How to Apply Bronzer

Tracy Johnson
Woman applying bronzer

It's time to scratch sun bathing, tanning beds, and spray tanning off of your pre-summer list. And no, that doesn't mean you need to rock pale, lackluster skin. The one and only thing you need to achieve a golden glow is in your makeup bag: bronzer. It can give you sun-kissed radiance and a healthy-looking complexion. Bronzer not only brightens dull skin, it also enhances your features and creates summer-ready luminescence with ease any time of year. As if that's not enough, it's super-simple to apply and creates instant, long-lasting results.

Pre-Bronzer

Before applying a powdered bronzer or a liquid one, you will need to:

  1. Cleanse: Wash skin thoroughly in a circular motion with your everyday, gentle cleanser and pat dry.
  2. Moisturize: Try one that's preferably oil-free and non-comedogenic (designed not to clog pores), such as Clinique's Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel. Let the moisturizer sit a few moments until it's fully absorbed.
  3. Prime: Prep the face for flawless makeup application by applying primer to your forehead, cheeks, nose, and chin, (your T-zone). These are the spots on your face that would be hit first if standing in direct sunlight.
  4. Conceal: Apply your regular concealer and/or foundation with either clean fingers, a cosmetic wedge, or a foundation brush to conceal blemishes and produce an even canvas for bronzer application.

How to Apply Bronzer

Bronzer works its magic to impart a veil of warm color, resulting in for beautifully bronzed skin. Properly applied bronzer can highlight and accentuate the features of your face.

Powdered Bronzer Application Instructions

Similar to face powder, bronzer comes in all types of powdered formulas including mineral, waterproof, matte, shimmery, etc. Test a few out to see what looks best with your skin tone. Cosmopolitan recommends bareMinerals READY Bronzer and Rimmel Natural Bronzer.

What you'll need:

  • Powdered bronzer
  • Bronzer brush
  • Compact mirror

How to apply:

  1. Choose a bronzer: Pick one that is about two shades darker than your natural tone. The shade you select should warm your complexion without looking too orange, shimmery, or dark.
  2. Get a bronzer brush: Though most powdered bronzers come with a small application brush, it's best to purchase an additional one that is lightweight, large, wide, and fluffy with a rounded top. Natural fibers are great as well, but not necessary. EcoTools is a great drugstore version while Sephora Collection offers a ton of single brushes and sets for all your makeup needs.
  3. Woman applying bronzer with brush

    Swirl the brush: A little goes a long way, so it's best to apply bronzer in light, even coats. Lightly coat the end of your brush in the powder by gently swirling in the bronzer, then tapping off any excess formula.

  4. Apply: Apply bronzer anywhere the sun naturally hits to achieve a natural-looking glow. Aim for brushing a light layer along the top of the forehead along with the temples, cheeks, nose, jawline, and a little on the chin.

  5. Double check: Take a mirror outside and look at yourself in natural light. Make sure the color matches your skin tone and verify that it isn't darker in certain places than others. Also check for streaks, as you would with a sunless tanning agent. The golden rule is to use as little product as possible so that the end result is believably natural.

Liquid Bronzer Application Instructions

Liquid bronzer is luxurious, reflective, and long-wearing. Choose one with a lightweight texture that feels weightless and comfortable. Marie Claire recommends MAC Bronze Everyday Lustre Drops and Estée Lauder Bronze Goddess Luminous Liquid Bronzer. The best tool to apply liquid bronzer? Your own fingertips.

What You'll need:

  • Liquid bronzer
  • Compact mirror
  • Translucent powder

How to apply:

  1. Choose a bronzer: Liquid bronzers feature moisturizing properties, so they great for people with normal to dry skin types. Select a bronzer that is two shades darker than your natural tone or one that closely matches the color on your chest.
  2. Mix it up: Squirt a pea-size amount onto the tips of your clean, dry fingers - ideally the middle and index fingers of your dominant hand. Rub with your thumb to blend and even the color.
  3. Woman applying liquid bronzer
    Apply: Apply bronzer to the apples of your cheeks starting at the bottom, using a circular motion to blend into skin. Also apply bronzer to the top of the forehead along with the temples, cheeks, nose, jawline, and a little on the chin.
  4. Use your best judgment. With liquid bronzer, a little goes a long way - so start with a light touch. Apply additional bronzer as needed to get the golden glow you desire. If you think you've applied too much, blot excess liquid with a tissue or blotting paper and apply some translucent powder.
  5. Double check: Take a look at yourself in natural light to double check the finished product. Remember, you want your skin to mimic a natural tan without any orange color or streaky residue.

Helpful hint: For full coverage, mix bronzer into your foundation or BB cream. You can add as much or as little as you need to reach your desired summer glow without having to brush on bronzer post-application. Bronzer can also be used in lieu of normal foundation.

Bronzed Beauty

The key to getting that perfect faux glow is not just having a great bronzer, it's knowing how to apply it as well. So instead of shying away from bronzer and all its brilliance, make it an essential part of your everyday makeup routine. It's a simple and fabulous way to contour your face or get a healthy, sun-kissed glow without actually having to step outside. And although you can wear bronzer alone, topping it off with a pretty, pink blush will add a nice pop of color to the apples of your cheeks.

How to Apply Bronzer