As temperatures drop and a wash of cool falls upon our cheeks, we often find ourselves chasing that ephemeral summer incandescence. After all, in a world where social currency is inextricably linked with the illusion of a life on perpetual holiday, a sun-warmed complexion reads as a wearable souvenir. The best bronzers also accomplish as much, extending vacation mode into the everyday.
A relative newcomer to the makeup slate, bronzer rose to cultural prominence in the 1980s by way of Guerlain, whose industry innovation promised to give an “all-year-round sunny complexion.” Since then, bronzer has endured waves of popularity, holding its own as the contouring craze swept social media and caveats about sun exposure sent people seeking a simulated flush. Lately, a movement toward makeup that mimics skin’s natural luminosity has brought a new age of bronzer upon us—though, as ever, technique is king and undertone is of utter importance. Rokael Lizama, the makeup artist behind Beyoncé’s nearly metallic glow in the Renaissance visuals, avoids anything too red or orange. It’s all about “blurring and defining with a natural, second-skin finish,” says Lizama, describing how he sweeps the pigment precisely into the high points of the face. What results is a “beautiful warming effect on the skin,” along with a subtle sense of facial dimension.
While bronzer has never abandoned its promise of a luster unencumbered by seasonal shifts, these real-world recommendations reveal a host of additional benefits, from mattifying effects to skin-nourishing ingredients. Nevertheless, a seamless glow is always the goal. “It doesn’t look like powder, there’s no texture left on the skin—yet you have this perfect color of a sun-kissed complexion,” says the makeup artist Violette, who founded her own brand of Parisian beauty staples in 2021 and later signed on as Guerlain’s creative director of makeup. With this lineup–including Violette’s classic Terracotta, new brands rooted in inclusivity, and some seriously chic packaging—there’s no shortage of radiance.
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