How to Apply Bronzer for a Natural, Sun-Kissed Glow

How to Apply Bronzer for a Natural, Sun-Kissed Glow

You’re religious about applying sunscreen (yay!), but as result, maybe your face is looking a little washed out. Don’t nix your SPF habit: you can still fake a warm, sun-kissed glow in seconds with the right bronzer. The only downside is that bronzer is easy to mess up. A few small mistakes can leave you looking orange, muddy-complexioned, or shimmery in all the wrong places. Luckily, you can nail the most natural sun-kissed look with our pro secrets for what to do (and what not to do) when it comes to wearing bronzer.

DO: Swap shimmery formulas for matte ones.

Shimmery bronzer gives your complexion a shiny, sparkly look. But on oily skin, it can make things look anything but natural. Same thing applies for normal skin if your start to sweat.

Skip the sparkles for your face and stick to a powder that’s labeled matte or satin finish instead, like our Beauty Lab picks below. If you do feel the urge to add a little shimmer, use it to highlight your collarbone, shoulders, and décolletage.

DON’T: Use a shade that’s too dark.

A color that’s overly deep for your skin tone can make your complexion look muddy and unnatural, not sun-kissed. Instead, follow the rule of two: Choose a bronzer hue that’s no more than two shades darker than your skin tone. Hold the compact directly up to your skin to gauge color.

DO: Use the right brush for best bronzed results.

Many women choose kabuki brushes to use with their bronzer, but brushes with dense bristles like these can cause you to overapply the product. For a lighter application, opt for a fluffy blush or powder brush, like the Beauty Lab’s top-tested brushes below, or an angled bronzer brush, both of which have more loosely-packed bristles.

DON’T: Overload your brush with product.

Caking your brush with bronzer and then swiping it on directly onto skin is a recipe for disaster. The bronzer’s pigment can go on too heavily concentrated in one area. The best technique: Swirl, tap, apply.

Swirl your brush in the bronzer using circular motions to cover the whole brush head, then tap it to get rid of excess and prevent over-application. And if you’re using a liquid or cream formula, just like foundation and other base makeup, make sure to gradually layer on product by dusting a single layer at a time, building up until you get a pretty, sun-kissed color.

DO: Strategically apply bronzer instead of coating your face.

A sheer veil of bronzer applied with a big, fluffy brush can look fine if you’re incredibly light-handed, but it’s easy to veer into overdone territory and end with your face looking different color from the rest of your body.

Instead, stick to applying bronzer only on the spots that are naturally hit by the sun: the forehead, top of the nose, along the cheekbones, and jawline.

DON’T: Overly sculpt your cheekbones or contour.

Women are often advised to use bronzer to contour by sucking in cheeks, then applying a dark shade of bronzer underneath cheekbones to make their bone structure “pop.” This can actually make you look gaunt and jowly.

For a more natural sculpted effect, sweep blush lightly on your cheeks, then dust bronzer sparingly along the top of your cheekbones.

DON’T: Apply bronzer in a rush.

If you’re too hasty with your application, you could risk getting that way-too-heavy, Real Housewives of Orange County type of look — which is probably not what you’re going for. Bronzer is like perfume: You can always add more later, but if you use too much, it’s tough to fix without washing it all off.