How to Apply Bronzer




Introduction: How to Apply Bronzer

About: Professional MUA, educator, and Benefit Beauty Artist working in Sacramento & the Bay Area. I specialize in film, print, editorial, glamour, & special FX. FB: ...

With summertime in full swing, you're probably spending your days sunning yourself out by the pool, on the beach, or enjoying a multitude of many outdoor activities... Wait, you're not? You work full-time, rarely see the sun, and look like a vampire? Or perhaps you just take good care of your skin and use a full-spectrum sunscreen whenever you go outside? Either way, bronzer is the quickest, cheapest way to fake a sunkissed glow. In this tutorial, I'll show you how to choose and apply a bronzer so you look like you've been soaking up the sun in Ibiza... and not like a sexy Oompa-Loompa.

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Step 1: Choose Your Bronzer

Choosing the perfect bronzer for your skin is the most important step on the road to sunkissed goddesshood.

Different bronzer formulations:

  • Pressed powder bronzer: the most commonly seen and easily used bronzer on the market. Comes in a compact for ease of use and transport. Suitable for all skin types, but especially oily or acne-prone.
  • Loose powder bronzer: The lightest and most natural-appearing bronzers. Comes in some sort of a jar, which can be messy. Suitable for all skin types.
  • Cream bronzer: Also extremely easy to apply and transport, as it usually comes in a compact or a jar. Can be easy to overdo, however. Can be mixed into liquid or cream foundation to instantly adjust your foundation's tone in case you tan in the summer. Gives a very natural appearance, as it melts into the skin instead of sitting on top of it. Most suitable for dry or normal skin types, as it can accentuate oilyness.
  • Liquid bronzer: Very similar to cream bronzer, but in a thinner formulation. Also easy to apply and easy to overdo; can also be mixed into foundation to adjust its color. Usually comes in a glass bottle with a dropper, which can be cumbersome and messy to transport.

Bronzer also comes in two different finishes: shimmery and matte. Matte means that it has no shimmer, shine, glitter, or sheen to it, and matte bronzers are the best if you want to achieve a natural tanned look. Matte bronzers can also be used as a contouring product during the winter, when you're paler. Shimmery/glittery/satiny bronzers pull double duty as they both add highlights and give the appearance of being tan, but they definitely do not look natural-- think J.Lo or Kim Kardashian. Shimmery bronzers, just like shimmery highlighters, can also accentuate large pores or naturally oily skin. I use both finishes depending on what look I'm trying to achieve.

When it comes to choosing the correct color of bronzer, most people choose something too warm and too dark, resulting in that fake-tan, Ooompa Loompa look we all know and love to hate. The key is to choose a shade that is ONE SHADE DARKER than your skintone. Just. One. Then choose the undertone depending on your skin tone.

  • Fair skin: Peach or honey-toned bronzers.
  • Medium skin: Golden to rosy-toned bronzers.
  • Dark skin: Copper to red-toned bronzers.

Step 2: Tools to Apply Your Bronzer

Now that you have your perfect bronzer in hand, make sure that you have the right tools to apply it!

  • Pressed powder bronzer: Use a large, fluffy domed-top powder or bronzer brush. These brushes are nearly interchangeable, though bronzer brushes will usually have tighter-packed bristles-- like a cross between a powder brush and a kabuki brush. You will swirl your brush lightly across the surface of your bronzer, making sure to swirl across the entire pan if you have one of the mosaic or marbled bronzers, then tap off the excess and apply.
  • Loose powder bronzer: Use the same brush described above. Simply tap a small amount of bronzer into the lid of your powder jar or onto a mixing palette, swirl your brush in it, tap off the excess, and apply.
  • Cream bronzer: You can scrape a bit of the cream bronzer out of the jar and add it to your foundation for an all-over tan effect (just be sure to apply to your neck as well), swipe a bit on with your fingertips and blend, or even apply using your powder brush. Just lightly dip the tip of your brush into the cream (swirl a bit off on the back of your hand if you pick up too much), and swirl lightly across your face.
  • Liquid bronzer: This is the only bronzer I don't recommend applying with a powder or bronzer brush. Simply use your fingers to dab on lightly and blend or mix it with your foundation for an all-over glow.

Step 3: Where to Apply

You've got your bronzer and your tools in hand, now let's get it on your face! Refer to the face chart I've included for where to apply your bronzer-- you want to hit the areas that would be hit by the sun the most, then lightly blend out in a halo.

Congratulations, you've successfully given yourself a healthy glow without all the sun damage!

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    3 Discussions


    5 years ago

    You seem like the right person to ask.
    for myself for drag I have began to use a bronzer. I am a trans man... have been growing vellus/very light blonde... facial hair. so on drag nights... I apply a bronzer... and use a mascara that is just about perfect. waterproof but doesn't rip hair out... and comes off easily with soap and water.
    The bronzer I found was a brown... but the mascara brand I use... seems to only come in black.
    I use the bronzer for a shadow/thickening effect.
    any tips for what I should use... and what colors? I do have quite dark hair as well. I blend the bronzer into it as well so it looks all natural.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Hi there! Would love to help you out. Are you looking for a bronzer/mascara to contour your face with? If so, I would recommend a matte (no shimmer or sparkle) bronzer in a fairly dark color, or a matte cool brown eyeshadow (no warm/reddish tones). If you want to use a cream (like the mascara) to contour your face with, I would recommend a cream foundation two shades darker than your skintone, applied only to the areas you want to contour and blended out with a brush or sponge. I have a cream/liquid highlighting & contouring tutorial if you'd like to check that out, and let me know if you have any further questions!


    5 years ago

    This is about the only picture I could find. it's far to dark. but worth a shot. I am sure I can find some somewhere.