Our Favorite Highlighter: The 2022 List Beauty Awards

A good highlighter is a must-have in any beauty lover's makeup collection. It's also a versatile addition. Of course, the product can provide a dazzling effect on your cheeks and above your brow bone, but what you may not know is that it can also brighten the inner corner of your eyes (making them look bigger), and create that snatched appearance when placed under your brow.

Since highlighters have been considered a beauty staple for years now, there are plenty of options to choose from. That can be a bit of a problem, though. What if you pick something that doesn't work for your makeup aesthetic? Especially when shopping online, it can be hard to tell if you're going to end up with a highlighter that provides a softer glow or one that relies on sparkles. You may want a dewy shimmer but wind up with a disco ball on your cheeks. (Trust us, it makes a huge difference.)

And that's where we come in. The List rounded up five of the most beloved highlighting options on the beauty scene and tested them to find the best of the best. So without further ado, here are The List Beauty Awards: highlighter edition!

ColourPop Cosmetics Super Shock Highlighter: Winner

ColourPop Cosmetics has the beauty industry on lock from its home base in Los Angeles. The cruelty-free indie brand boasts an award-winning line ranging from eyeshadows and lippies to blushes and — most importantly — highlighters. If you have any doubts about these products being worth a buy, take the brand's Super Shock Highlighters out for a spin; the affordable product, which snagged our number one spot, is an absolute must-have for lovers of shimmering cheeks.

We picked up the shade Flute Punch, which was billed as a peach champagne, crème-to-powder formula. At $10 for .15oz., the Super Shock Highlighter won't break the bank in a beauty guru's quest to find a solid highlighting option, but it more than delivers on its promised blendable glow.

Flute Punch is loaded with neutral glitter pearls that subtly flash pink and yellow on the skin. If you're searching for a natural highlighter that blends into your cheeks but glistens with a bit of extra shine, then you can call off your search party — this is it! Texturally, the formula is cool and creamy in the pan. It's a unique feel, but there's no steep learning curve to attain dazzling, high-shine cheeks. 

ColourPop recommends applying the product with a finger for a concentrated shine, but we found that brush application provided a softer glow. Either application process stayed in place for hours (even under a mask!). This compact, screw-top container won't take up much space, but it's only one buy away from becoming a staple in your makeup collection.

Bitter Lace Beauty Luster Highlighter: Runner-up

Based in Las Vegas, Bitter Lace Beauty has been putting its own spin on the highlighting game since 2014. The cruelty-free indie brand consistently delivers innovative, boundary-pushing products that pack plenty of shine. For evidence, look no further than their multi-chromatic Kaleidoscope Glow line.

We tried out the shade Luster, which is billed as a white-based highlighter with a gold to copper to pink shift. Beauty lovers in the know will tell you that buying from indie brands generally comes with a higher price tag. However, a pan of this (it is literally just a pan; you'll need a magnetic holder for storage) costs $20 for .21oz. It's a totally worthwhile investment.

What about that coveted multi-chrome shift, you ask? We saw more of a coppery orange to pink shift in a swatch, but it was less evident on the cheek where we saw more of a sparkly pink glow. The white base sheers out so that the highlighter doesn't leave a cast. Putting it simply, Luster is radiant and summery. The product applies nicely with a diffuse highlighting brush. It can be packed into the inner corner of the eye (where it flashes more white/pink) for a brightening effect. 

This is far and away the most striking highlighter of the bunch. While it may not be an everyday option for a majority of buyers, we guarantee this shimmering gem will be the talk of the town if you step out with it on your cheeks.

Rare Beauty Positive Light Liquid Luminizer Highlight: Runner-up

Selena Gomez brightened the news cycle when she introduced her Rare Beauty line to the pandemic-plagued world in 2020. So far, the brand has lived up to its goal of celebrating beauty from the inside out. That's doubly the case for its Positive Light Liquid Luminizer Highlighter, which provides the long-sought-after glow-from-within look on your cheeks.

The liquid formula is available in eight shades tailored to a variety of skin tones. The brand promises to deliver a light-coverage but long-lasting highlight, and we can assure you that those promises check out. We grabbed shade Transcend, described as a rose gold on Sephora'ssite. At $22 for .5oz., it's a higher price point, but for a good amount of product.

Rare Beauty recommends applying the formula by placing one-to-two dots on your cheeks using the doe-foot applicator that's attached to the lid and then sheering the product out. Doing so leaves you with a stunning, dewy sheen. There's one caveat, though: The process can get messy with product gathering in a reservoir inside the container. Additionally, if you apply too much, it can go cakey on the cheeks.

With a luxe, shimmering finish, this formula is worth a closer look for makeup lovers who prefer liquid and cream face products and have a softer beauty aesthetic. However, if you're fond of powder blush and contour, you may have more of a learning curve in figuring out how to lay this down without picking up your other products.

Jaclyn Cosmetics Accent Light Highlighter: Runner-up

YouTube beauty guru Jaclyn Hill has conquered the beauty industry with a series of branded collaborations over the years (the Jaclyn Hill x Morphe eyeshadow palettes are particularly noteworthy). She took things to the next level by unveiling a line of her own. So far, Jaclyn Cosmetics specializes in face products and – on second attempt – lipsticks. A particular standout is her Accent Light Highlighter.

We snagged the highlighter in shade Awestruck, which is billed as a lustrous blushing rose with a shimmering, creamy, and buildable finish. The color swatches more of a warm-toned coppery orange, but its other promises check out. At $29 for .17oz., this is the priciest option among our picks. Its packaging is also on the bulky side in a way that harkens back to the luxury packaging of prior years.

While the Accent Light Highlighter doesn't boast modern packaging, it does apply like a vision. We recommend using a diffuse brush to melt the product onto your skin. It's darker in the pan and can be built up to a stronger glow, but a light application imparts a soft luster. Because of this, the shade works better as a shimmery blush as opposed to a highlighter on a medium skin tone.

Additionally, Awestruck can be applied to the inner corner of the eye for a brightening glow. Hot tip: Applying with a wet brush will double the shine! This is a must-have for anyone who loves a luxe, glowy finish to their skin.

Wet n Wild MegaGlo Highlighting Powder: Runner-up

You don't have to spend massive amounts of money on beauty products to pull off an enviable makeup look. Drugstore brands such as Wet n Wild have been proving that for years. The brand has countless devoted fans, and its baked MegaGlo Highlighting Powder boasts a cult-like following.

Make no mistake: With its cheap plastic case, the MegaGlo Highlighting Powder doesn't deliver on the fantasy of luxury packaging. There's no illusion that you spent the big bucks to pick this up. However, for less than $6 (the product costs $5.99 for .19oz.) you'll wind up with a highlighter that's more than just serviceable.

We purchased the product in shade Golden Flower Crown, which swatches as a warm-toned gold with a light shimmer. The MegaGlo Highlighting Powder is a little harder pressed than other options but picks up nicely on a brush. It can be built up on the cheeks or applied with one swipe for a more diffuse sheen. Wear time is comparable, and it doesn't show signs of fading.

Plus, we carefully compared this product to high and mid-tier picks and found that the blend is just as smooth and the shimmer just as nice. The color was a little less natural on a medium-toned skin (it was more of a yellow gold), but this is more than just simply good for its price — it's outright good. You really can't go wrong with any of our faves!