The Best Highlighters for Pale Skin in 2023
Highlighters are like the icing on a cake, they are the final touches to a makeup look taking it from drab to fab! They add extra sparkle to your makeup giving you a dazzling shimmering look!
But, for pale skin, highlighters can be a problem, trust me, I know! With one of the fairest skins around, the struggle of finding makeup that works is a real struggle.
All too often, highlighters are darker than my skin colour, which kinda defeats the purpose of the highlighter altogether.
Highlighters are supposed to bring out the features that you want people to notice, so getting them right is really important.
That’s why I’ve put together a list of the best highlighters for pale skin. So that people like you and me can also party hard without our makeup looking like clowns.
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1. Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette
The Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette features three shades of Ambient Lighting Powder in one palette. All three shades have a natural-like reflection making it the perfect highlighting palette for pale skin.
Areas that are naturally hit by light gets caught and the warmer tones and shades help subdue any unwanted shine, never making one look overly shiny or theatrically made up.
It has fancy Photoluminescent Technology that filters out harsh light and refines the appearance of the complexion by using high-tech, soft-focus finishing powders.
The powders can be used individually or layered for a multidimensional glow. It’s an award-winning highlighting palette that’s lightly pigmented and very finely milled, helping you achieve a gorgeous finish to any look.
Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette Shades breakdown:
• Dim Light – This is a neutral peach beige powder that uses a perfect balance of warm and cool tones to blur imperfections. Dim light is also cool enough to use as a contour and it is impossible to overdo since the pigment is so subtle and neutral.
• Incandescent Strobe Light – This shade has a beautiful opalescent pearl powder that is exclusive to this palette only. It brightens the complexion with a celestial glow.
This is an absolutely stunning shade when dusted all over the face and also makes for a beautiful highlight. It’s full of shine and shimmer for the ultimate glow.
• Radiant Light – A sun-kissed golden beige that enhances the overall complexion for a healthy sun-kissed glow. It is a gorgeous bronzer that perfectly warms and balances even the palest of skin tones.
To achieve a seamless colour for pale skin, use a light, gentle hand.
- It has warm tones and cool tones that both flatter pale skin
- Quality packaging
- Finely milled with satin textures
Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette can be bought from Harvey Nichols / Nordstrom
2. Bobbi Brown Highlighting Powder
Bobbi Brown Highlighting Powder has one of the most beautiful airbrushed effects that a highlighter can have.
It’s a highlighting powder that you can have full control over and allows you to build up the intensity with ease. Especially for those with pale skin tones where the slightest amount of pigment shows in an instant.
The pearly powder formula with the rosy pink highlights gives a natural luminosity in most of the shades. The shimmer can still be very blinding and the colour still sheer or controlled, whichever way you like it!
It can be applied with a brush or a finger swipe and is long-lasting either way. It’s an excellent performing highlighter and will surely become a favourite amongst all the others in your drawer.
Bobbi Brown Highlighting Powder is available in 5 shades and surprisingly they all work amazingly on pale skin. They are:
• Bronze Glow – A shimmering warm gold. Use the slightest brush pressure to warm up your pale skin. It will look like a natural cheek tan, perfect for when you need that extra bit of natural-looking colour.
• Pink Glow – This is a soft pink shimmer and you’ll love how subtle this is. If you want a natural, daily glow, then this is the highlighter you need! The colour is gorgeous and it blends seamlessly with the foundations.
• Sunset Glow – A pink with gold shimmer. This is the ultimate summer highlighter for all skin tones. And it is arguably a rare flattering warm-toned pigment for pale skin. It will not be overbearing but will still get all the heads turning!
• Afternoon Glow – A soft pink-purple that is very buildable and velvety smooth to the touch. This highlighter leaves a dramatic finish that will make your cheeks look like they are subtly wet with light. This shade really catches attention!
• Moon Glow – This is the most gold of them all. It is a much warmer gold than the Bronze Glow. While I think it suits pale skin colours, I think your skin needs to be warm-toned to actually pull it off.
