Shimmery formulas and glow-giving highlighters are a dime a dozen, but finding the right one for you? That can be a bit of a challenge. If you’re on the hunt for the best highlighter for dark skin tones, makeup artist Danessa Myricks says you’ll want to keep two criteria top of mind: your skin’s undertones and the product’s color payoff.
"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 pigments in the highlighter and the depth of its color intensity."
If you have a cooler undertone, which equates to hints of pink, red, or blue, Myricks suggests reaching for highlighters that are icy white, silver, pink, violet, cool bronze, or champagne-toned. Warmer undertones (think: yellow, gold, or peach) pair well with gold, peach, warm copper, and chocolate-toned shimmers. If you have a neutral undertone, Myricks says you can easily sway either way.
Once you have a general idea of the hue you want to go for, 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 is in comparison to your skin tone, the more dramatic the highlighting effect will be," Myricks explains.
Now that you have expert-approved tips for maximizing your glow, it’s time to pick a product. From liquid formulas great for dry skin to powders that pack a powerful punch, we’ve rounded up the best highlighters for dark skin tones.
The Best Overall
Myricks credits bronze as a shade that works for almost anyone—and this product goes above and beyond. Not only is this color flattering on all tones, but the liquid formula is packed with hydrating, good-for-your-skin ingredients such as squalane.
The Best for Layering
Myricks' own dewy formula is one of the best around. Use it on its own, or layer up for a more complex glow: "One cool thing about Dew Wet Balm is that it makes any powder highlighter look more natural on skin. Simply place a few taps of the balm directly on top of your powder highlighter, and watch it melt into the skin leaving a natural, radiant glow," she says.
The Best For Textured Skin
A sexy, dewy gloss you can apply all over is perfect for combination or oily complexions. "For textured skin, avoid heavy powders and large glitter particles, as they will amplify any texture you may be hoping to minimize," suggests Myricks.
The Best for Cool Undertones
"I love using lavenders and blues on deeper skin tones as a highlight," says Myricks. Not only is the hue of this product spot on, but the liquid formula leaves behind such a stunning sparkle. It’s meant to be blended with your fingers, so application is easy as can be.
The Best Powder Formula
Trust us (and Rihanna): This is the best of the best for a metallic finish. It makes your cheekbones pop—no question. But it also works overtime as a foiled eyeshadow. The formula is meant to be buildable, so while one swipe will give you a soft wash of shimmer, a few layers are going to deliver a next-level glow.
The Best for Dry Skin
If your skin leans on the dry side, consider skipping a powder in favor of liquid formula like this cult-favorite illuminator. The shimmer is unmatched—and extremely versatile. It can be applied under foundation for a natural yet radiant look, or over top for a shimmer that’s way more dramatic.
The Best Liquid Formula
"Strategically placed highlighter can create the ultimate lift for the face,” explains Myricks. “The important thing to remember is that anywhere you add your highlighter will appear larger, more forward, and more pronounced.” To have the high points of your face catch the light, scoop up this gorgeous gloss. The liquid-meets-gel texture gives a glass skin effect and can be worn solo for a no-makeup look, layered on top of foundation, or even mixed in with your moisturizer. But be warned: a little goes a long way.
The Best for Warm Undertones
If you want to maximize your glow, reach for this double duty compact. The bronzer has a subtle shimmer that gives an all-over warmth, while the highlighting powder delivers a soft, golden sheen to the high points of the face.
The Best Highlighter Quad
Whether you’re on a mission to get a high-intensity finish or simply want a spot of shimmer under your brow bone, this palette does it all. It's complete with four extremely versatile shades that can be layered or worn alone.
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