best mac strobe cream alternatives
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Best Mac Strobe Cream Alternatives: 9 Options You Need to Try

I don’t know when I stopped using the original, but at some point, I started gravitating toward some of the best MAC Strobe Cream alternatives instead of going for the real thing.

I’ve strayed away from MAC over the past few years, despite a complete obsession with everything they made that held me in its grips for a long time. I loved everything but their foundation (I even loved one of those until my rosacea started kicking in, but most of them were just too dark for me).

I used to use MAC Strobe Cream every day. I’d use it under my makeup, mixed with my foundation, and even to highlight the high points of my face and décolletage. I loved how versatile it could be. It was a lightweight cream with a genuine glow, not glitter. 

Since then, I’ve experimented with products to be used under makeup to give a light-from-within effect in the form of primers and sunscreens. I’ve played around with products that could be mixed with foundation to provide lighter coverage and give the skin a more luminous appearance.

In addition, I’ve discovered several products meant to be used on top of makeup to highlight the cheekbones, bridge of the nose, cupid’s bow, and other spots you want to bring forward in the makeup application process.

The Best MAC Strobe Cream Substitutes at a Glance

There are several MAC Strobe Cream alternatives on the market, many of them extremely good (some better for some uses than others). That said, I do have some favorites:

Strobe Cream Alternative Options

Cream Dupes

You can get the same effects Strobe Cream provides in the form of:

  • Moisturizer
  • Primer
  • Illuminator/Highlighting product
  • Sunscreen

It’ll depend on what you’d like to use Strobe Cream for–all over for radiance or strategically placed for highlighting.

When to Use Each Kind

Cream Dupes

Though MAC Strobe Cream is considered a moisturizer, it does so much more than that. Maybe you’re looking for an alternative because it doesn’t moisturize enough (it never did for me), but you like the effect it gives. Perhaps it’s not the best match for your skin type and causes irritation or breakouts for you.

You might even be looking for a way to cut down on the products you use but still want the radiant finish it provides, or you like the effect strategic placement gives but don’t like how Strobe Cream plays with your other face products. Hey, not everybody is meant to be friends. 

Either way, when it comes to Strobe Cream similar competitors, you have options.


You’re on the hunt for something that moisturizes and gives you a glow. You want the option to forego foundation, but you still want to look wide awake, youthful, and gorgeous.


You’re content with your moisturizer and sunscreen, but you want to give your whole face a glow. Plus, making your foundation last longer would be nice.


You want to mix something with your foundation to sheer it out and take it from matte (or similar) to a more natural, glowing finish. Another way to use the illuminating products is on the high points of your face. If you like to contour and highlight after you’ve applied your foundation, this is the one for you. You could even go for a more subtle glow by using this before your foundation, as long as it’s not a full-coverage formula that’ll hide it completely.


Similar to the moisturizer uses, you’d like to add an all-over glow to your face and do good things for your skin. You don’t want to feel like you need to wear primer, foundation, or really any makeup at all to achieve the effect you’re going for. Choosing a sunscreen version of a Strobe Cream substitute makes sense when you already have a moisturizer you love.

Selection Criteria

To choose the best MAC Strobe Cream alternatives, I considered:

  • Function(s) and versatility, since MAC Strobe Cream can do so many things. Some creams like MAC Strobe are on the sheer side, while others are more intense. Some work as moisturizers, some as highlighters, and some as both (and everything in between). I don’t know how many times I’ve looked for a “substitute” of something that’s just a little more/less…something, so I wanted to cover all the bases. 
  • Price, which doesn’t always mean it’s cheaper, but that might be one reason to look for an alternative.
  • Shade choices. Again, not all substitutes will be available in multiple shades, but I tried to share a range of options.

Try These Strobe Cream Substitutes Before You Buy

I’ve used many products similar to Strobe Cream over the years. There are a few more on my radar to try. Here are some of the best I’ve been able to round up: 

Benefit High Beam

Benefit High Beam

I used to use this all the time, in all kinds of ways. It used to be available in more than one color (like Sun Beam and Moon Beam), but it looks like they’re back to selling only the original with a pinkish tint for now. You might still be able to hunt the other shades down, though.

