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What Is the Best Highlighter for Textured Skin?

I have very textured skin, and if you’re reading this, I’m assuming you do too. I’m further assuming that, like me, you’d rather not put that texture on high display.

But most of us are also magpies who love shiny things: for instance, a beaming highlighter.

The trouble is that, when texture and highlighter get together, the usual result is pores looking twice their size, bumps screaming “look at me!” and dry patches snagging the light—and therefore the attention.

So what to do?

Well, we need to find the highlighters that are least likely to do that.

So that’s what this article will help you find: a highlighter that doesn’t emphasize your texture, coming from the point of view of a textured girl herself.

But First, A Caveat

Before we get started with the best highlighters for textured skin, let’s first establish something very important.

A highlighter highlights things. Light will catch where an area is raised, and it will be obviously missing from low points (your pores). All highlighter will highlight texture to some degree—it’s in the product’s nature.

So the question here is really “What highlighter will emphasize my texture the least?”

And here are the answers.

#1 Best Highlighters For Textured Skin: Cream or Liquid Products

If you’re looking to emphasize the least amount of texture with your highlighter, cream or liquids applied with a sponge is the route to go.

The reason is that the product, instead of gliding over your pores, gets pressed into them. And if your texture problem is dryness, creams and liquids are generally more emollient and will sink into your skin instead of sitting on top of them the way powders do.

Generally, creams and liquids apply more smoothly, and smooth is the name of the game if you have textured skin.

The Best Cream and Liquid Highlighters for Textured Skin

Here are some examples of great highlighters for your textured skin.

Colourpop’s Flexitarian

Colourpop's flexitarian, a light champagne in a pot

Colourpop Flexitarian ($8), a moussey cream, is my number one pick for those with textured skin. Normally, strong metallic highlights are not something I’d advise you go for, and this can be extremely reflective. But go lighthanded and you’ll look fantastic—no problems with texture. The fact that this is a cream adds in the moisture you need in order for the product to sink in. The end result is a wet-looking sheen that gives you a glow like no other.

(P.S. I wore this highlighter throughout my pregnancy, and people would constantly talk about my pregnancy glow—but it was just Flexitarian!)

Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter

Charlotte tibury hollywood flawless filter in the shade fair

Charlotte Tilbury’s lovely Hollywood Flawless Filter ($44) is a creamy liquid product that can be used as a subtle but beautiful highlighter. It emphasizes the least texture of anything I’ve found.

All you have to do is dot it on the high points of your cheeks and blend it out with a sponge. You’ll get a pearly shine that looks more like healthy skin than a highlighter. Plus, it comes in a variety of shades, so you’ll likely be able to find one that suits you just right.

Auric Glow Lust

A frosted glass bottle of Auric's Glow Lust

Glow Lust, another creamy liquid, is one of the flagship products from new brand Auric. It performs almost identically to the Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter, but the delivery is more sophisticated: you have a pump that’s specially designed for ultimate control so you can dispense a precise amount of product. If you’re squeamish about cross contamination (and if you’re concerned about large pores, you’re probably also concerned about bacteria from acne), Glow Lust is the hygenic way to go, over the Holywood Flawless Filter.

Plus, the bottle is so elegant, how can you resist?

Danessa Myricks Dew Wet Balm

A clear pan of Danessa Myricks' Dew Wet Balm

Advertised as ideal for mature skin, the Dew Wet Balm from Danessa Myricks is perfect for those of us with texture on the skin. Coming in colors that include a deep honey, a lavender, and even a clear, there are plenty of choices for what kind of non-texture-emphasizing glow you’re looking for. Rather than metallic, these will give you that wet, glass skin look.

#2 Best Highlighter for Textured Skin: Powdery Highlights

If a cream or liquid isn’t your jam, consider only certain types of powder highlights as you try not to emphasize texture.

If you want to avoid emphasizing texture but prefer a powder highlight, look for softer formulas that are a bit on the powdery side. You want more subtle products—the more beaming the highlight, the more texture you’re going to see.

If the highlighter has kickup when you put a brush in the pan, this is usually a good sign. And if it looks pearly rather than metallic, you’re probably safe.

