Forget Self-Tanner: Meet High-Tech Body Makeup

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High-tech body makeup is stealing the limelight from self-tanner this summer. See, a fake tan is a little like a relationship—it starts out full of promise, but if you rush things and don’t lay down the necessary groundwork, it will could end in disaster. In this case, the preparation for a spray tan (or at-home self-tanner) is paramount: exfoliating, moisturizing, and the like. Without it, your tan will be a streaky, patchy mess that doesn’t last. Now, that’s not to say all fake tans are disasters some are incredible, reliable, and leave you looking glowing. But what if you want a fling? Something totally non-committal? That’s where high-tech body makeup comes in (or dating apps, but enough with the dating metaphors).

For years, makeup artists and celebrities have been making their own concoctions to even the skin on the body and impart glow. Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty Body Lava was inspired by her own cocktail of oil and crushed eye pigments. Celebrity makeup artist Sir John reveals, "In the past when I’ve applied body makeup, it’s always been a DIY body illuminator—something that I create out of pure necessity on set or in the studio." But right now there are tons of body makeup products on the market (so you don't have to be crafty enough to make it on your own). Seemingly, the movement was kickstarted by Beyoncé when she used Alleven London Colour Shield 30-minutes before her epic 2018 Coachella performance. And well, since then, body makeup has piqued our interest. Alleven is expanding its range and Huda Beauty’s N.Y.M.P.H. (an acronym for "not your mama's panty hose"), has just launched, helping to cement the newfound popularity of this previously overlooked makeup category.

Of course, you should feel comfortable celebrating, or at the very least not feeling obligated to cover, the marks and various textures on your skin: cellulite, birthmarks, varicose veins, etc. You don’t have to conceal anything. That said, if you want to, body makeup is an easy way to do it. All makeup is a choice, you know? It should be fun and make us feel good. If you want to give body makeup a try, then keep scrolling for the seven best body makeup products including concealers, foundations and highlighters, some new and some older gems.

Alleven Colour Shield
Alleven Colour Shield $80

This mist gives skin an airbrush quality, according to Sir John. "Bend your elbow slightly at a 45-degree angle and then start to give yourself very long airbrush mists. You’re creating a veil of complexion—that’s the goal—and then just let it dry." Build the color up gradually in light layers. It’s totally waterproof, you'll need soap to remove it, which means it won’t stain your clothes or bedsheets. "You could literally swim in the sea and it wouldn’t come off," notes Sir John. "Fake tan will give you color, but it doesn't perfect the skin, it doesn’t cover bruises, veins, or blemishes, but this does," Sir John tells us. "I particularly love Alleven's Instant Perfector Pen, ($78), for targeting stubborn bruises and marks on the skin."

Huda Beauty N.Y.M.P.H.
Huda Beauty N.Y.M.P.H. $49

Designed to perfect the body in the same way nude tights do, this sheeny water-based face and body highlighter blurs the skin and imparts a radiant glow and sun-kissed tint. A multi-tasker, Huda writes on her website, "Mix with your favorite foundation or moisturizer for added glow—I love to use it as a primer before foundation for the most insanely gorgeous, goddess-like skin." It comes in three shades: Luna (a soft white gold with pearl shimmers for fair skin tones), Aphrodite (a bronze tone with gold flecks for medium skin tones), and Aurora (a rich copper shade with warm gold highlights for darker skin tones).

Fenty Beauty Body Lava $59

Rihanna's Body Lava, a gel-based luminizer, has just one shade left in stock—Trophy Wife. This hyper-metallic highlighter gives an impressive golden luster to all skin tones. Apply it with the Kabuki Brush ($34) to legs, arms, collarbones, and of course your shoulders.

Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs
Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs $12

Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs has been around for over 15 years, but the current formula was created in 2014. It comes in six shades and is water- and transfer-resistant, plus it's an affordable way to give body makeup a try. Khloe Kardashian is a fan, saying, "My glam squad uses it whenever I’m shooting to give my legs an even, glowy effect. It totally blurs out any little veins or freckles, and gives my tan a boost."

MAC Face and Body
MAC Face and Body Foundation $30

MAC's iconic Face and Body Foundation is a lightweight, buildable, emollient-rich foundation (which means it won't dry out the skin and will glide on with ease). It dries down to a luminous, long-lasting finish on the skin. The 50ml bottle offers great bang for your buck and a little goes a long way. Plus, you really can use it on your face and body—so it's one product that does everything.

Vita Liberata Body Blur
Vita Liberata Body Blur $45

Lea Michele wore Vita Liberata's Body Blur on the Golden Globes red carpet in 2018. Makeup artist Michael Ashton, who tanned Michele for the event, said it gives a "red-carpet-ready glow and flawless expensive-looking finish to the body." He layered Body Blur over the brand's pHenomenal 2-3 Week Tan Mousse ($54), which shows you can still use body makeup, even if you're a die-hard fake tan fan.

Dermablend Leg and Body Makeup
Dermablend Leg and Body Makeup $34

Dermablend is the brand for you if you're looking to conceal. From scarring to tattoos, this product can cover just about everything. Want proof? Click here. It comes in 12 shades, is buildable and has SPF 25. Once applied, it's transfer-resistant and smudge-proof.

Next up, check out our edit of the best body washes.

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