How to use bronzer: 8 Beauty Panel tips for buying, applying and wearing bronzer

How to use bronzer
How to use bronzer

Bring on the bronzer! Whether you wear it all year round or just like to add some glow to your complexion during warmer months, there’s no time like the start of spring to learn how to use bronzer properly. After all, this is when drugstore aisles and department store beauty counters will be inundated with new bronze-focused products, making even the most pale-skinned set want to add a little glow to their complexions. However, because there are so many types of bronzers out there—and so many questions about how to use bronzer—we thought it best to have the Beauty Panel, our carefully selected group of hair and makeup experts, take you through their best bronzing tricks.

Challenge 10: What are your tips on how to use bronzer properly? See the answers now! »

From choosing the right shade of bronzer to deciding if you need a matte or shimmering finish to finding foolproof ways to apply blush and bronzer together, our Beauty Panel will ensure you’ll never wonder how to use bronzer ever again. One of the biggest tips is certainly in the colour selection. Both Secrets From Your Girlfriends’s JJ Cowan and Tess Lopez from Makeup By Tess advise against picking a bronzer with orange undertones. Instead, try a shade with pink and taupe pigments. Another important consideration is the brush you use to apply bronzer. Almost all of our panelists used two different brushes—but with plenty of helpful explanation why. Stealing Beauty’s Alexa Lowe likes to use a smaller brush when applying highlighter after her bronzer and Fiona Man from Product Wars finds that the better the brush, the better the blending results. Still curious about how to use bronzer? Read on for all the answers!

Have a beauty question you want to see the panel answer? Send it our way at [email protected]. Read on for the answers to this week’s challenge and for more goodness, get to know all contributors on our Beauty Panel hub page.


How to use bronzer - Rema

Rema Benallal
Toronto | The Burgundy Book

When I’m out on the lake with friends I often gloat about how I don’t burn in the sun but my arrogance is swiftly followed by sincere groans the night after said day in the sun. Although my olive skin does tan easily, the early days of summer remind me that I’m not invincible and have to build up to the tan that I want.

In the meantime I like to enhance my cheekbones and forehead with a subtle bronze hue to give my colour a gradual boost. Dior’s new Blush Bronzer Duo is a dream come true of a product. A brightening, coral blush (swoon) on one side with a light-medium bronzer on the other will make the palest of skins turn in to a Bahamas trip gone right.

I use the bronzer part to contour with my M.A.C #109 brush and apply the product to the hollows of my cheeks and the sides of my forehead for a sunkissed glow. Gently swirling the brush will deposit the product with a smoother finish than just packing it on. I then take my Shu Uemura 20h angled blush brush and apply the stunning coral blush to apples of my cheeks. This two-in-one instantly lifts my complexion to be brighter and more bronzed than it was before. And just so you know, I’ve already learned my lesson (the hard way) for Summer 2013—I too need a healthy bit of SPF 30 (at the very least!) slathered all over my skin.

Products used: Dior Blush Bronzer Duo, M.A.C #109 Brush , Shu Uemura 20h Angled Blush Brush

How to use bronzer - Aleeza

Aleeza Agno
Toronto | Stylish & Literate

Bronzer is a great way to get that sun-kissed look without the damaging effects of the sun. Today, I’m using one of my favourite cream bronzers, the Chanel Bronze Universal.

Like with any bronzer, the key is to apply a little at a time to build up the colour. I usually begin by swirling the brush into the bronzer and dabbing the excess on the back of my hand before applying it to my face.

You want to place bronzer where the sun would naturally hit your face. Just remember the classic mantra: 3E.

As a general rule, apply cream bronzers on top of liquid foundation and under powder foundation. If you’re fair, you can apply the bronzer under liquid foundation to soften the look.

Also, don’t forget the blush! You’ve added warmth to your face, now it’s time to add some colour to your cheeks. Pink and peach shades complement bronzer best.

There you have it, now go get your faux glow on!

