Benefit-watts-upLast year many of us received a mini version of Benefit‘s famous Watt’s Up highlighter as a birthday gift from Sephora. It was a great little surprise, though a straw poll of my friends and acquaintances reveals that only about half of my compatriots ever got around to trying it. I did try it, and I loved it. But loving a free sample is one thing, and loving a giant $30 stick of sparkly face goop is another issue entirely. Is Benefit’s Watt’s Up highlighter really worth buying in full size? I investigated

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Even after a year I had not made a dent in my sample of Watt’s Up, so I really had no need to replace it. But then my suitcase was stolen and the thieves got all my makeup, including my little sample. Then I was faced with the question: Do I replace it? I did.

The full-size Watt’s Up is quite different from the sample. Not only is the stick about four times as big in diameter, but it also comes with a tiny little blending sponge in the bottom.

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The bigger size is nice because it is well-sized to cover a whole cheekbone, but I have to admit that the tiny sample size fit better in my makeup bag. This highlighter is really pretty big and takes up a lot of room in the case.

So then I tried it out. Here’s a photo of me before I started.

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I applied the highlighter as instructed. I made a straight line down the center of my nose, added a bit to the center of the “Cupid’s bow” of my upper lip, and put a tiny bit on my chin. I also made a big, heavy C shape going from my browbone along the side of my eye socket and over my cheekbone. The larger product was a bit tougher to apply under the eyebrow than was the skinny sample, but it was easier when it came to covering the whole cheekbone with one swipe.

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Then I used the little sponge to blend, and here’s what it looked like afterwards.

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Personally, I love it. The amount one blends is a personal decision. You could, if you so desired, leave it bold and sparkly and shiny and dramatic, and that would look great. This time I blended enough that the results are very subtle, and in photographs the results are less, “Ooh, highlighter!” and more “Liz actually looks like a person who has cheekbones.” Of course, a person who knows a lot about makeup would instantly recognize the use of highlighter, but in my experience the layperson just assumes that is what one’s cheekbones look like in real life.

Final assessment: Is Benefit’s Watt’s Up highlighter worth shelling out $30 for the full-size version? I’d say yes, especially since the product is so big I think I will never, ever run out of it, even if I use it as often as I intend to.