I've spent some time going through my collection this week, so I thought I'd share my thoughts on all the highlighters that I own. At first I want to do a definitive ranking of best to worst but then I realised that all of the highlighters have different functions in my collection. So instead of the ranking my favourite to least favourite, I thought I'd frame the ranking through superlatives, so for example something like best gold highlighter etc. I'm sure it'll make sense as you scroll down and read.
Best 'No-makeup' highlighter
If you prefer a dewy look over shimmer or glow, the Charlotte Tillbury Hollywood Flawless Filter is the perfect highlighter for you. I pretty much use this every time I do my makeup, I usually apply this first before layering over another highlighter. I know some people are able to use this as a full base product, my skin is way too oily for that to work for me though. I just use it on the cheekbones and occasionally my inner corner and cupids bow. It's untraceable on the skin, it just gives the skin the look of being healthy and refreshed.
Most Blinding highlighter
Next is Jouer Citrine and if you love an intense, blinding highlight, this is the one for you! This highlighter is definitely the most pigmented highlighter I own, it almost feels like a smooth eyeshadow. I have kind of moved on from the super blinding highlighter look so nowadays I only reach for this if I wanted a bright inner corner highlight. If I wear it on my cheekbones I spend a fair amount of time buffing it out to suit my tastes. This highlighter has a such a strong sentimental value to me, even though I don't use this very often I'm not sure I could ever get rid of it.
Best 'soft sheen' HIGHLIGHTER
The Nars Highlighter Powder in the shade Fort de France is the highlighter I have been reaching for the most lately (alongside the HWFF by Charlotte Tillbury). I'd even go as far as to say it's my favourite powder highlighter. It has a bit of more gel-like feel to it which allows it to blend in so nicely on the skin. It's the highlighter that contains the least amount of mirco-shimmer of all my powder highlighters and can be sheered out nicely, so it's incredibly versatile in that sense.
Best HIGHLIGHTER for photography
If you're looking for a highlighter that looks great in photography, the Becca Shimmering Skin Perfectors really do pop on the cheekbones in photos. They look so glowy on the skin, less intense than Jouer Citrine but still noticeable. These two highlighters are what I use when doing other people's makeup for special events etc, they are fail-safe and looking stunning in photographs.
Personally, I prefer Opal on myself, (left) although it does look a fair bit darker than all the other highlighters I own, it looks gorgeous especially when I have more of a tan. I've repressed this twice, as after hitting pan on it (again twice), it tended to come loose and was when harder to pick up on a brush.
I don't as much use out of Moonstone (right) purely due to the fact it's ever so slightly too light for my preference. It still looks good on the high points of the face but for me it's just a touch to light.
Best allrounder highlighter
This may seem like a bit of a weird category but I genuinely feel that if you have never owned a highlighter before, The Balm's Mary Lou-Manizer is great one to try out just to see what your preferences are. Nowadays it leans more of the intense side of my collection but it's still very wearable and can be sheered out. It doesn't enhance texture too much but if that's something you're concerned about there are other highlighters I'd recommend before this one.
I believe it's also the first highlighter I ever bought! Today you can get a mini size of it so I'd recommend buying the mini size as I'm nowhere near finishing it up and I used it everyday for years. It doesn't look as well-loved as you may expect it to, I have repressed this once or twice so
Here are how the different highlighters look on my skin tone in natural lighting. As you can see I'm drawn to a particular shade of champagne gold.
Thanks for reading!