Products used: Chanel Soleil Tan de Chanel “Bronzing Makeup Base” (aka “Bronze Universal”), Laura Mercier Second Skin Cheek Colour in “Lotus Pink,” Nars Blush in Luster,” M.A.C Blush in “Peaches,” Real Techniques Expert Face Brush, Sonia Kashuk Domed Blusher Brush

Alexa Lowe
Montreal | Stealing Beauty

Products used: Lancôme Blush Subtil Palette in “Plum Elegance,” Lancôme Dual Ended Cheek Contour Brush #25, Real Techniques Contour Brush

How to use bronzer - Fiona

Fiona Man
Toronto | Product Wars

A few weeks ago, I was in the Dominican. During that time, I was applying SPF 50 on my face every hour and SPF 30 every few hours on my body. Why apply two different SPFs for the face and body? I’m worried about sun spots, wrinkles, and any signs of pre-mature aging on my face—so I definitely want to protect my face more. However, because my body was a few shades darker than my face, bronzer was my best friend to match the two together.

You’ll need: Matte bronzer. Because I have oily skin, I tend to use powders. But if you have drier skin, feel free to use creams. I prefer using a matte formulation as I like to use bronzer to contour and make my round face slimmer. Any formulations with shimmer will highlight the areas I’m trying to slim down; A pointed or dome shaped brush. Any brush that has a pointed tip or slim edge will do. I love using Real Techniques Contour Brush as it precisely applies and blends out the product. Also, the bristles are super soft on your skin; Blush. To give more life to my face, I prefer to using a pink blush. One that I have used continuously is Cargo Blush in “Catalina” and I always hit the pan; Blush brush. Any brush will do. Lately, I’ve been using Real Techniques Expert Face Brush as I can stipple on the blush then blend it out. (Tip: You want to apply blush after bronzer so your blush does not get muddy.)

After applying your foundation, dip your brush into the bronzer. Using the handle of the brush, place it from the middle of your ear to the corner of your lips. This aligns with the hallows of your cheek, so you don’t need to do the infamous “fishy face.” Starting from the middle of your ear, apply the bronzer and slowly move towards the corner of your lips. Repeat on the other side. Dip your brush again into your bronzer and apply it along the hairline and underneath the jawline. Blend as needed so there are no harsh lines on your face. Dip your blush brush into your blush and apply it to the apples of your cheek and blend outwards. Repeat on the other side.

Tip: Imagine yourself writing an “E” and “3” on your face when bronzing it up.

Products used: NYC Sun ‘N’ Bronze Bronzing Powder in “Coney Island Glow,” Real Techniques Contour Brush, Cargo Blush in “Catalina,” Real Techniques Expert Face Brush

How to use bronzer - Dee

Dee Thomson
Toronto | Liner and Glitter and Gloss, Oh My!

For someone like me (meaning, pale is practically my middle name), bronzer has always proven itself to be a bit of a challenge. I always love having a nice sun-kissed glow to warm up my face, but I find it’s so hard to apply bronzer without overdoing it. My solution? To stick to the light side of application, putting it on lightly just where it’s needed. For me, that means along the hairline, the cheeks (I tend to stay right under the apples of my cheeks to add a little more definition), the jawline and the top of the nose—all the places where the sun naturally hits and you need to contour. I like to use a full, round brush to sweep it on in a circular motion so that the bronzer blends in naturally without creating too much contrast. I then like to add a little blush to the apples of my cheeks for a little more warmth and will brush on some pressed powder if I need to blend the bronzer into my face a little bit more.

Products Used: Annabelle Bronzer in “Biggy,” Dior Summer Brush, Lise Watier Blush in “Pink Power”

How to use bronzer - Tess

Tess Lopez
Toronto | Makeup By Tess

Not only do bronzers create a beautiful glow, it’s great for contouring to make certain features slimmer (like your nose or the sides of your face) or to help certain features stand out (such as your cheek bones).

Because my skin tends to get a bit oily, I prefer using powder bronzers. My current fave is a popular one, “Hoola” by Benefit. Other bronzers on my rotation list include Nars “Laguna” and M.A.C Mineralize Skin Finish Natural in “Dark.” All of these bronzers are matte and not very orange, as looking like a shimmery Oompa Loompa is not very flattering.

My skin is pretty tanned as it is. I like to add bronzer more for contouring my face, or shall I say my babyface (oh these cheeks!). Applying the bronzer with an angled contour powder brush or a small blush brush is my favourite tool to use. Here I’m using a contour powder brush from Royal & Langnickel (BE13).

