Review

The Gloss Report: strobing highlighters tried and tested

Ayesha Muttucumaru 16 October 2015

1 / 11

The Gloss Report: strobing highlighters tried and tested

The widely touted secret to achieving a beautifully radiant complexion, strobing is the makeup technique taking the beauty world by storm. The redefinition of contouring, the trend sees sharp angles and severe lines take a backseat to glowing skin and glossy cheekbones to literally and figuratively see your features in a brand new light.

From high street to high end, illuminating products have seen a sudden surge in popularity in recent times - but which actually deliver most bang for your buck? This week, GTG HQ has been putting a whole roster of highlighters to the test to see which hold the key to strobing success. The effect we’re looking for? As MAC Director of Makeup Artistry Terry Barber told our  Makeup Maniac , “Creating light in the complexion starts with selecting the appropriate tone to brighten its undertones. This could be anything from pure white through to a deep gold or pewter. The important thing is that the result is a porcelain, rather than tanned glow.”

Click through our gallery to see which strobing products came out on top...

2 / 11

Illamasqua Gleam Highlighter in Aurora

Price £22

Buy online

Feedback "Having studied (read: crushed on) Gigi Hadid’s perfect angel-face at length, I’ve had divine inspiration to get my strobe on in the makeup department. Named for the ethereal glow that permeates the atmosphere at dawn, Aurora is a gorgeous cream formula that glides easily onto the skin. It’s sheer and buildable, and after a few layers it gives you that all-important ‘halo’ effect, as though you are lit from within by celestial light. I can’t promise it will make you look as divine as real life VS model Hadid, but it’s as close as mere mortals like us can get."

Reviewer IB

Score 8/10

3 / 11

Sleek Highlighting Palette in Solstice

Price £9.99

Buy online

Feedback "At £10, this palette is an absolute bargain. A beautiful quad of 2 baked iridescent powders, a cream and one silky shimmer powder, it is a versatile face and body highlighting palette that’s great for enhancing your complexion with a radiant glow with just the right amount of shimmer.

"It has a very luxurious and silky feel for such a bargain product and the powders are highly pigmented so a little goes a long way. Packaged in a compact with a mirror and a brush it is designed to be used along the cheekbones (the 'hemisphere' shade is perfect for this), inner corners of the eyes, bridge of the nose and across the décolletage to create an illuminating glow and a luminous finish. It is super easy to apply, so perfect for either day or with a little more shimmer for the night. It also lasted for the whole day which is big plus!"

Reviewer SM

Score 10/10

4 / 11

Burberry Fresh Glow Highlighting Luminous Pen

Price £25

Buy online

Feedback "If you’re on the hunt for a highlighter that’s chic, sophisticated and wearable for daytime, this strobing pen really delivers in terms of usability and finish. Providing just the right amount of luminosity and pigment to deliver the juiciest of subtle sheens to cheekbones, in terms of mastering the non-glitter glow that a strobing product should have, it proves pretty hard to beat in my opinion. It suits a myriad of different skin tones - it added a soft and easy-to-blend touch of illumination to my medium brown complexion and at the launch, looked beautiful on fair-skinned model, Amber Anderson too.

"I also really liked the precision that the pen offered as well; plus it’s slimline size fits into any type of handbag - great for a ‘glow-on-the-go.’ At £25 though, it is expensive and if you’re looking for a more striking finish for night time, you may be better off looking elsewhere (especially if you have a darker skin tone). However, there’s something just a little bit special about Burberry isn’t there? if you’re looking to treat yourself or for a birthday gift with the dose of added luxury that the Fashion House affords, it could be your perfect pick."

Reviewer AM

Score 9/10

5 / 11

KIKO Cream Radiance Highlighter in Alluring Sand

Price £10.90

Buy online

Feedback "The packaging alone sells this product for me. A mesmerising polychromatic sphere unhinges to reveal the product nestled within, a perfect pearl of creamy highlighter.

"The innovative gel-to-powder formula blends beautifully onto the skin. Dabbing it along the tops of your cheekbones and blending it into the temples creates an iridescent sheen, lifting your skin from dull to brilliant in an instant. However, the opalescent formula is heavy on the glitter: everything I touched turned to sparkles, including my unsuspecting boyfriend’s face. Not so alluring. This is one disco ball I may save for parties."