The Benefit site calls High Beam rose gold, which sounds like it should work on cool, warm, and neutral undertones. It seems to lean cooler to me. My undertones are neutral, leaning cool, and it works for me. Don’t dive in and dot this all over your face, hoping to blend it in. For an all-over glow, you’ll want to add just a smidge to your foundation or moisturizer. I prefer it as a highlight shade, though.


  • It can quickly be built to an intense finish when used as a highlighter.
  • You can mix a little with your moisturizer, and a little goes a long way.
  • It’s reasonably priced.


  • Unless you feel like looking borderline metallic, you shouldn’t wear this one all over your face on its own.
  • It might not work well on medium to dark skin tones because it’s not as subtle as Strobe Cream.

NYX Born to Glow Liquid Illuminator

NYX Born to Glow Liquid Illuminator

The NYX Born to Glow Liquid Illuminator is just as versatile as the MAC Strobe Cream, but at less than $10.00, it’s much less expensive. It comes in four shades, which tops MAC’s three. I’m concerned that some colors are sold out in several places, so you might have difficulty getting your hands on it.


  • Comes in four colors
  • Versatile
  • Inexpensive
  • It’s moisturizing.


  • It might be more difficult to find than some other options.
  • Depending on your preference, it might be too intense to use all over. It isn’t as sheer as Strobe Cream. 

Sunday Riley C.E.O. Afterglow Brightening Vitamin C Cream

Sunday Riley C.E.O. Afterglow Brightening Vitamin C Cream

I’ve recently become obsessed with Sunday Riley skincare products, thanks to a sample kit I got from Ulta. The C.E.O. Vitamin C line contains some of my favorite products. This cream has a yellowish tint and a subtle brightening effect. Because it contains vitamin C, it attacks long-term dullness, too. 

Sunday Riley C.E.O. Afterglow Brightening Vitamin C Cream | Amazon
$65.00 ($38.24 / Fl Oz)

Anti-aging, anti-pore, brightening Vitamin C moisturizer supercharges your natural radiance and delivers 24 hours of continuous hydration.

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01/22/2024 10:36 am GMT


  • Heavier and more moisturizing than Strobe Cream, making it a good choice for dry skin types
  • Good for aging
  • Designed to add plumpness to the skin, too
  • Long-term benefits from vitamin C and protection against blue light, thanks to lutein


  • Expensive
  • It might be too heavy for some skin types.
  • It’s not as versatile since it doesn’t make a good highlighter.

Rare Beauty Illuminating Primer

Rare Beauty Illuminating Primer

Rare Beauty has two primers, and MAC Strobe Cream was the first thing I thought of when I tried the illuminating one. It’s not too intense to wear alone. I’ve put it on and skipped the foundation. You might be able to use it as a highlighting product on top of other products, but it would be subtle. I’ve never tried it that way.

Rare Beauty Always An Optimist Illuminating Primer | Amazon

A cooling, water-based gel primer that smoothes, hydrates, and illuminates skin, prepping you for makeup that looks and feels its best all day.

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  • You can get a 0.5 oz. bottle for $14.00, so you can try it out without spending a lot. If you like it, you can opt for the 0.94 oz. bottle for $26.00.
  • There’s barely any color here at all. It looks a little pink, but the color won’t show up once it’s on your skin. It’ll just look luminous.
  • I like the pump bottle and the packaging as a whole.
  • You can wear it alone or under foundation.
  • Suitable for all skin types 


  • You can still get less expensive options at the drugstore.
  • If you want a lot of color or intensity, you won’t find it here.

Rare Beauty Positive Light Liquid Luminizer Highlight

Rare Beauty Positive Light Liquid Luminizer Highlight

I love Rare Beauty. It’s been one of my favorite makeup brands, so I’m not shocked that they have two products that work similarly to my once-beloved MAC Strobe Cream. The Illuminating Primer worked as an all-over product that could help makeup last longer or make you glow, but this Positive Light Liquid Luminizer Highlight can wear all the hats.

