Summer Glow

June 2, 2013
Finding the right bronzer or illuminator to achieve the perfect well-balanced summer glow can be a challenge sometimes. There are slight differences in the undertones, shimmer factor and pigment that can make some products make the skin look muddy, too shimmery or too dark. I’ve always been one to favor stronger contrasted bronzers but sometimes I want something just a bit more subtle. This season there are a number of new bronzers and illuminators that are well balanced in both color and shimmer. The result is a more naturally flattering summer glow. A few of my new favorites mixed in with some older ones in both powder bronzers and liquid highlighters.


Giorgio Armani’s Bronze Palette (previously swatched here)
gives the perfect luminous light warm bronze highlight. It’s a goof
proof naturally flattering shade that has just the right amount of
shimmer. MAC’s Pro Longwear Bronzing Powder in Nude on Board is a
finely milled darker cooler-toned bronze that makes you look naturally
tanned. I like that it has a soft sheen and that it’s more on the neutral side for bronzers. The pigment is richer than most other MAC powder bronzers but doesn’t darken on the skin. Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Radiant is a more sparkly option, it gives a warm glow (detailed review to come soon).


Above left to right: Tom Ford Fire Lust $65 at select Neiman Marcus and Saks stores // MAC Strobe Liquid in Golden Elixir $31 // Giorgio Armani Fluid Sheer No. 10 $59 // Chanel Soleil Tan de Chanel in Sunkissed $48
I usually prefer to wear illuminators over foundation and powder as a
highlight. I find most liquid highlighters either too shimmery or pale to mix in with my
foundation. The result is often a clash with my olive skin making me look like a shimmery statue. There are several peachy/bronze ones now that I find perfect
to mix in to give that all over luminous glow without looking like a
bronze statue. Chanel Soleil Tan de Chanel is a classic favorite, if you haven’t tried it yet I highly recommend it. Giorgio Armani Fluid Sheer 10 (see it swatched here) is a lovely warm golden shimmer (this one is the most fluid and sheer). MAC Strobe Liquid in Golden Elixir is a definite must-have that I’ve already backed-up. It just might be my holy grail bronze liquid highlighter. Tom Ford Fire Lust (reviewed here)
is a pretty sheer natural peachy highlighter. Due to the price I usually
don’t mix in with foundation but just use on the cheeks and temples as a
soft highlight for a luminous glow. 

If I could only pick two items this season, it would be the Giorgio Armani Summer Bronze palette and MAC Strobe Liquid in Golden Elixir. What are your favorite items you use to get that summer glow? Do you usually mix in a highlighter with foundation? Share your skintone and favorite go-to items.
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  • Adele

    I'm really pale, but all these shades are calling to me. I need to try at least one!

  • I love the format of this post! MAC Strobe cream is something I have been wanting to try for some time but since I have a Becca Skin Perfector I haven't gone out to get it. They seem pretty similar.

  • wendy

    i'm very fair skin-toned. i'm thinking peachy cheeks and peachy/corally lips with a beautiful neutral eye pallette…shimmery browns, light bronzes, and sparkling grays. i've been looking everywhere for this look!!! any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!! something tells me i'm not going to find this at 1 particular counter to save time. i'd love bronzers but bronzy cheeks with a pale neck and arms does not sit well with me as well to be careful of muddy cheeks. it will be alot about just keeping my complexion clear and blemish free this summer. i'm experimenting with paula's choice's new combination skin sunscreen and her antioxidant rich spf. xxxxxxx

    • Have you taken a look at Chanel's Mystic Eyes eyeshadow quad? It's a classic and has all the eye colors you're describing.

  • Hi Sabrina, I have the Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Topaz and I use it alone or dab a bit on cheekbones, brow bones, temples and bridge of my nose. I also sometimes mix it w/ tinted moisturizer or foundation.

  • I love Dior Aurora bronzer or Edward Bess Daydream. Then for the glow on my cheeks my go-to is either Edward Bess Afterglow or Becca Opal. If I want more a very subtle glow for my foundations I use Tom Ford Illuminating Primer. Love that stuff.