Reviewer IB

Score 7/10

6 / 11

MAC Strobe Cream

Price £24.50

Buy online

Feedback "The cream that essentially coined the trend, Strobe Cream has sparked many an imitator. Technically a moisturiser, although I’ve never really thought of it that way, not only does it make even the dullest skin beam (convincingly - think illuminating mineral pigments rather than actual glitter), it’s cooling, calming and loaded with effective antioxidants to add an element of protection. It’s also incredibly versatile; it gives off enough glimmer to make cheekbones, lids and brows stand out, but blended into another cream or base, or even used on legs or across the décolletage, it creates the kind of luminous, luscious skin that normally only a spa day and good rest could buy. You can mix it with almost any product you own and it’s likely to make it better, and when you combine that with the generous sized tube, you’re onto something truly special. The original is still the best in my view."

Reviewer AH

Score 10/10

7 / 11

Topshop Highlighting Contour Cream in Swipe

Price £9

Buy online

Feedback "Dewy skin in a cream-to-powder compact - that’s the way I view this new Contour Cream from Topshop. Created to provide a chic polish to high points of the face, it glides onto cheekbones and blends like butter to subtly highlight and softly define.

"One for occasions where you don’t fancy wearing too much makeup, but still want to provide the illusion of skin that looks slightly more prepped for public consumption, (think a fragile Sunday morning following the antics of a hectic Saturday night before), it delivers great value for money and a valuable secret weapon in giving your complexion a much-needed boost on days when you need one the most."

Reviewer AM

Score 9/10

8 / 11

Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick in Rose

Price £33

Buy online

Feedback "I was the proud, if brief, owner of a Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick many moons ago back when it was something of a cult product and bronzer sparkled like an orange sun on Paris Hilton’s pouting face. Unfortunately, my shimmer brick took a tumble off a table and became shimmer rubble. Since then, I haven’t been able to bear parting with £33 of makeup that might break my heart into shiny pieces again.

"As this product proves however, powder is on the brink of a comeback. Makeup artist and acid-tongued YouTuber Wayne Goss recommends using powder over liquid creams or gels when it comes to strobing, as powder doesn’t ‘pull’ at your foundation the way cream products do. Sweeping a fluffy brush across the multi-tonal palette and across the cheekbones creates a flawless, natural looking halo. The pink undertones make it more natural flush than shiny alien and the shimmer is glitter free. I’m in love again, Bobbi, just don’t go bricking my heart."

Reviewer IB

Score 9/10

9 / 11

Pür Minerals Afterglow Illuminating Powder

Price £22.50

Buy online

Feedback "This is a great lightweight powder for a subtle and natural shimmer to brighten the face. Due to its pearly and shimmery finish I would consider it to be more of a highlighter than an illuminator, and it didn’t really help diffuse the look of lines and imperfections as it claimed it would on the brand’s website. That being said though, the addition of shea butter within the powder helped to condition my skin for a smoother and more dewy finish. The strong pigment allowed a little to go a long way, but I felt it fading as the day went on and it didn't last too long! For the price, I think you can definitely get a better highlighter out there."

Reviewer SM

Score 6/10

10 / 11

Benefit That Gal

Price £22.50

Buy online

Feedback "Part highlighter (super subtle), part primer (mainly primer), this light textured, pink lotion brightens the skin rather than necessarily ‘strobing’ it, and I have to admit that initially I didn’t think it would make much difference on my pale pallor in the ‘lit from within stakes’. I was actually proved wrong; it was a lot more illuminating that its low key colour and formula let on.

"A slightly strange applicator (a twist up grid thing) distributes just enough product, and it glides over the face easily to create a smooth, but not ‘siliconey’ canvas. I appreciated the fact that my skin felt moist and looked plump and hydrated, rather than ‘blurred out’, as is the hallmark of many a primer. After application my skin certainly appeared healthier, but despite product claims it’s definitely not a dramatic enough transformation to forgo base completely, unless you truly do have perfect skin. Under makeup though, I noticed that it both prolonged the wear of foundation and enhanced its appearance; my base looked dewy without any caking or clagging. The light reflecting pigments were subtle but clearly doing their job, and while it didn’t help to sculpt or highlight features directly, it made the whole picture that bit brighter."

Reviewer AH

Score 8/10

11 / 11

Sleek Barekissed Illuminator in Monaco

Price £8.99

Buy online

Feedback "A go-to product that's just as easily applied to your cheekbones as a highlighter as it is mixed in with your foundation for a healthy glow or even to prep eyelids for eyeshadow. The product is available in 4 different shades (Monaco, Cuba, Casablanca and Pompeii) with Monaco being the most neutral and I found that a little really does go a long way - one half pump was plenty for the strobing effect I was after. This is one bargain buy your makeup bag will thank you for on dull days, sunny days, hungover days and more."

Reviewer AlM

Score 7/10