It was actually Pat McGrath’s much-hyped Skin Festish 003 highlighters that turned me on to Madina Milano. When SF003 launched, I was torn. On one hand, they were beautiful, limited edition highlighter kits. On the other hand, out of the 4 items each kit came with I was really only interested in the cream highlighter stick. (The pigments weren’t my colour, I didn’t need another brush, and a solid balm stick for my already-oily skin was a terrible idea.)
What’s a highlighter junkie to do?
Thankfully some fellow makeup addicts came to rescue and pointed me in the direction of Madina’s Chic and Shine Highlighter Stick. Apparently, Pat McGrath (along with lots of other celebrity makeup artists) is a long-term devotee of the product…so much so that it was rumoured that she’d based her own highlighter on it. Needless to say, Madina Milano was the first stop I made when I got off the plane in Milan!
I just love their ribbon-tied carrier bags!
And the sequin embossing on their blushes is so pretty.
But back to the star of the show.
Chic and Shine comes in 2 colours: a a twist-up, packaged in no-nonsense black plastic. My only gripe is that the actual stick of highlighter was not anchored down to the base very well, and popped off into the cap when I first opened mine. I’ve since pressed it back into place and learned to open it more gently.
On my skin, it leaves a very natural, dewy finish. The formula has a sheer base with very fine shimmer particles suspended in it, so when blended out the effect is a translucent radiance rather than a reflective sheen. I’d describe the colour as a nude/pale champagne that works well on my NC15-20 summer skin tone.
I swatched it next to the only other stick highlighters I own – e.l.f. All Over Colour Stick in Spotlight and Clinique Chubby Stick Sculpting Highlight. As you can see, Madina’s stick is nowhere near as opaque as ELF’s, and although its not apparent in this photo, its also ‘s less pigmented and less frosty than Clinique’s Chubby Highlighter Stick.
The real magic happens when I tilt my arm away from the camera: Chic and Shine completely disappears without even a hint of colour. The transparent base is no doubt what allows it to look so darned natural on the face. There isn’t an angle you could catch this on and have it look like a solid stripe of white or pink; you’re seeing dewy skin, and nothing else.
Since neither of the highlighter sticks I already owned were good matches, I popped into Sephora to see if anything fit the bill. The first thing I swatched was Benefit’s Watt’s Up because it’s pretty ubiquitous and therefore seemed like a good point of comparison. As you can see it’s a lot darker, peachier and a lot more shimmery.
The closest match I found turned out to be the Marc Jacobs Glow Stick in Spotlight. It was more intense, plus lighter and cooler in tone than Madina Chic and Shine, but it had a transparent base as well.
It faded completely into my skin when I turned my arm on an angle away from the light.
This is a pretty big deal to me because I’m usually very pale, and any hint of colour in a highlighter’s base inevitably becomes apparent on me on some angles. Pink-based highlighters are the worst offenders…they make me look as though I’ve painted blush up to my temples!
So although I can’t declare Marc Jacobs Glow Stick in Spotlight an exact dupe, it’s definitely got my attention. If you have this highlighter, I’d love to hear from you! In the meantime, I’m working on a FOTD with the Madina highlighter, so check back soon for that post.
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