- Mirrored compact, quality packaging
- Finely milled shimmers
Bobbi Brown Highlighting Powder can be bought from Look Fantastic / Nordstrom
3. MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Powder
MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Powder Highlighter is a luxurious, slow-baked highlighter and is gorgeous to look at, as well as the use of course!
You can use it for strategically buffing onto your skin for highlights, or you can blend it all over for a sheer luminous glow to your face. It’s formulated with the MAC Multi-Mineral Complex and vitamin E ingredients.
These highlighters are some of the best quality highlighters around, they are buttery and soft to apply and last amazingly throughout the day!
This highlighter has a really natural and soft shimmer to it that makes it perfect for pale skin. While the highlighter comes in a few shades, not all of them work well with pale skin.
Below are the shades that work beautifully with pale skin:
• Lightscapade – This is a beautiful gold/pink shimmer with a tint of purple but the overall feel is bright and glowing. This will really show you off as a “lit from within” girl.
It gives a beautiful glow when applied and the light reflection looks seamless with the rest of your skin.
• Soft & Gentle – A pinkish nude shimmer that is the perfect highlight for pale skins. It’s very neutral and yet the colour is distinct against the skin.
• Cheeky Bronze – This shade has warm golden pink with a subtle shimmer. The formula is buttery and the shimmer impressively lasts the whole day.
Though it has warm undertones, when applied discreetly, can make pale skin look more alive.
- Dermatologist tested
- Finely milled shimmers
- Baked mineral formula
MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Powder Highlighter can be bought from Look Fantastic / Nordstrom
4. Estee Lauder Double Wear Brush-On Glow BB Highlighter
This highlighter is a makeup innovation! It’s a silky luminous, long-wear BB highlighter that brightens, perfects and corrects.
That’s not all my friends, it’s also got some fancy makeup Photo Optic Technology that brightens areas where shadows fall on and highlight facial features.
Not only is this going to give you some serious highlights, but it also doubles up as a dewy-finish concealer. It minimizes imperfections including blemishes, dark circles, fine lines and wrinkles.
The Estee Lauder Double Wear Brush-On Glow BB Highlighter is one of those incredibly useful makeup products that IMO, most people can benefit from!
Shades for Pale Skin:
• 0N Soft Pink – This is a neutral pink soft shimmer. It has that girl-next-door pinky tone that will brighten your skin. The sparkly BB cream also has considerable coverage in it. It’s a must-try hybrid BB concealer/highlighter for pale skin tones!
• 1C Light – Warm nude shimmer. This is an ideal soft reflective concealer that hides skin imperfections well, lasts seamlessly, and does not emphasize dryness and wrinkles.
As a highlighter, it applies and stays perfectly on the skin even with its cream formula. The shimmer looks close to a nicely moisturized face, subtle yet effective.
- Integrated brush and quality packaging
- Multi-use concealer and highlighter
- Wet shimmer finish
- Lightweight cream formula
Estee Lauder Double Wear Brush-On Glow BB Highlighter can be bought from Sephora
5. NYX Professional Makeup Born To Glow! Liquid Illuminator in the shade Sunbeam
The NYX Born to Glow Liquid Illuminator is a game-changer. Some people like to add a very tiny bit of this into their foundation for a glowy finish. I like using this in the high points of my face by just adding a tiny bit.
If I am going for an intense glow, I like adding an additional highlighter that I use on top as well. But the subtle shimmer is all I need for my makeup to look like it has that natural glow.
One thing to be aware of is that a little goes a long way, use it sparingly or you may blind some people.
It’s made with a moisturising formula too so it sinks and blends perfectly into your skin. I love how you can mix it with your foundation or concealer. You can expect a smooth dewy and highlighting finish with this one.
You’ll be surprised by how good it is as a highlighter. It can go head to head with more expensive cream highlights.
This is because the formula is super wispy and friendly on the skin. The glowing effect is a perfect balance of a naturally shiny and dewy look.
The shade Sunbeam has a peach-pink undertone and would look pretty on most pale skin tones.
