Makeup Basics: Bronzers -- How To Choose And Use

   You might associate bronzing powder with faking a tan, but it is much more than that. Bronzing powder is a fantastic and versatile product -- it can sculpt features and add colour to the skin. It's one of my most-used cosmetics (after foundation and concealer).

   When you have applied foundation, the skin looks even, but it can also looks very two-dimensional (flat) and colourless. If you have ever had a drawing class and learned shading, you can see how adding a bit of shadow can make things pop! Bronzer sculpts the features and at the same time adds a bit of colour to the complexion.

How to choose a bronzer

   A lot of bronzers on the market are useless --- to orange, with vulgarly sparkling bits. A good bronzer for everyday use should not call attention to itself, because it is meant to create an illusion.
    The most flattering finish is definitely matte. A satiny finish is flattering only on smooth skin as it brings attention to imperfections. If you prefer something with sparkles, they should be as fine as possible.
    Knowing whether your skin tone is warm or cool can help a lot in choosing the right shade. If you are cool, a warm bronzer will not look right on you. You need a neutral to cool bronzer. Sparkly bits that are silvery look better. If you want to add warmth to a too cool skin tone, you can choose a lighter, peachy-brown.
  If you are warm, you should try neutral to slightly warm shades. Stay away from bronzers that look orange or red, or you will look like a carrot. Too cool shades can look dirty, but then again is really rare to find bronzers that are very cool. If your skin has olive tones, try ochre browns. Shimmery bits that are golden look better.
   A bronzer should be 2-3 shades darker than your skin. It should not be much darker than your summer tan. If you are a makeup rookie, a lighter shade will allow more room for error than a dark one.
   You can also use a dark shade of foundation / powder as a bronzer.

Some recommended bronzers:

Cool and neutral:
Everyday Minerals Winter Bronzer
Bobbi Brown Bahama Brown Stephane Marais - Bronzing Powder
Estee Lauder - bronzer-goddess
Sweetscents Bronzer
The Body Shop Honey Bronzing Powder, Light Matte
Lumiere Ambrozia
Bobbi Brown Bronzing Powder, Natural
e.l.f. Healthy Glow Bronzing Powder Matte Bronzer
Physician's Formula - Happy Booster Glow & Mood Boosting Powder ( Translucent or Beige)
Benefit Hoola
Dr Hauschka Bronzing Powder
Flormar Pretty Compact Blush On P115
Lumiere  Nude Wet 'n' Wild - Ticket to Brazil
NARS Casino, Laguna
Flormar Moisac Compact Powder 601
e.l.f. Blush and Bronzer Duo
Bobbi Brown Illuminating Bronzing Powder - Bali Brown and Aruba
   I prefer bronzers in stone, or powders (like the mineral ones). I don't like pearls because I never know which colour I'm going to get. On the image above you see the bronzers that I use.

Which brush to use

   The flat brushes that come with bronzers are horrible. Bin them and get a fluffy blush brush! I like blush brushes that are sculpted in some way (like the Everyday Minerals Dome Blush Brush) because you can use the broader side for bigger areas and the edge for smaller areas. If you have a hard time finding the hollows of your cheeks, you can get an angled blush brush (I have this one).

How to apply a bronzer

  There are basically two ways of doing this: one is to add a sun-kissed touch to the skin and the other is to contour the face to give an illusion of sculpted features and slim down face areas.

   For the sun-kissing technique just apply a dash of bronzer to the places where the sun would naturally touch your face and tan you first: forehead, cheeks, nose chin. This is nicely described here.

   For the contouring method I love to use the "3 or E technique": You basically draw the figure of three on the side of your face.  I sweep the color from the temples, to right under the cheekbone, and then curve back down to the jaw line. The bronzer should go below the cheekbones not above! You can adjust this method to work with your face shape  I like to use a little bronzer under my jaw line and under my chin to hide my double chin.You can dust the tiniest bit of bronzer onto your chin and the
  You need a matte bronzer to for this, because sheen or shimmer will work against what you are trying to achieve. If you want, you can use a shimmery bronzer only on your cheekbones. Another tip: if you can't find the hollows of your cheekbones, suck your cheeks in.

Face chart via

This lady demonstrates  the 3 or E method of applying bronzer:

   You can adapt this method to work for your features. For example if your forehead is narrow but your jaws are wide, apply more bronzer on the jaws and less on the temples. Here are some tips on using bronzer according to your face shape.
   Some women use bronzer only below the cheekbones, but that usually doesn't look very natural if the bronzer is only on one spot (to avoid this you should dust the sides of your face or the bridge of your nose very lightly).
   If you are using a blush, here is how to make it work with bronzer: Apply bronzer first, then blush. If your blush is dark you can use it below the cheekbones in place of a bronzer or on top of it. This is especially true for shades that are brownish. Lighter blush usually goes above the bronzer, that is on the cheekbones / cheek apples. (If you are wondering about the difference between blush and bronzer, in a pinch a bronzer is nude and sculpts the features, whereas blush is coloured and adds colour to the face.)

   You can also use bronzer on your collarbone and to enhance your cleavage (a dash in between your breasts). For that matter, I have also used bronzer as an eyeshadow.

   About the application: load very little of the bronzer on the brush, tap of the excess. You can test out the intensity on the back of the hand. Apply the bronzer with light strokes, as if you were dusting the skin. It is always better to apply a very light layer and build it up. Generally, less is definitely more when it comes to bronzer!

    That is all for now! Do you love bronzer as much as I do or not? Which is your favourite bronzer?

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