Best drugstore highlighter

Face Makeup

Drugstore highlighter can be a game-changer for your makeup routine since it catches the light in the room or from the sun to provide you with a healthy glow and illuminate your complexion.

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Which drugstore highlighters are best?

Drugstore highlighters can be a game-changer for your makeup routine since it catches the light in the room or from the sun to provide you with a healthy glow and illuminate your complexion. It’s best to buy a drugstore highlighter palette if you want highlighters in multiple shades to create a wide range of different makeup looks. The Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette is a fabulous drugstore highlighter palette.

What to know before you buy a drugstore highlighter

Highlighter formulas

There are a couple of different drugstore highlighter formulas to choose from, including powder highlighter and cream highlighter. Powder highlighters are similar in texture to pressed powder bronzers or blushes, since they provide a lot of pigmentation. 

These powder highlighters are an excellent option if you have oily skin, since they will stay in place more than cream highlighters. Cream highlighters have less glitter and shimmer and offer a more subtle and dewy look. They work well for dry skin, due to their creamy texture and consistency.


It’s crucial to select a drugstore highlighter palette with highlighter shades that properly flatter your skin tone. The highlighter will look a little too chalky on your skin if it’s too light, and you’ll be able to see a dark stripe at particular angles if it’s too dark for your skin. 

Lilac, pink, silver and pearl highlighters work well for fair to light skin tones, while rose gold, peach and champagne highlighters work best for light to medium skin tones. Bronze, rose gold, peach and gold highlighters work well for deep skin tones, and peach, gold and champagne highlighters work best for medium and olive skin tones.

Highlighter finishes

Highlighters are typically shiny, but they come in a few different kinds of finishes. Some highlighters have a shimmer finish, while others have a glitter finish or a metallic finish and still others have a satin finish.

What to look for in a quality drugstore highlighter

Number of shades

Most drugstore highlighter palettes feature three to four shades, which is usually enough for most makeup users. But if you are a makeup artist or you like to regularly switch up your highlighter, you should look for a palette with up to six highlighter shades.


Drugstore highlighter palettes are usually rectangular or square compacts. Some palettes are composed of sturdy cardboard, while others are plastic. If you want to travel with your palette, you should choose a plastic palette, since it provides better protection for your powder highlighter shades.


Some palettes have a mirror on the inside that you can use to apply your makeup. This is helpful if you travel with your palette. 

How much you can expect to spend on a drugstore highlighter

Drugstore highlighter palettes with three or four shades usually range in price from about $5-$64. The more basic and budget-friendly drugstore highlighter palettes cost about $5-$22, while the midrange drugstore highlighter palettes go for $22-$38 and the more high-end drugstore highlighter palettes vary in price from $38-$64.

Drugstore highlighter FAQ

Can you use some drugstore highlighter shades as blush?

A. Some drugstore highlighter palettes come with shades that double as blush. Rose gold, pink and peach highlighters work well as blush for fair to medium skin tones, but they are usually too light for darker skin tones. 

Highlighters usually don’t have the pigment you need for blush, and if the highlighters in your drugstore palette are too glittery or metallic, they can actually make the pores on your cheeks appear larger.

Can you use a drugstore highlighter as an eyeshadow?

A. Shades from your drugstore highlighter palette can also act as eyeshadow, which is an excellent way to use a highlighter that’s too light or dark for your skin. Since highlighters are usually on the shimmery side, they are best used on your inner corners or your eyelids, since they can be unflattering in the crease of your eyelids.

Can you only use a drugstore highlighter palette on your face?

A. You can also use highlighter on your body by dusting the highlighter over your collarbones, decolletage and shoulders for a beautiful glow. You can apply highlighter down the middle of your shins to elongate the appearance of your legs.

What’s the best drugstore highlighter to buy?

Top drugstore highlighter

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette

What you need to know: This subtle drugstore highlighter palette from Hourglass is perfect for people looking for a natural look.

What you’ll love: This Hourglass drugstore highlighter palette provides three shades, including gold, champagne and pink. The drugstore highlighter is also simple to blend and build, cruelty-free and created with no fragrance or parabens.

What you should consider: This drugstore highlighter is expensive and doesn’t work for people searching for something dramatic.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top drugstore highlighter for the money

NYX Born to Glow Highlighting Palette

NYX Born to Glow Highlighting Palette

What you need to know: This inexpensive drugstore highlighter from NYX comes with a wide range of shades that work well on various skin tones.

What you’ll love: This budget-friendly NYX drugstore highlighter palette offers six shimmery shades for all skin tones, including bronze, gold and pearl, that can be used either individually or together.

What you should consider: This drugstore highlighter palette works well for makeup artists, but most consumers won’t be able to use all six shades.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Smashbox Spotlight Palette

Smashbox Spotlight Palette

What you need to know: This drugstore highlighter palette from Smashbox is perfect for daily use and glitter-free shine.

What you’ll love: This Smashbox drugstore highlighter palette features two different shade sets, including a gold palette that works well for darker skin tones and a pearl palette that’s better for lighter skin tones.

What you should consider: This drugstore highlighter palette is not right for people looking for something more intense.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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

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