The use of bronzer can be a tricky skill to learn. Apply bronzer in the wrong places, and you risk looking sunburnt instead of glowy. Apply the wrong color, and your complexion can look muddy or orange. But here’s the good news: with a little practice, bronzer is simple to apply. Once you get the hang of it, a little bronzer can seriously elevate your makeup look.
What Is Bronzing?
If you’ve written off bronzer only as a tool that’s only use is to fake a tan, it may be time to reconsider. Yes, you may want to apply bronzer to get an enviable sun-kissed glow. But it isn’t only for people who want to look like they’ve just spent time in the tropics.
Bronzer gives you a glowing-from-within radiance that can give you a certain something that’s hard to pin down. By adding a darker tone to your skin, bronzer gives your skin depth and dimension. Done right, bronzer can make you look even more healthy and youthful.1
What Is The Difference Between Bronzer And Contour?
Bronzer and contour: same thing, right? If you’ve ever seen bronzer and contour powder next to each other at the makeup counter, you may have had that thought. Both products add depth, dimension, and color to your makeup look. Both products look similar. But in fact, they have different purposes.
- Mimics the look of shadows on the face.
- Emphasizes certain features, like prominent cheekbones.
- Can alter the appearance of features by slimming down a nose or jawline, for example.
Tip: To achieve the look of a natural shadow, your contour product should be cool-toned with a matte finish.2
- Adds a warm, sun-kissed glow to the skin.
- Brightens your face and adds dimension to your makeup look.
- Can be used in conjunction with contour to help warm up your complexion.3
Tip: To achieve a natural sun-kissed glow, your bronzing powder should be warm-toned and may contain a bit of shimmer.4
Bronzer Vs. Blush
Both bronzer and blush are used to give you a healthy, sun-kissed glow. Since both products serve a similar function, it can be hard to know which makeup product to use.
Here’s the golden rule for this one: bronzer can be used as blush, but blush should not be used as bronzer. You can use bronzer instead of blush on the apples of your cheeks to give yourself a little flush. But you likely don’t want to use blush in all of the places you use bronzer.
Here are the main differences:
- Typically comes in pink, peach, or plum tones.
- Is usually only applied to the apple of the cheeks.
- Great for a fresh-faced or daytime look.
- Typically comes in brown or gold tones.
- Can be applied anywhere the sun would naturally hit, like the forehead or high points of cheekbones.
- Can also be used with contour powder to trace the contours of the face and decolletage.
- Can be used any time of year, but often used for a summery sun-kissed look.5
Choosing The Perfect Bronzer For You
If you’re craving a sun-kissed glow, but you want to avoid the dreaded orange “faux tan” look, the trick is to start with the right product.
1. Choose your finish. For a more subtle, natural look, go with a matte bronzer. For a bigger impact, choose a bronzer with a bit of shimmer.
2. Choose your formula.
- Liquid bronzers can be combined with moisturizer for an all-over glow.
- Powder bronzers are great for more precise makeup looks.
- Cream bronzers can be more subtle and easier to blend.
Take a cue from the rest of the makeup you wear. Cream bronzers are easily blendable with cream foundation, and powders blend best with powders.
3. Go for a shade that’s one or two shades darker than your natural skin tone. For fair skin, choose a beige or champagne shade. For medium skin, go for a golden bronze. For darker skin tones, go for a bronzer with hints or red or carmel that will play off your natural depth of color.
4. Keep your skin’s undertone in mind. For warm undertones, choose a golden brown hue. If you have cool undertones, stick with neutral tans and avoid red tones. Yellow undertones can choose a bronzer with a peach or pink tone. For olive skin, choose a warm, coppery brown.6,7,8
How To Apply Bronzer
Your technique will depend on the type of product you use and the effect you are going for. Here are instructions for applying both powder bronzer and cream bronzer.
Powder Bronzer Tutorial
- Start by applying your foundation or tinted moisturizer.
- Take a pointed blush brush or an angle powder brush, swirl it in the bronzing powder, and tap off any excess.
- Starting at your temples, sweep the bronzer down along the hollows of your cheekbones.
- Pick the brush up and trace the perimeter of your face. Start at the side of your forehead, sweep down along your cheekbones, and trace the edge of your jawline. This will mimic the shape of a capital E.
- For an extra sun-kissed look, apply bronzer on the bridge of your nose, the middle of your forehead, and your chin with a fluffy brush.9
Cream Bronzer Tutorial
- Start with a face of foundation or tinted moisturizer.
- Either apply a cream stick directly or dip a fan makeup brush in your cream bronzer.
- Keeping the capital E formation in mind, start at the center of your forehead and slowly move down toward your temples.
- Trace the undersides of your cheekbones with the brush or cream stick and then back to your temples.
- Trace your jawline, taking your brush in toward your chin.10
Avoid These Common Bronzer Mistakes
- An unnatural sheen. If you prefer a more natural look or you tend to have oily skin, choose a matte bronzer rather than one with shimmer.
- An unnatural, muddy complexion. To avoid looking accidentally dirty, be sure you pick a shade that is no more than two shades darker than your natural skin tone. If you want a more dramatic look, layer on product for buildable color rather than using a darker color.
- Caked on bronzer. If your bronzing products look caked on, take a look at the makeup brush you’re using. Opt for a fluffy brush over a dense one for a more natural application.
- The bronzer makes your face look overly sculpted. Contouring too much can accidentally make you look gaunt. To avoid this, use a light hand when you trace your cheekbones and be sure to dust on bronzing powder where you’d naturally tan too.11
You’re Only Seconds Away From A Healthy Glow
Bronzer can elevate your makeup look from flat to dynamic in a matter of seconds. Many makeup artists swear by bronzer, and it’s easy to see why. Adding a touch of sun can make you look like a healthier version of your already-beautiful self. Follow the above tips, experiment with what works for you, and have fun with it.
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