How Real Italian Girls Get Their Bronzy Summer Skin

Updated 04/29/19

There’s something enigmatic about Italian women and their flawlessly sun-kissed skin that we Americans just don’t naturally possess. Like the French and their effortless, envy-inducing style, Italian women share a certain je ne sais quoi (or non so che, as it were) when it comes to skincare. One look at their gorgeous, gleaming complexions and you’d swear they just stepped off the dock from a luxe vacation in Capri.

For the rest of us who aren’t as genetically gifted, this leaves us wondering what, if anything, these beautiful women do to maintain their glowing, perfectly tanned skin? There has to be a secret! After all, Sophia Loren famously used tomato purée as a DIY mask. Is this the mysterious wisdom to Italian beauty? Here we’ve rounded up the best suncare and skincare tips from real Italian women (as a bonus, none of them involve smearing tomato on your face).

Keep scrolling to find the secret to Italian women’s perfect summer skin!

They Embrace High SPFs (Especially on Their Face)

“Skin is the biggest organ of your body and should be protected like we do our lungs or heart (from possible burns, sticking to the topic at hand). … SPF 50 on the face is a must for those that don’t want to turn, over the years, into a dry apricot. You’ve been warned!” — Chiara Ferragni

Ferragni practices what she preaches by wearing a high-SPF sunscreen. Try Clinique’s Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Mineral Sunscreen Fluid for Face ($26).

They Keep Their Makeup Glow-Focused

Guerlain Météorites Baby Glow Sheer Liquid Foundation $54
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“[I use] FaceD CC Cream SPF 20, a little travel-size tube that … makes your skin glow and also protects it from the sun.” — Irene Colzi

Opting for CC cream instead of foundation, particularly one with light-reflecting ingredients, is the Italian way. Though Cozzi’s favorite pick isn’t available in the U.S., you can achieve the same effect with Guerlain’s Baby Glow, a gorgeous, lightweight liquid that blurs imperfections while leaving a natural glow.

They Strike a Balance Between Natural and Sunkissed

“I like an amber-toned effect on my skin, but I’m not really the kind of Italian girl who likes to brown in the sun all day long. I always try to maintain it as fair as possible because I just like how it looks.” — Eleonora Carisi

Oh, to be naturally sun-kissed. Carisi advocates for Maison Bio-Sun tinted sunscreen, which is unfortunately sold exclusively overseas. However, Ulta’s Bronze Glow Broad Spectrum Tinted Sunless Sunscreen Lotion ($4) is a quality drugstore dupe. It will give your body a slight tan while protecting your skin from harsh rays, a perfect two-in-one for low-maintenance beauty.

They Use Rose Water to Refresh Their Skin Throughout the Day

H. Roberts & Co. Acqua Distillata Alle Rose Water $10
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“Acqua Distillata Alle Rose by Roberts is my favorite tonic. In the summer I put it in the refrigerator and use it as a refresher for the skin. The scent of the rose is beautiful on the skin. (There is also the cream version).” — Erika Boldrin

For Italian women, maintaining a gorgeous all-day glow means refreshing the skin with classic, hydrating ingredients. This Italian-made rose water is based on a formula from 1867 and also works well as a toner. (Side note: Can you believe that packaging? So pretty.)

They Know Exfoliation Is the Secret to an Even Tan

“To prepare for sun exposure, it’s essential to exfoliate the skin to remove dead cells. To do this, the ideal product is Lepo’s Sugar Body Scrub, which is a body scrub with sugar crystals, essential oils, and fruit acids, with a double smoothing and nourishing action that promotes natural cell renewal and increases skin firmness. It makes the skin smooth, soft as silk, younger looking, smooth and bright.” — Elisa Zanetti

We know to exfoliate before applying fake tanner, but Italian women know to exfoliate before going into the actual sunlight as well. (Just make sure to evenly apply sunscreen before laying out!)

They Religiously Reapply Sunscreen

Neutrogena Wet Skin Sunblock Spray SPF 50 $12
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“During my brief immersion in the summer climate of Singapore, I discovered Biotherm’s Fluid Solaire Wet or Dry Skin. It’s a real treat for people who are a little impatient like me. It can be applied directly on wet skin, without leaving that annoying sticky feeling.” — Veronica Ferraro

Ferraro’s number one summer pick, the Biotherm Fluide Solaire, is very similar to one of our favorite drugstore SPFs, Neutrogena’s Wet Skin Sunblock ($12). Who doesn’t love a budget sunscreen?

They Use Essences to Brighten Their Skin

Kiehl's Iris Extract Activating Essence Treatment $45
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“If you feel that your skin is slightly dulled and you want to get a revitalized effect or a bright flush, use the Kiehl’s Iris essence, which is suitable for all skin types. With extract of Iris, [you] will have totally re-energized skin.” — Melissa Satta

When Satta claims that Kiehl’s Iris Extract Activating Essence Treatment ($45) is revitalizing, she’s not kidding. This essence is hydrating as well as texture-improving and works well to refresh skin after a day in the sun.

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