Best Cruelty-Free Vegan Highlighter
The natural movement is here to stay!
People everywhere are opting for simplicity in all aspects of life. We're discovering that small touches can make a big difference.
Highlighter is an example of a simple, easy-to-use product that can create a beautiful effect. Applied correctly, they create a flawless, dewy complexion that makes it look like you're flowing from the inside out.
Adding highlighter to your makeup routine will give you that gorgeous mid-summer glow all year round.
What is Highlighter?
Highlighter is a type of face makeup that attracts light, creating an illusion of brightness. It lifts features and creates depth on your face, without taking a lot of product or time.
The best part is that it doesn't "look" like makeup. People won't know what's different about you, but they'll notice you look youthful and healthy.
Our Favorite Vegan Highlighters
Of course, an easy way to make sure your product is vegan-friendly is to choose a highlighter from our Top 5 list. This will take all the guesswork out of your purchase, saving you valuable time.
Each of the products on this list is 100% vegan and cruelty free. Read on to find the perfect option for you!
Perfect for those looking for plenty of shimmer
The pressed highlighter from Becca Cosmetics is like a spotlight for your skin. It provides a high-impact shine and is perfect for those looking for plenty of shimmer. The shimmer it does provide is a silky, elegant finish that doesn't look glittery.
This vegan highlighter is a very forgiving product. The pigment pearls adjust to your skin's natural undertones, so it's a good option for those still finding their perfect shade. It comes in eight shades from Pearl to Topaz.
What makes this product stand out from the crowd is its texture.
While it's technically a pressed powder, the formula blends pigments with liquids. This results in a luxurious, silky texture that won't cake.
This cruelty free highlighter is on the more expensive end of the spectrum and this case, you get what you pay for.
Reviewers love the texture, color, and finish this product provides. Plus, a little goes a long way. However, if you're truly strapped for cash, this product may be cost-prohibitive.
What I Like
The spectrum of color on this product is phenomenal. The bronze highlighter looks especially stunning on deep ebony skin tones.
What I Didn't Like
Purchasers on Amazon reported issues with shipping and packaging. While the product is A+, many said they received a broken or damaged product from the fulfillment company.
Ideal for beauty addicts on a budget
E.L.F. products are ideal for beauty addicts on a budget. Their cosmetics are a perfect blend of quality and affordability. The Baked Highlighter is no exception!
The flexibility of this highlighter is what earns it a spot on this list. It can be applied wet or dry for ultimate versatility. A wet application creates a bold, shimmering statement, while dry makes a more subtle glow.
This cruelty-free highlighter comes in a variety of colors with pink, bronze, and yellow undertones. Each one has a pearly finish for a fresh-from-the-beach effect. Aside from looking good, this product is also good for your skin.
The formula is infused with Vitamin E, jojoba, sunflower, apricot, and grape. These ingredients nourish and hydrate, leaving your skin in better shape than before.
The highlighter is slim and lightweight so that you can keep one in your purse or travel bag.
What I Like
The pearly finish on this highlighter makes you look just magical. It provides a beautiful accent that's stunning on cheekbones. It's shimmery and bold, without being gaudy.
What I Didn't Like
This product is a little messy. Some purchasers had to scrape off the top layer of highlighter to get it onto the brush or finger. It's effective after this, but can be a real nuisance to clean. Also, it can be hard to get enough pigment using a dry brush.
Best for darker complexions
Dubbed an "illuminator," the highlighter from NARS is as luxurious as it sounds. The product creates a halo of youth on a variety of skin tones.
This is our top choice for darker complexions, as it works beautifully with rich skin tones and is perfect as a highlighter to define cheekbones.
This is an excellent option for those who want highlight without very much shimmer or glitter. The effect it creates is definitely brightening, as opposed to sparkling (even though it does provide shimmer). Buyers in their late twenties and older liked the sophisticated look of this makeup.
I won't lie, though - this stuff is expensive!
However, you're paying top dollar for top quality. This stuff is going on your face, so you want to be sure it's the best you can get. Plus, a little goes a long way with this illuminator.
Reviewers noted that even a dab in a sample pot lasted several weeks. This won't be something you'll have to buy often.
What I Like
This is really a "grown up" highlighter. It's perfect for people who want to define their features, without a very glittery, sparkly finish. It creates a very natural, bright effect.
What I Didn't Like
It’s important to note that while NARS itself is a vegan, cruelty-free brand, its parent company Shiseido is not. We’re comfortable listing this product in our top five because we believe it’s important to vote with your dollars.
By choosing a NARS product, you’re telling the company that, when given a choice, people will choose the animal-friendly option. However, if your ethics require cruelty-free all the way up the hierarchy, opt for one of the other four products.
2-in-1 plus a great option for those with sensitive skin
If there's one thing I appreciate, it's a good two-in-one product. I love the convenience of having both my bronzer and highlighter in the same compact. Plus, I spend less money because I don't need to buy two completely separate products.
Mineral Fusion's Bronzer compact comes with the bronzer on one side and the highlighter on the other. When you combine the two, you're really creating depth and dimension. The bronzer provides definition, while the highlighter gives a youthful glow. The finish of this product reminds me of a fresh summer afternoon.
