If opalescent ivory is the only highlighter in your makeup kit, you’re missing out. Colored highlighters are key to next-level strobing and achieving that coveted Instagram glow — and purple highlighter is the perfect gateway color.
Purple highlighter is just as wearable as gold or pink, but it can also be used to create a unicorn, ice queen, mermaid or alienesque lewk (if that’s your thing). Purple highlighters vary from the faintest, silvery lavender to bold orchids and violets. No matter the color, don’t judge it until it has been tested on your skin. Purple highlighters often look intense in their packages but have an easy-to-wear sheer finish when applied.
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Unsure how to wear purple highlighter? Hourglass global makeup artist Chanel Temple suggests pairing it with similar tones on your lips and eyes for a flattering finish or sticking with neutral hues to offset the purple shimmer.
When dusting highlighter on cheeks, Temple cautions against applying the highlighter too close to the nose. If using the product like blush, start about a finger’s width away from your nose for the most sculpted, cut-glass cheekbones. And always remember the importance of blending. When it comes to any highlighter, it’s about a diffused glow as opposed to sharp lines. And go easy because it’s a lot easier to build up the color than it is to take it off.
We’ve got the technique, now we just need the products. Click through the gallery to shop the most flattering purple highlighters that look as good IRL as they do on the ‘gram.
Super Shock Highlighter in Rocket Science, $8 at Ulta Beauty
Don't be intimidated by the name. The buildable, crème powder formula starts as a pearly sheer so you can control the intensity. And at just $8, it's an affordable way to test out the purple highlighter trend.
Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed Highlighter in Prismatic Amethyst, $38 at BECCA Cosmetics
Want a purple highlighter that's not too purple? BECCA's Prismatic Amethyst is a lavender highlighter that has just enough pigment to separate itself from gold and opal highlighters. It was one of the first purple highlighters on the market and was made part of the brand's permanent collection thanks to customer demand.
Heaven's Hue Highlighter in Transcendence, $32 at Stila
Transcendence is sometimes described as an opalescent pink, but it often reads more lilac in the package and on skin. Either way, it'll produce an ethereal finish that's noticeably different than the 10 other ivory highlighters in your makeup bag. The product has an addictive bouncy texture that feels like putty. Tap it on cheekbones and down the bridge of your nose and it delivers a weightless, natural-looking highlight. The fine, light-diffusing particles make it a highlighter that works for real life as opposed to just Instagram.
Disco Queen Holographic Highlighter Powder, $14.50 at Sephora
There are highlighting powders to channel aliens, ice princesses, unicorns and mermaids. This one helps wearers unleash their inner disco queen in a modern duochrome way. The powder looks bold in the package, but the iridescent lavender highlighter has a translucent finish, meaning it can work for days as well as groovy nights.
Ambient Strobe Lighting Blush in Euphoric Fusion, $38 at Hourglass
Is it a blush or highlighter? It's a gorgeous hybrid of the two. It blends cheek color with the brand's Ambient Strobe Lighting Powder, resulting in a multidimensional product that gives cheeks a hint of color and a strobed finish.
Holographic Highlighting Powder in Supernova, $24 at Milk Makeup
When we say this highlighter produces an otherworldly glow, we mean it literally considering it contains meteorite powder and twilight pearls. The formula is also very moisturizing, thanks to avocado oil, coconut oil and mango butter. The creamy consistency means it can easily be dabbed on cheekbones (and even eyes) with fingers or brushes.
Face Highlighting Duochrome Stick in Arctic Glow, $10 at Ulta Beauty
Feeling frosty? Bring out your inner ice queen with this blue-purple highlighter. The shimmering duochrome formula will catch the light no matter where you are — be it in bright sunlight, candlelight or the flash of a camera. The chubby stick applicator glides over skin thanks to the shea butter-rich formula and it deposits just the right amount of product for a lit look.
I Heart Revolution Diamond Princess Cut Triple Baked Highlighter, $9 at Revolution Beauty
Like highlighters layered? This trio is a fantastic option. The lilac center is complemented by two pure white highlighters. Newbies can start by mixing just a little purple highlighter with the white, eventually building up the intensity.
FaceStudio Master Holographic Prismatic Highlighter in 100, $9.99 at Ulta Beauty
This holographic pastel purple contains prismatic pearls to help you master the Instagram-approved strobed glow. Apply just a touch for an ethereal finish and remember to blend so there are no harsh lines.
Match Stix Shimmer Skinstick in Unicorn, $25 at Sephora
Shine bright like a diamond by using the platinum lilac highlighter on your cheekbones and the bridge of your nose. The rounded stick can be used directly on your face or applied to the back of your hand and tapped in for a subtle glow. Either way, it'll deliver enough iridescent shimmer to appeal to unicorn spirit animals.
The Neo-Limelight Highlighter in Ibiza, $58 at Sephora
This gradient highlighter is almost too pretty to use. The ombre design has plenty of Instagram and vanity appeal. It showcases three flattering colored highlighters, which can be mixed together, layered or worn alone.
NYX Professional Makeup
Holographic Halo Shimmer Stick in Primal, $9 at NYX Cosmetics
This shimmer stick couldn't be easier to apply. Dab it on all areas of your face light would naturally hit (cheekbones, bridge of your nose, etc.) for a holographic lavender-to-blue duochrome finish.
[ Next: The Definitive Guide to Where and How to Apply Highlighter ]
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