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Makeup Class: Difference Between A Bronzer, A Highlighter, An Illuminator & A Brightener

Bronzer Vs Highlighter Vs Illuminator Vs Brightener 

Very often than not being a beauty blogger I come across the terms Bronzer, Highlighter, Brightener and Illuminator at least a dozen times a day. These terms are everywhere and people use them in their daily conversation with so much confidence that you'd be surprised at how wrong many of them are in their usages. Oh! Yes even I have made mistakes in the past about their connotations and today armed with research, experiments and well just plain analysis I have reached a consensus where I can now confidently put forth the results of my hard work...

Yes, today ladies and gentlemen, I shall be clearing all the confusion that prevails behind Bronzers, Highlighters, Illuminators and Brighteners!


Illuminators refer to products that are used to illuminate your skin and make it look more radiant and glowing. They are generally liquid in form and can be mixed with your daily mosturisers and even foundations for that subtle glow and healthy look skin.
Example: Revlon Skinlights Face Illuminator, Oriflame Peach Me Perfect Skin Glow.


Brighteners like Illuminators are used to brighten one's skin but differ from the latter in the way that they are used brighten up specific areas on the face. They do not contain shimmer particles and are basically a shade or two lighter than your foundation.
Brighteners can be used under your eyes (over your concealer), on the bridge of your nose and even on the middle of your forehead.
Example: YSL Touche Eclat Radiant Touch (Review HERE), Maybelline Dream Lumi Touch Highlighting Concealer


Highlighters come in handy when you are looking to contour your face and add an extra dimension for the purpose of creating flattering angles on your face. These contain shimmer particles and reflect light resulting in "highlighting" a particular feature.
Highlighters are generally applied on the raised parts of your face like the brow bone area, cheekbones, bridge of the nose (for photography) and the tip of your chin and also on the inner corners of your eyes.
Example: Eyeshadows like MAC Nylon and Ricepaper (Review HERE), Colorbar Radiant Glow Highlighter Pen.


Bronzers are products that are literally darker versions of highlighters. They are not to be used as a illumintaor or as a brightener, a blush and not even as a lowlighter for contouring. Their only use is to impart a sun-kissed glow to ones skin and give an illusion of a healthy tan. Just a touch on your cheekbones or on the bridge of your nose and you are ready to look like a sun Goddess!
Example: Lakme Absolute Sun-Kissed Bronzer, Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick in Bronze

Hope This Helps! :)


  1. people tend to mix bronzers & contour products a lot too

    1. yup I know! Until very recently I used to do so too :/

  2. A great post! Till very recently i actually used to mix up bronzer n contour powder as well as highlighters n brighteners :p Im sure this will be very helpful to alot of us!

  3.'s about time SOMEONE clarified! Thank you so very much, a very enlightening article. Best wishes

  4. Finally i got it solved out! Thank you! So helpful article


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