How to Use Bronzer For a Stunning Sun-Kissed Look

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Back in the day, I used to roll my eyes at bronzers, contours, or highlighters. While makeup is my favorite hobby, I used to draw the line here. I don’t think that they’re bad products, but you have to know how to use bronzer properly. Up until recently, I didn’t know how to use bronzer the right way. I know how to contour, although I don’t plan to add it to my routine. But the idea of learning how to get gorgeous bronzed skin is tempting. In the past, I thought that I had too light of a skin tone for bronzer, but I was wrong!

Learning how to use bronzer includes picking the right shade, using it correctly, and knowing the difference between bronzer and contour. The key to understanding how to use bronzer is learning where to put bronzer. In other words, you don’t need to put bronzer all over your face. If you’re strategic, you can warm up your skin tone without looking like an Oompa Loompa. Appropriately using bronzer can give your skin a healthy, radiant appearance.

So I thought we could all learn a little something together. Maybe you already use bronzer and want some tips, or perhaps you’re an absolute beginner. Either way, it isn’t hard to learn how to use bronzer!

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What is Bronzer Used For?

There are different kinds of bronzers for your face, which are much different from body bronzer. In this case, I want to focus on makeup bronzers for your face. Many people who are learning how to use bronzer think it should be applied like a contour. That is a big mistake. 

When it comes to contour vs bronzer, the difference is relatively simple. Contouring is supposed to create shadows and depth. That emphasizes your bone structure and can change the shape of your face. Many people like to contour when they have specific face shapes. Contour can be used to make your face look slender or make your cheekbones look sharper.

Bronzer has the opposite effect of contouring. Instead of creating shadows and depth, you will be adding warmth and brightening up your skin. Bronzers commonly contain a touch of shimmer. That way, when the sun hits your skin, it gives your skin a natural dewy finish.

How to Choose a Bronzer

There are a few different approaches you could take when learning how to apply bronzer. It is easy to pair it with other products, like blush or highlighter. I’m going to give you a step by step with those products next. But first, I want to give you an idea of how to apply bronzer on its own.

First off, pick something that is only about two shades darker than your natural skin tone. Bronzers tend to have an orange, pink, or tan tone for lighter skin tones, and a rosy or golden tone for darker skin tones.

When it comes to picking the right shade, it can seem a little tricky. Many bronzers are made up of an artistic mix of different colors. To make sense of these different options, I wanted to break them down for you.

Fair Skin Tone

Choose a bronzer palette that is a mix of lighter tan colors and pinks. That will give your skin a very natural, warm, and rosy glow. You don’t want to choose anything with a dark color. It will look unnatural on fair skin.

Olive Skin Tone

For this skin tone, you will want to focus on yellow or gold-toned bronzers. You could even apply a light peach blush, then use a light warm bronzer over the top. That will help add a little warmth and color to your cheeks.

Medium Skin Tone

The best option for this tone will be a medium matte shade of bronzer. It will give natural warmth to your skin. There isn’t as much need for shimmer in this case. You could even add a bit of highlighter to brighten things up.

Medium Deep Skin Tone

If you have a medium/dark skin tone, take advantage of some shimmer. It will brighten up your skin. I would recommend choosing a palette with darker tan shades, pinks, and gold shimmer. They all come together to brighten up your skin. But honestly your skin has such gorgeous color when you have this skin tone, all you need to do is brighten it up a little!

Deep Skin Tone

The same goes for a deep or dark skin tone. When you already have this gorgeous skin tone, you don’t need to add warmth. Instead, you will add a dewy effect by using a deep gold bronzer. In the case of this skin tone, you will just be using the bronzer as a highlighter. It will help your skin catch the light naturally.

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How To Apply Bronzer Correctly

When applying bronzer, you want to focus on the areas of your face that will catch the sun naturally. A good rule of thumb is to apply it in a 3-motion. That is effectively just a sweeping motion from your temple, around the side of your eye, below your cheekbone and on your jawline.

You can also apply it all over your face, but if you do so, make sure you apply it very lightly! Avoid anything with shimmer. Apply a light, matte bronzer all over. Then go back in with another bronzer that is two shades darker and has a touch of shimmer. Only use the second one on crucial areas, like your temples, cheeks, jawline, or even the bridge of your nose.

Pairing Bronzer with Highlighter or Blush

There are a few tricks you should know that will make learning how to apply bronzer a little easier. For one thing, always apply bronzer after foundation and before contouring or highlighting. Since you don’t need any precision with a bronzer, you can buff it into a few key areas. But contouring and highlighting are meant to be precise. So buffing bronzer over them will ruin the whole look.

