My Go-To Highlighters With Swatches

Top left: Colour Pop Super Shock Cheek (Avalon) | Top right: Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector (Topaz) | Bottom left: Maybelline Master Hi-Light Blush (Deep Bronze) | Bottom right: Nars Illuminator (Laguna)

Yasssssss to highlighters! They’re so much fun to use and look at. Who doesn’t like admiring a pretty face with a “come-through highlight?” On the flip side, I’ve been seeing a lot of people abuse highlighters – but that’s none of my business…

At the moment, these four products are my favorite illuminators. I’m always on the lookout for highlighters that will flatter my complexion because not all of them are suitable for all skin tones. Nars and Maybelline are my day ones. The other two are recent purchases that I’ve added to my collection. All of these products would work for women with darker skin tones.

When I first swatched ColourPop’s Avalon on my forearm, I thought it was beautiful. It’s a copper, cream-powder hybrid highlighter with warm orange to red undertones. It feels very satiny on the fingertips and has a pearlized finish, so when it catches the light it shifts from gold to pink. It also blends well. When I finally got around to wearing it on my face, I had mixed emotions. I was not expecting it to be so legit lol! The color payoff, texture and longevity for $8 are too boss and I was stunned, intimidated, impressed and confused. You see, it has a pearlized finish which means it’s frosty/shiny which means a little goes a very long way. In my opinion, that’s key for natural-looking makeup. So, be careful with pearlized illuminators because they have the shiniest finish. Eventually, I figured out how to work with Avalon so that it doesn’t look intense and I’m not out in these streets looking cray. It works for me because when I tan in the summer, my skin undertone goes from warm/golden to red. Anyway, I use my fingers or a flat foundation brush to apply this highlighter. A brush helps produce a more sheer finish whereas your fingers provide the most coverage. So, if you’re new to highlighters and want to try the ColourPop, a flat foundation brush or duo fibre brush will suffice to start. ColourPop also promotes the use of these tools on its site.

As far as the Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Topaz, I use my fingers, foundation brush, powder brush or fan brush. Really, it just depends on my mood or what’s within reach or how much coverage I want. I like the Becca highlighter, but I wasn’t always fond of it. Becca’s highlighter in Topaz has to be one of the most hyped highlighters ever, and once I tried it – my only reaction was “oh, okay” and not “slayyyyy.” But, whatever. I’m not going to be fake. I use mine faithfully lol. I sometimes suffer from FOMO, so I had to buy it. I would describe this product as a golden, creamy-yet-light powder highlighter. It has the right amount of gold shimmer, but doesn’t look like glitter. It’s cute, long-wearing and feels like silk.

highlighter swatch

Maybelline Master Hi-Light Blush is my favorite drugstore product. It’s actually an illuminating blush. So, you can skip the blush when using this because it’s a two-in-one masterpiece! It offers a soft, luminous glow in any type of light. However, it’s not as moist and silky like the ColourPop or Becca. The formula is actually a bit dry, which is not a deal breaker for me because the color payoff is exceptional for $9.99! Master Hi-Light is a sort of marble/mosaic of four shades of blush that gives you a warm flush of light when applied to your face with a brush. It doesn’t have as much shimmer as the others and that’s what I really like about it. There’s a great balance due to the two matte blush shades it includes. I recommend using a brush for this particular product. It actually comes with a mini brush underneath the pan. I’ve never used it, though. By the end of the day, the color wears off, but I can still see a bit of a glow in the applicable areas. I have a tip for how to make it last longer. Keep reading.

Nars Illuminator in Laguna is a bronze illuminator. This will be your go-to if you’re looking to achieve a true, natural glow. I repeat, if you want to go bare with just mascara and lip, this is a must-have item. It’s truly the quintessence of Bare With Me. If I could have a mascot for this site, it would be the Nars Illuminator. It has a brown, creamy base with gold shimmer that provides a soft-and-sheer finish. This will not leave any kind of annoying cast including white or pearly ones. I like to mix it with my foundation/tinted moisturizer in the winter. It give me a very warm glow. TipSometimes, I use it as a base highlighter teamed with Maybelline. I find that it helps the Maybelline Master Hi-Light last longer since it has something to adhere to.

abh glow kit

A honorable mention is the Anastasia Beverly Hills Glow Kit.

abh glow kit palette

It’s a palette that includes four “metallic powder highlighters.”

abh highlight

I only use Golden Bronze. Everything else looks like shimmering ash on me. Not cute. ABH describes it as a “sultry, warm bronze with a gold-flecked finish.” I would describe it the same way. The palette will last a very long time as they are highly pigmented. Golden Bronze is intense, but also long-wearing and feels like velvet on my fingertips. I recommend swiping this on once with a brush and a light hand, if you want a more natural glow. I tend to use this for nightlife while I’m on vacation since it’s so luminous. It’s also very good for photo shoots.

That’s me in the featured image wearing both Colour Pop and Becca (heyyyy!). You can watch a tutorial of how I use Colour Pop and Becca to achieve a natural-looking highlight here.

