8 Stunning Highlighters for Dark Skin Tones

Look for one with tones that play against the coolness or warmth of your skin.

Lady with highlighter
(Image credit: Per-Anders Pettersson)

You've probably been there. You take home a new highlighter that looks incredible in the palette or pot, and on a night out, you buff it on expecting to transform into the hottest version of yourself. And then...you don't love it. Maybe it's leaving a white cast, maybe it's catching on those couple blemishes you've got, or maybe the color just isn't working. It happens! A highlighter that doesn't complement your skin can take a full face of flawless makeup and make things just look...off, especially for dark skin tones. But according to makeup artist and founder of namesake makeup brand Danessa Myricks, it's easier than you might think to find the perfect formula (or five) for your complexion. The keys: undertones and contrast.

"Highlighters can look incredibly beautiful when they play off the natural undertones of the skin," she says. "There are two guides that can be used to dial in your perfect highlighter shade: the undertone of the pearls and pigments in the highlighter, and the depth of color intensity." That means the first thing to look for is what shade the highlighter is, and how that plays against the coolness or warmth of your skin.

"Cooler undertones look great with with icy white, silver, pink, violet, cool bronze and champagne-toned pearls, while warmer undertones pair well with golden, peach, warm copper, and chocolate-toned pearls," Myricks says, and notes that neutral tones can easily sway either way. And once you find a shade that plays pretty against your makeup, the next step is deciding how bold you want to be. "Choosing a depth in tone that mimics within a few shades of the natural skin tone will create a more effortless glowing lift. The rule of thumb is the lighter the highlighter tone is in comparison to your skin tone, the more dramatic the highlighting effect with be," she says.

Once you've got these two rules down, it's time to play with texture! If you've got dry skin, reach for something dewy or creamy for a hydrated sheen. If you want a bold glittery wash, take a brush and fluff on a matte glitter. Whatever you choose, there are tons of options for any complexion. Here, we've rounded up the very best highlighters for deeper skin tones, so go forth and glow.

Taylore Glynn
Taylore Glynn

Taylore Glynn is the Beauty and Health Editor at Marie Claire, covering skincare, makeup, fragrance, wellness, and more. If you need her, she’s probably roasting a chicken, flying solo at the movies, or drinking a bad Negroni at JFK.