Look for key words like “baked,” “bridal,” “soft,” “mature skin,” and “natural” when looking for a good highlighter. Many highlighters claim not to emphasize texture, but buy with caution—not all of them live up to that claim.

Also, make sure to blend, blend, blend!

The Best Powder Highlights for Textured Skin

Here are a few examples of powder highlights that are decent choices for you if you have textured skin.

Laura Geller Baked Original Highlighter

A staged photo of two baked highlighters from laura geller

I’m a textured girl, and Laura Gellar’s original baked highlighter is a staple in my collection. The soft, powdery formula glides on quickly and doesn’t emphasize texture nearly as much as other powder highlighters. The glow is so natural and healthy. And if you’re fair complected, French Vanilla will be the perfect shade. (I’m not so sure the other shade, French Toast, will work if you have deep skin. But the model on the webpage is Black, so I’m hoping the two shades are universal enough.)

Essence Pure Nude Highlighter

Essence Pure Nude, a tan, swirly powder

Ah, the internet famous Essence Pure Nude. This is a beloved formula that’s known for its natural glow and appropriateness for textured skin. Ask anyone in the know about highlighters, and they’ll tell you this one’s the way to go if you have texture. If the one shade they have (😭) works for you, look no further.

MAC Mineralized Skinfinish Highlight Face Powder

MAC mineralize skinfinish powder—a pearly tan color

MAC isn’t the trendsetter it once was, but the Mineralized Skinfinish highlighter is a classic from the days when they were. These highlighters have stuck around for a reason.

It’s a soft, baked formula that goes on pearly instead of metallic. It’s good for that JLo glow—one that says, “I was born a goddess,” not, “I put on a highlighter today.”

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders

The lightest shade of Hourglass's ambient lighting powder

Okay, first off—the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders are not actually highlighters. They’re finishing powders that are meant to act like flattering light reflecting off of your face. They have very little color coverage.

But when you’re REALLY struggling with texture and just want to add some lightness to the high points of your face, I find that an ambient lighting powder a few shades lighter than your complexion will work better than any traditional highlighter for a je ne sais quoi glow. But keep your expectations tempered. These are meant to be subtle.

Worst Highlighters for Textured Skin

It’s a terrible shame, but if you’re looking to deemphasize your texture, a lot of the best-loved highlighters are off the table for you. You want to avoid anything that advertised itself as

  • Metallic
  • Glittery
  • Baked gelle
  • High shine
  • Frosty

My personal experience, as a textured gal, is that these formulas are fun but not flattering on our skin types. Sometimes I wear them anyway. But I know in doing so that every bump on my skin will be out and ready to be seen by the world.

Here are some formulas I would NOT recommend if you have textured skin:

  • Ofra’s highlighters
  • Becca’s highlighters
  • Anastasia Beverly Hills’ Glow Kits
  • Wet ‘n’ Wild’s MegaGlo Highlighting Powders
  • The glittery or “supercharged” Killawatt Freestyle Highlighters from Fenty (e.g. Diamond Bomb, Trophy Wife, Watta Brat, or the supercharged shade in their split pans.) The soft side on their split pans are nice for textured skin, though—you decide if it’s worth it.
  • JCat highlighters
  • Most indie highlighters, unfortunately.

Summing Up

So, let’s summarize what we’ve gone over here.

If you have textured skin, lean toward creams and liquids or “natural” powder products. You want to blend creams and liquids into the skin with a sponge, and you want to gently brush on powdery highlights and then blend them thoroughly.

The highlighters to avoid if you have textured skin are the metallic, “seen from space” types of highlights. These will put every bit of texture you have on display.

Now, you may want to go for fun over flattering sometimes, and that’s okay! There are days when I just want the blue shade from Anastasia’s Aurora Glow Kit all over my cheeks because I’m throwing a party with my face and I don’t care about flattering.

But if you have textured skin and you’re having a day when you want to look your very best, these are the rules to follow!

P.S. Want more help picking out a highlighter? Here’s how to pick out the perfect color highlighter for your undertone.