Blush, on the other hand, can be applied under bronzer. All you need to do is use a small amount of blush in three areas. Only apply above your cheek, right above your eyebrow and on your temple. Then apply bronzer and buff it over the blush. Please make sure to blend it out as much as possible! The blush and bronzer duo will end up giving you a gorgeous sun-kissed look! And you can apply a highlighter over your cheekbone when you're done to add a natural glow.

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Best Face Bronzer Options

Last, I want to tell you about some highly recommended products. I don’t know if they are technically leading the market when it comes to bronzers, but they are fantastic products. Instead of going by skin tone, I decided to give you categories of matte bronzers, shimmery bronzers, and cream bronzers. Then you will be able to find the perfect shade for your skin tone in these different types of bronzers!

Matte Bronzer

I know that this isn’t everyone's favorite type of bronzer. It will not give you a dewy finish or catch the sunlight. But some people like to use this to contour and add a bit of highlight to brighten up the area. A matte bronzer that came highly recommended was the matte bronzer by Milk Makeup, which comes as a cream stick that dries matte. Others included Bahama Mama by TheBalm and NYX Matte Bronzer.

MILK MAKEUP Matte Bronzer by MILK MAKEUP
  • Shade - Baked
  • A MATTE bronzer stick for the face and body that provides instant hydration and...
  • Apply to cheekbones, browbone, and the bridge of the nose for subtle color
Sale
NYX PROFESSIONAL MAKEUP Matte Bronzer, Light, 0.33 Ounce
  • Dark gold
  • Perfect for that desired honey glow all year long
  • Use a powder or blush brush to apply to the face and body

Shimmery Bronzer

When learning how to apply a bronzer, I typically recommend a powder bronzer with shimmer. It is easy to blend, and there is less of a chance that you will end up using too much product. Powder products are fantastic because you can build the product slowly.

Milani Baked Bronzer is highly rated and affordable. It will give you just the right subtle shimmer. Too Faced bronzers are incredible. It is another brand that makes fantastic bronzers that will provide you with a gorgeous sun-kissed look.

Too Faced - Sun Bunny Natural Bronzer
  • All skins tones; Traditional bronzer with just enough pink undertone, complexion...
  • Color combination; Golden bronzed shimmer glams up complexion so you look rested...
  • Shimmer; Just enough pearl and depth great on all skin tones

Cream Bronzer

Some people prefer using cream bronzers since they also use a liquid foundation. That is a good idea if you have dry skin. Matte products or powders, in general, may make your face look or feel drier than it is already.

Lucky for us dry skinned beauties, Fenty Beauty has cream bronzer sticks for easy application. They blend into your skin as smooth as any powder and you have plenty of color options! And you could even consider NARS bronzer that comes in a liquid form! That will pair nicely with your liquid foundation!

FENTY BEAUTY BY RIHANNA Match Stix Trio ~ Matte Skinstick ~ Color Medium 200
  • FENTY BEAUTY BY RIHANNA Match Stix Trio. A magnetized trio of long-wear,...
  • COLOR: Medium 200 - Bamboo, Mocha, Trippin
  • SIZE 2 x 0.25 oz/ 7.10 g (Matte Skinstick), 0.25 oz/ 7.10g (Shimmer Skinstick)
Sale
NARS Laguna Liquid Bronzer 30ml/1oz
  • 30ml/1oz
  • Laguna Liquid Bronzer
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Time to Try Your Sun-Kissed Look

Learning how to use bronzer isn’t hard. It’s time for you to try it out for yourself! As long as you remember that a little bit can go a long way, you are on your way to being an expert. Remember that you should also stick within a few shades of your natural skin tone.

Bronzer is meant to give you a beautiful dewy finish, brighten up your face, and compliment your contour. Bronzing is not intended to create shadows or shape your face. It will add depth and warmth to your look, but it is not meant to be used as a contour. Most people look at contour vs bronzer as the same thing. Bronzer makeup is also different from a highlighter because it has a very subtle shimmer. A highlighter is meant to be bold, and catch the light in a stunning way. Bronzer is supposed to look naturally illuminating.

No matter what technique you end up using to apply your makeup, I’m sure it will be stunning. I only wanted to give you helpful tips. But the best part of makeup is getting creative and trying new things. You may even learn how to use bronzer in a way that is unique to you. Just have fun with it!

Related Article: 5 Essential Foundation Hacks You Need To Know

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