All the Pretty Sparkles: Highlighter Review & Swatches

Highlighters (7)

I often find that my best posts are those that are made up on a whim.  Sometimes I’ll be trying something out for my own personal pleasure, and it leads to something else entirely.  Today I had one such moment; I was trying to figure out just how I could wear my NARS Laguna Multiple effectively, as its quite pretty but gets very little use.  I usually smear it on right from the tube and then blend the heck out of it with my fingers, applying it as a highlight on top of my cheekbones and around my brow bones.  Today I tried buffing it in with a stippling brush, which seemed to work exceptionally well.  Then I wondered how it looked in sunlight, and stepped out on my balcony in the sunshine, only to be blasted with some serious sparkle!  Eeks!  I can tell you right now that it is NOT the kind of product you want to wear outside in the sun (so, best used on cloudy days or at night), or at least if you DO wear it, use a very light hand.  Lesson learned (and thankfully before I made the faux pas in public)!

Highlighters

Of course, this got me thinking about other highlighters/glow-makers I own and how they fare in the bright sunshine.  Of course, being a dutiful blogger, I took photos so we all can benefit from my experiment :)  I chose four others that are all permanent products in their respective brands: Benefit Watt’s Up, Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Opal, the Balm Mary-Lou Manizer, and Burberry Fresh Glow.  You’ve seen swatches of some of these before in my Chanel Poudre Signée post, but here they are again (give or take a couple):

Highlighter Swatches (2) Highlighter SwatchesLeft to right: NARS The Multiple in Laguna, Benefit Watt’s Up, Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Opal, the Balm Mary-Lou Manizer, and Burberry Fresh Glow

First let me preface the following face swatches by saying that while I could plainly see the sparkle/shimmer in sunlight, it is incredibly hard to capture in photos!! SO frustrating.  With that in mind, please take my word for it whether or not something is visible or not, as it is tricky to see in the snaps I took ~grumbles~  Also, please note that all of these shots were taken on completely makeup-free skin (apologies for dark circles!), so there is no other potential shimmer interference (I cleansed my face thoroughly between each shot).

To begin, we have the Laguna Multiple I mentioned originally.  Very sparkly in sunlight, and I really would avoid wearing it outside – especially if you do not have my skintone (on me it’s more of a highlight), as it would then be deep bronze + super shimmer, and just wouldn’t be your best moment.  You’ll notice as you look through the other face pics that this one has the most noticeable shimmer, even in photographs.  BELIEVE IT.  However, it IS very pretty and I plan on using it on evenings out over this spring/summer.

NARS The Multiple in Laguna NARS The Multiple in Laguna (3)

Next, we have Benefit’s Watt’s Up luminizer – I only have a sample size of this but honestly that is enough, as a little goes a long way.  I want to say it’s my least favorite of the five, but today changed my mind a bit, as the initial BAM! sparkle of it seemed to settle after a couple minutes, and then it really just gave me this lovely radiance.  It’s still fairly shimmery, but not as much as the Laguna, and you could probably get away with it in the day if you went very minimal on shimmer elsewhere.  Also, I’d probably layer my blush OVER this rather than under (which you’d likely do anyway if you chose powder, as this is a cream, and that’d just get weird), which would tone it down a little bit too.  It took me AGES to get photos of this and I’m still not satisfied, so trust me when I say there IS visible shimmer (look for little particle-like things on my face – those are them :P).

Benefit Watt's Up (7) Benefit Watt's Up (6)

Moving right along, next is the insanely popular Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector, in the shade Opal.  I snagged this deluxe sample in a swap about a month ago and I LOVE IT SO MUCH YOU GUYS.  I’m not going to go on a big ‘You have to buy this!’ rant, because everyone else has done such a good job – so just go buy it already!  This product comes very close to the ‘might be too shimmery for day’ line but manages to toe it exceptionally well, so you can totally rock it out all summer long.  I adore the glow this gives and because the shimmer particles are so small, they don’t look tacky at all, just nicely done.  I will continue to wear this now that the sun is out, day or night.

Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Opal Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Opal (5)

Continuing on, we come to the Balm’s Mary-Lou Manizer.  Next to Laguna this one is the most shimmery, and is also the only powder in the bunch.  This was one of my first highlighters (and again, its a small sample size compared to the real deal) and I tended to wear it more in the corners of my eyes than anywhere else.  Now, I wear it both ways (on my cheekbones too) but generally keep it to nighttime, as the shimmer combined with the lighter tone and powder formula can make it more obvious than I’d like.  Still, the powder is butter-smooth and is nice to have on hand now and again!

the Balm Mary-Lou Manizer the Balm Mary-Lou Manizer (6)This second shot is kind of bizarro for sure, but it highlighted the shimmers so well I had to include it >_<

Finally, we have the most natural of the bunch, and my personal preference for a foolproof glow – Burberry’s Fresh Glow Luminizing Base.  If you recall, I bought this last year as a birthday treat for myself (which I think I might do every year – buy Burberry makeup, I mean!) and was unsure if it was genius or useless.  Well, consider me converted because this give the most subtle yet glowing look of the bunch.  It can be worn a multitude of ways: on bare skin, under foundation, over foundation, mixed in with foundation, etc. – but I prefer to use either on a bare face to just give me a pick me up if I’m going super low-key, or on top of foundation on the high points of the face.  Even though there is shimmer, somehow there is no shimmer - like Houdini or something.  I haven’t quite figured it out, but I will say that looking at it worn in full sunshine today for the first time, I was totally amazed – I looked utterly radiant but like I had absolutely nothing on.  Kind of like how you look when you put on a face oil, and you look glowing, but without the adding ‘shine’ factor.  Good times.  Dammit Burberry, why is everything you do SO DAMN EXPENSIVE GOOD?

