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Top Five Highlighters for Fair Skin

Updated on January 21, 2012

The top highlighters for fair skin reflect light without looking like a glitter-bomb went off in your bathroom or like you're jonesin' for a pair of bellbottoms, the BeeGees, and a Saturday night on the town (you know, the disco ball look). They have just enough opalescence to make your face look alive while adding some dimension. Highlighters are especially important if you're wearing full-coverage foundation. Those foundations can make your features look flatter than they normally would because everything's one solid color and every area reflects light (or doesn't) in the same way.

NARS Copacabana Illuminator/The Multiple

Technically, these are two different products. However, they're so similar I think they're fairly interchangeable. The Illuminator reflects more light and can be mixed in with your foundation for an all-over glow, but the 3-in-1 product is more portable and you can apply it straight from the tube. It can also be used as eyeshadow (or lipstick, but that color isn't a very flattering lip shade for most people). This shade is a pinkish beige (The Multiple looks more silver) that isn't as light as some of the others. The shimmer is very fine, especially in the Illuminator.

Benefit High Beam

This is a liquid highlighter that looks a lot like the NARS Illuminator in Copacabana. If you have one, you don't really need the other. This may be a hint lighter, but not enough to make a noticeable difference on the skin. It comes in a smaller container and resembles a nail polish bottle, down to the brush applicator.

This is another pinkish pale beige-white. If you have cool undertones in your skin, it will be perfect. Warmer skin tones will probably prefer Moon Beam because it has a hint of gold instead of pink. The packaging of High Beam makes it easy to apply to the cheeks, bridge of the nose, brow bone, cupid's bow (it tickles, though!), or even in smile lines to reflect light and make them less noticeable. It can also be mixed with a matte or satin foundation to give it a dewy finish, or layered under concealer to reflect light and give the appearance of diminished dark under-eye circles.

Stila Kitten Eye Shadow

This is a silky, soft powder that works on the lids, brow bone, or anywhere on the face you want to highlight. It's the palest off-white with hints of pink, peach, and gold. Be careful with this one—when you're dusting it across your cheeks or the bridge of your nose, be sure to use a fluffy brush or you'll risk looking like you're transitioning into robot mode. There's so much pigment here, it looks metallic when applied heavily with a flat, dense brush. Also, this one may not be the best option to travel with because the powder is so soft, it could crumble in your purse.

NARS Albatross

Ah, NARS. If there's one thing NARS does right, it's highlighters (they also make fabulous blushes). This powder highlighter is different from most of the others on this list because it falls more to the golden side of things than pink. It's a pale off-white with a golden sheen laced throughout. It's smooth and silky. This makes a lovely highlighter for the inner corners of the eyes as well as the cheeks, bridge of the nose, etc. One thing I like about NARS powders is how long they last. A little goes a long way.

Benefit 10

The highlighting portion of this product is probably the most subtle of the bunch. There's also another perk: a contour color. Inside this little box of powder, there's a ballet slipper pink powder with a sheen on one side and a light brown on the other. When you use the brush that's included and swipe it evenly across both powders at once and then apply it to your cheeks, you get the highlighting and contouring done at once.

When using a liquid, I just dot it along the tops of my cheekbones with my finger and then tap it into the skin. The liquids here are very thin and easy to blend. When using a cream like The Multiple from NARS, I tend to apply straight from the tube onto larger areas and then blend with my fingertips. On smaller areas, I swipe my finger over the product and apply from there. Finally, I use my regular blush brush for the powders, moving the brush in a horizontal motion along my cheekbones and then blending it down.

Highlighting can bring your features to life and help you look awake even on the days when you could really use about four shots of espresso and a bucket of candy. These are the best shades I've found for fair skin. For the most natural look, choose a highlighter with the same undertones you have in your skin.


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