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Makeup Inventory: Highlighters & Illuminators

In one of my recent posts, I decried the hype of a cult favorite—the MAC Mineralize Skinfinish in Lightscapade, which I reviewed here—and a number asked Well, what’s a good highlighter for you?

I don’t own the most favorite one I’ve tried (I don’t know why), but I do own eight others (again, I don’t know why). I’ve been planning this for a while, and never got around to it, so I hope you appreciate the effort and I hope this short overview helps you out. 🙂

Let’s begin with the one I don’t own, but whose effect I loved—the NARS Illuminator in Orgasm. I received it as a sample, which dried up. I never got around to purchasing the full size, just because. Here it is, in action:

It’s a really pretty, peachy-golden pink creamy highlighter that you can put on the “high planes of your face,” or just mix in with your face base. I thought I would hate the shimmer, but I really don’t. To be fair, it actually has more of a sheen than a shimmer, so there’s that.

The glow on the tops of my cheekbones are courtesy of this beautiful highlight, though it’s a tag-team effort by Orgasm and a secret friend, to be revealed somewhere this post.

As for the highlighters I do own, I’ll start by formula.

benefit watt'sup

My only cream-to-powder highlighter—and the first one I ever bought—is Benefit Watt’s Up! It’s a beautiful pearly champagne color that does well with medium, warm skintones. I did a full review here.

Honestly, I forgot how much I loved Watt’s Up! until I started using it again. I’m very sad that Benefit is “against animal testing,” but still tests on them anyway, because this is something I would definitely repurchase. Still, though, they make good products.


Next up are my liquid/cream highlighters and illuminators, of which I have two. I generally use these mixed in with my base, but creams and liquids generally tend to work well on the skin as highlights because of their (generally) natural finish, the same way cream blushes may look more natural than powder blushes.

The first one I got is too cool for school’s Dinoplatz Pearl Bay Invasion Illuminator in #1 Mother of Pearl.

tcfs - dinoplatz - mother of pearl

too cool for school Dinoplatz Pearl Bay Invasion in Mother of Pearl + Snoe Beauty Let it B with WasaB in Warm Honey

It’s a nice, light consistency, though the pump has a tendency to dispense more product than I need so I don’t really get to use this as a highlight-only product. There is a very gasoline-rainbow, duochrome effect when you first pump the product out, but it sheers out when you apply it to your face.

tcfs - dinoplatz - mother of pearl mix with let it b wasab

I usually mix 1 part of the too cool for school highlighter with 2 parts of the Snoe Beauty BB cream and apply it all over my face. It makes the consistency of the BB Cream easier to spread out and I’m a fan of its glow.

My next liquid/cream highlight is my latest acquisition, from an aunt who lives in Sydney: the BECCA Shimmering Skin Perfector in Opal.

BECCA - SSP - Opal

BECCA Shimmering Skin Perfector under bareMinerals Original Foundation in Medium Beige

It’s BEAUTIFUL and suits deeper, warmer skin tones. I am in love. Of all the highlighters I’ve owned, this resembles the NARS Illuminator the most, in terms of color and consistency. It does have rather glittery particles, though. Many people say that it’s supah fine, but they are very perceptible at a very near distance, so I can’t say if that would be bothersome for you.

At the distance between face at which people normally talk, though, you can’t see glitters, just a sheen and a glow. I love this also because it has added skincare benefits as well as SPF 25+, which makes it the perfect glowy base or primer, so that’s freaking awesome.

Onto the powders!


Up first is the MAC Mineralize Skinfinish in Lightscapade. The full review is here. As you can see it is a very good highlighter, but I just don’t see why that big of a fuss has been thrown around it when other highlighters clearly work just as well.

MAC MSF - Lightscapade - MUI
MAC Mineralize Skinfinish in Lightscapade.

Many say that it is one of the most natural highlighters they’ve ever met, and that may be true, but a “natural glow” isn’t hard to achieve when you live in a country that’s just summer & monsoon all year round, so maybe that’s why I wasn’t so impressed.

