Not all of us want to look seriously sculpted. For those seeking a simple sun-kissed glow, here's how to get it right.

By By Didi Gluck
Updated: May 08, 2017

Super-sculpted cheeks artificially sucked in by stripes of bronzer have their time and place: on Instagram. In real life, applying bronzer in such a theatrical way may make you look like you have a brownie stuck to the side of your face when you turn your head in natural daylight. So how do you make yourself look like you've just returned from vacation-even if it was just to the kitchen to pour yourself a glass of rosé? We asked Stila celebrity makeup artist Sarah Lucero how to glow like a pro. (FYI, here's how to score a glowy, pink highlight in seconds.)

If you're using a cream formula....

"Consider gels, liquids, and cream bronzers as beauty boosters," says Lucero. "I prefer those with a slight sheen or soft shimmer pearl to them so that they blend effortlessly and look natural," says Lucero. Lucero's favorite gel bronzer is Stila Aqua Glow Perfecting Bronzer ($32, "It's a sheer tinted formula that instantly wakes up your face and looks great on all skin tones, from fair to deep," she says. To use, mix one pump into your favorite moisturizer or sunscreen and apply it all over. Lucero says that gel bronzer can replace blush in most cases. "I give it to all my girlfriends who spin and take hot yoga since it tones down redness so you don't look flushed all day."

If you prefer a powder...

Be sure to apply it with a great brush, advises Lucero, who likes It Cosmetics Heavenly Luxe Airbrush Powder & Bronzer Brush #1 ($48, Don't sweep your powder over anything creamy or liquid or it could start to look blotchy and "catch" in areas, warns Lucero. "Lightly dust the powder across the bridge of your nose, onto your cheeks, and onto your forehead for a natural tan look," says Lucero. For extra color on your cheeks, you can blend a bit more powder in an "x" over your cheekbones or apples of your cheeks. "It gives you a sculpted effect," says Lucero. In a good way.

A note on color...

The contrast shouldn't be that dramatic. In the end, you're aiming for a tan version of yourself. To that end, choose a shade that accurately describes your skin without bronzer. In other words, if you'd describe your skin as fair, then choose the bronzer labeled fair. If you'd describe it as deep, then go for the deep bronzer. Note, sometimes companies label their bronzers light, medium, and dark. The same principal holds true.


Comments (1)

May 8, 2017
It's interesting how different cultures prize different skin shades. Asian cultures tend to focus on making skin tone lighter, while Western ones want that "sun-kissed" look. If you haven't run across it before, check out Korean beauty approaches, for example here: