Pastel colored highlighters – 11 brands, 62 pens, 1
clear winner. This is going to be the prettiest and most colorful fight to the death you’ve ever witnessed on the Internet.
There’s a video that goes along with this pastel highlighter review write-up. If you’re interested in seeing each of these highlighters swatched and listen to my silly commentary, head over to the YouTube video for the Pastel Highlighter Showdown & Review.
There is a craze in the bullet journal, planner, study and note-taking communities about pastel markers and highlighters. In fact, it seems that everyone is talking about the Zebra Mildliners and we’re all jumping on the bandwagon to buy all four collections so we can make our journals beautiful and filled with every color of the rainbow. I admit it, I caved into peer pressure and bought the Mildliners. I know. You’re so shocked, right?!
That first purchase and the regret that followed is what started this whole showdown business. But let me back up a moment…
You see, I’m a highlighter type of bullet journaler. I’m a rebel in that I don’t use the bullet journal key that everyone else uses. I make a list and whatever “thing” is at the start of that item on the list, is the thing that it is. It might be a dash, it might be a dot or bullet, it might be an arrow … those symbols are all interchangeable to me. I’ve been making lists for so long that I can’t hope to change now. Then the way I signify that the item on that list is done (done means that I no longer need to think about it, not necessarily that it was complete) I cross that thing off the list in green. Green highlighter has been my go-to for the past few years. Why green? I have no idea, that’s what I’ve been using for years and I’m a creature of habit. So highlighters definitely are part of my process and in some ways, the highlighter might be even more important to me than the pen I used to write the list in the first place.
Now, back to the showdown. After that first purchase of Mildliners, and the disappointment that followed, I decided to give another highly recommended brand a try. Disappointed again. And that’s when I got serious. I was determined to figure this out on my own and forget those silly recommendations from people who didn’t have the same level of passion about highlighters that I possess. <sigh> And that brings us to now. So let’s look at what I bought, tested, critiqued, and eventually chose as my highlighter-of-choice.
DISCLAIMER: This post may contain affiliate links to Amazon, however, none of these highlighter reviews are sponsored. This is an unbiased, unpaid, unsponsored, no-BS review of these highlighters. Nobody gave me pens for free. Nobody paid me. Nobody promised me rainbows or butterflies to write nice things about them. Everything I write is my honest personal opinion.
Pastel Highlighter Review
Here is an alphabetical list of the highlighters I tested. These specific brands were either recommended in the bullet journal community or were marketed/sold as “pastel” or “soft” highlighters. I purchased them specifically because they were supposed to be a softer, lighter, more muted version of the standard bright or neon highlighters of yore. In the next section, I’ll test out some non-pastel options so we can compare. (If you want to jump to a specific pen review, just click the link below.)
- Daiso Pastel Marking Pen
- Frixon Light Pastel Erasable
- Iconic Two-Way Pastel Pen
- KitMit Candy “Check Liner” Highlighter
- Monami Essenti Liner Soft Pastel
- Muji Twin-Tip Highlighter
- Stabilo Boss Pastel Highlighters
- Zebra Mildliners
Daiso Pastel Marking Pen
These highlighters have the same look and feel as the Zebra Mildliners, but they only have a single chisel tip. My first impression of writing with these is that the ink is “dry” — not dried out, but rather they are not wet. They don’t bleed or ghost through standard copy paper (20lb) and don’t have that telltale glob of ink where you lift the pen. The color is definitely pastel but the green is almost exactly the same shade of the blue. There is no purple in this pack. The price on these is about $1.10 per pen in the pack. Buy Daiso Pastel Marking Pen on Amazon.
Frixon Light Pastel Erasable Highlighter
Who doesn’t need an erasable highlighter? I sort of love that feature about these pens. Someone pointed out that these have a “chalky” appearance, and now every time I look at the highlighted word with these pens, I see it too. It’s like the black ink of the word it’s highlighting is suddenly a little bit more gray than black. I don’t mind it. In fact, I like it a lot. I just wish the green was closer to a real green color. There’s no orange in this pack but the color options here are very good. The price for these is about $1.54 per pen in the pack. Buy Frixon Light Pastel Erasable Highlighters on Amazon.
Iconic Two-Way Pastel Pen
I sort of love the size and shape of these pens. The barrel is skinny and the pen seems a bit longer than other pens – which has a good feel in my hand. I like the ink in these – slightly more “juicy” than the previous two options so I don’t worry too much about them drying out too quickly. The green is definitely a bright lime verdant color and the blue is closer to a turquoise shade. Overall I like these highlighters. Buy Iconic Two-Way Pastel Pen on Amazon.
KitMit Candy “Check Liner” Highlighter
I keep calling these Kit Kat Candy …. ugh! It’s actually KitMit Candy Check Liners – I need to get my mind off chocolate and on to highlighters. These are fat pens all around. Not only are the pens themselves big but the chisel tip is also wide. The ink is wet and ghosts through the page a bit (I’m using 20lbs printer paper) and the shade of each marker is definitely not pastel. Take a look at the video to see the issue I had with the blue pen in this pack – the top part of the chisel seemed to dry out while the bottom part remained wet. I’ve since tried to “juice up” the full tip again but nothing I tried would work fully, although in the photo above you can see that it’s almost back to normal. For all the but blue pen, these are good highlighters for normal, bright color options, not pastel, though. Buy KitMit Candy Check Liner on Amazon.
Monami Essenti Liner Soft Pastel
The first thing I noticed about these is how pretty they are. I love the translucent cap that makes everything a bit sparkly. And the colors are definitely pastel and soft, so big bonus there! The green isn’t quite green enough for me, but that seems to be a trend with these highlighters, huh? The ink is somewhat dry but not so dry that I think it’s going to dry out… but more like it’s just not overly wet and will bleed through the page. Overall I really like these pens and they are among my favorites. Great choice! Buy Monami Essenti Soft Liner on Amazon.
Muji Twin Tip Highlighter
Everyone loves Muji, so I had to give them a try too. Clear view chisel tip is always a great feature for me so I can see the words that I’m highlighting. The ink is wet and they feel great when I’m using them. These aren’t really pastel at all – definitely more bright. I like that these are twin tips and you get a second pen for the cheap price and the pen tip on the other end is nice and bold. If you’re looking for bold, bright colors, these are a good choice but if you want pastel colors, not so much. Buy Muji Twin Tip Highlighters on Amazon.
Stabilo Boss Pastel Highlighters
Here’s another highlighter with a big footprint in your pencil case. I wish they were skinnier and took up less space in my planner bag because I really like the color out of these pens and wish I could take them with me more easily. The colors are definitely pastel and have a “dusty and muted” characteristic to them. I wish the pink was more light pink rather than dusty rose, but overall these colors are very good. The chisel tip is wide and the ink flows beautifully. These are a bit pricier than the others but well worth the investment. Buy Stabilo Boss Pastel Highlighters on Amazon.
This is where it all started for me. They’re good pens but they’re expensive if you buy all the Zebra packs (there are 4 available). The highlighter pack only came with 5 colors, so I pulled the purple out of one of the other packs to test. These are twin tips with a chisel on one end and a bullet tip on the other end. They are medium-juicy and definitely pastel for most of the colors. Buy Zebra Mildliners Highlighters on Amazon.
Standard Highlighter Review
I wanted to test regular old standard highlighters next to these pastel ones. I was mostly just curious to see how the colors stood up and if pastel really was all that much different than the bright highlighters we’ve all been using for years. So let’s take a look how that experiment turned out. Click one of the links below to jump directly to that highlighter review, or just scroll and read it all!
Bic Brite Liners
These are highlighters I already had in my stash and wanted to try them next to the pastel versions. Yes, they’re bright, but actually not as bright as I expected when you see everything side by side. Some of these colors are actually identical to pens that are sold as pastel. Blue and purple are very much in the pastel category and the pink could stand up to some of the other pastel pinks. For a cheap and local option, these pens are good choices. I bought my full set locally at Walmart, but they sell for the same price online. Buy Bic Brite Liners on Amazon.
Sharpie Clear View Highlighter
Sharpie is my current go-to highlighter brand and even though I’ve been testing all these pastel highlighters, I have kept using my Sharpies. I love the clear view tip and the “smear guard” quality of these pens and also how skinny they are so they fit easily into my pencil case. The green is a true green and that’s what I hold all other greens up to for comparison (green is important, ya know!). The colors are not pastel but interestingly they aren’t that far off from the pastel options. I trust the Sharpie brand and love everything they make, so I’m not surprised that I love their highlighters too. Buy Sharpie Clear View Highlighters on Amazon.
Crayola Super Tip Washable Marker
Whenever I see people in Facebook groups asking about pastel highlighters, there’s always those few people who say: “Just get the Crayola Supertips, they’re the same…” and then a whole bunch of people glob onto that comment and agree. So I had to give them a try, of course. I pulled out the “most pastel” version of each color to test and was very disappointed. These are not highlighters at all. They’re markers. Of course, that’s what they’re sold as, but when so many people claim that they’re the same as highlighters, I guess I had some hope that it would work out. But the colors are not translucent at all and are dark over the black ink. In a pinch and for a super cheap price, go ahead and use these, but if you want a true highlighter, don’t fall prey to those recommendations. I found this pack of 100 markers at my local Walmart in the back-to-school section for just $6.67. But they’re available online for about twice the price if you really can’t find them locally. Buy Crayola Supertip Marker 100 Pack on Amazon.
And the winner is…
My Choice for the “Best Pastel Highlighter” Award goes to … wait! There’s not a single clear winner. But of the ones I tested, I’ve currently got three favorite brands. I’m still testing and playing and trying them out and hopefully one day soon, a single winner will emerge. But until that time comes, I’m using all three in different situations and ways. Let me explain.
My top three choices are:
I keep the Stabilo at home on my desk because they’re simply too large to carry with me in my small pencil case or journal cover. But I like the look of the muted colors and have them close at hand when I’m updating my bullet journal at home. I like the Frixon Erasable highlighters because they’re erasable (yes, I make plenty of mistakes!) and also because of the “chalkiness” of the colors they give. I like the shade of green in the Frixon line too. The Monami Essenti gives me a nice soft pastel color and the pen itself is pretty with the sparkly cap. I know, I know, I know … that’s such a girly reason to love a pen, but I’m going to embrace it anyway!
Which is your favorite?
You haven’t made it this far into the blog post (and video) if you aren’t passionate about highlighters like I am. So I’m sure you have a favorite – or at least one that you’ve been using more than others lately. Or maybe I completely missed your favorite or one you want someone to try out. Let’s chat! Tell me which pastel highlighters you love! Hit me up on Instagram @pamtremble with a picture of your highlighters in action!
Download the Worksheet
You can PamTremble.com_HighlighterReview_worksheet. Print on legal-sized paper (8.5″ x 14″) for the full-width experience, or simply “fit to page” to print on a standard letter of A4 paper size. When you’re finished, I’d love to see how yours looks — please share pictures with me on Instagram @stationerynerd.blog