As we near the end of the decade, there were plenty of surprising beauty trends to marvel at. Some were mere blips on the radar: spider lashes, hyper-contoured everything, rainbow-bright hair, glass skin. These things were likely encouraged more by spectacle than reality.

Then there were the trends with staying power. (Most notably for us, of course, is the mainstream-ification of clean and natural beauty—but that’s a much larger topic.)

As far as more micro-trends go, none was more impressive than the categorical rise of the highlighter. “Highlighting” your face is not new, as makeup artists have been doing this for, well, ever. Even women at home have used their own hacks to appear more lifted and dewy—highlighting before it ever had a name. The part of the trend that was notable to watch was how it went from low-fi technique to an entirely new product category. Seemingly out of nowhere, we were introduced to a new makeup bag staple.

This was all within the last half of the decade, too. A peek at Google Trends shows maximum fervor was around 2015 to 2017—or when it officially hit trend status. Since then, there’s been launch after launch of options that range from powders to creams, from sheen to sparkle, from opaque to sheer, and in nearly every color of the rainbow.

In the clean and natural space, I’d like to think that highlighters became even more of a mainstay. Their appeal—all about glowy, healthy-looking skin—really spoke to an aesthetic and makeup philosophy that already existed in the space. This is also why I’d argue that clean and natural brands make the best options.

Enter: CocoKind Mai-Light Maitake Rose Skin Nourishing Highlighter. While there are a plethora of incredible options out there, this has become my tried-and-true favorite.

It’s a cream-stick hybrid that comes in three hues with the softest of metallic sheens—that sheer out even more with a simple blend of your fingers. I like the pink option, as I like a little rose-tinged glow, but the bronze and gold options are equally as lovely if those happen to be more your shades.

As it’s a stick, there are no tools required. Application is effortless. You can simply swipe it on your skin and blend. Or you can do what I do and warm up the product by swirling your fingers around the top of the stick and then tapping it on to the skin. Personally, I think the latter provides more control of where you apply it but also how much: It’s always easier to build up product with a few more taps than it is to tone it down by spreading it out.

But the reason I love it the most comes down to two things: the ingredients and the texture. First up, the ingredients. The hero is the organic maitake mushroom powder that delivers hydration and helps to combat inflammation; there’s also some rosemary leaf extract and calendula extract to provide further soothing benefits. And then it’s made with a base of organic mango seed butter, jojoba oils, and sunflower seed wax—high-quality stuff for the most delightful experience.

And with a base like that, you can understand how special the texture is. Without being too rich, it imparts the subtlest feeling of hydration. No, it’s not a substitute for a proper hydrator but instead an added cushion of moisture. And so many highlighters you can feel post-application: They’ll feel sticky, tacky, or even heavy. This is as light and airy as your finest powders. You can apply it and forget about it—except of course for all the compliments you’ll get.

If you’d rather opt for a liquid option, I’d also suggest Ilia Liquid Light Serum Highlighter. It packs all the same reasons I adore CocoKind’s—a pretty texture, the color options, the skin care benefits—just in a different form.

Try the below, and shine on.

Shop These Products:


CocoKind Skin Nourishing Highlighter

$12 each


Ilia Liquid Light Serum Highlighter


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