Do you remember the great highlighter resurgence of 2017? Team Allure can’t ever forget. That year, we tested 310 new highlighter submissions for Best of Beauty (a staggering amount compared to the previous year’s 44). As one of the testers in the growing category, I quickly figured out that I prefer a highlighter with finely-milled shimmer (as opposed to chunky glitter) that gives me a natural-looking, not-at-all-greasy glow.

Close-up of a newly-opened Rare Beauty Positive Light Silky Touch Highlighter. 

Over the years, I’ve added quite a few to my regular rotation, but one literally outshines them all: the Rare Beauty Positive Light Silky Touch Highlighter. Housed in a pink compact with an enclosure that snaps shut, this powder highlighter sweeps on as light-as-air powder before quickly melting onto skin. Its velvety-soft texture? That’s the boron nitride in the formula, explains cosmetic chemist Ginger King.

The brand claims it’s transfer-proof, smudge-proof, and water-resistant — lofty promises that King says are possible because of its hefty use of silicone and polymers. It also contains tapioca starch. “Yes, the tapioca like that of a boba drink,” King says. “It absorbs oil for longer wear.”

My go-to shade is Exhilarate, a champagne that looks cool against my medium-tan skin. I would typically apply the Rare Beauty highlighter with the Sigma Beauty F03 High Cheekbone brush or any small fluffy brush I could get my hands on. I’d lightly swirl the brush across the domed pressed powder and sweep it along my cheekbones and browbones with short, quick strokes. Makeup artist Joseph Carrillo, however, introduced me to a different approach: “I use the belly of a barely-damp Beautyblender,” he says, explaining that he likes to dab the highlighter-dipped sponge onto the inner corners of his clients’ eyes, as well as the tips of their noses. “You can press in the glow making it look more skin-like and less powdery.”

Sigma Beauty F03 High Cheekbone Highlighter Brush

Beautyblender The Original

He goes on to explain that it blends the highlighter more evenly, so the finish is “less like a highlighter was placed there,” and I couldn’t agree more.

Senior editor Jesa Marie Calaor before applying the Rare Beauty Positive Light Silky Touch Highlighter.

Senior editor Jesa Marie Calaor after applying the Rare Beauty Positive Light Silky Touch Highlighter with a powder brush.

Senior editor Jesa Marie Calaor after applying the Rare Beauty Positive Light Silky Touch Highlighter with a wet sponge.

The above selfies show what the highlighter looks like when applied with a brush as well as a wet sponge. When using a brush, I found that the finish was much a more-intense, mirror-like glow. (Look at how the light just bounces off of the area with the powder swept onto it.) With the damp-sponge method, the radiance is diffused. My skin looks more like skin, and less like skin with highlighter on it. Not to say either method is better, but I prefer the latter end result. 

Rare Beauty Positive Light Silky Touch Highlighter

I put this formula to the test in many scenarios: to the office on busy work days (it looked just as good as it did when I first put it on), Solidcore workout classes where I inevitably forget to remove my makeup beforehand (it looked even more diffused and skin-like), and date nights with my fiancé (where I, *wink*, confirmed with confidence that the formula is transfer-proof). It’s a dreamy highlighter, made even more otherworldly with its price point. Highlighters with a similar effect range from $9 to $42, and this one with its unique texture and formula falls right in the middle.

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