Beauty Tips & Tricks


How to Use Bronzer (and Mistakes You May be Making)

02 Oct, 2018
By Andie Reeves
Bronzer used to be an optional addition to your look but these days you would seriously struggle to find a YouTube makeup tutorial that didn’t feature the shimmery gold stuff.

A lot of people steer clear of bronzer because they don’t want to look orange or don’t want to look sparkly, but that’s not what bronzer is about. Its main purpose is to add colour, warmth and dimension to your face (subtly), making you look healthy and glowing. Who wouldn’t want that?

Also, bronzer isn’t always shimmery; you get matte formulas too. So if even you just want the warmth without the glitz you should still add a bronzer to your makeup bag. It’s easy to go wrong with bronzer (think Paris Hilton in the early ‘00s) so here is exactly how to nail the gorgeously glowing look and the common mistakes to avoid…

How to Apply Bronzer

The mistake: A lot of tutorials simply say to apply bronzer ‘wherever the sun would naturally hit your face’, but that’s pretty much everywhere; we need more specific instructions.

Think of bronzer like perfume: it’s easy to apply too much and impossible to tone it down without a good shower. The best tool for applying bronzer is a large, soft and fluffy brush. A brush with compact bristles will apply too much product and will leave you looking more dirty than dazzling.

A common mistake is dabbing the centre of the brush in your bronzer. This will result in too much product in one area and give you an unnatural finish. You actually use the sides of the brush to dust on your bronzer, so gently roll your brush in your product rather. Tap the brush to get rid of any excess product then use a light, swiping motion to dust it on. Blending is crucial; you don’t want that dreaded tell-tale line of bronzer going across your cheek.

The mistake: Using your bronzer to contour

It’s easy to get bronzing and contouring confused but think of it this way: bronzing involves making your face look sun-kissed and healthy while contouring carves and sculpts your face by creating shadows.

You can use your bronzer to contour lightly, however if you’re wanting a Kim K-level carved out look then you need to use a matte product specifically for contouring first, and apply your actual bronzer afterwards. A shimmery bronzer won’t work for a super contoured look as it adds light instead of doing what contouring is supposed to do (which is to add shadow).

To use bronzer to add warmth to your face and subtly contour too start at your hairline. Swirl your brush in small circles all along your upper forehead, from temple to temple. Next carve out your cheeks. Drag a line of bronzer from the apple of your cheek to your ear. Now buff out this line with small circular brush strokes instead of a wiping motion.

Now swirl your bronzing brush from the start of your jaw to your chin, all along your jawline. Make sure to blend down your neck too to keep it looking natural. Lastly swipe a touch of bronzer down either side of your nose. This will add definition to your nose and add warmth to the centre of your face.

Our product picks for multipurpose contouring and highlighting palettes which also include bronzing shades are Essence Strobing & Contouring Palette, Maybelline Master Bronze Contour & Highlighting Kit in Bronze and Rimmel Kate Sculpting Palette in Bronzing.

Read More. Easy Tips That Will Guarantee Natural-Looking Contouring Every Time
The mistake: Not adding highlighter

This isn’t a way to get you to spend more money on makeup; you really need highlighter to balance the contract made with your bronzer. We’re trying to add dimension to your face and if you only use bronzer then you’ve only added dark shades; it’s time to lighten it up a little.

Sweep highlighter along the top of your cheek bones and your brow bone to keep your face from looking one-dimensional and muddy. We love Essence Glow Like A Mermaid Highlighter in Forever Mermaid.

The mistake: Thinking you don’t need blush too

Because how much product can your cheeks even take, right? Well, bronzer and blush are two different products with different results and it’s worth using them both. Using bronzer on its own can look unnatural and flat. Blush is for making you look rosy and healthy while bronzer is for making you look sun-kissed.

Apply your blush first in circular motions to the apples of your cheeks. Your bronzer goes just below and next to your blush, from the apple of your cheek to your ear. As a general rule try to use the same formulas all over your face, so a liquid blush with a liquid bronzer, or powder blush with powdered bronzer.

The mistake: Combining different formulas together

Powder bronzers are easiest to use, especially for beginner bronzers. This doesn’t mean you need to use a powder foundation however, as powder bronzers are easy to blend and build, mainly because you are using such a small amount. Just be sure to set your foundation with setting powder first.

If youuse a powder foundation, however, you need to stick to a powder bronzer as cream or liquid bronzers will cake.

The mistake: Applying your setting powder last

Your setting powder will mattify your face, including all the light-catching particles that make bronzer so amazing. Rather apply your bronzer at the very end of your makeup routine.

