How to Achieve Golden-Hour Skin 24/7
Create a beautifully sunlit glow—without the UV exposure.
The last hour of the sun setting in the evening is straight-up magic for your complexion. “You get a dewiness from the reflection, a pinky cast from the sunset, and a golden tone from the subdued sun,” says makeup artist and Elemis glow expert Katie Jane Hughes. But the moment is fleeting, so re-create this flattering filter with a few easy skin-care and makeup steps.
In fact, simplicity is key here: “What’s so beautiful about this look is that it celebrates skin—you can see pores and freckles, not cakey makeup. It’s casual and real,” says makeup artist Nick Barose. (See: Should You Switch Up Your Skincare Routine for Summer?)
Create a dewy reflection.
There’s a fine line between glowy and sweaty: Your skin-care selections will help you find the sweet spot. To get the glow, limit washing your face to one time at night. “I use Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm (Buy It, $64, ulta.com) to keep my skin juicy and radiant,” Hughes says. “Then I swipe an exfoliating pad across skin and apply moisturizer where I need it. In the morning, I go for a lightweight hydrator or oil,” she adds. “You can mix them if you want.”
Pinkish-tinted Garnier SkinActive Glow Boost Illuminating Moisturizer (Buy It, $12, cvs.com) brightens any skin tone as it hydrates. Then, to avoid excess shine, smooth a mattifying primer like Lancôme Prep and Matte Primer (Buy It, $35, sephora.com) on the T-zone of your face. “That way, your cheeks are radiant and your forehead and nose stay matte,” Barose says. (Related: Instant Cooling Products for Dewy, Hydrated Skin)
Now makeup, but keep it sheer.
For lightweight coverage, pat on a base like Perricone MD No Makeup Foundation Serum SPF 25 (Buy It, $60, sephora.com) with a damp makeup sponge like the Juno & Co. Microfiber Rosé Velvet Sponge (Buy It, $6, amazon.com). Or use a fluffy brush (Hughes recommends Revlon Highlighter Brush [Buy It, $10, amazon.com]) to blend Glossier Stretch Concealer (Buy It, $18, glossier.com) all over skin.
Either method will prevent “that heavy finish that would kill this look’s casual, outdoors vibe,” Barose says. “Plus, if you’re in the heat, a full-coverage foundation would likely melt.”
Add a sunset pink to cheeks, eyes, and lips.
If you used a brush to apply your concealer, dip it in a cream blush. Or even mix your concealer with a teeny dab of your favorite red lipstick to create a custom peachy tone, then blend it on the apples of your cheeks. Swipe the brush—with whatever makeup is left on it—on your eyelids and temples and the bridge of your nose.
“You can apply it on your lips too,” says Hughes, who explains that the tint will have the same sun-kissed warmth but look different, since your lips aren’t the same color as your skin. Or swipe on a warm pink lip color and a rose-gold eye shadow. “A crayon is easy to blend and stays in place well,” Barose says. Try Jouer Crème Eyeshadow Crayon in Rose Gold (Buy It, $18, sephora.com).
Go for gold—bronzer, that is.
Think of bronzer as your sunlight in a bottle (or a compact), and “place it everywhere the sun would hit your face: the cheeks, down the bridge of your nose, and across the forehead,” says Carly Giglio, a global artist and an education manager for BareMinerals. “Putting bronzer in these areas is the number-one step to get this look right. It’s what makes your skin look lit and radiant, and any shimmer in the formula enhances your face structure gorgeously.”
Choosing the right shade is also important. Pick it based on your skin color and undertone: “If you’re fair, go for the lightest neutral-toned bronzer, so it won’t look too muddy,” Barose says. Medium tones should be chosen based on the undertone. (For a warm undertone, choose a bronzer with a bit of red in it; for a cool undertone, find one that looks a bit more gray.) “Dark skin will get a pretty glow from a warm-toned, shimmery bronzer or highlighter,” Barose says. (See more: How to Apply Bronzer for a Natural Glow)
Boost your glow with a highlighter or a mist.
Take a look at your handiwork. Want more radiance? “You can dust highlighter over all the same spots where you put bronzer,” Giglio says. But if you don’t want any more shimmer, turn back to the skin-care formulas you started with and apply them on top of your makeup strategically. “I love to put some face oil on a Beautyblender and then press it into my cheekbones, temples, and Cupid’s bow,” Hughes says.
If you’re on the go, try a quick spritz of a hydrating facial spray. “Avoid shimmery versions, though, because you can’t control where those light-reflecting particles go, and they set before you can blend,” Barose says. Becca Skin Love Glow Shield Prime & Set Mist (Buy It, $32, ulta.com) has spring water, goji berries, and vitamin E to give skin a healthy, hydrated finish. (Yes, facial mists actually have legit benefits.)