8 of the Best Affordable, Cruelty-Free Highlighters

If you’re anything like me, a lot of your paycheck probably ends up in your makeup bag. I love getting glam even just to go to class, but it can be difficult to maintain the full beat lifestyle when it feels like it costs $5 just to breathe inside Sephora. As a college student, I can’t afford to try out tons of high-end highlighters before finding one that works. While there are some high-end products I don't want to live without, a lot of companies have stepped up their game when it comes to affordable highlighters, so much so that I prefer them over the luxury brands. As an added bonus, all of my favorites are cruelty-free, so no bunnies were harmed in the making of this glow.

  1. Colourpop Pearlized Highlighters, $8

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Hands down, bar none, the BEST highlighters in the game, in my not-so-humble opinion. The Pearlized Highlighters come in this amazing, cushion-like formula that is extremely pigmented. If an intense highlight is your thing, Flexitarian will have you shining to the heavens. If you aren’t afraid of glitter, Spoon is my go-to. For a more subtle yet still highly pigmented glow, I suggest Smoke N Whistles. Colourpop has colors for all skin tones and they have holographic shades too.

2. Wet n Wild Megaglo Highlighting Powder, $4.99


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These can be a little hard to track down, but they’re becoming more and more available as Wet n Wild realizes the demand. I have the color Precious Petals, and I know it’s available at CVS, Walgreens, Ulta and online. These are so pigmented that it’s hard to believe they’re only $4.99! 10/10 would recommend.

3. Wet n Wild To Reflect Shimmer Palette, $5.99

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Don’t get sucked into the Champagne Pop hype! Wet n Wild’s Boozy Brunch highlighter is an exact dupe on some skin tones and the price is much easier to forgive. Plus, the pan is huge so you get a lot of product.

4. NYX Born to Glow Liquid Illuminator, $7.50

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If you have dry skin, this is the highlighter for you. Even if you don’t, adding this liquid under a powder highlighter will give you an unstoppable glow. This one comes in a few shades that will suit pale to dark skin tones. This can also look really natural if you use a light hand.

5. e.l.f. Baked Highlighter, $4

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Y’all, praise be for e.l.f. Moonlight Pearls is such a beautiful highlighter and you can find it almost everywhere. Pro tip: scratch the surface layer off to reveal a smoother, more intense glow and amplify it further by wetting your brush after dipping in.

6. Morphe 35F Fall Into Frost Palette, $22.99

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Hear me out: yes, this is an eye shadow palette but I wouldn’t include it if the top row of shades didn’t work as the most beautiful highlight I’ve ever seen. I like to dip my brush into the first three shades and get to blinding, but the top row is sure to have a color for every skin tone. Plus, you can’t beat a palette with 35 shades for this price.

7. Essence soo glow! Cream to Powder Highlighter, $3.49

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Even though this is the most affordable option, you wouldn't know it by the payoff. This formula is really unique because it feels like a mousse and if you have a light to medium skin tone, you should definitely give this a try on its own or underneath a powder highlight.

8. The Balm Mary-Lou Manizer Highlighter, $24

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While you might not think of this as an affordable option, I still wanted to mention it because it’s cheaper than the typical high-end highlighter. I get compliments every time I wear this and (for the price) it lasts a really long time. If you’re extra like me, this also looks great on shoulders and collarbones. You can find it online or in Kohl’s beauty section.

If you want your cheekbones to be seen from space without investing too much, these are some amazing, affordable highlighters that you’ll easily be able to find in a variety of places.


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