No lie, bronzer makeup does wonders for your face. You can use it to contour, bring out your cheekbones and fake a sexy summer glow when you haven’t been to the beach in months (or years).
Bronzer helps your face look thinner and more sculpted. Proper bronzer application techniques will help you look more awake and hide a myriad of skin problems like redness, ruddiness, age spots or uneven coloration.
Why is it that so many of us are intimidated or confused about how to use bronzer? Maybe we envision wild 1980s stripes down our face. Maybe we’ve seen too many ladies rocking the “orange mask effect,” when they’ve tried to use the wrong shade of bronzer. Or we’ve seen too many examples of contouring fails. Bronzer looks dark in the packaging and, especially for pale girls, sometimes it’s tough to envision how it will come off looking natural.
Fear not! It’s all about selecting the right bronzer makeup shade, using the right tools and following the proper bronzer application technique (which we’ll get to in a moment). It’s not hard to learn how to use bronzer and make it look amazing. If you’re ready to get glowing, here’s what you need to know.
How To Select the Best Bronzer for Your Skin Tone
The trick to picking the right bronzer for your complexion is to only go about two shades deeper than your natural coloring and skin tone. As you’ll see on the application tutorial videos below, the effect should be subtle! This keeps bronzer from looking orange, overdone or just plain scary. The idea is “healthy glow.”
If you go too dark, you can get the dreaded “line of demarcation” between your jawline and your neck. If you’re wearing a v-neck or lower-cut top, you may also want to dust bronzer on your collar bones and decolletage (a.k.a. cleavage). Most of our necks rarely see the sun, and bronzer will really help even out your look.
Best Bronzers for Pale or Fair Skin
If your skin is pale with pink/peach undertones, try a bronzer that’s sheer and matches your skin in tonality. Slightly browner than blush, you’ll still want to look for bronzer in a peachy shade. Bronzer looks great with freckles, but you’ll want to aim for a color that’s much lighter than your sun kisses–highlight them, don’t hide them or try to blend them in.
Two bronzers to try:
- Benefit Hoola Lite: a neutral matte bronzer that works on light skin.
- Physicians Formula Gentle Wear 2-in-1 Bronzer Blush: a simple powder bronzer blush with a soft glow.
Best Bronzers for Medium or Olive Skin
Medium and olive-skinned gals can go a bit more dramatic with their bronzer. Look for bronzer with a gold or copper tint. Match the overall tone of the bronzer to your undertones– golden tan for yellow tones and coral copper for pinkish tones. Again, aim for only two shades darker than your regular skin color.
Two bronzers to try:
- Laura Mercier Matte Radiance Baked Powder: in light to medium–a pretty bronze shade.
- Cargo Bronzing Powder in Matte Medium: a simple tan bronzing powder that looks great on most skin tones.
Best Bronzers for Dark Skin
Women with darker skin tones can go for golden bronzers with a little shimmer to really give off a great glow. Look for metallics or deep chocolate shades of bronzer. You can also try bronzer in a stick or gel formula instead of powder!
Two bronzers to try:
- Fenty Beauty Match Stix in Sinnamon: a gorgeous shimmering red/copper shade.
- Too Faced Chocolate Soleil in Medium/Deep: a luxurious color with slightly golden yellow undertones.
One note to keep in mind, if your skin tends to get flaky and dry or if you have fine lines, you may want to select a shade with a matte finish. Shimmer shades tend to settle into wrinkles, highlighting them rather than camouflaging. Shimmer can also accentuate dry patches and scaliness.
For most of the bronzers, a simple fluffy brush is your perfect application tool. Try It Cosmetics Heavenly Luxe Complexion Perfection Brush No. 7. If you need help selecting the right brushes for the job (or any makeup application), be sure to check out the 12 Makeup Brushes Every Girl Needs. An excuse to add another brush to your makeup bag never hurts!
5+ Best Bronzer Application Techniques (with Videos!)
Are you ready to get your glow on? Applying bronzer is easy. You’ll want to start with clean skin and a fresh application of makeup. Adding bronzer on top of fading or end-of-day makeup can result in clumping (which can even make your skin look dirty! Eek).
Apply bronzer to well-hydrated skin as a finishing touch to your regular makeup. You’ll want to put on concealer, foundation and powder first, brushing the bronzer over the top, using a big fluffy brush. Set your instant bronzer with a translucent powder after it’s applied. If you choose to wear blush, apply it last, on top of your bronzer.
Bronzer helps you appear more awake and alert. It’s a little bit more sophisticated than blush but creates the same rosy-cheek effect–you can wear them both together or use it instead. If you’re tired, stressed out or didn’t sleep well, bronzer will keep you looking fresh.
If you’re still wondering how to apply bronzer, the best way to learn is to check out some video examples. I’ve found five great examples to help you learn the best ways to wear bronzer without looking “orange” or obvious.
1. Makeup for Beginners: How to Use Bronzer by Bianca Harris
I love how this video shows you how to use bronzer to disguise a double chin. It makes your whole face look more chiseled and contoured. Bianca uses highlighter as well to really bring out her gorgeous cheekbones. She stresses the importance of blending–one of the cardinal rules of using bronzer!
2. How to Use Bronzer Properly | Makeup Tips by Howcast featuring Brittney Rose
Makeup artist Brittney Rose shows us how to apply bronzer using a stippling brush and starting along your hairline, where the sun would naturally hit. She uses a bronzer with shimmer on her model (who clearly has gorgeous skin). She suggests not going too far in toward the nose when you apply bronzer–use her great “two finger tip” suggestion to keep it looking natural!
3. How to Apply Bronzer for a Warm Glow by Birchbox
The model in this video has very fair skin, but bronzer just adds a nice warm, healthy glow to her complexion without looking fake or overdone. The key is following the rule of selecting a bronzer that’s only 1-2 shades darker than your skin tone. You shouldn’t use bronzer to make you look “tan,” just gently sun-kissed.
4. How to Apply Bronzer by MakeupByTiffanyD
Tiffany has some unique approaches to applying bronzer, but I love her thorough explanations. She discusses how bronzer can get a little dirty looking if you don’t use the proper application technique. For her bronzer she uses Nars Bronzing Powder in Laguna which has a satin finish. Tiffany has fair skin and she walks you through how to use bronzer on your neck to avoid the dreaded “mask” look.
5. 5 Different Ways to Apply Bronzer: Summer Glow Tutorial by Wayne Goss
I saved the best bronzer tutorial for last! This tutorial by one of my favorite makeup artists, Wayne Goss, will teach you five fantastic bronzer application techniques to give you the perfect sun-kissed look (without subjecting your skin to the sun’s harmful rays). I especially love the “3” technique–applying bronzer along your hairline, tops of the cheekbones and jawline–a great tip for fair-skinned gals like myself! Wayne walks you through the steps to take the fear out of bronzer application and help you get a fantastic summer glow!
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