Summer is my favorite season. In fact, that sentiment applies to both the weather, and the trends. I love a great summer dress. And summer makeup is so easy. Everything feels more stripped down and simple. Although I’m all for faking a sun kissed look, I’m a big sunscreen advocate and advise you to wear sunscreen every day. However, I’m also a big fan of the way I look with a great tan and dewy glass-like skin. So today we’re going to talk about how to get the perfect summer glow. Without the sun damage.

get the perfect summer glow

There are three important things you need to remember when it comes to getting that bronze summer sun kissed look. 1. Always wear sunscreen. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but it’s a lot easier to fake a great summer glow than it is to deal with skin cancer, sun spots, and premature aging. 2. It’s all about the skin. The more hydrated and healthy your skin is, the more your skin will glow. 3. Keep your products light. Of course this doesn’t mean don’t wear a lot of products. It takes a lot of makeup to get that no makeup makeup look! I just mean don’t use a full coverage matte foundation and expect to get the glass-skin look you’re seeing all over social media.

Overall, the key to getting that perfect summer glow is to recreate what would happen (ideally) after a day in the sun. You want a little bronze, a little flush, and a whole lotta glow.

First, let’s talk skincare. Just like anything in life, skincare isn’t one size fits all. But here are some generic thoughts, as well as what I do for my skin. Overall, the two best things you can do for your skin are wear sunscreen every day and drink TONS of water. Like I mean if you think you’re drinking enough water, add a bottle or two more to your daily count. As for sunscreen, wear at least SPF 30 every day. I prefer SPF 50. Of course Supergoop Play Everyday SPF 50 sunscreen is my favorite – I talk about it all the time! But it really does wear well under makeup and doesn’t have any flashback. Which is super important if you’re going to be taking photos.

The other products that have made the biggest impact on my skin are the Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Serum, the DE Virgin Marula Facial Oil, and the Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask. The T.L.C serum is a resurfacing serum that helps fight dullness, fine lines, and texture. Although it sounds scary to add an oil to your routine, the Marula oil helps restore a youthful glow while fighting fine lines, wrinkles, and dryness. For more budget friendly options, Bliss makes a great serum similar to the T.L.C. serum, and Good Molecules makes great facial oils. Without a doubt, the Jet Lag Mask is one of my holy grail products. It’s so hydrating, it’s practically like throwing a bottle of water at your face. Between resurfacing and smoothing your skin, and adding tons of hydration, with an added layer of sunscreen, you’re on your way to get that perfect summer glow.

Now that your skin is smooth and hydrated, let’s talk about that (fake) tan. Notably, at home tanning products have come a long way in the last decade. For the most part, you don’t have to worry about turning orange anymore. Although, you may still have to work on your technique to make sure you’re not splotchy. My all time favorite self tanner is St. Tropez Self Tan Express Bronzing Mousse. You can get the perfect summer glow in under 3 hours! Although it does still have a bit of that “fake tan smell”, it’s by far the best of any I’ve ever tried. I also like that it has a guide color so you can see if you’re missing any spots or if you want to layer up and get a bit darker.

However, if you’re worried about the guide color getting on things, there are some great clear self tan products as well. I like the St. Tropez Purity Bronzing Water Mousse, the St. Tropez Purity Bronzing Water Facial Mist, and the Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Water (I have the purple). But I hesitate to recommend anything clear to a self tan beginner. It’s SO much easier with a guide color. I end up with patchy/dark feet and hands every time I use a clear formula. Although I do love the Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Water and St. Tropez Purity Bronzing Water Facial Mist for my face. Especially since they’re so easy to reapply since the tan on your face will always fade first.

Now your skin is clear and hydrated, and you’ve got a tan. Let’s talk makeup. The key to using makeup to get the perfect summer glow is to go a little shimmery and dewy without looking like you live in a glitter factory. My recommendation is to keep the actual shimmer products to just one or two. For example, you can use a matte bronzer, matte blush, a shimmer highlight, shimmer eye shadow, and a lip gloss. Or maybe even a matte bronzer, blush, and eyeshadow, with a shimmer highlight and a shimmer gloss. Just make sure you don’t have sparkly lips, eyes, AND a full face of glitter. Overall, no matter where you add your shimmer, just make sure it’s somewhere you want to enhance. Like if you don’t want all of the focus to be on your nose, don’t highlight the tip of your nose.

tips and tricks to get the best summer glow

My favorite highlighter is the Becca highlighter in Moonstone. But Hourglass Ambient Strobe Lighting Powder in Iridescent is gorgeous. And the Milk Makeup Flex Highlighter in Lit is stunning if you want a more powerful glow. As you can tell by the three highlighters I favor, I prefer a more shimmery glowy highlight over a full on glitter or sparkle highlight. But that’s my personal preference. If you like a glitter highlight, I’ve heard great things about the Fenty Diamond Bomb. Since my skin is fair and more cool toned, I prefer more silver/champagne highlighters over gold/rose shades. But, again, that’s my personal preference of what I feel looks best on me.

Another way to get the perfect summer glow is to keep the rest of your makeup light and fresh. I’m a big fan of applying moisturizer and sunscreen, and then just adding a bit of eyeshadow, a dash of blush, a splash of highlight, a swipe of mascara, and a dab of lip gloss. It’s an easy way to get out the door quickly while enhancing your summer skin. I love the Natasha Denona Mini Nude Eyeshadow palette for traditional eyeshadow, and either the Stila Glitter and Glow liquid eyeshadows or the Tarte Chrome Paint Shadow Pot for a little extra wow factor.

the best beauty products to get the perfect summer glow

Some of my other makeup go-tos to get the perfect summer glow are the Tarte SEA Breezy Cream Bronzer and Cream Bronzer Brush (full review here), Tarte SEA Hydrocealer (full review here), and either the Pat McGrath Labs Lust Gloss in Divine Rose or Aphrodisiac (full review here) or the Anastasia Beverly Hills Spring Mini Lip Gloss Set – Bella or Peachyyy in particular (full review here). And my top picks for mascara are the Wander Beauty Unlashed Mascara (full review here) and the Ilia Beauty Mascara.

Last but not least, you can use one of my favorite easy tricks to get the perfect summer glow – the Scott Barnes finishing touch. Once you’re done with your skincare, self tan, and makeup, just spray yourself with the Neutrogena spray sunscreen. It will not only protect your skin from the sun, but gives you a nice glowy J.Lo sheen. Plus, it makes reapplying sunscreen way more fun. Especially since you’re also reapplying your glow!

how to get the perfect summer glow

Do you have any favorite tips, tricks, or products to get the perfect summer glow? Share them in the comments below!


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