What are some of your favorite illuminators? Please share.

Thanks for reading!


GRAPHIC PHOTO | Laser Tattoo Removal On Brown Skin

blister tattoo
What my tattoo looked like the day after my second session. A blistering mess.

I decided to write about this topic because some people think that tattoo removal on brown skin is impossible. They also think it will result in a higher rate of pigmentation problems and scaring than people with low concentrations of melanin. Even though these things can occur, they can also be avoided by having an experienced professional remove your tattoo the right way with the right laser. Regardless of your complexion, the risks and side affects associated with laser tattoo removal are the same. This post is here to enlighten curious minds about the process and what it may look like to get a tattoo removed. I am currently undergoing treatment to remove one of my three tattoos because I simply don’t want it anymore. And, nope, it doesn’t matter that I can’t see it. Below is my story:

First off, you’re encouraged to schedule a consultation before you begin the removal process. During this time, a specialist informs you of the protocol, assesses the tattoo you want to remove, gives you an estimate of how many treatments you may have to sit through and how much it will cost, if the price wasn’t already established. I knew how much I was paying because I purchased a deal off of Groupon. I did my research about the cosmetic office, too. This is key.

I received my consultation and first treatment session on the same day. During my consultation, the specialist informed me that there is no guarantee that my tattoo will be completely removed. She continued to say I may experience permanent scaring, hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation, it would just depend on my skin’s reaction to the laser. This means that even if all the ink was removed there would still be an impression of where it once appeared (cue hyper or hypopigmentation). She showed me an example of the area where her tattoo once was and yes, I could still see the impression. She has fair skin and the impression is lighter than her (hypopigmentation). Lastly, she stated that I may have to undergo eight sessions. I was not expecting to hear that number as I thought this was going to be a quick fix lol. She asked me if I wanted to proceed considering everything we went over plus aftercare. Keep in mind, I started this journey in May. Basically, summertime. Problem alert! After you start your treatment, your tattoo cannot be exposed to the sun. If you know me, you know I barely wear clothes in the summer and live for outdoor activities. I go to the beach, cookouts, picnics, outdoor festivals, etc. Initially, I couldn’t wrap my head around this problem because it was rocket science to me. Like, how was I supposed to escape the sun? Soon enough, I figured it out.

After the session, my skin was obviously very tender. As the days went by, my blisters popped. My tattoo began to itch, crust and the skin started to shed, all of which is normal. This is basically the same process your skin would go through if you got a scrape, cut or burn somewhere. It’s all an indication that your immune system has started the healing process. As far as the aftercare goes, I apply Aquaphor to my tattoo after every shower, and then I leave it alone to breathe. I don’t cover it up with a bandage. Well, I did once. It was only because it looked like it did in the blistering photo, and I had to attend my best friend’s birthday party. People are annoying and I didn’t want them to touch it, breath on it, poke at it, etc. Also, I avoid sun exposure by wearing clothes that cover most of my neck or I carry a light scarf. Honestly, taking care of it in the summer is not that bad because I spend most of my time at work (indoors) during the week. On the weekends, I’m more conscious of what I’m wearing. When night falls, I wear anything.

fade tattoo
Eight weeks into my tattoo removal experience.

Oh, and let’s not forget that laser tattoo removal hurts like shit! In my opinion, getting a tattoo is painful but not as painful as getting it removed! It feels like hot chicken grease jumping on your skin a million times for about 60 seconds or it feels like someone is popping a rubber band on your skin a million times for about 60 seconds. Either way, it’s a horrible feeling. The discomfort is “reduced” by a tube of cold air directed at the area that is being treated. The cool air is bullshit. It still hurts. Essentially, you’re getting your skin burned off. It’s not a chill experience. Pun intended. The pain after the treatment varies from person to person. I was in pain for an hour. Good times.

There’s no point in stopping now, so my third session is scheduled for later this month. My tat is fading fast, and it’s because the ink is not very deep. My specialist even said the ink is breaking up quicker than she expected. I already see some hypopigmentation going on, but that’s expected because skin does this when it experiences any kind of injury.

Additional Info 

The office I go to uses the Q-Switched laser. Q-Switched laser tattoo removal system is a high-powered laser of pulsed light that targets pigment and breaks it up into fragments that eventually disappear.

Treatment with the laser lasts for about 60 seconds, depending on the size of the tattoo. The number of treatments depend on the following:

  • Size of tattoo
  • Location
  • Depth
  • Colors
  • Age

Black ink is the easiest to remove. FYI, my tattoo is comprised of red, green and black inks.

If you have any questions about my experience, please feel free to ask in the comments section below. I’ll continue to update this post to show you all my progression. Thanks for reading!



Please keep in mind that this is MY story. The removal process is an individual experience that depends on a variety of variables. This is general information and should not replace a doctor’s advice. Arrange a consultation, if you are thinking about getting your tattoo removed.