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How to Give Skin a Summer Glow

By Caitie Kelly

Mari Maeda and Yuji OboshiClockwise from top: CoverGirl Clean Fresh Cooling Glow Stick in Pink Thrill, Westman Atelier Beauty Butter Powder Bronzer, Tower 28 Bronzino Illuminating Cream Bronzer in Best Coast, RMS Beauty Living Glow Face & Body Powder, Kosas The Sun Show Moisturizing Baked Bronzer in Deep, Dior Diorskin Mineral Nude Bronze in Warm Flame.

The widespread closure of nonessential businesses has resulted in a variety of unforeseen beauty challenges — not least among them the need for D.I.Y. hair care — and skin is doubly affected: Not only is professional help off the table but spending less time outside can take a noticeable toll on its vibrancy. “Everyone wants to look like they just had a facial, even in normal circumstances,” says the New York-based makeup artist Gucci Westman. “But particularly during these weeks and weeks of quarantine, when we could all use a confidence boost, I want my skin to be glowing and radiant and exude well-being.” With stay-at-home orders still in effect in many places, a healthy glow may simply seem unattainable, even as summer approaches — but with a little know-how, bronzers, highlighters and blushes can lend a hand. Here, a guide to achieving a subtle sun-kissed look.

“When it comes to choosing bronzing products, there is only trial and error,” says the Los Angeles-based makeup artist Kate Lee. She recommends experimenting with various creams, powders and liquids to find one that gives you an understated glow, “as if you’ve just spent your first day in the sun rather than a week in St. Tropez.” Test products during the daytime, in natural light, applying a small amount at the jawline to ensure the shade suits both your face and décolletage. Lee suggests Chanel’s popular Les Beiges Healthy Glow Bronzing Cream, which she notes brings “peachy hues and a soft sculpting effect” to dark skin tones, or a buildable tan to light ones. Dior’s Diorskin Mineral Nude Bronze powder, meanwhile, includes two shades in one compact that you can mix together to create the perfect tint. Westman likes products with reddish undertones for all skin colours because the goal, she says, is amplifying warm hues. The Beauty Butter Powder Bronzer from her Westman Atelier line, for example, is a matte terra-cotta formula that results in a sunny, bronzed glow.

Achieving a healthy, flushed look begins with using products in a way that may feel unfamiliar: Both Lee and Westman suggest applying highlighter and bronzer before foundation (which should be used sparingly) for a lit-from-within effect. Overall, subtlety is key. Bronzer should be dusted on in light but repeated applications — what Lee calls “chiffon-like layers” — with a fluffy synthetic-bristle brush; using less product below the cheekbones, an area that typically doesn’t catch as much sun, will help create a natural effect.

For pale complexions, focusing on luminosity instead of a sun-tanned appearance “will give a healthy glow rather than an unrealistic look,” says Lee. A dewy highlighter, such as CoverGirl’s Clean Fresh Cooling Glow Stick, applied beneath foundation on the cheekbones, the cupid’s bow and the inner corners of the eyes will melt beautifully into skin and prevent those areas from looking overly shimmery. For darker skin, the New York-based makeup artist Tyron Machhausen suggests highlighters with more golden tones, noting “anything that is too frosty and cool-toned can look ashy.” He prefers Chanel’s Baume Essentiel in Golden Light, which he applies to the high points of the face, and suggests mixing a liquid highlighter with foundation as a “simple and subtle way to lift the complexion.”

Mimicking a youthful ruddiness by applying blush across the cheeks (try this, too, before foundation for a subtler effect) also helps create an authentically sun-kissed look, says Westman. “A good starting point is to look at children who are playing at the beach all summer,” she advises. “They’ve got a golden undertone with a little bit of rosiness from all that collagen and good air.” Apply on top of bronzer, starting at the middle of the cheekbone and using an oval-shaped motion, and finish with a touch on the bridge of the nose, where a bit of redness from the sun is common.

Once you’ve applied bronzer or highlighter, blush and foundation, a dusting of a luminous powder where light hits the face and décolletage can add a final layer of brightness. The Los Angeles-based brand Kosas’s newly released Sun Show Moisturizing Baked Bronzer is available in three shimmery shades while Living Glow Face & Body Powder from the natural makeup brand RMS Beauty comes in just one universally flattering champagne hue and can be applied to any area that’s in need of some shine. To finish, a deep copper-coloured tint swiped across the eyelids can help amplify what Westman describes as “beachy radiance.” The sensitive-skin-friendly brand Tower 28’s sheer, glossy Bronzino Illuminating Cream Bronzer balm, for instance, can be used all over but looks especially polished on eyes. Lee prefers adding colour to the lips alone, especially if you’re after a more dramatic evening look. “Only adding one bright accent is the way to keep it modern,” she says. “A fierce matte red or cerise lip paired with soft glowing skin is my absolute favourite.”