9 Ways To Fake a Sun-Kissed Glow, According To A MUA

by Summer Arlexis

Now that temperatures have risen, it's only natural to lust after the radiating complexion that comes with soaking up sun rays. Baking in sweltering weather isn't the only method for getting your glow on, however. Indeed, there are healthier ways to fake a sun-kissed glow without ever setting foot outdoors.

"The sun is the most damaging thing to the health of our skin, Shara Strand, makeup artist at the Pierre Hotel and owner of Shara Cosmetics, tells Bustle. "It can cause so many issues like sun spots and dehydration." Fake tans aren't always any better either, sometimes drying out the skin, looking too artificial, or being cumbersome and messy in their application. If you're going to take the sunless, sans artificial tanner route to boosting your complexion, enhancing your natural glow comes down to properly caring for your skin and strategic makeup application. You may have to channel your inner makeup artist, but achieving subtle luminosity can be done.

Offering tips for getting the process down pat, Strand shares her beauty expertise on everything from prepping your body to choosing the best makeup products for bronzed skin. Read on to unlock the best fake bake you've ever experienced.


Be Sure To Exfoliate

It's time to take an "out with the old, and in with the new" approach to skincare. Buffing away dry, dead layers of skin will uncover your brighter, youthful complexion just waiting to see the light of day. Regularly exfoliating with a mitt or gentle scrub even improves the way self-tanners adhere to the skin, if you were to use bronzing sprays, lotions, or mousses.

"If your skin is exfoliated and you get real sun, your skin looks more hydrated," says Strand. "Exfoliating makes a big difference because all of the dead skin will be removed, so the application of any self tanning product would be a lot more even, too."


Go For Lightweight Foundations

Trade the real deal, heavy stuff in for tinted moisturizers, BB creams, and foundations with sheer to medium coverage. Going lighter with your base will make for more dewy, natural looks, perfect for achieving a subtle summer glow. Besides, heavy foundations can often feel too cakey or a moment away from melting off during humid weather.

When it comes to applying liquid formulas, Strand suggests building coverage slowly. "Use a little at a time," she says. "Think light, loose, and wispy with your strokes."


Use The Right Bronzer

Not all bronzers are created equal. You may be tempted to reach for a shimmery shade, believing it's the obvious choice for adding luminosity to your facade, but matte is actually the way to go for a fake bake.

"Bronzer is meant to imitate the sun," Strand explains. "It gives definition and dimension to your face. With any sort of shimmer or sparkle bronzer, you cannot build definition."

You definitely don't want to go overboard and end up looking like a shiny trophy, so heed Strand's orders by steering clear of metallic shades. Also, be sure not to choose a hue that's far too deep for your complexion. Strand recommends going only two or three shades darker than your tone.


Stick To Warm Color Families

Vacay season is all about warmth, so keep rich earth tones in mind when it comes to the rest of your makeup. "Try looking for more neutral tones, like bronzes and peaches rather than roses and pinks," Strand adds.

Think gold, burnt orange, and terracotta nudes on every inch of your facade. Keeping your lids, cheeks, and pout full of warmth will only enhance a smoldering, bronzed look.


Highlight Strategically

Product placement is key! You want to apply highlighters and other illuminators where the sun naturally hits your features for next-level radiance the elements couldn't even bring you.

"We like highlighter to go down the center of the nose, above the brow, and at the highest point of the cheek, right underneath the concealer. It's meant to give light to the face," Strand tells.

Dusting shimmer on your cupid's bow and the inner corners of your eyes can brighten your look, too.


Opt For Gradual Tanners

Get a little too heavy handed with self-tanner and things can go from bronzed goddess to oompa loopa real quick. But using a gradual, sunless tanning product keeps things from going too far. High-end formulas can even be used as daily moisturizers.

"A gradual tanning lotion will give a more natural look if used regularly, and if you do get real sun, the mix is quite natural," Strand mentions. The results may be a little less noticeable than with other instant-color tanners, but you'll have better control over the shade you desire.


Use A Facial Mist

"Facial mists are great for creating a glow. Use it after you finish your base makeup," Strand says.

A good mist can control inevitable shine, while enhancing bronzey shadows and shimmery highlighters. Some sprays on the market even include hydrating ingredients than can restore moisture to drying skin. A few spritzes throughout the day ensures you'll maintain that subtle sheen you worked so hard to create.


Experiment With Loose Pigments

Loose shimmers, glitters, and pigments can also up the ante on your glow. Mixed into foundations, lotions, or facial sprays, they can add luminosity to any sheen-less formula. But you don't want to use shimmering pigments too liberally or you'll run the risk of looking like a disco ball.

"If mixing a loose pigment into your hydrating lotion, a little goes a very long way," Strand confirms. "Only use them on areas of the face that you would highlight."


Stay Hydrated

It's so obvious, it's often overlooked, but keeping your skin hydrated is perhaps the most important step to getting a sun-kissed complexion. "Moisturize right after you get out of the shower, even when your skin is a little damp," Strand encourages. "And as always, drink six to eight glasses of water a day."

Whether you use a store-bought lotion or an at-home blend of hydrating butters and oils, your skin needs moisture restored daily. Done routinely alongside getting your hefty dose of H2O, there's no way your skin won't beam from head to toe.


Who needs tanning beds and hours of sun exposure, anyways? As easy as it is to regularly moisturize, exfoliate, and incorporate warm-toned makeup strategically, you can keep your glow game strong all year.