It can also be used in quite a few ways, from a strobe cream to applying before foundation or you can mix it with foundation and add a faint glow to the face.
You can also directly apply at the high points of your face to add the final touches. Basically, the sky is the limit and the options are endless!
Each method you use will give your face a slightly different look; however, the end result is the same. A dewy reflective finish with varying intensities of light reflection.
- Travel-friendly packaging
- Blends easily
- Does not feel greasy
- Feels lightweight on the skin
- Acts as a good primer and concealer too
- A little goes a long way
- Great under flash photography as well
NYX Professional Makeup Born To Glow! Liquid Illuminator can be bought from Ulta / Look Fantastic
6. Too Faced Diamond Highlighter
The Too Faced Diamond Light Multi-Use Highlighter is a one-of-a-kind highlighter that’s infused with real crushed diamond powder and light-reflecting pearls.
The finishing effects exceed better magic than your average duo-toned product. It creates a rainbow-like glow and lights up your complexion.
I wouldn’t even call it a highlighter. I think it needs a new name, like a Radiant powder, perhaps you can think of a more original name!
The skin’s reflection when wearing this highlighter can very well be compared to a diamond’s glow.
It’s also a custom highlighter that can be used anywhere. The formula starts out as a hand-poured liquid that becomes a pressed powder.
This ensures that no two highlighters will ever look the same- just like a real diamond! I love that!
It comes in 2 shades which are perfect for pale skin.
Shades for Pale Skin:
• Fancy Pink Diamond – This highlighter has a mixture of gold and peachy pink tones. The shade is perfect for fair and pale skin tones. It can create it look blinding and subtle, depending on how much you apply.
You’ll find this highlighter won’t add any texture to your skin which is lovely! It’s just smooth-looking and extremely glowing.
• Diamond Fire – This highlighter has an icy white, cool shimmer. It’s an absolutely beautiful shade, especially for pale skin tones. I can see this icy shade being beautiful on a lot of different skin tones too, not just the pale ones!
It’s a buildable highlighter that doesn’t patch, so you can have a sheer look or a blinding one!
- Beautiful, quality packaging
- Sheer buildable pigment
- Highly reflective finish
- Blends and sinks into skin great
Too Faced Diamond Highlighter can be bought from Too Faced US / Look Fantastic
7. Anastasia Beverly Hills Moonchild Glow Kit
The Anastasia Beverly Hills Moonchild kit is a collection of 6 metallic powder highlighters. These shades are the best-matched cool tones for pale and fair skin. And surprisingly, medium and deep skin tones are equally raving about it.
I love that it’s a palette and that you have so many options for your highlighting needs. You can really go to town with this palette.
The palette can be used wet or dry, depending on the intensity you want, usually wet creates a much more intense look.
It’s a silky-textured powder that easily layers to create a customised glow with an intense, shimmering finish. The colours are made up of icy white, iridescent blues, lilacs and pinks.
The super-soft, buttery shades are effortlessly buildable and can double up as eyeshadows which I love. And you know I’m all for multi-use products.
It’s a really versatile palette for those who like to experiment with colour and layering.
All the colours work with pale skin but below I’ve done a rundown on each shade.
Shades for Pale Skin:
• Blue Ice – This is a diamond white with a blue shimmer. It has an icy white base with blue sparkle and shimmer. The coverage is buildable semi-opaque, which is stunning and lightly metallic on the skin. Pale skin can’t mess up on this one.
• Star – Star is a light silver with subtle, cool undertones paired with a metallic sheen. The amount of shine and reflectiveness in this shade is insane. It is very, very metallic and over-the-top reflective.
• Purple Horseshoe – A glittery lavender with blue shimmer. To be more specific, it is a light pinky-lavender with iridescent purple and pink shimmer.
Bold looks can be made with this one. But I can also see pinky-peach makeup colours fairing well with this shade on pale skin tones.
• Pink Heart – Pearly white with pink shimmer. Pink is a universal shade, IMO. And on pale skin, is just the most gratifying colour to liven up the face. This goes on to the skin almost translucent. But turn into shimmery pink as it catches the light.
