Highlighter can accentuate your features and give your skin a stunning glow, but in addition to choosing a great illuminating product, you’ll want the right brush to really make it shine. The best drugstore highlighter brushes are just as dependable as their luxury counterparts, but cost a fraction of the price. They come in several shapes and sizes, so the best way to find your perfect match will be to think about the type of highlighter you reach for the most (cream, liquid, or powder), and which parts of your face you typically illuminate.
To help you choose the right affordable makeup brush, here’s a breakdown of the types that pair best with highlighter:
- Tapered: Because of its pointed tip, this style is best for precise application that won’t require a lot of blending. It’s also best suited for powder formulas, since the dense, tapered end may leave too much of a streaky finish with a cream or liquid product.
- Fan: This shape is fantastic for achieving a light, subtle dusting of powder highlighter, but it can also be used to diffuse and blend cream and liquid formulas, too. Tip: Turn it vertically for an easy way to strobe the bridge of your nose.
- Setting: As the name suggests, these dome-shaped brushes are a go-to for setting powders because they leave a light, even dusting of product. However, when it comes to highlighter, you’ll want to go for a smaller, micro version that can zero in on cheekbones. The fluffy bristles can be used successfully with any consistency, from powders to liquids.
- Stipple: Thanks to their duo-fiber design (featuring two bristle lengths and thicknesses), stippling brushes let you pick up the most minimal amount of product and dab it on until you reach the desired effect. This makes them especially ideal for cream or liquid highlighters that may already be quite intense.
Keep scrolling to shop five of the best drugstore highlighter brushes, all for less than $10 on Amazon.
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1. The Best Tapered Brush
This tapered brush by e.l.f — an always reliable drugstore brand — will help you target wherever you want your product to pop the most: your cheeks, brow bone, bridge of your nose, or all of the above. It’s also a great, precise tool for accentuating your cupid’s bow or your clavicles. The synthetic bristles are, as one Amazon reviewer described them, “super light and fluffy,” and will distribute powder highlighter evenly wherever you apply it. Plus, you can’t beat the price.
One fan’s take: “I LOVE this highlighter brush! The shape, size, and density make it perfect for cheekbones and above brows. I have used regular, loose, and baked highlighters with it… Also have cleaned this several times and it is still in good shape.”
2. The Best Fan Brush
The fan shape of this popular Wet n’ Wild brush helps diffuse highlighter over your cheeks, chin, and brow bone — apply it in all three areas for a gorgeous, glowing look. The brush has been awarded thousands of positive ratings on Amazon, with multiple reviewers gushing about how wonderful the quality is considering the price. Made from synthetic fibers, the bristles will pick up any cream, powder, or liquid formula without absorption too much product.
One fan’s take: “Wet n Wild brushes are absurdly good quality for the money, and this is my new favorite fan brush. Perfect for when you want your highlight to be more subtle and diffused. Feels like a butterfly’s wing on your cheek”
3. The Best Mini Setting Brush
The beauty of this Real Techniques setting brush is that it can be used for both applying a light layer of highlighter and for building up a shimmer that still looks blended and natural. The brush’s dome shape makes it easy to sweep highlighter across your cheekbones, but it’s also great for targeting smaller areas. The synthetic, ultra-soft bristles will work with powder, cream, and liquid formulas alike. In fact, it’s such a “multitasking rockstar” that it’s earned thousands of five-star ratings from Amazon shoppers.
One fan’s take: “The setting brush is the best brush that I own. […] I use it with loose setting powder, pressed setting powder, cream blush, powder blush… It buffs out concealer, applies highlight, and it’s small size and flexible hairs give amazing precision.”
4. The Best Stippling Brush
Best used with cream or liquid highlighter, this drugstore stippling brush is designed with two levels of long and short bristles that help you literally stipple the product onto your skin, where you should then use a swirling motion for the most smooth even and smooth coverage. Though the flat top might look scratchy, reviewers note that the synthetic bristles are quite soft.
One fan’s take: “Perfect for liquid highlighter. Blends beautifully. I got this brush to use with my … highlighters in particular because my soft but more dense small brushes just didn’t blend the highlighter seamlessly, but this does! […] It stipples and swirls well and washes easily with zero shedding.”
5. The Best Value Pack
This EcoTools set has been given a 4.7-star overall rating from over 1,500 reviewers because of what a tremendous value it is for the price. Though the two brushes work well when used separately, pairing them together can give you a really diffused glow — use the tapered “Define” brush (pictured right) to lay down highlighter on your cheek or brow bones, then reach for the fan brush (pictured left) to blend it out. The natural bristles are made from a blend of cotton and bamboo fibers, and Amazon reviewers rave about how “super soft” they feel on their skin.
One fan’s take: “I am in absolutely LOVE with both brushes, but the highlighter brush esp!!! I can’t get over how great it is! Def recommend!”
You May Also Like: These Tiny Makeup Sponges For Cream & Liquid Highlighter
Another great choice for applying cream highlighter, the mini versions of Real Techniques fan-favorite Miracle Complexion sponges look just like the original (with a curved side for blending and a pointy side for more precise application), only they’re much smaller, which lets you apply product only where you want it. Among the thousands of positive reviews on Amazon, you’ll find plenty of appreciation for how well the foam sponges can be used to build up coverage.
One fan’s take: “Love love love would buy again. Works great for highlighter and concealer plus the small corners of the nose. I actually use this over my larger beauty blender. Plus they are adorable. Highly recommend.”