Highlighter sales have soared this summer, with Superdrug beauty buyers putting the surge down to the Instagram effect, while ‘glow’ makeup launches just keep on coming. Have we reached peak highlighter?

Any products in this article have been selected editorially however if you buy something we mention, we may earn commission

We’re guilty of it, it’s become the new aesthetic aspiration and your social media feeds are likely full of it if you’re in any way interested in beauty – we’re all clamouring to ‘get a glow’ and we’re prepared to bathe in highlighter to do so. At least, that’s what newly released sales figures from Superdrug ’s beauty department would seem to suggest.

The high street beauty chain reports that sales of liquid highlighters shot up by an astounding 8500 per cent this summer, leaving the likes of sunscreen and cooling skincare in the shade, which is especially surprising given the prolonged heat wave we experienced. Superdrug stocks a whopping 50 varieties of light reflective highlighting drops, of which this summer’s bestsellers have been Revolution Liquid Highlighter in Champagne , £3, (now tellingly out of stock) L’Oreal Paris Glow Mon Amour Highlighting Drops in Champagne , £9.99, and Revolution Liquid Highlighter in Starlight , £3.

Superdrug’s Head of Beauty Sarah Gardner believes that Instagram influencers have a significant role to play in the liquid highlighter ‘gold rush’:

“We’ve seen a surge in sales and popularity of liquid highlighting drops over the last year as more and more people are taking inspiration from influencers on Instagram. We get a lot of our customers popping into stores to upgrade their beauty regime by stocking up on liquid highlighters which is why we’ve increased the selection available.”

Superdrug buyers also perceive that Instagram tutorials on body highlighting – adding liquid highlighter to collarbones, décolletage, shoulders and the across the torso, have contributed to the huge uplift in liquid highlighter sales in particular.

Coupled with these stats is the steady stream of launches focused around ‘glow’. From powders to foundations to face masks and lip gloss, there’s an arsenal of ‘glowgivers’ on standby at your local chemist, supermarket or beauty retailer, waiting to light up your life, or at the very least, your face. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this – better to follow the light and enhance what we’ve already got than stress about smile lines, but equally, putting on a glow show ‘for the ‘gram’ can often come off too try hard in real life.

When everything’s highlighted, the nuance of a cheekbone or collarbone that slightly catches the light is lost, and heavy-handed highlighting, particularly on young skin that’s often pretty glowy of its own accord, often has the effect of blurring out features, creating an oddly uniform look rather than bigging up natural beauty. Not to mention the fact that sculpting and blending can take hours, and the pressure to look flawless and filter-perfect can amass with every cursory social media scroll.

Don’t get us wrong – we love a liquid highlighter as much as the next beauty junkie, but glow overload, and the seeming Insta fuelled obligation to highlight from head to toe on leaving the house, can have the ironic effect of dulling our features and the skin we’re in. What works for pictures often doesn’t translate to our busy, already 3D and well lit lives, and while you should always wear whatever makeup makes you happy, if you’re not feeling or looking particularly glowy on any given day, that’s normal, and you shouldn’t feel obliged to fake it or #filter yourself for the outside world (or Insta’s) approval. In short, glow get ‘em, but on your terms, not according to a paint by numbers glow chart.

How to get the best out of a highlighter

Follow Anna on  Twitter  and  Instagram