We've said it before, and
we'll say it again: The notion that there's an ideal beach body and it looks like C.J. Parker's is flat-out ridiculous. The only thing you need to get a beach body is a bathing suit.
Of course, there's nothing wrong with swearing by spray tans or self-tanners if that's your thing, but getting prepped for summer doesn’t have to call for trading in the skin tone you were born with. In fact, for many of us with fair complexions, the faux tan has fallen out of favor, in no small part because it's expensive and hard to maintain.
Plus, the alternative is so much more interesting. Brightening up your own unique skin tone — whether that's pale, deep, or somewhere in between — feels more current, and brands are picking up on that shift by giving us things like body gloss and full-on body highlighter.
For me, this couldn’t be better news. Spray-tanning for
music festivals and long weekends away perked up my self-esteem for years, yes, but the look no longer feels like me. Still, I want something to boost my body confidence and the brightening, skin-evening, glow-inducing products ahead fit the bill. Think of them as the no-makeup makeup answer to the spray tan.
It took us a minute to understand this new body product trend. Apply gloss… to our legs? But it turns out, this tinted, shimmery gloss blurs uneven texture, diffuses veins and cellulite, and makes our skin look like the 2.0 version of itself — in seconds. We look glowy and glossy, but not sticky, all night long. Just don’t get into bed wearing the stuff if you want to keep your white sheets pristine.
St. Tropez Tanning Essentials One Night Only Finishing Body Gloss, $25, available at Sephora. More
If you're pale — and want to stay that way — the hit of bronze this delivers might be too much for you. But if you have medium to dark skin, you'll find it gives just the right amount of shimmery, natural-looking radiance that stays in place, even on the hottest days.
Vita Liberata Body Blur Instant HD Skin Finish, $45, available at Sephora. More
Say Hello To Sexy Legs is a brand that wants you to spend a lot of time of your leg look. (Now we've heard everything.) While the premise may seem
so extra, the Fluid (think of it like tinted moisturizer), Glow Gel (that'd be the leg highlighter), and Contour Stick are perfect for those that want to flex their artistry on their stems. Say Hello To Sexy Legs Body Illuminating Fluid, $34, available at Sephora. More
This isn't that different from the other highlighters you have in your kit, except that it might be more affordable and the formula is killer, so we couldn't
not include it. Tap onto you collarbone, shoulders, down the front of our legs, or across your cleavage and blend for a subtle glow that pays homage to Hollywood's love for boob contour. Flower Beauty Skin Radiance Face & Body Illuminator, $14, available at Flower Beauty. More Read More
Evening your complexion doesn't have to be labor intensive. Use a
mitt or large, clean blush brush to paint this hyaluronic acid-packed mask over areas that need a little toning (farmer's tan, anyone?) before bed. It's got the consistency of a gel, less odor than most, and is hard to mess up because it's so light and gradual. James Read Sleep Mask Tan, $52, available at Net-A-Porter. More
These pads use a combo of potent acids to exfoliate rough, dry, and dead skin cells, while also delivering a hit of DHA to give a slight amount of color to any complexion.
Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Glow Pad For Body With Active Vitamin D, $45, available at Sephora. More
On its own, this stuff hides just about everything — but can look like foundation if you go overboard. When you mix it with lotion, though? That's the sweet spot. Bruises, veins, and uneven tone don't stand a chance.
Sally Hansen Airbrush Leg Make Up, $11.99, available at Target. More
For those that scoff at the ida of body highlighter — hey, it's not for everyone — there are shimmer-infused lotions and oils. This option from Burt's Bees delivers a radiant finish that makes your skin look like you've been treating it perfectly all year long.
Burt's Bees Radiance Body Lotion with Royal Jelly, $8.99, available at Bed Bath & Beyond. More
This formula is a cult classic for a good reason: It adds a subtle glimmer and smells like a long weekend in a place you probably can't afford. Work it into exposed skin after a shower for a hydrated glow that will last all day and night.
NARS Monoï Body Glow, $59, available at Net-A-Porter. More
This liquid formula, which we prefer for nights out, due to its glittery finish, buffs easily into any skin tone.
By Terry Tea to Tan Face & Body, $88, available at Net-A-Porter. More
Like this post? There's more. Get tons of beauty tips, tutorials, and news on the
Refinery29 Beauty Facebook page. Like us on Facebook — we'll see you there! More Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here? These Lipsticks Look Just Like Real Diamonds Stop Everything, Rihanna Is Already Wearing Fenty Makeup You Have To See How This Artist Recreates Celebrity Portraits With Lipstick