There isn't very much sparkle in this product. It's ideal for those who want brightness and radiance, without glitter or shimmer.
You can also feel good about swiping this powder onto your face. The company has formulated this product to be healthy and natural. Pomegranate, red tea, white tea, and vitamins C and E protect against free radical damage. They also help create radiant skin.
It's also a good option for those with sensitive skin that's prone to irritation. The formula is soothing, created with aloe vera. It also harnesses the UV protection of natural minerals to shield your skin from sun damage. It's a good option for all skin types.
What I Like
This product is extremely easy to use - the pigment loads easily onto the brush, and it doesn't take up much space. Plus, having both the highlighter and bronzer allows you to create more complex looks.
What I Didn't Like
Purchasers looking for a very bright, defined highlight may be disappointed by this product. It provides a very subtle, natural look, but won't stand out as much as other products.
Great for those who prefer natural ingredients
When you're replacing your cosmetics, you might want to go as natural as possible. Just as the name suggests, Au Naturale highlighter should have a spot in the eco-friendly makeup bag.
The highlighter comes in a creamy stick formula for maximum staying power. It's available in two colors: the original highlighter stick, and rose gold.
You can go as bold or as subtle as you want with this product. It gives a gentle glow when blended with a dry brush. For a shimmering, all-over glow, apply to the forehead, nose, and chin. You can even apply it to your decollete.
The best part of this product, though, is the ingredient list. Chock full of organic seed oils, plant wax, and healthy jojoba, this is a product you can feel good about. It's non-toxic and free of gluten and parabens.
The product is hand-crafted in Green Bay, WI, USA.
What I Like
It's great to find a beautiful, quality, vegan product that doesn't rely on harsh chemicals and toxins. You can be at ease while you're applying this since it contains good-for-you ingredients.
What I Didn't Like
Reviewers noted that these highlighters have a very pronounced yellow undertone. If yellows don't go well with your skin, this product may not be for you.
How to Choose the Perfect Highlighter
For something seemingly simple, choosing your ideal highlighter can feel overwhelming - What color should I use? What finish do I want? Should I choose powder, cream, or stick?
Don't panic! With just a few considerations, you can find the ideal product to illuminate your features. We’ll walk you through the simple decision process.
Highlighters come in a variety of colors, meant to complement different skin tones. To choose a product that looks natural on you, consider your own skin.
People with fair skin should choose highlighters with a pearl or champagne sheen. This will add just enough radiance without making it look like you're made of marble. Steer clear from darker colors, as they'll look unnatural.
Medium and olive skin tones should always opt for a highlighter that adds some warmth. Choosing a highlighter with peach or gold undertones will give you a sun-kissed look.
Those with rich, dark complexions should highlight with rose gold and bronze tones. Avoid anything that's too frosty, as this creates more "gray" and less "glow."
If you're not sure which way you should go, an easy way to find out is the jewelry test.
If silver jewelry complements your complexion, a silvery or pink product will be best. Always going for gold? Choose warm undertones like gold or bronze.
Still unsure? A neutral pink is a good one-size-fits-all option. This color will complement most complexions.
- Styles of Highlighter
Once you have your color pinned down, you'll want to choose the style of highlighter. Most products come in one of three types: powder, liquid, and cream.
Liquid highlighter is ideal for a dewy, glowing finish. It's also flexible, as you can mix it into your foundation for an all-over glow. It's best suited for dry to normal skin types, as it may slip on oily skin as the day goes on.
Those looking for a lot of shimmer should opt for powder highlighter. This is the most potent option, so a little goes a long way. It's also good for oily skin because it will stay put all day.
Cream highlighter is a little different from the other types. It's much more matte than shimmer, and doesn't give off as much glow. This is the ideal pick for those who want an airbrushed, sculpted look with little dewiness.
Things to Watch For
Of course, we want to achieve these beautiful effects without causing any harm to animals. This means choosing a product free of animal ingredients, and that has never been tested on animals.
A common animal ingredient in highlighter is guanine. It's a crystalline material that provides shimmer and shine. If you see this in the ingredient list, move on - it comes from crushed fish scales.
You'll also want to be on the lookout for carmine and cochineal. Both of these ingredients provide a reddish hue that might give color to the highlighter. Steer clear! This ingredient comes from crushed beetles (yuck!).
It's important to remember that vegan ingredients don't always mean vegan-friendly. If the company engages in cruel animal testing, the product is most definitely not vegan.
Look for the Leaping Bunny logo on your cosmetics or a statement that reads "not tested on animals."
If you're unsure, you can always contact the company directly. Be sure to ask if animal testing occurs at any point in the process. Some companies won't test the finished product but may test individual ingredients on animals.
Glow Girl, Glow!
A shimmering highlighter can make all the difference in your makeup look. For a small up-front investment, you can have glowing, sun-kissed skin even throughout the winter months.
Whether you're looking for a gentle powder or a bold cream, one of our top 5 products will be sure to please. Best of all? Each option uses no animal by-products, and all the companies are cruelty-free.
Highlighter is truly a less-is-more product. Just by adding it to your routine, you can use less makeup. Instead, you'll radiate youth, health, and warmth.
Go ahead - get your glow on!