The Glow Up: Everything You Need To Shimmer Under The Summer Sun 

Justin Coit

Give sun-kissed skin a new meaning with these illuminators that will help you shine from head to toe. 

Andrea Jordan May, 17, 2017

This feature originally appeared in the June 2017 Issue of ESSENCE Magazine.

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Whether you’re using a highlighter for luminosity or a bronzer for warmth, there’s something sexy about layering shimmery hues atop brown skin. And let’s be honest: Summer is a great time to experiment with iridescent colors. “For deep skin tones, opt for golds, rose gold and coppers,” says L’Oréal Paris celebrity makeup artist Sir John.


“If you’re not sure if the color is a fit, look for metallics that are warm.” Once you’ve locked down your lustrous shade, choose either a cream or powder formula. Cream highlighters are the easiest to blend. And if you pick a powder, remember a little goes a long way—a dab will do the trick. A common mistake when using highlighter is applying too much and in the wrong places.


Sir John recommends lightly tapping your brow points and cheekbones with your ring finger. Feeling adventurous? Pat it onto your Cupid’s bow, collarbones or shoulders. For a minimalist approach, an illuminating moisturizer will give you a dewy, barely-there glow. And try pumping up any do with a glitter-infused spray.

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You don’t need a tropical vacation to get a bronze complexion. A variety of products from self-tanners to temporary body tints  can give you a sunny glow in minutes—and without subjecting yourself to UV damage. “If you’re new to self-tanning, start with one that says ‘gradual’ or ‘building,’ so you can slowly and steadily deepen the tone over a series of days,” suggests dermatologist Whitney Bowe, who is known for leaving her patients sporting the “Bowe Glow.”


For a quick fix that easily washes off, flesh-tone body enhancers are a great option. Try a gloss that gives your limbs a sheen or a sparkling body spray that reflects light for a summer gleam. Bowe says that for brown women, “it’s all about even tone and texture.” Sun protection along with products containing antioxidants and brightening -ingredients like retinol, licorice and kojic acid are simple ways to achieve luminous skin.

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Before you apply makeup, tanners or skin tints, it’s important to ready your skin for seamless application. A smooth base is essential to even, natural-looking coverage, and it starts with good grooming and skin care. “Exfoliate the night before and avoid formulas with seeds or shells.


These can be harsh and leave mini abrasions, so the tanner won’t go on flawlessly,” says Sir John. To prevent splotches and streaks, remove all unwanted body hair before putting on any tanning product. If you want a long-lasting glow, focus on your skin-care regimen. Look for items with ingredients like oxygen, hyaluronic acid and retinol to plump skin and help increase cell turnover, which promotes radiant skin.

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