Glow Away: How to Wear Bronzer in the Dead of Wretched Winter

by Janine on 19 February 2013 · 11 comments

Scott Barnes_Janine Falcon_BeautygeeksThis past Monday was “Family Day,” a four-year-old provincial holiday in Ontario. As far as I’m concerned, “Family Day” is just the PR-friendly name — it’s really more of a “Don’t-Lose-Your-Mind-Because-It’s-Still-Effing-Winter Day.” Clearly the season’s been getting on my last nerve. I yearn for warm breezes and high-contrast shade on a briney, sandy beach. And although I do not tan, ever, I feel dull and pasty, like a light has burned out. Time for bronzer. But not in sun-soaked summer-day way, which would look out of place. There’s a better way to wear bronzer in winter. And celebrity makeup artist Scott Barnes, who made his name giving Jlo her glow tells us how.

bronzer in winter = warm glow not glamazon

Julianne Moore_makeup by Scott BarnesHave you noticed that the amazon-bronze that looks so sexy in summer can look overdone in sunlight-deficient winter? A more restrained warm luminosity can enliven the complexion without looking like we’re using bronzer to compensate for being stuck in a deep freeze.  And these next tips on bronzer in winter are especially good for anyone still nervous about bronzer and worried about looking too oompa-loompa.

“I like the skin to look like it’s glowing, like it’s lit from within,” says Scott, who has worked with A-listers such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Julianne Moore. He’s best known for creating The JLo Glow back when Jennifer Lopez’s celebrity star hit big. He’s also the man behind Body Bling, a favourite with fans of wash-off body-bronzing makeup, and two well-received beauty books, About Face (2010) and Face to Face (2012).

“It’s not about going dark, because then you wind up with mud,” he says about bronzer. “People always think ‘brown,’ but it’s not about that. It’s about the warmth, the subtlety.”

Jennifer Lopez_JLo_makeup by Scott Barnes_Golden Globes 2009Although this is about how to wear bronzer in winter, this tip works in warmer weather too, especially if you prefer subtle makeup. For your best, lit-from-within glow, Scott recommends a powder just half a shade, or almost a shade deeper than your skin.”

Will that even show up? you wonder? Yes, when you offset the warmth with a touch of luminizer to accentuate the planes of your face. “It’s not about re-inventing your whole skintone, it’s about complementing and highlighting it,” says Scott.

how to wear bronzer in winter (or anytime)

MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural_Benefit Cosmetics Watt's Up Luminizer

1) With a powder brush and a pressed powder a half-shade darker than your skintone, use the 3-shape bronzer application demonstrated by yours truly in this video. Start at the temples, sweep your makeup brush around along the hairline to under the cheekbones, sweep back out to your hairline then curve down around your jawline. Try MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural, $35 at

2) Lightly blend luminizer — pale champagne for fair skin, more golden or copper for darker — on brow bones, along the tops of your cheekbones, down the centre of your nose from just above the bridge, and just below your lower lip. Try Benefit Cosmetics Watt’s Up! Luminizer, $34 at Or make your own, as per this Beauty MacGyver highlighter story beautygeek Liza (LEEZA) wrote.

Finish by blending a soft pink cream or stick blush on the outer edges of the apples of your cheeks.

And there, you glow.

Do you wear bronzer in winter? Do you have a go-to powder you use as bronzer or to contour? And a favourite highlighter?

Celebrity images via

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

YouLookHotToday 20 February 2013 at 7:48 am

I think what happens a lot of the time is people take the same bronzer they wear in summer and slap it on in winter. Then they get the Oompa-Loompa and wonder where they went wrong and then they become afraid of bronzer. Okay, maybe that’s conjecture but it’s definitely something that I do. I don’t have a bronzer for winter. I just have the one and I wear it through all the seasons. I probably shouldn’t do that on account of the paleness I get in winter. I probably should go out and get a second, shade-lighter bronzer, huh?

What’s a shade lighter than Deep Dark?


Janine 20 February 2013 at 3:35 pm

Hi You — you’ve hit the bronzer-nail on the head. With so much less incidental sun exposure, and more sombre wardrobe palettes, we do tend to be paler in the winter months, too pale for the bronze that looks so great with our summer brights and warm-weather skin. Re: a shade lighter than Deep Dark, it’s… Dark. *grin*

(Seriously, isn’t Mineralize SkinFinish Natural just the best??)


YouLookHotToday 20 February 2013 at 5:56 pm

Yes, Mineralize SkinFinish Natural IS the best. I have tried several different bronzers – many very high end, many lower end, and lots of them in between. The M.A.C. really is the best. Right now I have a M.A.C product, a Guerlain product, , and an Essence product (I run the gamut, huh?). I absolutely don’t know why I have the last two when all I ever use is the M.A.C.

p.s. I use it with a Quo brush – a big fat Quo Bronzing Powder Brush. It’s my favourite bronzing brush ever.


Christina 20 February 2013 at 7:54 am

Julianne Moore is so gorgeous. JLo scares me. Her bronzer is subtle but maybe her lips are too baby pink? Maybe a warmer shade would be better. Janine?


Janine 20 February 2013 at 3:36 pm

JLo does seem to favour those nude and pale-pink lip shades, huh? I’m with you on the shade she’s wearing in the above shot — I’d like to see a lip with a little more life, too.


Lisa F. 20 February 2013 at 12:25 pm

Hey Janine, luv the bronzer brush also…what brand? Thanx ;-)


Janine 20 February 2013 at 3:51 pm

Hi Lisa,

On the subject of bronzer brushes, I prefer a fluffier blush brush instead. A fluffy brush delivers a softer, more natural-looking finish. A smaller brush with dense bristles deposits a more concentrated amount of pigment, which could lead to too much colour. (That said, if you follow Scott Barnes’ recommendation on going just a half-shade or so deeper than your skintone, you’re less likely to get an overdone look even if you use a more compact kabuki brush.)

MAC, Bobbi Brown, Lancôme and Smashbox brushes are great. I’m also a fan of very reasonably-priced Quo and super-affordable EcoTools brushes. Sephora’s selection is excellent too.


Lindsay 20 February 2013 at 3:25 pm

I’m seriously considering buying one of those SAD lamps (there is one shaped like a pyramid available on and just sitting in front of it and eating cupcakes until spring. And maybe some kale so I don’t get scurvy.


Janine 20 February 2013 at 3:53 pm

I hear SAD lamps can really make a happy difference, so if you get one, you may not have to eat that many cupcakes. But if you can figure out a recipe for tasty kale cupcakes, go to town, SAD lamp or not!


Lisa F. 22 February 2013 at 10:05 am

Hi Janine, thanks for the brush recs! I think that’s an EcoTools you’re using in the video ;-)
I also love MAC Cream Colour Base in either PEARL or HUSH as a highlighter.


Janine 22 February 2013 at 11:10 am

Ahh — the brush in the video! Actually, that’s a Bobbi Brown brush, a powder brush, I think.

Thanks for the highlighter recommendations, too! Was hoping for some suggestions!


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