I put every highlighter I try through a test I affectionately call the “Taylor Swift leaving the gym” test.
A little bit of context: Back in 2016, when we were at peak Taylor Swift saturation, I saw a paparazzi photo of her leaving the gym. It sticks with me to this day because she looked ridiculously glowy. And not dewy like how I, a mere mortal, look when leaving the gym. (My post-workout aesthetic tends to lean more toward limp and damp, rather than dewy.) Again, I was struck by this photo not because she looked good for having left the gym — she looked good in general. Like her cheekbones were glistening.
So I wanted a highlighter that would give me that amazing post-workout glow a lá Taylor Swift. The highlighter should be natural, not glittery, and refract the light off my cheekbones in a way that makes it look like I’m radiating health and vitality. (But again, in a natural way.) This was pretty tall order. Anyone who has the slightest experience with highlighter knows that many of them skew sparkly. This isn’t inherently a bad thing, I just tend to prefer something subtler.
Finally, I found my highlighter match in Kosas Cosmetics Color + Light Creme in Tropic Equinox, $34.
Clearly, this highlighter is well-loved.
But back to the formula, I could geek out over beauty product formulas all day long. What I love about this one is that the founder, Sheena Yaitanes, used her background in painting and chemistry to develop the products.
The product features a blush and a highlighter, and both are incredibly creamy and easy to blend. And, despite being buttery upon application, they don’t turn greasy once they dry down. In fact, that’s one of the things that impresses me the most about this product. When it sets, it feels hydrating but not sticky, and it stays put throughout the day.
They’re also packed with good-for-skin botanicals (think: marula, grapeseed, myrrh, and apricot kernel), and are free of preservatives and synthetic fragrances. Plus, they’re made in Los Angeles.
Yaitanes uses color theory to break up the entire line into flattering shades for cool tones and warm tones, which makes finding a match easy. In other words, you won’t find 100 shades of lipsticks and blushes here — her vision is pared down and minimalistic. Her painting background also came into play when developing the shades. She created a skin tone base for the product with earthy tones, then added color so that when it was applied, it would look like the color was naturally coming from the skin.
The blush is great. It’s almost a bronzer-like shade that miraculously looks natural on my pale skin. The highlighter is pearl with a hint of gold to it, which gives my skin the prettiest sheen. There’s no glitter to be found in the highlighter, either. It’s not even really shimmery, just pearly, warm, and luminescent. Kind of like if you applied Vaseline to your cheekbones (this is a real trick some makeup artists use to give models that dewy wet-look glow) but with more depth in the color, and obviously without the mineral oil.
The creamy formula blends effortlessly into my skin. I typically apply the blush color by patting it into my skin with my fingertips. Usually, I get it more in the hollows of my cheeks (versus the apples) to give my face some definition. Then I come in with the highlighter. I use my ring finger to pat it along the tops of my cheekbones, under my brows, in the corners of my eyes, above my cupids bow, and down my nose. All of this takes mere seconds and requires approximately zero makeup skills. It’s pretty much foolproof. Because it’s not shimmery, it also doesn’t highlight my pores.
“I know, my skin is glowing even in this dimly-lit London bar — let me tell you about my favorite highlighter.”
All jokes aside, I’ve tried many highlighters, and this has quickly become one of my favorites, especially if you want a natural, I-just-got-done-with-Soulcycle glow (only I don’t need to get sweaty and mess up my hair). It makes me glisten with a natural-looking radiance that I think even Taylor herself would be impressed with.