Still, if you want it, it’s not a bad product. I do actually reach for it a lot. I just don’t get what all the commotion is about.

Next up is the bareMinerals READY Luminizer in The Love Affair, which is yet another golden highlighter more suited for warmer skin tones. Full review here.

bareMinerals - READY Luminizer - The Love Affair

If I don’t want to fuss with a highlight but want a certain kind of natural glow, I reach for this. It’s very fuss-free, easy to apply and easy to bring around, but can be monumentally frustrating if you want a more obvious glow, as the effect of this highlighter is really rather subtle.


Next, I’ll tackle the more “finishing powder-y” of the bunch. Here is MAC Pearlmatte Powder in Veronica’s Blush, from the Archie’s Girls Collection. I’ve written up a full review here.

MAC Pearlmatte Powder - Veronicas Blush

It is a combination of a shimmery finishing powder (I think!) and a blush (Frankly Scarlet), both of which are part of MAC’s permanent line. There is a very, very slight & subtle pink tint to it (the pink in the photo is from a different blush), but it gives the skin a nice sheen and glow about it. You could wear it alone, actually, if you were quite pale.

I think this would suit cooler-toned girls, though I can wear it no problem. (I really am beginning to suspect that I am a neutral. What is new.)

Next up is the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Luminous Light, which is not technically a standalone highlighter, but it may very well be.

hourglass - ambient lighting powder - luminous light

The power~ of this highlighter is in subdued natural lighting. In direct sunlight, it’s nothing special, but when your face needs a little perk up in dim rooms or something, this does the trick very, very well.

I called its effect on me “The Galadriel Effect,” and if you can get that Elven in the Woods kinda glow from a powder compact, I’m thinking it’s a keeper. Read the full review of the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders I have (3: Ethereal, Luminous & Mood) here.

Last but not the least, I have my lone tin of Guerlain Météorites in Perles d’Azur. I’ve reviewed these here.

Guerlain Meteorites - Perles dAzur

These came out with the Emilio Pucci collection, and there are a lot of variations around that you can try. Because, if I’m being completely honest, I don’t see how the subtle changes in colored beads can drastically change your overall look. Maybe I’m not refined enough, who knows?

guerlain perles dazur nars orgasm

I do know that this baby has given my mood a lift, because I always felt like a million dollars when I have even just the thinnest veil of this all over my face. It’s the météorite effect, I tell ya.

And for comparison’s sake, some swatches of the things I featured in this post:

MUI - Highlighters and Illuminators

MUI - Illuminator Highlighter 1

MUI - Illuminator Highlighter 2

MUI - Illuminator Highlighter 3

Anyway, that’s all folks! Hope I helped you out. I know I don’t have a lot of the culties here, but my friends who have theBalm’s Mary Loumanizer swear by it, if nothing on here tickles your fancy.

I am still astounded by the fact that I own eight highlighters in a tropical country where “dewiness*” reigns supreme, but I really am working on my EQ. I suppose that being on a ban helps me out in stunting the growth of this area of my makeup “collection,” too.

Let me know if you have any favorite highlighters yourself. 🙂 I’d love to know! (Or do I deserve to know, as a lady who owns eight?)

* Or, okay, oiliness and sweatiness, yeesh!


  1. I only have two highlighters – currently loving theBalm Mary Loumanizer! 🙂 (Btw, you look super SUPER gorgeous with the purple eyeshadow!)

    • That’s the highlighter I missed out on trying! I have so much, LOL.

      Thank you so much, Romila Marieeee 🙂

  2. Oooh. I really wanted that Veronica pearlmatte powder! (It was sold out before I could get to it). I just bought my Hourglass powder in Diffused light, can’t wait to try it.

    • Let me know if you still want the Pearlmatte Powder, I can get it for you here somewhere, but with a mark up. 😦 It’s really good, though. Anyway, just let me know!

