I cannot deny it anymore: Winter is almost here.
While my out-walking-the-dog-for-hours tan (and freckles) clings stubbornly about my shoulders, the rest of my skin has begun the slow decline back into paleness.
Don’t get me wrong: I think my natural skin tone is fantastic, and I hope you like yours, too. But there’s regular pale and there’s winter pale--something about the wind and the cold just sucks all the life right out of your skin, especially in Winterfell I MEAN CHICAGO.
Obviously, the best way to take care of your skin in inclement weather is to wash it regularly, exfoliate gently, moisturise, use an SPF (yep, even when there’s not much sun) and eat healthily. But even when you do all that, winter dullness is a real thing. And the cure so helpfully proffered by certain Ladymags is almost always “Use bronzer!” or “Buy self-tanner!”
If you want to do those things, that is totally cool. Do you. But if you don’t want to bronze or tan yourself into oblivion, you are at a bit of a loose end. Where is the help for us? I heard a thousand voices cry out.
Here are seven awesome products to make your skin look as gorgeous and glowy as a wintery sunbeam, with nary a bronzer or fake tanner in sight.
Because these products photograph very subtly--and many ARE subtle in real life, too--unless otherwise stated, I am only wearing Smashbox BB cream and concealer on my skin in each picture. Any other shine and colour is from the product in question.
1. NARS The Multiple Stick
This is my favourite, because there is a colour for every. Single. Skin tone.
Being fair, I’m partial to Luxor (light, very faintly pink highlight) but I’m DYING to try Copacabana, which is a similar shade but with way more shimmer and sparkle.
Depending on the colour you pick, you can wear them over blush or instead of blush, not to mention on your eyelids and lips. It’s rich and blendable, and it will never make your skin feel peely or dried out, like a lot of liquid-to-powder formulas will.
2. Burt’s Bees Lip Shimmer
God, I love these. So simple, yet so effective. They aren’t trendsetters where colour is concerned, but the shades that exist are classics that look good on practically everyone.
The subtle shimmer makes them richer rather than tacky--a definite risk, especially with light colours, but one that pays off here--and they’re surprisingly well-pigmented for something marketed primarily as a lip balm.
3. NYX Born to Glow Face and Body Illuminator
I’m a big fan of NYX products in general--their lip liners are especially excellent--and this highlighter is AWESOME for the price.
It goes on as a fairly slippery liquid, but once it dries, it’s perfection. Because it’s a liquid and tends to push around the makeup that’s already on your face, my best advice for application is to mix a little bit of it into your foundation for a subtle, all over glow that doesn’t GLITTER.
The only issue? It only comes in two colours, and they might not work on every skin tone. Whamp whamp.
4. Benefit Watts Up Highlighter.
Benefit’s shimmer products are always a little hit or miss for me. Hoola is too orange for my skin tone, but Watt’s Up is a definite score.
I love the smooth look that it gives on my skin. Because it’s a champagne colour, I don’t think I’d wear this over blush because it would alter the colour--but on it’s own, it’s stellar.
Very pretty and simple. I wish it came in a range of colours. Everyone’s skin is not this light, and it’s such a great product that I want EVERYONE to be able to use and love it! On the bright side, Sephora hands out samples of these like crazy, so you can almost always test it out before you commit to spending the money on a full-sized version.
5. Make Up For Ever Star Powder
This has been one of my go-to products for nasty, grey or otherwise “blah” days since I was 19. I love how shimmery it is, how light yet beautifully pigmented the colours are, and how VERSATILE they can be.
Depending on the shade you get--I’m partial to Pink-Gold myself--you can wear them on your eyes, as highlight on your cheeks, mixed with gloss on your lips or mixed into moisturiser and worn on your body. It’s like a little bit of pure sunshine for your skin.
6. Yes To Cucumbers Natural After-Sun Serum with Shimmer
If you live in Winterfell, odds are you’re not going to be seeing the sun much for the next six months. So you’re probably looking askance at this and going “Why would I need after-sun serum?”
BECAUSE YOU WANT TO BE SHINY, DUH.
Think of this as a really lightweight but hydrating moisturiser with a shimmery bonus. I apply this on my neck and chest with low-cut dresses, and my legs on the rare times you see them in the cold. It really makes your skin look healthy and sparkly without entering into discoball territory, plus it feels wonderful.
After I shot these photos, of course I realised that mica--aka, the stuff that gives this product its shimmer--doesn’t show up very well in bright lighting. So here is a non-cleavage photo of my arm (taken in my bedroom under a non-photography light), so that you can see the amount of glimmer in this product:
7. MAC Mineralize Blush
You know I’d never forget about you, fellow blush junkies. I really like MAC’s Mineralize line--they make a bronzer that gives me some summertime colour without leaving me bright orange--and these blushes are PERFECT for giving cheeks a touch of shimmery colour and wintertime glow, all in one.
I like these a lot because they’re buildable and endlessly customisable. I use mine on my cheeks and even on my eyelids sometimes.
Gentle is my colour of choice, because you know how I love rosy cheeks, but I’ve been trying to get brave enough to try Simmer, a warm pink with orange in it.
Here is a giant swatch for you guys, showing how all these product look in natural light on my slowly-getting-paler skin.
And now I turn the floor over to you, my darlings: What are your go-to winter dullness cures? Are you a fan of cold-weather bronzer and fake tan? Should I make more Game of Thrones jokes in future articles? I feel like there are still too many people who aren’t watching the show and don’t get them. I was at Ikea with a friend a couple weeks ago and made a really great “Taking the Black” joke (while swathed in a black sheepskin rug) and SHE DIDN’T GET IT.