I’m one of those naturally pale people whose complexion goes from fair to somewhat ghostly by the time December hits. Though I’ve learned to embrace my natural skin tone, I’m also fairly attached to my face-warming products that help me look alive mid-winter. Plus, since I moonlight as a makeup artist, I’ve gotten to play around with warming up all sorts of complexions and I’m alll about giving every face a good glow. Sunny days are around the corner, but in the meantime, here’s everything you need to know about using bronzer and blush like a pro to add some sunny vibes to your complexion.

image by nikole ramsay

image by urban outfitters

Skin Care First

A well-hydrated base is essential for getting a good glow! Start with a big glass of water, a rousing exfoliation, then layer up on that ultra-hydrating winter skincare routine (I can’t live without a good face oil, especially in the winter!) before moving onto makeup and your finishing glowy touches.

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Bronzer vs. Blush

If you’ve always figured that you had to wear blush OR bronzer, I’m here to tell you you don’t have to choose! It’s the perfect balance to warm up your skin with some bronzer before applying a swirl of blush to the apples of your cheeks. Bronzer is all about warming, while blush is all about making the face as a whole brighter and fresher.

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Application Tips

When it comes to bronzer people tend to go a bit overboard. Try to stay away from the center of your face to avoid making your complexion look muddy. Keep the “3-shape” rule in mind: sweep your bronzer around the perimeter of your face across your forehead, under your cheekbones and then under your jawline on each side of your face. If that feels confusing, picture where the sun naturally hits your face or where you want to define and add a touch there. Blush should be placed where you would naturally flush on the apples of the cheeks and blended slightly back. The easiest way to apply it is to lightly swirl it from the apples of your cheeks towards your temples using a soft fluffy brush. A little goes a long ways!

PRO TIP: After applying it to your cheeks, tap a bit of blush across your lips and on your eyelids to tie the whole flushed look together.

image by claire huntsberger

Tips for Applying Cream Products

Cream products are amazing at getting you that dewy flush you crave, but they can also be intimidating. The key to applying cream brush is to start with using your fingers! The warmth from your hands gently melts the product causing it to apply more smoothly. Tap blush first onto the apples of your cheeks, then continue to tap and blend with your fingers or use a small fluffy brush to blend. If you prefer a more matte look, feel free to sweep a bit of powder over after to set.

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How to Pick the Right Shade For Your Skin Tone

General rules: When it comes to bronzer, super orange shades are tough to pull off on most people so steer clear of the majority of orange palettes. Try to stick to a bronzer that’s not more than five shades darker than your natural skin tone to keep you from looking tooo bronze in the dead of winter. If you do grab a darker bronzer, just use a light hand when applying! For the most subtle look with blush, look for shades that mimic your natural flush. Think of the color that comes to your cheeks after a run in the cold. Another trick is to look at the color just inside your lower lip and match to that.

If you’re having trouble finding a color that works for you, I’ve laid out a few general rules for color matching below. But at the end of the day, it’s makeup people! So play around with whatever tones feel fun to you!

Light skin:
Look for a bronzer on the cooler side, preferably with a slight ash tone. Bronzers that are too warm can look orangey and unnatural on pale skin. When it comes to blush, steer clear of super pink colors if you want to avoid looking too ruddy, and instead look for cool mauves or gentle peach shades.

Medium skin tones:
You’re in luck – your skin tone is super versatile and most colors look amazing on you! Choose bronzers with warm and golden (not red) undertones and look for blushes that have rosey pink undertones or are in the universally flattering pink-peach range.

Darker skin tones:
Avoid super shimmery blush and bronzer products as they can create an unnatural sheen on the skin. Look for a blush in the terracotta and brick family or a vivid red to add warmth and freshness. Anything too light can look ashy or too plum colored and dark can look bruise-like.

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