Drugstore Liquid Highlighters – Are They Worth It??

Hi everyone! As I only started blogging last October, I’m still slowly trying to catch up with all the big makeup trends and review my way through them. This week, it’s liquid highlighters which, although they have been around for years, really took over the internet in 2017. The biggest names were Cover FX and Iconic London, and of course it wasn’t long until drugstore brands decided to jump on the bandwagon.


You may remember from my Black Friday Haul that I purchased two of these drugstore dupes, from Makeup Revolution and Barry M. I thought a comparison of the two would be quite nice. Unfortunately, I really struggled to get on with either of them, which really upset me considering reviews for both of them were absolutely glowing (badum-tssss).

Rather than immediately write a review tearing them to shreds, I decided to experiment some more to try to make them work for me. And I’m glad I did, because guess what I found under the tree on Christmas morning? That’s right, the real deal: the Iconic London Illuminator.


So after some more playing around, I’m here to compare not one, or two, but three products to the Iconic drops! From left to right, we have: the Iconic London Illuminator in Shine, the Makeup Revolution Liquid Highlighter in Starlight, the Barry M Liquid Chrome Highlighter Drops in At First Light, and the Maybelline Master Strobing Liquid in Light Iridescent. They are almost all identical in colour, and the only difference is the consistency of the Maybelline highlighter, which is more of a cream.

All of these can be used under, over, and even mixed into your foundation. They’re great if you want a reflective glow without the powdery, potentially cakey finish you might otherwise get from other products. My routine with these goes: foundation, concealer, liquid highlighter, contour, bronzer, blush, sometimes some extra powder highlighter, and then I finish my face with the Revlution Radiance palette. I like to start with a few drops, blend them out with my fingers, then build it up until I’m happy with the result.


Let’s begin with the Iconic drops. At £30 for 13.5 ml of product, it’s not exactly cheap, but it is definitely the best formula out of the lot. It has a good consistency: not too runny, thick or oily, so it doesn’t disturb your foundation when applying it.


A few drops creates  a lovely, wet-look glow, which is super reflective with only a few drops, and you can add more to intensify it. It also isn’t glittery, and you can layer a powder highlighter on top without it getting cakey. It can dry a bit quickly, so make sure to blend it out quickly!


Moving on to the dupes, starting of with one from Makeup Revolution (£6.00). I think it’s the most accurate dupe: it has the most similar consistency, just a little thinner and oilier. As a result, you do have more time to blend it out, but it doesn’t quite set and stays a little tacky during the day. Because it’s so thin, be careful not to apply too much in one go as it might disturb  the foundation underneath.


The finish on the cheeks is also very close to Iconic, although a little less intense. It also layers well with powder highlighter on top, but it doesn’t last as long as the Iconic drops throughout the day.


Moving on to Barry M (£6.99), which is my least favourite of the lot. While it’s a great colour match, the consistency is much thicker than the others. I don’t know if mine has maybe dried out since I bought it, because it’s very gloopy, and even if I use a light hand with it, I always apply too much product. It doesn’t melt into my foundation and seems to sit on top of it, even though it looks like a great match when swatched on my hand.


As a result, I get a more intense glow with less product, but it doesn’t last well throughout the day: it almost looks like my foundation disintegrates around the edges. It also accentuates any texture on my cheeks, which gets even worse if layered with powder. I know people have been loving this one, but I probably won’t keep this one around for much longer after posting this.


Finally, Maybelline (£7.99). This one was actually popular before the drops took over Instagram. It’s more of a cream, so it’s actually thicker than the Barry M drops, but it blends out better. It’s a little more iridescent than the others, and I find that it is a little more intense, but more matte at the same time: it’s not the same wet look effect as the others. As a result I do think it’s more wearable everyday when used lightly.


Just like the Barry M drops I don’t find these layer well with powder and over foundation. I did used to use this with the MAC Lightful CC Cream, without powdering, which was a better combination. I think this one would work best as a strobing primer under foundation or over a lighter product like a BB cream. I also think the packaging of this one is more convenient for travelling than the glass bottles the others come in. Although it does mean you might step on it and get half the product on your carpet, which is what happened earlier while I was taking pictures.

So if you’ve made it to the end of the post, here’s my conclusion. The Iconic drops are definitely the best of the lot; they are just as great as everyone else promised. But, if you can’t afford the price tag, go for the Revolution drops. They have the most similar finish, and they’re also the cheapest of the lot! The Maybelline highlighter will give you different options if the drops aren’t quite your thing. As for the Barry M ones, while the shades Liquid Fortune and Beam Me Up have proved popular with YouTubers, I would give At First Light a miss.


So here’s this week’s look using the Iconic drops (full list of products on my Instagram)! I used them before and after my foundation, I love how glowy they look. Do you use liquid highlighters? Let me know your favourite in the comments!