Mix it with foundation or moisturizer, or use it straight from the bottle as a highlighting product. Some shades are more intense than others; all of them are stunning.

Rare Beauty Positive Light Liquid Luminizer | Amazon

What it is: A silky, second-skin liquid highlighter that creates a lasting, soft, and luminous finish. 

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01/21/2024 07:26 pm GMT


  • Versatile–can be used with moisturizer or foundation or applied after foundation to the high points of the face. 
  • Comes in eight colors, from champagne to deep bronze, so it’ll work on all skin tones.
  • A little goes a long way.
  • I love the doe foot applicator–just tap it on, blend with your finger, and go.


  • It’s $22.00 for 0.5 oz.
  • You’ll have to shop at Sephora, Kohl’s with Sephora, or online to get it.

Supergoop! Glowscreen

Supergoop! Glowscreen

I just discovered this, but I love throwing it on lazy days. With my fair skin and neutral-cool undertones, it looks a little too golden-bronze, but sometimes I’ll shrug that off and go with it for convenience. It’s also more intense than I expected since it’s meant for use all over the face.

That said, it’s still a gorgeous glow that shines through makeup (with less intensity than it does on a makeup-free face, which might be a good thing).

I feel like you could use this on the high points of the face in a pinch, but you’d need a separate sunscreen if you wanted to use it that way during the day. I’ve never tried Glowscreen that way, but the glow it gives would be pretty applied that way.

Supergoop! Glowscreen | Amazon
$38.00 ($22.35 / Fl Oz)

Supergoop! Glowscreen is a broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF 40 that helps filter blue light andt doubles as a makeup-gripping primer for dewy, glowing skin that isn’t greasy or oily.

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01/21/2024 07:40 pm GMT


  • You get SPF 40 with it, so you can cut one product out of your routine.
  • It comes in two shades and doesn’t deposit a ton of color (it just shows up more than you might prefer if you’re pale like me, but it’s still workable), so it’s good for most skin tones.
  • It moisturizes.
  • It has niacinamide, B5, and hyaluronic acid to hydrate and reduce redness.
  • It comes in three sizes (2.5 oz, 1.7 oz, and 0.68 oz).


  • It’s a little pricy, at $20.00 to $46.00.
  • When worn on its own, the glow might be too noticeable for some people’s preferences. It pushes my limits sometimes.
  • The shades might be a little off for some skin tones, but you may or may not care. I’m not sure it’s noticeable to anyone but me that it looks too golden on my skin, but it’s not a flawless blend with my skin tone. Wearing it under makeup helps.

Saie Glowy Super Gel Lightweight Dewy Highlighter

Saie Glowy Super Gel Lightweight Dewy Highlighter

This brand is new to me, but this highlighter is a superstar. It has many of my favorite skincare ingredients, like rose hip seed oil and vitamin C. It’s versatile, like MAC Strobe Cream. You can mix it with foundation or moisturizer, use it as a primer, or even wear it alone. I love that there are no silicones, too, since those tend to irritate my skin. 

Saie Glowy Super Gel Dewy Illuminating Fluid | Amazon
$16.00 ($32.00 / Fl Oz)

An illuminating gel-based luminizer made of 75 percent water that can be mixed with skincare, foundation, or worn alone for a fresh, dewy look.

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01/22/2024 02:43 pm GMT


  • It’s hydrating.
  • It has papaya seed oil, which is anti-inflammatory.
  • It comes in two shades–champagne and bronze.


  • The mini size is only available in the lighter shade.
  • It’s on the more expensive side at $28.00 for 1.0 oz.
  • Though it can be used after foundation on the high points of the face, there are better options on the market for this use.

Milani Soft Focus Glow Complexion Enhancer

Milani Soft Focus Glow Complexion Enhancer

This is listed as a foundation, but it’s so lightweight that you can use it in various ways. And yes, it’s still a good foundation choice on those light makeup days. It’s supposed to come in three shades, but Nude Glow, the lightest shade, is missing from the Milani site and overpriced everywhere I saw it.

