Skip to main content

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

No-fear bronzer tips from the original glow-master, celebrity makeup artist Scott Barnes, for that keep-em-guessing radiant complexion that looks like YOU, not makeup.
  • Author:
  • Updated:
how to wear bronzer in winter_Scott Barnes_Janine Falcon_Beautygeeks

This 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

how to wear bronzer in winter_Julianne Moore_makeup by Scott Barnes

Have 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."

how to wear bronzer in winter_Jennifer Lopez_JLo_makeup by Scott Barnes_Golden Globes 2009

Although 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)

how to wear bronzer in winter_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