Get Glowing: Find The Right Bronzer For Your Skin Tone

Janell M. Hickman
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Similar to finding the right foundation, selecting a bronzer can be equally as tricky. If done well, you can easily rejuvenate a sallow or pale complexion sans sun damage. However, on the flip side if done incorrectly, you might resemble an “oompa loompa” or worse (which isn’t so sexy!) If you find yourself stuck on how to choose and use bronzer, you’re not alone. Our experts dish on how to get a natural-looking glow regardless of your complexion. What are you waiting for? Read on and glow, baby glow!

Don’t Get Overzealous
“[You only need to go] one or two shades darker, depending on the desired look,” explains celebrity makeup artist Jessi Butterfield. “If you seek a kiss of sun look, select one shade deeper than your natural color. Or, if you had jungle temptress in mind, two shades deeper will do the trick.”

Know Where To Apply
“The general rule is to make a three, cross the forehead, below the cheekbone and below the jawbone before going down the neck,” shares celebrity makeup artist for Physicians Formula, Joanna Schlip. “Kabuki brush bristles are shorter on the outside (and longer on the inside) so the concentration of color is in the middle. [This type of brush] will help you blend bronzer out well for no streaks.”

Avoid Matte Mistakes
“Matte bronzers can be used anywhere on the face, for contouring or simply a healthy glow,” explains  Global Make Up Artist and Educator for jane iredale Cosmetics Natalie Soto-Carlisle. “However, shimmer bronzers have more of a highlighting effect and are best used on cheekbones, décolleté, and also looks great on legs and arms.”

MORE: How to REALLY Use Bronzer

Understand Your Undertone
“Listening to your undertone is vital—after all, bronzer is supposed to mimic something natural,” explains Butterfield who works with Sophia Bush and Jamie Chung. “Failing to stick to your correct undertone can cause your newly bronzed face to look muddy, not glamorous. If your [skin tone is] in the yellows, stick with more beige-based bronzers. [Those with] red under tones should opt for something in the terracotta family.”

Use Blush With Care
“Most blush shades have pink or peach tones to create a natural flush to cheeks,” shares Soto-Carlisle. “But, these are not shades that should be applied to the nose or forehead. You can mix subtle shimmer shades with bronzer together such as jane iredale’s So Bronze Duo which blends beautifully on the cheek area.  However, I don’t recommend blending a blush and bronzer for all over the face.”

Mix In A Highlighter
“I think [using an illuminator] is nice because with bronzer you’re manipulating light and anything you want to bring forward you can highlight,” explains Schlip. “Use the highlighter on the top of the cheekbone, eyebrow bone, bridge of the nose, tip of the chin and cupid’s bow on the mouth.”

MORE: What Type of Bronzer Is Right For You?

Glow In Any Season
“Bronzer can absolutely be used all year round. That said, I would recommend a natural, light dusting in winter months,” shares Butterfield. “I really like illuminizing bronzers—never sparkly or glittery—if you see glitter in the product, get something else! My favorite is Orlane’s Bronzing Pressed Powder because It’s perfectly luminous and delicate.”

Use A Quick Fix
“To remove excess bronzer, add a bit of your foundation over it to tone it down,” advises Soto-Carlisle. “I recommend using jane iredale’s flocked sponge with either a powder or liquid foundation to blend out excess color. Since bronzer is buildable, start with a sheer layer, adding color as needed.”

Find Your Formula
“I love that so many formulas exist,” explains Butterfield. “After all it’s fun to experiment! When I’m in a rush, I usually stick to powder because I can fearlessly apply it with out a mirror . If you do happen to have a little time and mirror access, try Laura Mercier’s Bronzing Gel on top of pre-powdered skin.”