When someone meets me for the first time, they’re generally confused. The name Isabella Cacciatore sounds like it should belong to bronzed Italian goddess with olive skin and dark hair, but my pasty English genes are stronger, and I’m addicted to bleaching my hair, so what people picture and what stands in front of them don’t exactly match up.
While I don’t mind being on the paler side, I also wouldn’t be mad if I had the glow of a woman who summers on the Amalfi Coast. However, most bronzers I’ve tried (and I’ve tried a lot), don’t fit the bill. They’re either too orange (Snookie, though also Italian, isn’t exactly the look I’m going for), a shimmer bomb, or too muddy.
After years of trial and error, I’ve found two bronzers that deliver exactly what I want: Too Faced Chocolate Soleil Matte Bronzer and Chantecaille Radiance Gel Bronzer. Both are shimmer free, subtle, and give me a natural (i.e. not orange) kiss of sun. I thought my bronzer stash was perfectly stocked, until I discovered one that goes above and beyond what I expect a bronzer to do.
I’m already a huge fan of the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders, so I’m not sure why it took me so long to give the Ambient Lighting Bronzers a try, but I’m hooked. The bronzer is a pigment swirl of the perfect mid-tone bronze that doesn’t look fake. It adds the perfect amount of subtle warmth to my face, and instantly makes me look more awake. But that’s just part of this bronzer’s magic.
The real selling point that makes the bronzer worth its $52 price tag is the radiant powder. The bronzer is formulated using what the brand calls “photoluminescent technology,” which essentially means it reflects light to blur your skin and add a lit-from-within glow. Most powders make my skin look flat, but because this one is so finely milled and has light-reflecting particles, it actually makes my skin look dewier—but definitely not sparkly. It also completely airbrushes my face, hiding both active pimples and acne scars, which is worth all the money in the world to me.
I like to apply it with a big fluffy brush where the sun naturally hits; across my cheeks, on my nose, and on my temples. However, on days where I look insanely tired or my foundation looks “bleh,” I’ll use a light dusting all over my face. My foundation suddenly looks seamless, and I look like I got a full eight hours of sleep. It usually makes me look awake enough to skip blush and highlighter, meaning I get out the door faster. It may be expensive, but anything that can take me from zombie to dewy angel in a sweep of a brush is worth the investment.
Bella Cacciatore is the beauty associate at Glamour. Follow her on Instagram @bellacacciatore_.