• Lucky Clover – A green-toned gold with yellow shimmer. I say green, but it is more of an iridescent shade that has a pale green base.
• Blue Moon – This is an icy blue with a silver shimmer. Perfect for recreating an ice look, although it would look great as an eyeshadow too. All the shades are extremely versatile and can really be used anywhere you want an extra shimmer and shine!
- Long-wearing formula
- Small pans
- No mirror
Anastasia Beverly Hills Moonchild Glow Kit can be bought from Look Fantastic / Nordstrom
8. wet n wild MegaGlo Loose Powder
The loose highlighting powder can be tricky to use because of the fallout that tends to come with it. But the wet n wild MegaGlo highlighter turns any beginner into a pro.
It has a very buildable formula that instantly attaches itself to the skin. It blends really well without excessive fallout and its micro-fine pearl pigments combine to boost your skin’s glow for a targeted blinding highlight.
The colours are true and pigmented and the shimmer and shine last until it’s time to wash it all off!
It’s on par with expensive luxury brand highlighters, in fact, I would say it’s a great dupe of expensive highlighters.
Using a soft hand will save you trouble as well. One layer gives a natural glow, and two might just be a party in the 80s.
Shades for Pale Skin:
• I’m So Lit – This is a pale pink with a mauve shimmer. It’s an all-year-round shade for pale-skinned women and it’s a flattering highlighter for most everyday, natural makeup looks.
• You Glow, Girl – This is an apricot, pink shimmer. You Glow, Girl is almost a gold shade but the pink undertone easily makes it a great blend for pale skin. You can rock this shade as long as you don’t get too carried away or it may look too much.
- No excessive fallout
wet n wild MegaGlo Loose Highlighting Powder can be bought from Amazon
9. Kevyn Aucoin Glass Glow Face
This body gloss is a unique universal highlighter for your face and body that creates youthful-looking, well-hydrated skin, with a glassy complexion.
The Kevyn Aucoin Glass Glow Gloss is a multi-purpose highlighting gel. And for dry skin, it can be mixed with your moisturiser for a more hydrating and silky reflection.
The formula is a non-sticky gel that sinks into the skin and leaves all the shimmers and glows on the surface. You can build it up for the perfect highlighting amount.
It can be applied with just about anything and it won’t ruin your base makeup!
Shades for Pale Skin:
• Pixie Dream – Pixie Dream is a white ultra-reflective pale pink shimmer. This one I can really see being put on just about anywhere. Your eyes, face high-points, decolletage, body- anywhere you need highlighting. It’s a pale skin-friendly shade that you need to try.
• Solar Quartz – This is a yellow-toned shimmer, a shade perfect for balancing the palest of skin tones. The yellow tone offers a nice warmth to the face.
• Crystal Clear – This is a beautiful translucent colour that blends with all makeup looks. Whether you’re going for warm sunset makeup or cool ice-toned looks, it will make your skin glow.
• Prism Rose – This is a golden, peach shimmer. You can use it for your warmer makeup looks. However, with a really small amount and light strokes, you can get away with this for every makeup.
- One tube is a LOT of product
- Non-sticky, blendable gel formula
- Glossy, reflective finish
- Long-wearing formula
Kevyn Aucoin Glass Glow Face Highlighter can be bought from Look Fantastic / Nordstrom
10. Illamasqua Beyond Powder – OMG
The Illamasqua Beyond Powder is a competitive multi-use highlighter. It is baked with finely milled powders and shimmers. This compact highlighter gives you incredible value for money as a little goes a long way.
Their shade range ensures there is a perfect highlighter for every skin tone and makeup style, even ones for pale skin.
On the skin, it doesn’t feel like a powder but it coats your skin with subtle iridescent light. It’s so flattering and almost magical! Not to mention the extremely beautiful packaging. It’s a really big compact highlighter too and will surely last you a long time.
