How I Get Sunkissed (Without the Sun)


Raise your hand if you have a way better self-image in the summer than the winter!!! I know I do. I feel like everything looks better with a tan (my outfits, my hair, my makeup, etc.). As I’m sure most of you can relate, in high school and early college I would I grease myself up like a chicken during the summer and utilize the tanning bed during the winter to keep my color year-round. BUT HOLY COW I was so ignorant to how damaging it was to my skin. I’ve spent the past 5+ years (and LOTS of money on skincare) trying to reverse the effects of the sun and tanning beds. When I stopped tanning I knew I wanted to find a way to achieve the same sunkissed look without the damage, and because of that I’ve tried SO many bronzers and tanners over the years. So today I want to share with you all my TOP holy grail products that I use and love to keep my color year-round. From face powders and creams to self-tanners and body bronzers – it’s all here! If you’re interested in knowing what shades I use, all the shade names are listed below each item – so let’s get into it!

Powder Bronzers

#1 – Hourglass Ambient Lighting Bronzer

As mentioned in my Everyday Makeup Routine post, this has been my #1 favorite powder bronzer for years now! The color is warm without being orange and it gives you the PERFECT sunkissed, glowy look for these dry winter months. It’s a bit of a splurge, but the formula is extremely finely milled so it’ll last you a lifetime! I love this stuff and HIGHLY recommend it!

Shade: Luminous Bronze Light

#2 – Milani Baked Bronzer

Alright y’all – in my opinion this might be a close dupe for the Hourglass bronzer! I wouldn’t say it’s identical – you’ll definitely get a better pigment payoff with the Hourglass option… but it’s a close comparison! They have the same warm tone and they both have a light sheen/luminous finish. The Milani option is beautiful, you just need the right brush in order to pick up the proper amount of pigment (I love THIS ONE). But the price difference may be worth the try since it’s only $8.99!

Shade: Dolce

#3 – Fenty Beauty Sun Stalk’R Bronzer

I bought this bronzer last year after hearing so many positive reviews, and I’ve been loving it ever since! Rihanna’s brand is incredibly inclusive, so thankfully there are a lot of shades and undertones to choose from! The formula of this bronzer makes it so easy to blend and it lasts all day long! Since it’s a matte finish, I can also apply this to my crease for an effortless eye look. I love a good versatile product!

Shade: I$land Ting

#4 – Benefit Hoola

Out of my 4 powder recommendations, this is the only contour shade I’m mentioning. I love adding warmth into my skin with bronzers, but I also like to contour my cheekbones, nose, and forehead for a more chiseled appearance. I’ve tried SO MANY contour powders, and this is the only one that never fails me! If a contour shade is too cool-toned, it can easily make your cheeks look bruised (not a good look). But this has just the right amount of warmth to give you that sculpted structure!

Shade: Original (Medium)


Cream Bronzers

#5 – ColourPop No Filter Concealer

As I’ve mentioned before, my skin is severely dry. If I pile on too many powders, it’s bound to just crust off by the end of the day (cute, I know!). Because of that, I use a cream bronzer on top of my foundation to bring warmth and a little bit of dew back into my skin. I love the technique of using a deeper concealer shade to bronze/contour with, and this one is only SEVEN DOLLARS, y’all! I apply it to my temples/cheekbones and then blend it out with a brush or sponge. Unfortunately I can only find this on Colourpop’s website, but I promise the wait is worth it!

Shade: Dark 46 (previously known as Deep Golden 60)

#6 – NudeStix Nudies All Over Face Color

This is a recent find, but HOLY COW you guys it’s good. It’s a cream texture with a warm matte finish, and it has the perfect amount of hydration without adding shine to the skin. The packaging is double-ended, so it comes with an application brush – BUT I much prefer to either draw it directly on my skin and buff it out with a brush, OR pick it up from the tube with a brush (I love THIS ONE) and then apply it to my skin.

Shade: Bondi Bae


Face & Body Tanners

#7 – Drunk Elephant D-Bronzi Sunshine Serum

This is another cult favorite product (but for good reason). I truly don’t have any other products like this! It’s considered a bronzing serum because it claims to be packed with vitamins and antioxidants (love that!). My favorite way to use it is to mix it in with my moisturizer before applying foundation. The coverage is pretty sheer, so it just gives my skin a protective base while also adding a golden, bronzey glow! Note: This washes off at night – so it’s not considered a self-tanner!

#8 – Vita Liberata Body Blur

This item made it on my Best of 2019 list so you already know it’s a love of mine! This also washes off with soap and water, so it’s not a self-tanner that will last for days. But the BEAUTY of it is unmatched. Use this and your arms/legs can go from drab to fab in SECONDS (sounds like an infomercial but it’s true). As mentioned in my Best of 2019 post, the consistency is thick and pigmented, so make sure you let it dry before putting on your clothes. I apply it with a tanning mitt so that I don’t have to wash my hands afterwards. It might be an intimidating product at first, but I promise you will LOVE having it on hand.

Shade: Latte

#9 – Tan Luxe “The Face” Self-Tan Drops

Alright we’ve officially made it to the self-tanning products! This is the self-tanner that I use for my face. I apply 4-5 drops before bed mixed in with my moisturizer whenever I feel like my face needs some extra color. The next morning I wake up with the most BEAUTIFUL and NATURAL bronzey glow. These last about 2-3 days before fading, so the bottle will last you for quite a while! It’s liquid gold in a bottle, and I don’t think I’ll ever go without owning it again.

Shade: Medium/Dark

#10 – Loving Tan 2 Hour Express Deluxe Bronzing Mousse

And last but definitely not least, we have my body self-tanner. I’ve gotten so many questions over the years about what I use to keep my skin tanned, and THIS IS IT FOLKS. Before finding the Tan-Luxe Face Drops, I would apply this product to my face too. It worked fine and never broke me out, but it was just the slightest bit too pigmented for my preference. So now I apply this from my neck to my toes, and I couldn’t love it more. I always apply lotion on my bonier areas first (knee caps, elbows, wrists and ankles) then I go in with a tanning mitt to apply the mousse all over my body. The longer you leave this on, the darker it will get! I’ve even left it on overnight and it still looked beautiful the next day. On me, it lasts anywhere from 4-6 days. If you’d like to see my self-tan routine, let me know in a comment and I’d be happy to show you all!

Shade: Dark


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Cheers to staying bronzed all year long without damaging our skin in the process! What are your favorite bronzing/tanning products?! Let me know what I need to try in a comment below!
xoxo, Katie

Wife. Daughter. Sister. Friend. Lover of sushi, Prosecco, and the Tennessee mountains.

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