  • OMG!!! they are all so pretty. Love the shades especially the Tom Ford fire lust! I super like the shade for it will match my skin tone. Can't wait to try it out!

  • Ellen

    I have an Estee Lauder bronzer from when Tom Ford did a summer collection for them, before he had his own make up line. Its more of a taupy brown with a slight shimmer, no orange at all! I'm not sure why this type of color looks better on me, is my skintone warm or cool? I've never found a MAC foundation to match me so I still don't know!! But I do need to find a replacement for this perfect bronzer. The MAC one looks somewhat like the same family. Any suggestions?

  • What a great information and description of each single product! thanks so much, I am light to medium skin tone, do you think these colors are too light for me??

  • I have been obsessed with illuminators lately. I think it's something about summer that just makes me love that glow! That Hourglass Radiant powder is calling my name!

  • I haven't been in the mood much for bronzers this year, but I still want a bit of warmth and that delicate "sunkissed" look as the weather heats up. When I do wear bronzer, I've been using Guerlian's Terra Ora. Most of the time; however, I've been using an illuminator like Soleil Tan de Chanel or Tom Ford's Fire Lust. When I wear Fire Lust, it actually provides enough color on my fair complexion that I don't need to wear a blusher with it.

  • I'm completely drooling over this post. I have Radiant Light and love it… I've found the shimmer doesn't seem to transfer that much onto my skin. Once in bright sunlight I noticed a few shimmer particles, but usually they're not visible on me. It's surprising because it seems so shimmery in the pan.

  • Katieee

    Thanks to you and your beautiful blog and your comprehensive swatches and comparisons, I have discovered two of my HG products: Armani Fluid Sheer #5 and Hourglass Ambient Powder "Luminous light".
    I cannot put into words how AMAZING the Fluid Sheer is. I wear it as a blush, and it gives me the PERFECT peach/apricot glow (NC37-40 yellow undertone skin). I don't need any other blushes besides this. With nude lipstick I wear it more intensely, and with red lipstick I use it to give me a touch of colour. It is divine. The Hourglass powder I wear all over the face and it's simply wonderful. Keep up the good work, Sabrina!

  • absolutely love this post! I'm going crazy over highlighters I have the Soleil Tan De Chanel and did a review of it on my blog, now I keep going back and fourth with whether I should purchase Tom Ford Fire Lust.


  • Excellent coverage, Sabrina! What I wish we have more of is matte bronzer. As I get older, shimmery ones are a bit too obvious and I'm falling back more and more on my mattes. Another hard-to-find perfect bronzer: matte, cream bronzer.

  • Anonymous

    I love the layout of this post! It's beautiful. As are the swatches! I'm around a NC 30-35 with an olive undertone. I wanted MAC nude on board, but it looked like dirt on me so I chose sun dipped instead. It looks so sexy! Now I want to try out the Hourglass and the strobe light! – viri

  • Great post! Very helpful… as I seriously lack in the tanning/bronzer makeup category! Nude on Board looks great! I like!

  • orchidjadedx

    where would you wear an illuminator? same place as a highlighter? what's the difference between an illuminator and a highlighter? sorry for asking so many questions, i'm still new to make up so i'm just curious….

    • Hi – an illuminator and highlighter are basically the same, liquid shimmery sheer fluids designed to add shimmer or glow where you want.

      Illuminators tend to be sheerer and can be worn all over the face or mixed in with foundation/tinted mouisturizer to luminate the skin.

      Highlighters usually are more pigmented with more visible shimmers.

      Both can be used over cheeks, on eye lids, on brow bones – anywhere you want to add a bit of a glow. Hope this helps!

    • orchidjadedx

      thank you so much for responding…it really does help…

  • Anonymous

    Love this post Sabrina! I've never tried a liquid illuminator/highlighter but decided to sample the MAC Golden Elixir. I now own two bottles, one as a backup! Thank you for your post!

  • Hi there, I just discovered this blog and I really really like it. I have a deep skin tone (if you're going by MAC it's NW45ish) and that Golden Elixir is calling my name. It looks really gorgeous.