– When choosing a matte shade of bronzer pick one that is a shade or two darker than your natural skin colour.
– Suck in your cheeks to feel the hallow of your cheeks. This is where you should apply your bronzer to give your cheeks a slimmer look.
– The angle of the application should be from the top of your ear to the corner of your mouth—use a brush handle or pencil as a guideline to create this angle. Begin the application from the top (close to your hair line) towards your mouth but stop once you reach the iris of your eye. You don’t want to make the bronzer strip way too long or else you lose the effect of contouring.
– Don’t forget to always blend as you don’t want it to look like you have a bacon strip on your face!
– Whenever you contour, you must always highlight. I like using “Soft And Gentle” Mineralize Skinfinish by M.A.C. In between the highlight and contour is where the blush should be applied.
– You can also apply bronzer where the sun would naturally hit your face (forehead, jaw line, etc.)

Products used: Benefit “Hoola,” M.A.C Mineralize Skinfinish in “Soft And Gentle,” M.A.C Blush in “Dainty”

How to use bronzer - JJ

JJ Cowan
Toronto | Secrets From Your Girlfriends

My skin is pale with pink undertones and as a result I tan pink, I blush pink and you can pretty much guarantee that I sweat pink blotchy spots when I workout. So, picking a bronzer for me is a difficult endeavour. Generally, bronzers come packed with orange undertones in order to highlight the skin giving it a natural glow that emulates a tan. Unfortunately, this does not jive with my pink complexion.

Over the years, I have tried just about every bronzer on the market in hopes of finding one that matched my baby pink skin but I still suffered the unfortunate consequences of over-orange exposure. From full body bronzers—that left me orange and blotchy for weeks—to an equally epic disaster with the use of a facial bronzer that resulted in the always feared, orange halo along my jaw line, I finally figured out that there are bronzers available that come with a combination of pink and brown undertones.

Salvation arrived with my introduction to Physicians Formula Pure Mineral Facial Bronzer in “Translucent” and I can honestly say that I no longer need to venture into orange undertone territory. Generally, in the warmer months I use a regular blush brush and lightly dust my bronzer along the forehead, cheekbones, nose and lightly dust my lips to give them a subtle glow. When I have bronzer on, I lay off the strong statement lip that I am known for, and instead wear something more neutral. The end result is a glowing complexion that actually suits my complexion.

Products used: Physicians Formula Pure Mineral Facial Bronzer in “Translucent,” M.A.C Cheek Blush Brush

How to use bronzer - Ellie

Ellie Somfelean
Montreal | My Beauty Box

I don’t know about the rest of the country, but summer is upon us here in Montreal. Which means, time for bronzer. This is how I manage to warm up my face and sport a faux tan without actually putting my skin in harm’s way.

After I do my regular foundation and concealing, I dust my face with a light translucent powder. This will help the bronzer slide across the face and facilitate blending, which is essential in getting that natural sun-kissed look. I always like working with powders, as the can be easy to manipulate—they are buildable and look very natural on the skin.

The way I like to apply my bronzer is simple. After I use a matte dark shade in the hollows of my cheekbones as a contour, I follow the “Three C” rule. On the outside of the face starting from the temples I use a golden bronzer, touching the points where the sun would naturally hit me. In the inside of this big C, I use a light peach blush that will mimic the flushed, almost sunburned effect. Finally, inside that—the smallest C—around the eyes, I apply a golden highlighter for that nice dewy glow.

Of course, the secret is to start with a light hand, build up the product and blend, blend, blend! There should be no visible lines between shades. I like the use Real Techniques contour brush as it’s perfect for shaping the face and then following with a bigger angled blush brush to buff and cover larger areas and deposit a light wash of colour. PS: Don’t forget your ears, neck and shoulders. Your face should match the body and vice versa.

Products used: Real Techniques Contour Brush, Sonia Kashuk Angled Brush, Korres Yogurt Moisturizer, Consonant The Perfect Sunscreen SPF 30, Neutrogena Healthy Skin Foundation, Revlon Nearly Naked Foundation, Bare Escentuals The Shining Moment, Essence Blush in “Vintage District,” Lancôme Ageless Mineral Powders Bronzers and Translucent Powder, Rimmel Scandal Eyes Lycra Flex Mascara, Physicans Formula Eye Booster Eyeliner

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