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6 Best Vegan Highlighters to Give Your Face the Perfect Finish (2019)

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Ever noticed that some people just have this glow about them? Like they’re never tired, always alert, and just shine from within?

If you aren’t getting your zzz’s or are just feeling somehow, a highlighter might just be the quick fix you need!

But cosmetics aren’t really your thing, and aren’t they all full of animal bits and pieces? No worries. It’s a whole new world and we’ll help show you the way.

In a Hurry? Here’s Our Quick List of Top Picks

What Is a Highlighter and Why Use It?

A highlighter is a cosmetic product that reflects light. It’s used primarily on the face to highlight features and add contouring. It also adds a subtle glow to your skin. A highlighter can do wonders for your face and overall appearance.

It can help open up your eyes, making you appear more awake or alert. It can minimize the look of under-eye circles, helping your face keep a youthful, radiant glow.

Even when you’re exhausted. It can be the perfect pick-me-up for your skin on days when you just aren’t feeling it.

A highlighter can also add shimmer and glow to your favorite features, accentuating your perfect nose and cheekbones, or making your less than perfect features softer and more proportionate.

It’s a great product for a glowing day look and can easily be transformed into a more dramatic one to take on the town.

Correct use of a highlighter can completely change your look! And it’s really not difficult to use. Don’t be intimidated by artists that use contouring and highlighting to alter the appearance of their clients.

You don’t have to use it in this manner (at first). But it’s a fun product to experiment with. Take time to learn the basics of application, and then get brave to try a bolder look.

Okay, so now you’re itching to try out a highlighter, right? Of course, you want one that’s cruelty-free and vegan. But what makes a highlighter NOT vegan?

Read on for some “eye-opening” info!

What You Should Avoid in Highlighters

You likely already know that many personal care products and cosmetics use animal ingredients and are often tested on animals.

However, many of the companies that make these products aren’t exactly upfront with their methods or “proprietary blends,” making it difficult to discern what is and isn’t vegan.

Many animal ingredients are listed on packaging with covert names, or not listed at all! So, what can you do?

Here’s a list of some ingredients to look out for and avoid at all costs.


Carmine is a red pigment used in cosmetics and food (yuck), it comes from the boiled and crushed bodies of the female cochineal insect. Approximately 70,000 insects are killed to make less than a pound of this dye.

Some other names for it are cochineal and carminic acid. Look instead for plant-based dyes from beets, etc.


Guanine makes highlighter shimmer and shine, but it comes from the scales of fish and acids from animal tissue.

It can also be called pearl essence or pearl protein. Look instead for synthetic pearl, fruit pigments, or mica.


Squalene is used as a moisturizer and is touted to have anti-aging effects. However, it’s sourced from the livers of sharks.

It can be labelled as shark liver oil on packaging as well. Look instead for plant-based oils, such as olive oil.


Lanolin is an emollient (or deep moisturizer) sourced from the oil glands of sheep when sheared. Most people would think sheep shearing isn’t cruel, but a simple search can show otherwise.

When sheared for industrial purposes, the wool and lanolin harvest is quite appalling, to say the least. Can also be labelled as Isopropyl Lanolate, Laneth, and Lanogene. Look instead for plant oils like coconut and olive.


Lecithin is used as skin conditioner and emulsifying agent. It comes from animal nerve tissue, blood and milk.

Can be labelled as Choline Bitartrate. Plant based alternatives are often sourced from soybeans and corn, and are labelled as Lecithin as well, so it’s advisable to look at other certifications of the product if Lecithin is listed. Plant-based ingredients will most likely be labelled as such.


Milk is used as a skin conditioning agent and is sourced from cows, goats, or sheep. It’s also listed as lactose or milk protein on labels. Look instead for plant milks such as coconut or almond.

Animal Hair

Animal hair is often used in cosmetic brushes and touted as more durable, softer, and more natural. However, the method in which that hair is obtained is anything but cruelty free.

Look instead for synthetic bristle brushes, or brushes made from plant fibers such as sisal.

These animal-free versions are not only better for the creatures, but they’re also better for your skin. They’re easier to clean and last much longer than their cruel counterparts.

