Mahogany has had its moment; the modern tan is far more subtle than the spray on leather handbag hues that have perniciously seeped into modern society by way of reality television. Given that ‘getting a tan’ is still the main motivation of the 20% of adults who go out in strong sun in the UK without sun protection according to a survey of 2000 people conducted by Nivea Sun, it’s about time that we got real not only about the risks of sun exposure, but also the shade that our skin looks good in. The likelihood is that the tan that looks flattering, healthy (only if it’s fake of course) and radiant is one that’s not too much of a departure from our natural skin tone, whether that be light, olive, dark or very deep (luminous bronzers look beautiful on black skin). Happily, the SS16 shows put paid to the idea of identikit, overcooked tans, waving in an inclination for all things low key, organic and most importantly, individualised. Bronzing got brainy, and here’s your tanning mood board.
The look: Attainable, and anything but generic. According to the experts at MAC, the contemporary glowing icon is a woman ‘who confidently flirts with the idea of a tan without actually looking bronzed’. If that sounds a bit wishy washy, the key is to keep colour sheer and believable, with a final goal of looking ‘sun kissed rather than suntanned’, as makeup artist Lynsey Alexander puts it.
If you’re at a loss as to your colour palette, follow Charlotte Tilbury’s advice and opt for ‘burnished, lucid golden tones that play with the light to give a dreamy, goddess-like quality to the skin.’
If all else fails, keep it real, as makeup artist Lyne Desnoyers emphasises:
“For this makeup to look modern it absolutely has to look like a second skin.”
Makeup artist Gordon Espinet seconds this:
“The simplicity and uncontrived feel is retained because the skin and the eyebrows are much more natural.”
The inspiration: Destination wise, the south of France and chi chi resorts are out. Think the wilder deserts and plains of Arizona, Brazil, Mexico and remote Pacific Islands. From makeup artist Tom Pecheux ‘artisanal and handmade’ flush at Altuzarra to Alex Box’s take on ‘Brazilian heat’ at Barbara Casasola, catwalk tans were exotic and and earthy rather than overly glossy or perfected.
There was a distinctly outdoorsy, sporty vibe going on at many a show too; Lucia Pieroni built up warmth and dewiness to create ‘sexy, surfer girls’ at DSquared2 while Lucy Burt’s ‘70s skater girl with a cool beach vibe’ at J.JS Lee rocked ‘a fresh face with an intense, passionate flush.’ Full of life, rather than opaque and uniformly sprayed on, is the way forward.
The technique: Mixing up your textures and getting your hands dirty will serve you well on your journey to the desert. Freestyling is encouraged. If you find the perfect tone of taupe lipstick to create a tawny shadow, blend it right in. Some makeup artists backstage ditched brushes altogether and worked colour into skin with the heel of their hands instead, often eschewing foundation on the cheeks to create an even more rustic glow.
Whether you choose a powder or liquid bronzer, a foundation a few shades darker than your skintone or an eyeshadow or lipstick that instantly take your complexion to warmer climes, just make sure tanned hues look raw and seamless, with skin shining through underneath. Contouring isn’t eliminated altogether, but keep it subtle and tonal rather than stark, and if applying colour with a brush, make sure it’s a good size to fit your face. Defining cheekbones with a feather duster won’t fool anyone. Be strategic, discerning and and as always, a master blender. If in doubt, blend outwards, finishing with a dab or sweep of highlighter over the high planes of the face, and if you’re really daring a smattering of freckles as executed by Gucci Westman on ‘desert girls’ at Rag & Bone.