The mistake: Applying bronzer in the wrong lighting

Your bronzer can look totally perfect in your room but muddy and orange in the light of day. Apply it in daylight if possible, and have a good look at yourself in a mirror (or your selfie camera) before you leave the house. Inspect your jawline and cheeks in particular for any unblended areas.

Read More. Insider Secrets on Highlighting for Awesome Glowing Skin

How to Choose the Right Bronzer

The mistake: Not considering your skin tone when choosing a bronzer

Bronzer is not a one-shade-suits-all product. Also most people’s skin colour changes slightly with the seasons, so get a bronzer palette with more than one shade that you can use all year round. A good go-to rule for fair to medium skins is choosing the shade that you would naturally go if you spent time in the sun tanning.
  • Fair skin: It’s easy for bronzer to look unnatural or orange on pale people so it’s important to choose a sheer and super blendable product. Choose warm beige or rose-tinged (especially if you’re a redhead) shades that won’t make you look like you overdid the fake tan and be sure to use a really light hand when applying. We like Michelle Ori Compact Bronzer in Radiance.
  • Medium skin: Instead of choosing warm or cool tones opt for neutrals like brown, taupe, beige and gold, as this will give you the most natural glow. Steer clear from orange or red-undertones in particular as these always look more intense on your skin than in the palette. Avoid anything pale or pink as this will wash you out. Try Palladio Baked Bronzer in Illuminating Tan.
  • Olive skin: Most bronzers on the shelf will suit you, as long as it’s not too much darker than your skin tone. Shades with a hint of red about them will look particularly amazing on you, like bronze, copper or terracotta. Our pick: Palladio Matte Bronzer in Teeny Bikini.
  • Deep skin: Shimmery shades work better than matte shades on dark skin as they show up more. Bronzers with a red, burgundy or orange undertone work well to add warmth and brighten dull complexions. Remember the general rule for choosing a bronzer is no more than one or two shades darker than your skin tone. We like Palladio Baked Bronzer in Caribbean Tan.

    Read More. How Choosing the Best Blush Is the Key to Always Looking Awesome
The mistake: Using the same bronzer whatever your skin type

While the most common bronzers come in powder form you can also get cream and liquid bronzers. If you suffer from dry skin then a liquid or cream bronzer is going to be your best bet for a flake-free finish. Use your fingers to apply it in a stippling fashion (that means lots of little light pats). Matte products can look cakey and make dry skin look worse so go for one with a shimmer. LA Girl has a great range of creamy stick bronzers which we love.

Those with oily skin should stick to powder and you might want to try matte formulas as super shimmery ones could make you look too shiny.

The mistake: Not knowing the difference between shimmer and matte

We all know the difference at face value, one is shiny and one is not, but they also add completely different elements to your look.

Shimmery bronzer contains light-reflecting particles. They are really easy to over-do and because they have a hint of glitter about them can easily look unnatural. Be sure to tap your brush a few times before slowly building up layers of your bronzer. Shimmery shades work particularly well for fair skin (which can risk looking simply grubby when using a matte bronzer) and dark skin (as matte products can get lost on deep tones). If you have any skin texture issues or blemishes it’s best to avoid this type of bronzer as it can accentuate and add dimension to unwanted problem areas.

Matte bronzers have nothing shimmery about them. These work great on medium and olive skin and for those struggling with things such as dark marks, uneven texture and other skin issues as it is more forgiving. Our pick is Palladio Matte Bronzer in No Tan Lines. To add a glowing dewy look without looking too shiny you can use a cream bronzer, which usually come in matte formulas.

Read More. Is THIS Actually the Secret to A Perfectly Flawless Look All Day?

Shop Your Products Now

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Cala Angled Contour Brush
R 99.95

Essence Glow Like A Mermaid Highlighter - Forever Mermaid 10
R 74.95

Essence Strobing & Contouring Palette 10
R 139.95

LA Girl Velvet Bronzer Contour Stick - Brazen Bronze
R 49.95

LA Girl Velvet Bronzer Contour Stick - Goddess Bronzer
R 49.95

LA Girl Velvet Bronzer Contour Stick - Suede Bronzer
R 49.95

Palladio Baked Bronzer - Caribbean Tan
R 145.00

Palladio Baked Bronzer - Illuminating Tan
R 145.00

Palladio Matte Bronzer - No Tan Lines 01
R 145.00

Palladio Matte Bronzer - Teeny Bikini 03
R 145.00

Rimmel Kate Sculpting Palette Bronzing 006
R 169.95

Bronze Summer Makeup Tutorial | Dark Skin

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