The Right Way To Apply Bronzer to Pale Skin

Caitlin S. Miller
bronzer story The Right Way To Apply Bronzer to Pale Skin

Photo: ImaxTree

When you think of bronzer, chances are you think of a golden glow reserved for those vacationing on yachts in St. Barts. But for those of us with fair skin, who got a sunburn just reading the previous sentence, bronzer can be a blessing and a curse. It can take even the palest skin tone a shade darker—without the yacht or  nasty sunburn. However unless it’s used properly (a.k.a. you have the right formula and use just the right amount), bronzer can also overpower fair skin and make it look, well, fake. To learn how to wear bronzer the right way, we tapped Smashbox Global Pro Lead Artist, Lori Taylor Davis, who spilled her best tips on using bronzer for pale skin.

Color and texture matter
“Product color and texture are key,” says Taylor Davis. “Matte creams or powders with as little red or tawny tones are the most natural,” she says. For those with fair skin, avoiding red or pinky undertones will ensure your bronzer looks sun kissed—as opposed to sun burned. Try Smashbox Bronze Lights ($34,, which boasts coated color pigments designed to help blend the makeup naturally. Plus the matte finish ensures you don’t look like a shimmering mess.

Think in layers
Another key factor to making pale skin look less Snow White and more beach babe is layering. “Applying cream bronzer to bare skin and then laying your foundation on top can give a natural ‘lit-from-within’ appearance,” explains Taylor Davis. For a super light and layered touch, try Benefit Cosmetics Dew the Hoola Soft Matte Liquid Bronzer ($28,, which can go on bare skin or be mixed with foundation.

Don’t forget about the brush
We all know a good makeup brush is essential, but using the proper one with your bronzer can make all the difference. Taylor Davis suggests using a fan brush with your bronzer to get a super natural look. “Applying bronzer with fan brush can diffuse even the deepest bronzer, giving the appearance of a natural skin-kissed flush,” she says. Try Japonesque Kumadori Fan Brush ($19, to get just a light dusting of color on your cheeks.

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