      I really want to try Diffused Light, great choice! 🙂

      • Oh thank you for offering! =) I wouldn’t want buy it at a marked up price though, I was already hesitating at the original price. There should be dupes out there.

  3. I own the NARS Illuminator in Orgasm, and I do really like it. I’ve never mixed it in with my base, though. I should maybe try that in the future. I also own NARS Albatross. Although I like that highlighter a lot, the only real reason I own it is because I bought the NARS Blush/Bronzer trio that comes with Laguna, Orgasm and Albatross. I love the trio because if I really want to make my travel makeup bag as compact as possible, it’s hugely helpful. I also own the No7 Vital Enlightening Highlighter Powder. I love this highlighter — it was a limited edition and it’s a very BAM in yo’ face if you’re not careful. But it gives a gorgeous shimmer. I’m not going to lie, though, I bought it because it’s a beautiful champagne colour and the pattern in the pan is beautiful. C’est tout! x

  4. Those Guerlain Méteorites… Ahhh… I still open them sometimes just to sniff them. Nice post, must’ve been some work!! 😀

    • Truly! 🙂 I want to start using them again. It wasn’t that hard to put together hehe, but thanks!

  5. Loved this post, is very well made pictures look great and products look amazing, very informative thank you 🙂

  6. Okay now I really want to try highlighters because of this post. Parang masarap mag-glow since the weather’s kinda gloomy. Haha!

    • Haha may point ka! You should definitely try it out. You can even try light, shimmery eyeshadows if you don’t want to spring for an actual highlighter yet.

  7. Fantastic post! Really enjoyed it. 🙂 (Carla here from Rubenesque) I just wanted to say that I actually use the NARS orgasm illuminator and I really love it. I have it in the full size and have had it for over a year and it hasn’t dried up in the slightest. Just thought I’d let you know incase you were considering a repurchase…the problem with the drying out must have just been with the sample. 🙂 Again, really enjoyed the post. I am incredibly jealous of your collection.

  8. I LAAAAAHV NARS ORGASM ON YOU! Especially with paired with the meteorites! Very true about the source of “natural dewiness” here, but you manage to wear highlighters without looking overtly shiny. I had to temporarily stop using highlighters because I was starting to become reflective. They all look amazing on you, but the ones with pink/gold undertones really stand out!

    Storytime: I actually had NARS Albatross in my possession as a product sample, but back when I knew nothing about makeup. I thought it was a blush. For really, really pale people I guess? So I gave it to the palest person I knew thinking she was the only one who could even dare to pull it off. Nyurp.

    • Thank ya! I l once noticed SO MUCH PORES on my face so I stopped wearing highlighters for a whole, but then I realized that I just needed to reconfigure placement and whatnot. (Lol.)

      THAT’S O FUNNY. I don’t know how that cold be a pale blush, but I think I’d have thought it to be the same thing as what you did,

  9. What a gorgeous selection. I love the Becca though just add it to my foundation for an all-over glow. I highlight with my two faves, W3LL People Universalist in #2 and Jemma Kidd All Over Radiance Creme in iced Gold, they’re both very similar. They are also similar to the RMS one. Very natural and creamy!

    • Thanks, Taylor! Re: the BECCA SSP, do you find the mica particles bothersome? I don’t really see it on the face unless I’m way up close, but when I see it on my hands, I imagine the worst for my face!

      Ah, I haven’t tried any of those other ones yet, but I’m sure they’re awesome!

  10. Whoa, that’s quite some highlighters! I love a good highlighter when the weather is bleak and dreary, but if I had stayed in Taiwan I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have got into them at all (combination skin)! I have Opal and it’s such a great one for my skin tone (yours too). Also a big fan of Guerlain Meteorites!

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  12. I think Missha’s BB Boomer would make a great highlighter. It’s actually used on the skin before BB cream but it has that pearly sheen finish with a minute hint of pink/lavender that makes the skin look, well, *pearly*. It looks natural as well. I’ve only used this through a sample so I can’t say much other than that.

    The too cool for school highlighter looks interesting! Will check that out.

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