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Bronzer 101

Create a safe glow from head to toe with these favourite products and expert bronzer tips

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A bronzed body
For the best faux glow, shop around. “Get the right formula for you,” says the Estée Lauder global makeup stylist Rick DiCecca, and test it on a small area to ensure the shade is right. “The colour should be no more than two shades darker than your normal colouring,” he says. And whether you’re using a bronzing lotion or a self-tanner, prep properly:

Clean and exfoliate first, says DiCecca. “The exfoliation will help avoid rough, dark spots, and the shower will help hydrate skin to create a smoother faux tan.” Dry your skin and then take it slow. “Apply self-tanner sparingly. It’s easier to make it darker than lighter,” says DiCecca. Afterwards, wash hands with warm, soapy water to avoid tanned palms. If you’re time-pressed, we suggest tinted moisturizers or bronzers. For the hosiery-phobic, they give a hint of a tan to pale legs and make them look longer and smoother, too.

Glowing cheeks
Bronzers add warmth by giving skin a tint, while highlighters add a sheen that can lift and accentuate features, says Kim Soane, manager of artistry for Bobbi Brown Cosmetics. “Apply bronzer where the sun hits the face, on the cheeks and T-zone,” says Soane. And don’t forget your neck. For a natural sun-kissed look, try pink or peach-toned bronzers if you’re fair-skinned; warm, golden or pink if you’re Asian; or deeper cinnamon-toned bronzers if your skin is dark. With highlighters, apply to high points on the face, like the tops of cheekbones; but if you use a shimmering bronzer, forgo the highlighter. Layering shimmer will result in a frosty look, not the radiant beach-goddess effect you’re after.

Copper toes
Nude and bronze colours can make tiny or ill-formed nails look longer and more elegant and can disguise a damaged nail,” says the Sally Hansen national trainer and spokesman Doug Atkinson. “The palette is so summery, but it can also have a very restrained, trust-fund look year-round,” he says.

When choosing a shade, Atkinson suggests that you “place the bottle of colour next to your skin. If skin becomes more radiant, choose that colour.” He adds that Asian women should avoid shades with too much yellow and darker-skinned ladies should opt for richer tones. Once you’ve soaked your feet, exfoliated, dried and moisturized, use a cuticle remover to clean up the nail outline. For shaping, the up-to-the-minute style is “an active length – half a centimetre of exposed nail beyond the skin.” Atkinson also files nails straight across to avoid ingrowns.

Gilded eyes
Gold represents status, whether you’re talking jewellery, hair or cosmetics. Mine that palette in your beauty regime to give your warm-weather look a shimmering richness. To find your perfect shade, Eddie Maleterre, makeup artist for L’Oréal Paris in Canada, says, “Pick a gold with an orange undertone. It suits most people.” As for applying the Midas touch, he says, “Wear gold over the entire eyelid if you’re daring, or if you prefer a subtle look, put a touch in the middle of the eyelid and under the eyebrow as a highlight.”

Luscious lips
Nude lips are the best complement to a sun-kissed look. But they can be tricky: “If you don’t want to look like a ghost, wake up your nude lipstick with a bit of pink or plum lipliner,” says the Yves Saint Laurent international makeup artist Yannick Vaudry. Make sure to blend well to banish lines. And when choosing a nude, let your skin tone be your guide. “The colour of your lips should never be lighter than your skin colour,” Vaudry says. Prep is essential, too, as lighter shades can highlight imperfections. Exfoliate lips and then moisturize them with a balm. “Before applying your nude shade, smooth a light line of foundation around lips, as though you’re outlining them,” says Vaudry. “Your lips will look fuller.”

Check out our video to learn how to apply bronzer perfectly.