When it comes to the art of no-makeup makeup, mastering a subtle golden glow in the winter months can be a lesson in restraint: A hint of tawny powder adds radiance to an otherwise spectral complexion—but too much and you’re suddenly outed as a pale person wearing bronzer. In the colder months, “Your application should be very gentle,” says the London-based makeup artist Mary Greenwell(who, as the woman responsible for Cate Blanchett’s supernaturally luminous skin, is a confirmed authority on the subject). Creating that softly diffused bit of warmth comes down to choosing the right formula and applying it with a light hand.
The no-fail rule for winter: Go just one notch darker than your current complexion. Rather than shimmery liquids, a modern matte powder blends into the skin seamlessly, and also lends definition to the face, says Greenwell, who is partial to the classic Guerlain Terracotta 4 Seasons bronzer for lighter skin tones, or Tom Ford’s formula in Terra for darker complexions. British makeup artistLisa Houghton recommends Estée Lauder’s Bronze Goddess, noting that it has the “right balance of pigments and never looks orange-y,” while Los Angeles makeup pro Angela Levin prefers Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Colour SPF 15. To cut the intensity of anything you swirl on: “Apply a bit of translucent powder first—your bronzer will go on much smoother,” says Levin.
Placement is also key: Winter options should be used sparingly—and most definitely not all over the face (“It’s not setting powder,” Greenwell emphasizes). Instead, dust under and over the cheekbones, around the sides of the face, into the hairline and under the chin for a nuanced, healthy flush. For an overall skin-brightening effect, Greenwell finishes by using NARS highlighting powder in Albatross on top of the cheekbones and brow bones, and Houghton even likes to dot luminizing cream in the inner corners of the eyes for a little understated “glamour.”
For an even fainter glow, says Greenwell, skip the bronzer entirely and just dab on cream blush instead. In this case, the ideal color is “neither too pink or apricot-y but more like a dirty rose,” says the makeup artist, who is fond of Chanel blush in Cheeky as “a nice winter-y shade” that she rubs under the cheekbones. Either way, the perfect complement to a barely there hint of warmth on the face: a gold eye shadow on the lid and berry stain on the lip, which add the right lustrous impact. As Greenwell puts it, “It’s just the kind of look I want to see peeking out from a fur hood.”