The suntan as beautifier has faded from fashion. Skin baked to shades of George Hamilton now gets derisive looks from the enlightened crowd. Magazine models are paler. Competitive tanning is out. We understand the perils of the sun's damaging rays, we slather on the sunscreeen and we stay out of the noonday sun. But we miss those blissful days of ignorance when we lolled on the beach and waited for tan lines to happen.
Sure, we can accept the idea of pale skin intellectually, but the soul still yearns for a little glow.
Cosmetics companies are answering that need with an array of new bronzing powders, which bring touches of rich color to the face without risk of skin damage.
"This summer, a bronzing powder is the most important cosmetic you can own," says Christianne Molinari, director of public relations for Guerlain, who was the first on the market with a powder eight years ago.
The new powders create a lighter look, much more summery than makeup because they let the skin shine through. Bronzer works alone over a good moisturizer and sun block with the depth of color depending on the amount brushed on. And for women who can't bear to leave the house with a bare face, bronzers can be used just as effectively over foundation.
"The beauty about bronzers is their versatility," says Ms. Molinari. "They are designed to be used all over the face. The deeper terra-cotta shades can double as eyeshadow or blusher. The bronzers with some glitter really enhance the eyelid when used as a shadow."
And bronzers blend any other makeup colors added to a face. Ms. Molinari suggests brushing bronzer over subtle lipstick for a golden tint or to tone down a strong red. You can even brush some on the hands for extra glow in the evening.
Her technique for application is to dust wherever the sun would touch the face -- cheekbones, nose, and forehead. The idea is to highlight rather than to seek an even color.
"Bronzed cheeks look more natural than a big swatch of pink and the same color can be carried to the neck and collar line. For bare summer dresses the glow can go to the decollete," she says.
For women who want somewhat deeper color, a bronzing gel may be the answer. Marsha Foster, national sales trainer for Max Factor, says gels are actually a stain so they have more staying power. But gels require a surer hand in application.
"Gel is a gentle stain which is removable with a good cleanser or soap and water, but the color will hold up on the beach or for a round of tennis," she says.
"Gels require a quick hand to blend them before they settle into the surface pigment," says Ms. Foster. "The trick is to work separate areas at a time. Dab on the forehead and blend, then the nose, cheeks and chin."
Ms. Foster also suggests using gel to add the look of a little sun to a beigy fluid or cream foundation by mixing equal parts in the palm of the hand. This home blend is a good technique for women who need more coverage from their makeup.