Splurge or Save: The Laura Mercier Matte Radiance vs the Essence Pure Nude

Glowy yet natural-looking skin might take a village of products to achieve, but for those in the know, the Laura Mercier Matte Radiance Baked Powder Highlight 01 makes it practically effortless. The highlighter is described as “an ultra-smooth baked face powder that provides natural color with soft matte radiance”. This is the lone highlighter shade in the line.

Laura Mercier Matte Radiance Baked Powder Highlight 01

Laura Mercier Matte Radiance Baked Powder Highlight 01

The fact that it's "matte" yet "radiant" at the same time is what makes this unique formula the recipient of many raves from the beauty community. Priced at P1,750 for 7.5g (Rustan's Beauty), this highlighter isn't a practical option for many so I had to ask: is it possible to look glowy without having to break the bank?

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Enter the Essence Pure Nude Highlighter in 01 Be My Highlight. Priced at only P379 for 6.5g (SM Beauty), this highlighter looks like Laura Mercier’s long lost sister, albeit housed in more economical packaging. Essence comes real close as a perfect dupe because it's so similar in terms of shade and finish. It also comes in a single shade, which is meant to be universally flattering for all skin tones. 

Set side by side, the powders look pretty much identical. Both have a warm peachy tone, a slight sheen, and look like they might have the same texture. Upon swatching though, the Essence Pure Nude highlighter feels more creamy with a satin finish, while Laura Mercier truly does feel like a silky, baked powder (same texture as MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural Powder IMHO). Absolutely no chunky glitters here, and both are finely milled. In terms of color, Laura Mercier looks more icy and cool-toned while Essence stays maintains a peachy-warm hue. It's difficult to tell them apart when blended though!

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I decided to wear them side by side to see if I could spot the difference when applied to the cheeks. I used a fluffy brush to apply instead of my usual fan brush to get full pigment out of the product instead of diffusing it too much.

Can you tell which side is which?

Can you tell which side is which?

On my left cheek, I applied the Laura Mercier highlighter. I definitely agree with the product description because gave me a soft glow that made my skin look bright and lifted. The icy champagne pearl shade definitely leaned cool on my NC30 skin tone but I think it suits me. I love the fact that it did not emphasize my skin texture and looks very natural. I don’t think this can be layered to create a mega-watt blinding glow, but packing it on it will only give more radiance rather than looking obviously shiny. The highlighter faded on my skin after around six hours - you can still see a subtle sheen on my upper cheek but it's not as radiant anymore.

On my right cheek is the Essence highlighter. It gives off a more highlighted look without necessarily looking too obvious. On my cheeks, it rendered as a warm champagne pearl with a very soft luminous sheen that does emphasize my skin texture. If you want a more high-beam effect though, you can definitely pack it on and increase its opacity for a blinding highlight. After six hours, the highlighter was surprisingly still on my cheeks with minimal fading! I can still see its glow though not as luminous as when freshly applied.

Judging on their performance, I realized that the two each have their own unique strengths and thus, not exactly comparable. Each has a different purpose and both products really stood out on its own.

  • If you like a more healthy overall glow, you should SPLURGE on the Laura Mercier Matte Radiance Baked Powder. You can use it as a dusting powder to brighten your look without enhancing skin texture - perfect for dry-skinned gals.
  • If you like the more bold, highlighted look, you can SAVE a few bucks on the Essence Pure Nude highlighter. You can build it to the intensity that you want and even use it as an all-over body shimmer to highlight your shoulder and collarbone.
  • Between the two, I prefer the Essence one because it gracefully faded on my cheeks at the six hour point despite my oily skin. I like that I can control its intensity to match my mood.

Have you tried any of these highlighters? Do you think that Laura Mercier is worth the splurge, or is Essence the way to go? Let me know!