The hustle and bustles of the holidays are over, and now it's just... winter. Cold, dark, gray winter. But just because it's the least wonderful time of the year weather-wise doesn't mean your skin has to look completely blah. Here are six products guaranteed to perk up your complexion—and perhaps your mood as well.
1. Liquid bronzer. The temptation to counteract pallid winter skin with layer upon layer of bronzer only makes sense if your name happens to be Snooki. For everyone else, the most natural-looking solution is to mix a little liquid bronzer in with your foundation or moisturizer. This adds just enough glow to look healthy—not like you dipped your face in molten copper. Pour out your normal amount of face lotion or foundation on to the back of your hand, then add one to two drops of liquid bronzer, such as Giorgio Armani Beauty Fluid Sheer. Blend together with your finger, then apply the mix to your skin.
2. Bright pink blush. Just because the color is hot doesn't mean it should be reserved for summer only. In fact, fuchsia blush looks especially flattering this time of year because it mimics the natural flush you'd get after brisk walk in the chilly air. And believe it or not, the shade works on everyone—it's how much you apply that varies based on your skin color. Pick a shimmer-free formula in a vibrant pink hue and blend it on the apples of your cheeks—the fairer your skin, the lighter hand you should use to apply it. Try Giorgio Armani Blushing Fabric in Coral.
3. Highlighter. Unless you live in the Bahamas, your skin will never look dewy in January thanks to the serious lack of moisture in the air. A good highlighter can fake that healthy sheen, but in order for it to be believable, pick a powder, cream, or liquid with a pearlescent—not overtly shimmery—texture, such as Yves Saint Laurent Touche Éclat. A champagne color looks great on fair skin; gold works best on olive skin; and a copper or deep bronze shade is ideal for dark skin. Gently pat or dust the highlighter in a C shape from your temples to the tops of your cheekbones—this is where sunlight naturally bounces off your face on those warm, beachy days. For a little extra glimmer at night, you can also dab it on your lids and in the bow of your lip, but please, don't sweep it along your brow bones. Despite what you may have heard, it's not a pretty look—trust me.
4. Gold eye shadow. I love gold shadow for two reasons: 1) It looks fantastic on all skin tones, and 2) do you really need a second reason? Worn alone, it gives the skin a warm, sun-kissed glow; blended on top of dark brown shadow, it livens up traditional smoky eyes. Cream formulas tend to fade more quickly than powders, so to help them last, layer a gold powder shadow on top of the color. If gold all over your eyes is too much for you, dab a dot of the shadow at the inner corners of your eyes or on the center of your lids just to catch the light. Try Maybelline New York Eye Studio Cream Eyeshadow in Petal to the Metal or The Body Shop Eye Shimmer in Gold (powder).
5. Orange-red lipstick. When your skin is at its palest, a deep red lipstick can wash you out. But a bright shade with a tinge of orange will have the opposite effect, bringing life to your face. Choose a satin or creamy formula (you want a little moisture on lips in the winter) and apply with a brush. For a subtler daytime look, blot most of color off your mouth with a tissue so all that's left is a soft stain. Try Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Pur Couture Lipstick in No. 13 Le Orange (shown above).
6. Candy-colored nail polish. Okay so this one won't do squat for your complexion, but who can argue the mood-lifting benefits of a manicure in a fun, punchy color? Take a break from all those dark, dramatic winter polishes and try a superbright candy color such as Essie Nail Polish in Knockout Pout. Not only does it look cheerful in the gloomy weather, but it adds a little color to your revolving wardrobe of black, gray, and more black clothing this time of year.