Beauty Reviews

Best Highlighters For Oily Skin + How To Prep Skin

June 16, 2016
 F0r more beauty and style posts, follow me on Instagram! @sarah_najafi

Let’s keep it real, we all want to glow like JLo. I know I do, but if you have oily skin like me, you know it seems unattainable without looking like a hot mess. Dewy foundations, shimmer blushes and bronzers are pretty much out of the question, TYSM <insert eye roll>. But don’t worry, we no longer have to go through life looking flat with matte-only skin products. It’s definitely not for the low maintenance and will require a little effort. With adding just a few tricks, you will be on your way to rocking a gorgeous glow.

First thing you want to do is prep your skin with a mattifying pore minimizer, like the Hourglass Veil Mineral Pore Mineral Primer (, $18). It’s oil-free, minimizes the appearance pores, and does a nice job softening skin imperfections. Application Tip: Glide onto skin using your fingers, moving in an up and down direction. My other favorites: Too Faced Primed & Poreless Primer, $30, Rimmel Stay Matte Primer, $6.99.


Next step is to apply your favorite matte foundation. I highly recommend that you use a dampened Beauty Blender (, $20) or Real Techniques Makeup Miracle Complexion Sponge (, $6.99). I find that the extra moisture really helps evenly distribute matte foundation for a flawless finish and also aids in giving a more natural, glowy finish.

If you are using a cream or liquid highlighter, you can apply it before or after your foundation. If you apply it before you will have a more understated, subtle glow.

Follow with setting the areas that you tend to get oily, such as the T-zone, with a translucent powder. My go-to loose powders are Laura Mercier Translucent Powder (, $38), RCMA No Color Powder (, $12), and e.l.f. High Definition Powder (, $6).

Lastly, apply a mattifying finishing spray that will aid in oil control and help your makeup last longer. I love the Urban Decay De-Slick Oil-Control Makeup Setting Spray (, $14).

Where To Highlight

The point of highlighting is to accentuate the high points of the face which gives the illusion of high cheek bones and strong features, resulting in a glowy effect. Typically, I avoid the nose and above the arch of my brows because my T-zone is my problem area. Here are the areas I recommend for highlighting:

  1. High points of your cheeks
  2. On the brow bone, right under the arch of the brow. TIP: I love to attach this highlight in a C-shape to the highlighter on the top cheekbone.
  3. Inner corner of eyes
  4. Cupid’s bow

Application Tips

  1. Generally, powder highlighters are best for oily skin; however, if you prep your skin properly uou can get away with using your favorite liquid or cream highlighter.
  2. Avoid using anything with tons of glitter.
  3. Avoid areas where you tend to get oily, like the T-zone.
  4. The Beauty Blender or Real Techniques makeup sponge is your best friend when applying liquid highlighters. It allows the product to almost melt into the skin and you will end up with a lit-from-within appearance.
  5. Avoid anywhere that you have large pores since shimmer powders will enhance any imperfections. However, the use of a pore minimizing primer will aid in reducing the size of your pores so you may get ways with wearing highlighter in those areas.

Best Shade For Your Skin Tone

  • Fair/Light: Pink and champagne
  • Medium/Tan/Olive: Gold
  • Dark: Deep Gold or Bronze

Top Highlighting Products for Oily Skin

Becca Backlight Priming Filter, $38


This product is amazing because it’s essentially a matte radiant primer, with the smoothest texture. Genius! It’s lightweight, oil-free, and gives skin a healthy glow. I think this is probably my favorite of all! And you can apply it all over or just to the areas you want a subtle glow.

Hourglass Ambient Light Correcting Primer, $44


Watch out Becca, you got some new competition. This is also a primer that will impart a natural, dewy glow on the skin. It’s designed to further enhance the rest of the Ambient Lighting Collection, but it can also be worn alone. Like the Becca Primer, this looks pretty worn without any other makeup as well.

Comes in 3 shades: Luminous Light (champagne), Mood Light (light pink), & Dim light (gold)

Benefit Cosmetics Dandelion Shy Beam Matte Highlighter, $26


This is a beautiful highlight for those who want to brighten their complexion without any shimmer or sheen. This product is totally matte, reflects light and brightens the skin. It can be used before or after applying foundation. The only issue I have with this product is that it only comes in one shade – a light pink. I haven’t tried it on darker complexions, but it seems like it’s best for light to medium skin tones.

GLAMGLOW Glowstarter Mega Illuminating Moisturizing, $49


So I have been wanting to try GLAMGLOW products for a while now. I feel like everywhere I turn someone is raving about their masks. I’m yet to try them out but what I know is that their new illuminating moisturizer is legit amazing! Just wow. Do not worry, it is water-based and good for all skin types. It was created to boost the look of dull skin. I’m a huge fan because its light reflecting and blurs imperfections. And it smells like a creamsicle, so yummy!And just like with the Becca and Hourglass primers, you can wear this all over or only the areas you want highlighted. TIP: I recommend getting a sample of it first and testing it out since it is on the pricey side.

Just like with the Becca and Hourglass primers, you can wear this all over or only the areas you want highlighted. TIP: I recommend getting a sample of it first and testing it out since it is on the pricey side.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder (Radiant Light), $45


Just like the name says, the ‘Radiant Light’ truly makes the skin look radiant, without any glitter. I know it’s pricey, but it’s definitely worth it. This highlighting powder gives you a glow from within appearance, perfect for achieving a subtle glow. They offer 5 other shades that are also beautiful. Some have small flecks of glitter, but when applied the sparkle is almost undetectable.

Laura Mercier Matte Radiance Baked Powder Compact, $40


Ok so I don’t understand why they call this a matte powder because it has shimmer, but I still love it. It’s a baked powder and similar to the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder, imparts a natural glow. I like that you can build up the intensity depending on the look you’re going for. It also looks beautiful alone without foundation. I’ve only used the shade ‘Natural Radiance,’ but it comes in 3 bronzer shades as well.

BareMinerals Clear Radiance All-Over Skin Color, $21


Another great product that gives you that lit-from-within glow. It can be used on the cheeks, lips and eyes. Very light, sheer formula that will leave your skin looking naturally radiant.

Bobbi Brown Highlighting Powder, $46


Ok, I’m obsessed with these highlighters and I had to share them even though they are quite shimmery. If you want to pack more of a punch, this does just that. It’s high impact and really catches the light. It comes in two shades: Bronze Glow and Pink Glow. I think the bronze glow is great for medium to deeper complexions. Trust me, go try it out and swatch it on the back of your hand, it’s hot fire!

e.l.f. Cosmetics Baked Blush , $3


This is my go-to highlighter! It’s what I’m wearing in the picture above in the shade ‘Pinktastic’ (over the Hourglass primer). It’s the perfect for days when you want a more intense glow, but not over-the-top shimmery.

I realize that most of the above products are affordable and you know I’m a huge fan of drugstore products. I’m currently doing research to find you the best affordable highlighters and illuminators. If you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comment section below. And I hope I didn’t overwhelm you with too much information or miss anything. I know the struggle of achieving glowy skin, so I hope that my tips help you too! Lots of love, xo Sarah


  • Reply Pat November 9, 2016 at 3:34 pm

    This article is BOMB! Thank you so much for sharing all these detailed infos.

    • Reply Sarah Najafi November 9, 2016 at 4:03 pm

      Thank makes me so happy, thank you so much, Patrizia!

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