Testing out the new tarte Rainforest of the Sea Twinkle Stick Highlighters and Skin Twinkle Lighting Palette Vol. II

Spring is in full swing, which to us means only one thing: fresh, dewy makeup. A soft, lit-from-within glow is all the rage in the beauty scene these days—a welcome respite from the blindingly bright and rainbow-hued trends of late, if you ask me—and the style translates perfectly to wedding-day makeup. A bride should look naturally radiant on her wedding day, not like she’s sweating her face off or headed out to a rave.

So when I saw the Twinkle Stick in the “new” section of Sephora’s website, I was intrigued. The product description claims that this creamy product produces a long-wearing glow that nurtures your skin with antioxidants, coconut, vitamin E and apple extract. It’s said to be activated by your body heat, so you can “just swipe it on and blend it with your fingertips.” You also can layer each of the two shades—Skylight, a pearly shade, and Spotlight, a rosy champagne hue—with the coordinating shades in tarte’s Rainforest of the Sea Skin Twinkle Lighting Palette Volume II.

My biggest pet peeve about highlighters is when they have visible flecks of glitter in them. I’m not a teenager; I have zero desire to rock glitter on my face. My favorite highlighters produce a smooth sheen that ranges from subtle to noticeable, depending on how natural or full-coverage my makeup is that day. I’ll occasionally rock a pink or peachy tone, but typically you’ll see me in nude, champagne or pearly highlighters—my pale skin makes it hard to pull off other hues.

The Good

I have to say, I really love the Twinkle Stick in Skylight. It might even be my new Holy Grail cream highlight product. It offers a perfectly natural, lit-from-within glow that few other products can replicate, and the sheen shines through even a bit of translucent setting powder. Pairing it with the matching powder highlighter in the palette gives you a more noticeable glow without going overboard.

I applied the product straight from the bullet onto my foundation, then blended with my fingertips. For consistency purposes, I used my Marc Jacobs Re(marc)able foundation for all wear tests—its satin-matte finish provides a perfect base to assess highlighters.

At $30, it can’t exactly be considered a steal, though I’ll reserve judgement based on the product’s longevity—it doesn’t take much to get a glow, so there’s definite lasting potential that makes the price tag a little less painful.

The Bad

The Twinkle Stick in Spotlight is probably a stunning shade on some people, but it simply overpowers on my skin. It gives the kind of wah-BAM highlight that some girls might love but is just too much for my taste. And with the matching powder highlight from the palette on top? Stand back—I felt like I needed sunglasses, and was definitely a little self-conscious of what felt like an over-the-top face of makeup for a Friday at work.

I can see this product looking gorgeous on anyone with a golden tan or on deeper (read: not Caucasian) skin tones. But sadly, it’s a hard pass for me.

The Ugly

OK, so perhaps “ugly” is a bit too strong. For example, I really love the pearly Skylight shade in this palette. It’s buttery smooth and gives a fabulous sheen alone or over the matching Twinkle Stick. Unfortunately, that’s about all I love.

Part of it is my super-pale skin; I’ll admit that right off the bat. The two deepest shades, Spotlight (champagne) and Candlelight (rose gold) are simply too dark for my complexion. But even casting aside my own coloring, I was supremely disappointed to notice large flecks of glitter in both shades. I expect that kind of chunkiness in a drug store highlighting palette, but frankly, my ELF highlighter quad has a smoother finish than these two shades.

The fourth shade, Daylight, is described as a white gold on tarte’s website. I’d almost call this a light champagne, personally, but overall I found the color to work well against my skin. It has minimal glitter, though still more flecks of it than I found in the Skylight shade.

I should note that the packaging for this palette, as with most tarte palettes, is stunning. There’s a gorgeous watercolor-esque effect in cool blues and purples on the front, with a reflective gold background and edging. It feels heavy and luxurious in the hand, though I’m not sure how much protection you’d get should you drop it. The mirror is high-quality, and the palette itself carries that particular vanilla scent you find in many tarte palettes.

But at $42, considering the fact that I really only liked one shade of the four, I can’t say I’d be buying this product on my own. If you happen to like all four of the products, then the price is quite fair.

You can find both the Twinkle Sticks and the Skin Twinkle Lighting Palette Vol. II on tarte’s and Sephora’s websites.