This highlighter is very fine with no chunky glitter which means it blends seamlessly onto the skin. It looks effortlessly beautiful and smooth.
Shades for Pale Skin:
• OMG – This is a muted gold shimmer. OMG is slightly peachy and is easily the everyday shade in this line. It’s not too dark for pale skin and it’s buildable like the rest of these highlighters.
• Deity – This is a white, warm-toned shimmer with green undertones. If you haven’t found your summer highlighter yet, this could be it. It’s almost translucent but the golden shimmer will flatter pale skin as it reflects. The gold tone on this one is just perfect.
• Daze – This is a white powder with lavender shimmer.
• Electric (10th Anniversary Edition) – This is a lilac white, duo-toned pink and blue shimmer. This is not your everyday natural look colour.
Though, if you are looking to stand out, I highly recommend this shade! It’s perfect for those with pale skin that want to add some more colour to their highlighters.
- Long-wearing formula
- Non-patchy powder formula
- No mirror
Illamasqua Beyond Powder can be bought from Illamasqua / Look Fantastic
How to Apply Highlighter
Highlighter is usually a finishing touch kind of makeup (before setting sprays!) They pop out the best when they’re applied on nicely concealed areas, this gives the highlighters an even canvas for your highlighter.
You can use a variety of application tools. A sponge or makeup brush is the best, and spraying them a little or dampening them is the most ideal for a lasting pigmented shimmer effect.
When it comes to application, opt for a highlighting eyeshadow brush or a fan brush. These brushes are ideal when used on the cheekbones and brow area.
For a fan brush, lightly dust it flat on your cheekbones and go back and forth. The motion will transfer your highlighter seamlessly.
For a highlighting eyeshadow brush, do a side-to-side motion, and buff the product by doing small circles. Start the circles big near your ears and make them smaller as you work them inward.
A makeup sponge is also great. You can apply a sleek line of highlighter on your cheekbones and other high points of your face. Buff the product out by doing light pats as you apply the highlighter for a flawless application.
If you are more into using your fingers, cream and gel highlighters are the best option for you. Powder highlighters can be more challenging to work with when using your fingers.
Other Areas That You Can Highlight
Other than your cheekbones, there are many other areas where you can apply a highlighter to add a bit of oomph. Highlighters don’t just accentuate your good features, they can also “fake” good features.
- Temples to the tops of your cheekbone in a C-shaped curve – highlighting this area creates the illusion of a longer neck and slimmer face.
- Tip of your nose – highlighting this area can accentuate or make your nose look higher and pointed.
- Centre of your forehead – To accentuate the centre of your forehead, you can sweep some highlighter down the centre of your forehead towards the bridge of your nose. Start at the centre of your hairline on your forehead and sweep straight downwards. If you want a more dramatic highlighting effect, then you can sweep the highlighter all the way down the bridge of your nose. Highlighting your forehead draws attention to your brow bones and eyes. And a good highlighter can mask any fine lines and wrinkles with a reflective shimmer.
- Bridge of your nose – highlighting this part can make your nose look slimmer, straight, and/or longer.
- Inner corners of your eyes – this can make your eyes look bigger and more youthful. It also helps in emphasizing the shape of your eyes, whether you want your natural eye shape accentuated, or your eye makeup look.
- Brow bones (just above and below your brows arcs) – The areas just below your eyebrows will catch a lot of light, so this is an ideal and beautiful area to highlight. It also gives more depth to your face especially if your brow bones are a bit flat.
- Above your upper lip or cupid’s bow – highlighting this part helps draw more attention to your lips and creates the illusion of plump-looking lips.
- Over the centre of your chin – highlighting the centre of your chin can also help draw attention to your lips as well as give them more depth. If you want your chin to look more forward, a highlight will do the trick. Just be careful not to apply too many highlighters to this area. You only need light dusting.
Most of these highlighters are really beautiful to look at just sitting on the pan and even more stunning when used on pale skin!
Remember to always use a light hand first and decide from there if you want a booming face or not! Contouring and highlighting often come together so check out the best contours for pale skin!
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