The most frustrating thing about summer beauty is not that you have to contend with makeup meltdown, greasy sunscreens, salt and pool water, heat rash, sunburn, sweat and its resulting acne, or mosquito bites. Instead, the thing that seems to compound the futility of trying to look good in the sweltering months is that you have to make it look easy. The ubiquitousness of bronzer and “dewy skin” in the summer requires a mastery of makeup akin to Tiger Wood’s inimitable golf swing. Or so it would seem. Lucky for you, it is, actually, pretty easy to learn. After the jump, I’ll show you how!

1. To prep the skin for this look, wash your face just prior to applying makeup. Pat dry. If your skin is super-dry, or peeling due to a sunburn, apply a light moisturizer, if not, skip that step and continue on to the makeup.

2. You’ll want to conceal your blemishes and discoloration first, because you’ll find that once the gnarly bits are covered up, you actually need less foundation than you’d think you would to make your skin look flawless. I like to start with the eyes and work my way out. For the undereye area, I recommend Clinique All About Eyes concealer ($18, at Sephora). This wonder product gives serious coverage, but the texture is so like that of the skin of the eye (with that silkiness and slight sheen), that it seriously looks like you don’t have anything on. Use a small amount, and pat in with (recently washed) fingertips. For blemishes and discoloration on the rest of the face, use your regular concealer or the above product. Apply using a small concealer or lip brush by dotting a small amount of concealer on the very center of the zit (or what have you) and blending out in short, feathering strokes.

3. If you’re going to use a cheek stain for blush, apply it now. Applying cheek stain underneath your foundation gives it a more natural look, as if the color were coming from within. Benefit has just released a new lighter cheek stain in a natural, soft pink. It’s called PosieTint ($18 at Sephora) and I can’t wait to try it out. Product review to come! Anyway, let your stain dry before applying foundation.

4. Apply a tinted moisturizer. Once all your problem areas like undereye, blemishes, and the typical redness around the nostrils are covered, you shouldn’t need more than a tint. There are plenty of great tinted moisturizers out there. I like ones by Stila, Laura Mercier, and NV Perricone is nice too. Shop around to find one that’s right for you. If you haven’t any, but want to try the look anyway, mix a light, fluid foundation with a little bit of your regular moisturizer. However, this does not work with cream or cream-to-powder foundations. Try to apply the foundation within 3 minutes of washing your face, as it will absorb better into the skin making it look as though you don’t have any makeup on. If you want a more dewy look, apply your tinted moisturizer with either a dampened foundation brush, or a dampened makeup sponge, avoiding oil-prone areas like the T-zone of the face. If you go too dewy there, you’ll just look sweaty. For those areas, or if you’d like a more matte appearance, apply using a dry makeup sponge.

5. After your foundation is dry, apply bronzer to frame & contour the face, while giving you a summery glow. Swirl a powder brush in the (powder) bronzer (I like Clinique’s True Bronze, but shop around), tap off the excess, and sweep it along your hairline, browbone above the eyebrows, and below your cheekbones. I also sweep the bridge of my nose, for that playful, sun-kissed, freckle-y, Sienna Miller look (even though she’s a homewrecking hosebeast, I still like her makeup).

6. On to the blush- Using a real powder/blush brush (ie- not the little crappy thing they give you in the blush package), swirl and tap off the excess. Sweep the blush onto the apples of your cheeks in a circular motion. I don’t recommend sweeping the blush up and back across the cheekbones, as you already have bronzer there, and the mixing of the two could make you look overdone. Also, blush applied along the cheekbones tends to make them recede in space instead of come out. Basically, in pictures, it makes your cheeks look dented.

7. Another way to accentuate your cheekbones while enhancing your dewy look, is to apply a shimmery powder to the tops of the cheekbones. I use the white shimmery side of a Kanebo Kate Dual Carat shadow (1200 yen, available in Japan or wherever Japanese cosmetics are sold), but any kind of pale, shimmery shadow will do. Sweep on with a clean eyeshadow brush, and then burnish by rubbing with clean fingertips.

8. To finish the look, apply desired lip gloss (I like MAC Tendertones), and sweep on some black mascara. For this look, I avoid eyeliner, and instead apply a slate-colored sheer shadow (like the right half of this Neutrogena eye duo, $7 at drugstores) where I would normally apply liner on the top lid. Sometimes, I’ll also mix a little clear, flavorless lip gloss with some shimmery shadow (just a teeny bit of each) and apply that over my powder “liner”, for a soft, natural-looking dewy eye. I know this sounds like a lot of work, but trust me it’s not. Once you get the method down, you can do this face in less than 5 minutes. Talk pretty to me in the comments!!

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