You know that time right before sunset or sunrise when everything turns a gleaming shade of gold? Everything looks soft and diffused. Even without makeup, your skin has an ethereal glow, and your features pop. That, my friends, is golden hour, and it's the inspiration behind the summer's biggest beauty trend: "golden-hour makeup." It's currently going viral on TikTok, racking up millions of views (and counting).
What is this makeup look all about? It's essentially mimicking the effect of golden hour on the skin, with no sunset or sunrise necessary. "The golden-hour makeup trend is a look that captures that warm and glowing light at sunrise and sunset," says celebrity makeup artist J Guerra. "This trend is skin focused and involves using warm, shimmery, and bronze-toned products to create a radiant and luminous glow. The final look is ethereal. It's a magical play on light with how it illuminates makeup and skincare products and brings these reflective textures to life. The lighting does all the work for you." Keep scrolling to learn everything you need to know about this summer's biggest makeup trend.
One TikToker calls it "no-makeup makeup's big sister." So in other words, it's a little more glamorous and golden without being too perfect or full coverage. Take it from Jamie Greenberg, celebrity makeup artist and the creator of Blighlighter and Bloss. She says golden-hour makeup is going viral because it's the natural next step from other popular TikTok trends. "I think this trend is going viral on TikTok right now because it's another form of the no-makeup makeup look," she says. "Golden-hour makeup allows for a natural and glowy finish, which is what people are currently going for as opposed to a full-coverage look. This trend is also rather simple, so everyone can achieve it with a few simple products/steps."
Celebrity makeup artist Andrea DiSabatino agrees that a natural-looking finish is key to this trend, saying she's "thrilled" it's going viral right now. "In a time when 'baking' and heavy contour have become the norm, I think it's time for a change. Natural, dewy makeup is making its way back on-trend and is here to shine—pun intended. The goal is to create an overall lustrous glow using minimal product," she adds.
Since the goal is to mimic the warm light of sunrise or sunset, it's important to use only warm-toned makeup products. That doesn't mean just traditional bronze, though. As celebrity makeup artist Elizabeth Seropian says, "It involves using peachy, golden, and bronze tones to achieve a luminous complexion and enhance natural beauty. The focus is on creating a fresh and dewy look with a touch of warmth and an ethereal glow."
When applying golden-hour makeup, Guerra says the goal is to "create a real feeling of warmth." When done right, golden-hour makeup "makes skin look youthful, balanced, and healthy. This look epitomises the trend of natural, sun-kissed beauty. It allows you to bring 'golden hour' to all hours of the day using makeup and skincare products," he adds.
The best part? Guerra says it's super inclusive and "can be adapted to various skin tones and features." Keep scrolling to see the best makeup products to achieve golden-hour makeup.
Step 1: Skin Prep
"First things first—skincare!" DiSabatino says. "Always apply your moisturizer, eye cream, and serums before your makeup application." Guerra agrees, adding that "moisturisers and serums with hyaluronic acid will give you the best sheen." I've been testing Stella by Stella McCartney's luxurious Alter-Care Serum and my skin has been drinking up the hydrating benefits. It contains hyaluronic acid and squalane which intensely nourish the skin and boosts the skin's barrier, providing the perfect base for makeup. It's also refillable, too.
I've also been loving this vitamin C-infused moisturiser, which helps to boost your skin's natural glow immediately—think dewy, healthy and radiant. It's perfect if you want to help brighten any pigmentation or scarring too, and the gel texture means that it sinks in quickly so you can apply makeup seamlessly on top.
Step 2: Base Makeup
Step 3: Blush, Bronzer, and Highlighter
Guerra's bronzer of choice is this iconic one from Chanel. The cream formula blends easily into the skin, giving natural-looking definition to the face. He suggests creating a "halo effect" by only applying bronzer to the outside perimeter of the face as well as under the cheekbones.
"The absolute star of the glow show is, of course, your highlighter," DiSabatino says. "My pick is Rare Beauty's Positive Light Liquid Luminizer in the colour Flaunt. Make sure to apply to any area where the sun would naturally hit your face, such as the top of your cheekbones, middle of your eyelids, bridge of the nose, brow bone, and a touch right on the Cupid's bow of your lips."
Here's a good tip from Guerra: "While doing your makeup, be sure to have plenty of natural light to see how placement affects the visibility of shimmer in your makeup products. If natural light isn't available, take the lampshade off of a lamp—the direct light from an incandescent bulb is a great substitute for sunlight. Avoid fluorescent lighting, as the colour temperature will be too cool to read warmer tones." Brilliant.
Step 4: Eyes
"Keep the eyes simple," Guerra says. He recommends diffusing a brown eyeliner with powder bronzer on the top lash line and finishing off with a well-combed coat of mascara. It's all about warm and sultry definition with minimal effort.
If you want to add a pop of colour, reach for this golden-orange shadow stick, which comes recommended by Greenberg. "I love to use Lime Crime's Electric Slide Eyeshadow and Brush Stick in the shade Totally Buggin, which is a shimmery, golden orange that is absolutely perfect for this look," she says.
Step 5: Lips
"Lips can be softly defined with skin-tone liners in slightly deeper shades and topped off with golden lip gloss or lip oil," Guerra explains. "Creamy lipsticks in tones of honey and molasses can be used instead for a softer shine."