highlighter for pigment

Price when reviewed: £32 | Check price at LookFantasticbest liquid highlighter Iconic London on a white background

These liquid highlighter drops have enjoyed cult product status for quite some time now, and having put them to the test, we can say it’s for good reason. Like Charlotte Tilbury’s Beauty Light Wand, the London Illuminator is available in a decent range of shades, and delivers eye-popping pigment in just one drop. As with the Charlotte Tilbury wand, it feels tacky when applied onto skin, so that you can really work it into the areas you want with ease.

Per millilitre, these drops are certainly expensive, but a little goes a long way – there were no signs of fading even after a 12-hour workday and evening drinks. Its drop-stopper applicator is tailor-made for application along cheekbones, and with the use of a brush it can be dabbed on inner eyes and on the bridge of your nose, too. You get a guaranteed glow with this one.

Key features – Quantity: 13.5ml; Best area to apply: Cheekbones; Over or under makeup application: Over; Number of shades: 4; Vegan: Yes

Check price at LookFantastic

3. NYX Born to Glow Liquid Highlighter: Best budget highlighter

Price when reviewed: £8 | Check price at Amazonbest liquid highlighter NYX born to glow on a white background

NYX is always a good choice when it comes to value for money, and this highlighter – which comes in at under £10 – is a great example of the kind of products the brand offers for those on a limited budget.

Available in four shades, we found the Born to Glow highlighter best used under makeup, as opposed to over it, to give a subtle glow to the entire face. It has an immediate feel on the skin that’s more liquid than tacky, which I think is suitable considering you want to use it as a base. It is also rather iridescent, giving a luminous look rather than a warm glow, which might not be for everyone.

While it doesn’t pack quite as much pigment as the Iconic drops, and doesn’t last quite so long when used as an over-the-skin highlighter, it does the job while coming in at a great price. The packaging means that you’ll need more space in your makeup bag for this than you will for a highlighter wand or drops, but its multi-functional selling point likely makes that worth it.

Key features – Quantity: 18ml; Best area to apply: Cheekbones; Over or under makeup application: Can be applied over and under; Number of shades: 4; Vegan: Yes

4. By Terry Brightening CC Luminizer: Best highlighter for a skin-like finish

Price when reviewed: £38 | Check price at LookFantasticbest liquid highlighter By Terry Brightening CC Luminizer on a white background

If you’re into the no-makeup makeup look, then this pen from By Terry does not disappoint, with a finish that illuminates your skin while staying subtle. Arriving in a beautifully designed pen-like case, topped with a supple brush, it’s super easy to apply with a light touch.

Unlikely to be the right choice for those looking to create a makeup look that says all-out glamour, it’s more likely to suit those wanting a more natural finish. This is a luxury product, so if you’re looking for the final touch to your makeup for a big event, or if you’re looking to splurge because a highlighter is your holy grail product, then the quality here will be worth it for you.

In testing, we found that it not only accentuated our features, but it also helped to disguise any redness, and it lasted well throughout the day, delivering radiant-looking skin. It has a thinner consistency than other options on this list, which adds to its ‘barely there’ vibe, and unfortunately it’s only available in one shade, which the brand claims is ‘universally applicable’ to all skin types to give off a glow. Some might find this a little dubious, so getting hold of a tester, or steering clear if you’re unsure about the shade, might be wise.

Key features – Quantity: 15g; Best area to apply: Cheekbones and features; Over or under makeup application: Over; Number of shades: 1 (Universal shade); Vegan: Yes

Check price at LookFantastic

5. Lumene Invisible Illumination Instant Illuminizer: Best highlighter for a dewy finish

Price when reviewed: £26 | Check price at John Lewisbest liquid highlighter Lumene Invisible on a white background

For a dewy finish that lasts all day, these Lumene drops are a game-changer. Applied over makeup for subtle illumination, this highlighter has a water-like feel that will remain looking as dewy into the evening as it appears when it’s first applied. Lumene’s brand ethos is all about makeup that feels like skincare, so it’s no surprise that this crafts a naturally dewy finish.

These drops work well mixed in with your foundation, too, for a fresh-faced look. It can’t compete with the best highlighters out there for shade range, but it’s certainly a match for sheer staying power. The stopper bottle also has a pleasingly high end feel, and makes application and stashing it for travel that bit easier. The Golden Hour shade, which we tested, is especially gorgeous, with the tiniest flecks of gold.

Key features – Quantity: 15ml; Best area to apply: Cheekbones and features; Over or under makeup application: Over; Number of shades: 2; Vegan: Yes

6. Benefit High Beam: Best for on-the-go application

Price when reviewed: £17 | Check price at LookFantasticbest liquid highlighter Benefit High Beam on a white background

This is a more subtle take on a liquid highlighter; it’s perfect for building up your glow. The padded applicator makes this highlighter easy to apply over the face, and the formula feels silkier but thinner than others on test, which might suit those who prefer a skin-like finish. When first applied, it dries quite quickly, so be wise with where you’re initially placing the applicator. It’s a long-lasting option, and during testing, we found it only budged when washed off at the end of a day.

When it comes to packaging, we couldn’t help but be drawn to the pearl-lined cap. That’s because, unlike other options on this list, it favours a pink pearlescent glow rather than providing a warm hue – be sure to check that this kind of tone will match your skin before you take the plunge. A tiny travel-sized version of this highlighter is also available, but even the standard-size bottle is perfect for your handbag, and with that in mind, it also won our vote for the best highlighter to apply on-the-go.

Key features – Quantity: 6ml; Best area to apply: Cheekbones and features; Over or under makeup application: Over; Number of shades: 1; Vegan: No

7. Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter: Best all-over liquid highlighter

Price when reviewed: £39 | Check price at John Lewisbest liquid highlighter Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood on a white background

It’s difficult to define exactly where Flawless Filter fits in terms of categorisation, but there’s one thing for sure, it’s perfect for delivering a radiant glow no matter whether it’s applied under your base, mixed into your base or over your foundation.

If it’s an all-rounder you seek, then this original fan-favourite won’t disappoint, even if it’s been duped a thousand times. What makes it so impressive? While also giving an almighty glow, we found during testing that it really does create a blurring effect on your skin that can help to enhance your makeup. It can also accentuate your brow bone, cupid’s bow, temples and centre of the nose. The applicator wand is big enough to deftly apply all over the face, but still precise enough for feature definition. It doesn’t budge – even in hot weather.

Key features – Quantity: 30ml; Best area to apply: All over; Over or under makeup application: Under and over; Number of shades: 10; Vegan: Yes

Check price at John Lewis

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