Burberry Fresh Glow Burberry Fresh Glow (2)

Thus concludes my research – I hope you found it helpful!  I know it’s tough to see the nuances between shots but I think the gist is there in terms of comparing the five.  As always, this kind of post is helpful for me too, so yay for killing two birds with one stone!

Highlighters (6)

Do you wear a highlighter?  What formula/finish do you prefer?  Which of these ones would you choose?

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  1. #1 by makeupalldaylong on April 2, 2013 - 4:50 pm

    Great post! I’m always drawn to highlighters, but there are so many great ones that you could never buy them all!

    • #2 by Latoya on April 7, 2013 - 8:34 pm

      Ack, I know!!! I actually only recently got into them, as I have oilier skin and thought they were sort of useless for me, but having found a few great ones I’m totally converted now :P

  2. #3 by Larie on April 2, 2013 - 4:53 pm

    I think luminizers/highlighters are the thing I have the least of. I want a nice liquid formula, rather than cream, but I have two powder ones that I rarely use. I think for me, personally, I’d rather focus on a nice foundation or nice skin, and I just use these products to highlight bone structure, etc., rather than mixing them in with foundations, though.

  3. #4 by Sarah on April 2, 2013 - 5:41 pm

    I have tried a crappy powder highlighter that came as part of a palette, and I also have a mini of Watt’s Up! which I have not yet tried. When I have worn highlighter, I like the effect – I also use my Touche Éclat as a browbone highlight sometimes too.

    I did just discover yesterday that the daily moisturiser I’ve been using has sparkles (well, they call it “natural light-diffusing particles,” but horse manure: they’re freakin’ sparkles *cough Aveeno *cough*). I’m not super-into looking like a Twilight vampire but it took some verrry close inspection in front of the mirror to see the little bits of glittery crap all over my face, so maybe it’s not that noticeable. And I do like the moisturiser.

    Also: great post!

  4. #5 by BeautyReflections (@BeautyReflectTS) on April 2, 2013 - 9:55 pm

    I am almost OUT of my Burberry glow can you believe it? Stuff is LIQUID GOLD for me! I use it before foundation too and then as a highlight-can’t live without it and all other pale in comparison!
    Great review and pics Toya!

  5. #6 by Becca @ The Beauty Sample on April 3, 2013 - 2:53 am

    Ok I knew the Burberry Fresh Glow would one day be mine but you have TOTALLY convinced me–I need it and I need it NOW!! Eeek–so gorgeous! :D

  6. #7 by xlovehappyx on April 3, 2013 - 3:48 pm

    oh wow your skin looks so luminous! : )

    • #8 by Latoya on April 3, 2013 - 8:10 pm

      Aw, thanks love! That’s what a good luminizer and sunlight will do for ya ;)

  7. #9 by Liz (@Reductionista) on April 4, 2013 - 1:56 am

    Very handy! I love comparison posts. :) I’m about to conduct one for highlighters as well, since I racked up the count somehow over the course of the year. O___o

    I think my fave of the bunch is Burberry as well. (UGH.) I’m kind of basing it on the arm comparison swatches but it just sounds so lovely. And when BECCA hit the Eaton Centre Sephora, that freaking Opal was the first thing I scoped out. I wish they’d come out with a smaller size of that product though because it’s massive and no one wears that much highlighter.

  8. #10 by Kiss & Make-up on April 4, 2013 - 6:15 am

    Great review and comparison! I love highlighters.

  9. #11 by Makeup Morsels on April 5, 2013 - 7:55 pm

    Damn, you are one dedicated blogger. Love this post! I think Burberry’s my favorite as well, mostly because of what you said. “Even though there is shimmer, somehow there is no shimmer” LOL I gotcha

    • #12 by Latoya on April 22, 2013 - 7:36 am

      Hahaha I’m so concise and clear, huh? Haha. It’s THE FINE PARTICLES MM, you get it? lol

      Sent from my iPhone

  10. #13 by Amy on April 7, 2013 - 7:06 pm

    So helpful! I have Mary-Lou Manizer, too, and I also find it to be quite sparkletastic (though on my pale skin, it’s perhaps not as noticeable as on yours) so I only wear it very infrequently, and only at night! And HOLY MOLY I really want Opal. So much. And Burberry, but I can’t afford that at all, so I’m just pretending it doesn’t exist ;)

    • #14 by Latoya on April 22, 2013 - 7:38 am

      Yea, the Burberry is kind of exorbitant. It’s true. If it weren’t my 30th birthday…but oh well, it’s mine now :) Get the Becca – it’s amazing, different than the Burberry but equally as fantastic!

      Sent from my iPhone

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