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Which cream highlighters are best?

Cream highlighters are perfect for achieving a luminous, healthy glow. They have a texture that’s much closer to your skin’s natural form, which keeps them looking natural on the skin. You can simply dab some on with your fingers as they are super easy to use and blend like a dream.

RMS Beauty’s Living Luminizer Highlighter is an ultra-sheer highlighter that instantly adds a youthful, dewy glow to the skin. It’s infused with coconut oil, castor seed oil and vitamin E to help hydrate and soothe your skin. It’s also formulated to work with all skin types and comes in five shades. 

What to know before you buy a cream highlighter

Skin type

Highlighters come in powders, liquid and cream formulas. The key is to find the right one for your skin.

  • Dry: If you have dull, dry and mature skin, a creamy highlighter will be your best friend for a fresh, dewy look. 
  • Oily: If you have oily skin, it’s a good idea to steer clear of cream and liquid formulas and opt for powders, which will stay put for longer.
  • Normal or Combination: Any formula is likely to work well for those with normal to combination skin, so it’s all down to personal preferences.

Skin tone

Not all highlighter shades are versatile enough to work for every skin tone. Silver, pink and pearly tones work best if you have pale to light skin or even light to medium skin. For medium to deep skin tones, warm shades of gold, bronze and peach work well. 

As a general rule, you’ll want to choose a cream highlighter that’s just a couple of shades lighter than your complexion for a natural-looking highlight.

What to look for in a quality cream highlighter


Some cream highlighters are formulated with clean and natural ingredients such as shea butter, jojoba oil, fruit pigments, rosehip oil and vitamin E to give your skin added benefits. If you have sensitive skin or want to clean up your beauty routine, choose a natural formula that’s free of all the regular skin irritants like alcohol, fragrance, parabens and sulfates. 


Cream highlighters are typically dewy, but they come in a number of different finishes. Some formulas have a melted metallic finish, while others have a more shimmery finish. A few cream highlighters also come in a soft pearl finish.


Some cream highlighters only offer a few shades, but others come in as many as 10 shades. The best way to pick a highlighter shade is to look at yourself in good lighting and pay attention to the undertones in your skin. Cream highlighters with a wider range of shades provide a better chance of helping you find the right match for your skin tone.


Cream highlighters typically come in small jars, sticks, palettes and tubes. While jars, sticks and palettes are ideal for more solid formulas, tubes are great for thinner formulas and strobe creams. A highlighter stick is perfect to put in your purse for touch-ups on the go.

How much you can expect to spend on a cream highlighter

You can pay $6-$88 for a cream highlighter. Drugstore cream highlighters usually range from $6-$13, and formulas with higher-quality ingredients cost $14-$38. High-end cream highlighters from luxury brands can range from $38-$88.

Cream highlighter FAQ

Where should you apply cream highlighter on the face?

A. Always apply a cream highlighter on the highest points of the face and areas you want to pop or accentuate. You can use it on the cheekbones, brow bone, temples, your cupid’s bow and along the bridge of your nose.

Do you put on a cream highlighter before or after foundation?

A. Generally, a highlighter goes on after your foundation, although some cream formulas do work better when applied before. You can also just wear a cream highlighter without other makeup to illuminate your skin and achieve an effortless, natural look.

What are the best cream highlighters to buy?

Top cream highlighter 

RMS Beauty Living Luminizer Highlighter

RMS Beauty Living Luminizer Highlighter

What you need to know: This award-winning cream highlighter instantly perks up the skin with subtle and sheer light-reflecting pigments.

What you’ll love: It’s easy to use and works well on all skin types. It’s loaded with skin-loving organic oils and melts seamlessly into the skin. Also, it’s lightweight and has a long-lasting finish — a little goes a long way. The shade “Living Luminizer” is flattering on a wide array of skin tones. 

What you should consider: It’s a bit pricey.

Where to buy: Sold by Sephora and Amazon

Top cream highlighter for the money

Maybelline Facestudio Master Strobing Stick Highlighter

Maybelline Facestudio Master Strobing Stick Highlighter

What you need to know: This creamy, dermatologist-tested and non-comedogenic.stick adds a glowy, luminous dimension to the face in a few easy strokes.

What you’ll love: It looks natural and is easy to blend. It can be built up for a full-on glam look that lasts all day. Also, it’s lightweight, compact and travel-friendly and has a non-sticky finish. Finally, it’s a good value for money.

What you should consider: Some users found the shimmer to be slightly chunky and textured.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Fenty Beauty Match Stix Shimmer Skinstick

Fenty Beauty Match Stix Shimmer Skinstick 

What you need to know: This versatile makeup stick comes in 10 shades that highlight, blush, bronze and enhance depending on the shade you pick.

What you’ll love: It’s easy to apply and leaves you with a subtle glow. It has a smooth and creamy texture that sets into a powder-like finish. In addition, it’s highly pigmented, long-lasting and suitable for all skin types. Plus, its magnetic packaging is sleek and convenient.

What you should consider: Some users found that it dries down fast, so you need to blend it in more quickly.

Where to buy: Sold by Sephora


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Esha Saxena writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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