In an attempt to protect our skin from the damaging effects of UV rays, we usually keep out of the sun, which means we can sometimes look a little pale and lackluster.
Bronzer was invented for this very reason, as a way to get an artificial sun-kissed glow without any of the bad stuff, and if you don’t have a trusty bronzing product in your makeup bag, you’re missing out.
What does bronzer do?
Bronzer is applied to the skin in an effort to make it appear one or two shades darker, and also have a golden, shimmery glow to it.
A bronzing product can come in a cream, liquid, or powder form, all with the desired effect of making us look like we’re naturally tanned without having to get it sprayed on.
If you’ve never experienced the wonders of bronzer on your skin before, you’re missing out big time.
This guide will show you why it’s a must-have beauty product, how to find the perfect fit for your skin tone and tips for applying it just as smoothly as a professional makeup artist does.
What Is Bronzer?
Bronzer is a beauty product that can darken the tone of your natural skin color, add warmth to your overall complexion, and some shimmer and shine.
A bronzer is ultimately designed to mimic the look of a tan on your body, but just less intense, and is applied to the areas of your face and body where the sun would usually hit.
What makes bronzer such a popular beauty product is its versatility, and how you’re able to build on and control what the finished look is.
Those wanting to look healthier, shinier, and warmer will love the benefits that bronzer has to offer, and it can also add some definition.
Ultimately though, it’s about delivering an instant sun-kissed look with just a few seconds of application on their body or face.
Bronzing products come in a few different forms, with the most popular being a pressed or loose powder, liquid, and cream.
The powder form is used for dusting onto the skin and may be better at doing top-ups when you’re not at home, liquid can be absorbed better into the skin for a long finish, and cream-based bronzers fall somewhere in between.
There are three finishes available with bronzing products, depending on the overall look you want.
A shimmering look is one that appears slightly sparkly on the skin by reflecting the light, matte which has a flat finish and absorbs the light, and sheer which looks almost transparent on the skin.
Some people have a bronzer in each type to suit the occasion, which is one of the beauties of this product.
The History of Bronzing Products
Bronzer has been a must-have beauty product for over a decade now, but our commitment to being bronzed and gorgeously tanned is nothing new.
However, there was once a time where being pale was in, and women would carry large parasols and hats around, and even use chalk and lead to whiten their skin in Ancient Greece and Rome.
After the nineteenth century, this porcelain phase was done, and as women started showing more skin, they wanted it to have a gorgeous honey glow in any way possible.
Sun tanning was the obvious choice and something men and women partook in for decades, before realizing the serious effects that it could have on their skin and bodies.
From there, people looked for healthier ways to achieve a tanned look, with the introduction of sunless tanners and fake tans.
Those wanting a more discreet bronzed look found the fake tan to be too dramatic, and thus the market for bronzing products and gentler self-tanners was born.
Today, bronzers are part of many women’s beauty routines, and some men as well.
With just the right amount of sun-kissed effect without overdoing it, bronzing products have managed to two the line and give people a customizable honey glow that they can easily achieve in seconds.
What Should Bronzer Do?
Some makeup products were created to dramatically improve or alter their wearer’s appearance, but the bronzer isn’t one of these products.
The main goal of applying bronzer is to make the skin look healthier which it achieves with a natural glow and golden shimmer, carefully placed in the right areas.
People commonly mistake bronzer for other beauty products, including blush and contour, but its role is completely unique.
While these others do similar things, bronzer should be placed on the spots where your skin gets hit by the sun, adding warmth to your complexion without being obvious that you’ve got any makeup on at all.
When you compare bronzer to blush, blush is more about adding a flush of color to the cheeks which can help accentuate them.
Bronzer and contour are different yet again, with contouring being done to add definition and change the structure of one’s face, even if it does add some depth as well.
The right bronzer will be able to elevate your skin and make even the dullest complexion look sun-kissed and glowing.
When used right, you can also add some definition to your face and other body parts, like enhancing cheekbones or drawing attention to your collarbones, without being over the top.
Choosing the Best Bronzer For Your Skin
One of the trickiest parts of using bronzer is choosing the right one, and this step is usually harder to get a handle on than applying the product itself.
The rule of thumb when choosing bronzer is to use one that’s no more than two shades darker than your natural skin tone, but it goes deeper than that too.
