THERE is some debate in the beauty community about the difference between a highlighter and illuminator (also known as “luminizer”). Some say it’s the amount of glimmer in the product, while others say it’s more the concentration or distribution of the product on the face. Based on labels and personal usage of products, it seems to me illuminators are more of subtle highlighters. Here are some of my favorite glow boosters for when you want to be lit, but not quite in the spotlight.
Elf Illuminating Palette
This quad has cream, pale pink, neutral, and bronze shades to mix and match, which is great if you want to go slightly cooler or slightly warmer with your look for the day, or want to use these as eyeshadows. The powders are very subtle, for when you prefer a slight radiance instead of a strong gleam. Some have compared this drugstore palette to the high end Hourglass Ambient Lighting powders, but I can’t confirm since I haven’t tried Hourglass powders yet.
Makeup Revolution Radiant Lights Palette
Even more so than the Elf palette, this one has been called an affordable dupe for those highly coveted, highly priced Ambient powders. These apply very smoothly, and are meant as finishing powders to give skin that soft-focus, “of course my skin is perfect” effect.
Laura Mercier Matte Radiance Baked Powder
I wasn’t sure how “matte radiance” would work, but I quickly also became a fan of this baked illuminator. A couple of swipes from the brush to the skin give a gorgeous sheen without any visible sparkle.
Benefit High Beam
This is called a highlighter, but I’m listing it as an illuminator anyway because you can dab on a little for a subtle pearly look, or build it up to a stronger highlight. It’s one of Benefit’s all-time bestsellers for a reason. If you can’t be bothered to use a separate brush, just dab on this liquid glow, and go!