6 Top Picks for Vegan Highlighters

Okay, now you know what NOT to buy. Next is the fun stuff. Our picks for the top six best vegan highlighters out there!

Grab your favorite vegan brush or blender sponge and get GLOWING!

Mineral Fusion Bronzer — Mineral Bronzer

Mineral Fusion Bronzer Duo - Luster By Mineral Fusion for Women - 0.29 Oz Bronzer, 0.29 Oz

This compact bronzer from Mineral Fusion does double duty as a bronzer and highlighter. The dual shades are perfect on their own, and can combine for a gorgeous, sun-kissed glow.

Use a light hand when applying this color, as a little goes a long way, and a lot will leave you looking, um, presidential (ha ha!).

Made with a blend of rich plant-based antioxidants, this powder helps your skin fight free radicals and damage from environmental pollutants. The healthy glow from this bronzer is more than skin deep!

The gentle formula with Aloe Vera is ideal for all skin types. No need to worry about clogged pores and breakouts with this! Available in multiple shades so you can find your skin’s perfect match!

What We Like

  • Anti-oxidant formula is gentle on skin
  • Multi-use product, more bang for your buck
  • Subtle shimmer and glow

What We Don’t Like

  • Heavily pigmented, easy to over-apply
  • Shade appears orangey on fairer skin

Au Naturale All-Glowing Creme Highlighter Stick in The OG

Au Naturale All-Glowing Creme Highlighter Stick in The OG | Made in the USA | Organic | Vegan | Cruelty-free | Cream

This creamy stick is easy to apply with a blender sponge, foundation brush, or straight from the stick.

Leaves a shimmery glow to accentuate your face and décolletage. The neutral shade is perfect for almost every skin tone. I’d say it’s the ideal highlighter for beginners.

Another multi-use product, this crème highlighter can be used to highlight, as an eyeshadow, or a blush.

I love multi-use products, as my skin condition and tone vary throughout the year. With this, you don’t have to buy a different product for every season, it’s perfect all year round!

As with all highlighting products, use a light hand when applying, or you’ll wind up looking like a glitter bomb exploded in your face. Not exactly a natural look!

What We Like

  • Neutral color is easy to blend for a natural look
  • Crème stick is convenient to carry for on-the-go touchups
  • Tapioca starch and kaolin helps to keep oily skin in check

What We Don’t Like

  • Crème formula can harden if not closed properly
  • Packaging issues (breakage, etc.)

Luscious Cosmetics Face Contour Kit

Face Contour Kit by Luscious Cosmetics | 4 Easy to Use Contouring and Highlight Powder Shades | Vegan and Cruelty Free Contour Palette

This is an excellent kit to start with if you have zero highlighting or contouring experience. It comes with four magical shades that compliment every skin tone, really!

The shades work together or separately to achieve the gorgeous look you want. Included are a dark and light contour shade, a highlighter, and an illuminator. All in one cute compact!

Luscious Cosmetics’ kit has an exclusive and ingenious light-adjusting formula that ensures a natural, healthful glow in all types of lighting. Never again will you put on your makeup indoors and then go outside looking garish and gaudy!

From beginners to professionals, this kit makes getting the perfect, put-together look nearly effortless. The vegan formula makes your beauty routine but indulgent and guilt-free.

What We Like

  • Cute compact for on-the-go convenience
  • Four shades for a customized palette
  • Easy to use, hard to mess up

What We Don’t Like

  • Some difficulty in getting the shades to blend flawlessly
  • Contains Talc, which can irritate some skin types

P/Y/T BEAUTY Upgrade Highlighter

PYT Beauty Highlighter Compact, Luminescent White Powder, Hypoallergenic, Paraben Free, Cruelty Free, 0.2 Ounce, 1 Count

This is the ultimate shimmer powder for every tone of skin! It’s perfect for highlighting your forehead, cheeks, and nose, or for an all-over glamourous glow (don’t forget the cleavage!).

The lightweight powder sits on the surface of your skin, giving your face a luminous, ethereal sheen.

Unlike many powders, it doesn’t fall into your fine lines and wrinkles, making your skin look duller and older as the day wears on.

This gives your skin the appearance of a healthy glow from within, doesn’t look caked on or heavy, and lasts all day.