The undertone of your skin is just as important to know as the overall tone and if you’re not sure what this is, a quick visit to a dermatologist or makeup artist will steer you in the right direction.
A handy trick is to look at your veins and see what color they are, with blue meaning cool undertones, green being warmer, and something in between a neutral undertone.
Once you know your skin tone and undertone, you can start shopping around and looking for something that closely mimics how you react to a natural suntan.
Follow this quick guide for how to pick colors of bronzers and other makeup products that suit your natural skin:
Cool: Someone with this undertone should choose bronzers made with soft brown, beige, taupe, and peach colors.
Warm: Warm undertones are better suited to gold and brown bronzers that will complement their natural color.
Neutral: This skin tone suits anything natural and brown colored, so avoid bronzers that have tinges of yellow or pink in them.
With the right colors in mind, you’ll then need to figure out if you prefer a full shimmer or just something discreet.
Those looking for a higher shimmer effect should choose pink and silver hues, and if you prefer your bronzer to be less dramatic and more natural-looking, gold and brown options are best.
Where Should Bronzer Go?
The ultimate goal of bronzer is to add warmth, but a common misconception about how to get this is just by dusting bronzer over the entirety of your face and hoping for the best.
Doing this will only result in a brassy look and make it appear as if you’re recovering from the worst fake tan of your life.
With the notion of adding warmth in mind, you want to think about the places on your face where the sun might hit and focus on those.
This includes the forehead, brow bone, nose, chin, and top of the cheekbones. For further definition, you can also sweep some bronzer underneath your jawline, just as you would a contouring product.
Your face shape can also determine the best placement for bronzer and other beauty products.
Those with a heart-shaped face will want to focus on their forehead, a round face should place bronzer on their nose and top of their cheekbones, and a square-shaped face can use contour and bronzer to soften their natural angles.
Bronzer can also be applied to the body for results that are just as beautiful, but again, knowing where and how much is key.
The shoulders and collarbones are the best placement for a natural glow, but you can go further and apply bronzer to your arms and legs if you’re hoping to show off more of your body.
Just be careful not to overdo it otherwise you could get the dreaded bad fake tan look.
How to Use Bronzer Like an MUA
Bronzer is one of the easiest makeup products to apply, as long as you know the right spots to hit and how much of it to use.
The most important step is having a bronzer that suits your skin tone and the look you’re going for, as well as a dedicated bronzer brush made for this specific purpose.
From there, it’s just a few simple steps to bronzed perfection.
Gently tap the brush into the bronzer and remove any excess bronzer by tapping on the side of the container.
Start at the top of the forehead where your skin meets your hairline and do a big sweep across this area, and then down to your cheekbones.
Gather some more bronzer and tap again, then sweep from your cheekbone down across your jawline and back up to your forehead on the other side.
Use the remnants of the bronzer to sweep some of the product on the temples, nose, chin, and neck.
Blend using small circles so that the bronzer has a seamless transition to your natural skin tone and make sure all areas are combined.
Bronzed and Beautiful
The beauty of a product like a bronzer is that the effects are immediate and amazing.
Whether you’re looking for just a shade darker than your skin tone for a natural tanned look or want to be a shimmering golden goddess, you’ll find a bronzer out there that can make the magic happen for you.
Bronzer has become a staple in many women’s makeup bags, as an instant way to get a smooth and tanned complexion.
If you want to know about other beauty products that can have a similar effect, check out these FAQs to find out which ones are right for you.
Can I Contour With Bronzer?
Although it is possible to do some contouring using a bronzer product, you’re better off using a contour-specific one instead.
The undertones of bronzers are generally warm compared to the cooler tones of a contour, and if you use them incorrectly, it will be immediately obvious that you’ve used the wrong product to do it with.
Does Self Tanner Ruin Your Skin?
Many gentle self-tanning products won’t do any harm to your skin, and even the more intense ones are still safer than exposing yourself to UV rays.
Before choosing a self tanner, make sure you find a product that suits your skin type and any sensitives you have so you can reduce the chance of something going wrong.
Should I Apply Bronzer Over My Whole Face?
Bronzer should only be applied to certain areas like underneath your cheekbones, on your forehead, and underneath the jawline, without being too dramatic.
Applying it to your whole face can make it look as if you’ve got an orange or brassy complexion and it won’t highlight the areas that it needs to for a natural sun-kissed look.