Milani Soft Focus Glow Complexion Enhancer | Amazon

Hyaluronic Acid is naturally produced by your body to keep connective tissue healthy and well lubricated, and is the perfect topical treatment to keep your lips hydrated and healthy for a full, hypnotic look.

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  • It’s inexpensive at under $15.00 for 1.59 oz.
  • It’s available in two shades–Golden Glow and Bronze Glow.
  • It’s easy to find in drugstores, Target, Ulta, etc.
  • It can be used on its own, mixed with makeup or moisturizer, or used as a highlighter.
  • It has hyaluronic acid, so it’s hydrating.


  • This is unlikely to be a good match for those with fair skin or cool undertones.
  • The third shade, Nude Glow, isn’t listed on the Milani website as of this writing, so it may be challenging to track down, especially at a reasonable price. 

L’Oreal Paris True Match Lumi Glotion Natural Glow Enhancer

L'Oreal Paris True Match Lumi Glotion Natural Glow Enhancer

Here’s another does-it-all option that comes in more than one or two shades and is affordable too. 


  • It’s inexpensive compared to many of the list options, especially during sales or when coupons are available (Ulta’s frequent coupons should work).
  • It’s readily available at drugstores, Walmart, Target, and Ulta.
  • It comes in four shades.
  • It can be used all over, mixed with foundation or moisturizer, or on top of makeup.

L’Oreal Paris True Match Lumi Glotion Natural Glow Enhancer | Amazon

Instantly hydrate and luminize your skin for an all over, natural glow; This highlighting formula delivers an illuminating color tint to enhance your skin’s natural glow.

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01/21/2024 08:32 pm GMT


  • If you want intense color or shimmer, you should look elsewhere.

Best Mac Strobe Cream Alternatives: FAQs

Question: What is the dupe for MAC Strobe Cream?

Answer: You can take a few different routes to get the best dube for MAC Strobe Cream that meets your specific needs. The closest options I’ve found in color and function are the Rare Beauty Illuminating Primer (which, unfortunately, only comes in a pinkish shade similar to the original Strobe Cream, but the color is barely there and should suit most skin tones).

Question: Can MAC Strobe Cream be used alone?

Answer: Yes, you can use MAC Strobe Cream alone, but experiment first. It might give you more of a glow than you want when you use it straight on your skin. You could mix it with moisturizer, but makeup isn’t required to enjoy the effects of this product.

Question: What does Strobe Cream from MAC do?

Answer: It adds a gorgeous, radiant glow and hydration to your skin. You can use it under your makeup, mixed with another moisturizer, or as a light highlighter on top of your makeup. I don’t recommend mixing it with sunscreen because that might change the level of protection you’ll get. However, some Strobe Cream dupes are sunscreens.

Question: Does MAC Strobe Cream have glitter?

Answer: No, it’s shimmery, but you won’t see chunks of glitter. It’ll just make your skin look like it has a gorgeous glow.

Question: How do you make Strobe Cream?

Answer: Choose a loose, shimmering powder (eyeshadow or face products will work) in your desired color. You may want something golden, peach, pink, bronze, opalescent, or something in-between. This is the beauty of making your own–you get to tweak the shade to match your needs. You’ll need to make sure the powder is very finely-milled so it won’t look too chunky on your skin. 

Which Strobe Cream Alternative Should You Try First?

Unless you know you’d limit your use of Strobe Cream to one or two things, I’d go for the most versatile options first. If you’re looking for skincare ingredients or sunscreen, that’s a different story.

But apples to apples, I’d look at Rare Beauty Positive Light Liquid Luminizer Highlight, L’Oreal Paris True Match Lumi Glotion Natural Glow Enhancer, or Saie Glowy Super Gel Lightweight Dewy Highlighter first, then work from there.

Rare Beauty Positive Light Liquid Luminizer | Amazon

What it is: A silky, second-skin liquid highlighter that creates a lasting, soft, and luminous finish. 

Buy at Amazon
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
01/21/2024 07:26 pm GMT

Those are some of the most versatile options and come in the widest range of shades. They can be used straight for more intense highlighting or diluted (in whatever ratio you’d like) with skincare products or foundation to be applied all over.

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