This highlighter is light and subtle, allowing you to build upon it for a more dramatic evening effect.

Although it may be difficult to apply with a brush, using your fingertips to blend is easy and intuitive. It really is fool-proof.

What We Like

  • Neutral shade for all skin tones
  • Lightweight formula doesn’t feel heavy or cakey
  • Buildable for subtle or dramatic looks

What We Don’t Like

  • May be too shimmery for some
  • Application with brush can be difficult

Beauty Junkees Powder Contour Highlight Makeup Palette

Powder Contour Highlight Makeup Palette - 6 Color Face Pallete Make Up Contouring Kit for Beginners, Concealer, Bronzer, Highlighter, Professional Quality, Paraben Gluten Cruelty Free Cosmetics USA

Another all-in-one kit for professional looking results for the environmentally and budget conscious. This refillable palette features five matte shades and one subtle shimmer, perfect for the timid makeup junkie, or for mature skin.

The powder is lightweight and blends flawlessly, making it easy to achieve a glamourous contoured look without a cakey appearance.

This kit is a favorite amongst customers with more mature skin, as it doesn’t shine like the top of the Chrysler building, or get stuck in fine lines or wrinkles.

All shades in this palette are complimentary and work both individually and as a full palette. The tones aren’t orangey or shiny, which makes it perfect for a newbie to highlighting and contouring.

What We Like

  • Refillable palette
  • Complimentary shades make contouring and highlighting easy
  • Matte shades and subtle shimmer

What We Don’t Like

  • Pressed powder cakes are somewhat difficult to blend
  • Formula can be a bit flaky when applying

theBalm Cosmetics Balm Springs Blush Highlighter

Balm Springs Blush Highlighter, Earthy-Rose, Long-Wearing, Fade-Resistant

A sumptuous blush that pulls double duty as a highlighter!

It’s theBalm! Don’t be fooled by the fun and frivolous packaging. Balm Springs is a seriously awesome blush/highlighter in the perfect shade of earthy rose.

Goes on smooth, blends easily. Color is rich and pigmented, but not heavy. Brush over lightly for a natural look or build the color for a dramatic nighttime look. Earthy tone is complimentary for all skin tones and won’t fade throughout the day.

I love the woman-power theme of all theBalm products. The packaging is sassy and fun, and the products are multi-tasking work horses. This blush/highlighter is no exception.

What We Like

  • Adorable packaging
  • Multi-use product
  • Simple shade to enhance and accentuate without complicated steps

What We Don’t Like

  • More a blush than a highlighter, not shimmery
  • Cardboard packaging, though cute, isn’t durable

Top Choice for the Best Vegan Highlighter

PYT Beauty Highlighter Compact, Luminescent White Powder, Hypoallergenic, Paraben Free, Cruelty Free, 0.2 Ounce, 1 Count

We like to keep our makeup bag stocked with simple, multi-use products. We really feel they give the best bang for the buck, plus it’s easy to haul around a small bag as opposed to a huge train case when you’re on the go.

Highlighters fit the bill in big ways. They can be used in a multitude of applications, from eyeshadow to blush to dewy pick-me-up, giving your appearance a myriad looks throughout the day.

Some highlighters tend to be too shiny and are easy to over-apply. That’s why we chose the P/Y/T BEAUTY Upgrade Highlighter as our absolute favorite.

When lightly brushed on, it gives a natural, dewy appearance without looking like something from outer space. When layered, it still gives a natural glow, without garish color.

Its neutral color makes it perfect for every skin tone, no matter how fair or melanin blessed you may be.

It’s also wonderful for mature skin, which most highlighters just aren’t. Nothing ruins your perfect makeup application like your powder sinking into your fine lines throughout the day. Ugh.

P/Y/T BEAUTY’s Upgrade Highlighter is a beauty product for everyone! Newbs to professionals, millennials to baby boomers, natural beauties to high glam rock stars.

This is THE next product you need in your beauty repertoire!

So, what are you waiting for? Get your glow on!


Michelle M. VanGurp

I'm a mom of two tweens. It's important to find food that satisfies our hunger and also fits into our busy lives. I love to find and share food that's easy, delicious, and plant-based. Writing about cooking is a dream come true.

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