Your Best Budget Metallic Highlighter

Shine on, you metallic glow girl, you!

Shine on, you metallic glow girl, you!

On the difficult and important topic of highlighter, I’m torn. I’ve pretended to think that the super-reflective, spangly, gleaming highlighter, so beloved by Instagram, is a bit overdone. I’ve made a pretense about how true highlight comes from facial-dew-mimicking grease. And I do love a greasy (or “glossy") cheek – it’s true.

But also, sometimes, a super unnatural highlighter is the only way.

Either when you’re unashamedly doing a “loads of makeup, so what?” look, or when you want to do “statement cheeks” (as opposed to eyes or lips), a sliver of metallic reflect can be just the ticket.

The best, most metallic, most obnoxious of these highlights tend to be extremely expensive, like the Cover FX Custom Enhancer Drops. These basically look like liquid metal on the cheeks: dangerous, and thus, very cool. When you want extreme, you want extreme, after all. Cheaper makeup, on the other hand, usually doesn’t have the extreme-ness of expensive makeup. They have to stack high and sell cheap, and extremeness doesn’t necessarily appeal to the masses.

But L’Oreal has taken a chance on an extreme guy, who follows in the grand tradition of the liquid metal. The new True Match Highlight is reflective beyond my wildest dreams. I have the shade “Icy Glow,” which looked to be the most metallic, and is a cool silvery-pink shade. There is also a Bronze and a Rose, which would look stunning on darker skins. Because of its liquid nature, it’s versatile as hellz. It can be used as a robotically glowing primer, or mixed with foundation to add luminosity and sheer out coverage. And the shade Icy Glow is super similar to the Cover FX Drops in Celestial.

The interesting similarities between the two got me wondering about extreme highlight more generally, and specifically about highlight’s most typical form: powder. While I tend to favor a wetter product for a wetter look, it’s undeniable that true intensity comes best from ground up magic crystals (or whatever highlight is made from). The Anastasia Glow Kit in Moonchild is a fine example of this, although definitely on the higher end of the price spectrum. But I have a much cheaper highlight palette that gives proper, metallic, reflective density, and it comes from Sleek.

To test this theory, I did a high-end-low-end-highlighted-face-thing. First, on one side I applied the Cover FX Celestial Enhancer Drops, and on the other, the L’Oreal Icy Glow True Match Highlight. While the consistencies are slightly different (Cover FX is thinner and more siliconey, while the L’Oreal is a thicker, gel-cream) the effect was amazingly similar. I used fingers for both applications, and a gentle tapping motion, so as not to disturb the “artistry” beneath.


Pleased with these results, I decided to push the envelope and test out the powders on top. Between the Anastasia Moonchild Glow Kit and the Sleek Solstice Palette, I couldn’t find a direct color “dupe,” so on my high end side I used Anastasia’s Pink Heart, and on my budget, Sleek’s Hemisphere (the lilac) and Equinox (the peach) mixed together to create a warmish pink. And again, difference (particularly in terms of metallic-ness) was negligible. In fact, I’d even possibly say the Sleek side gave more intensity.


Now, I’d like to disclaim — I don’t think any of the products in this piece are necessarily dead-on dupes for each other. But what I do, hand-on-heart, genuinely believe is that if you want the liquid-metal-cheekboned look, no longer need you stay exclusively on the higher end. Drugstore brands are finally catching on that basically all that we want is to blind, glare, and shine. And now, even if you’re balling on a budget, you can.


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