“A great bronzer is like that perfect set of earrings to complement your outfit,” says Vincent Ford, Senior Makeup Artist at NARS. “It not only adds warm to your complexion but adds definition as well.” For all-over tint, contoured definition or even for use as an eyeshadow base, a good bronzer is like gold dust. Read on to discover everything you need to know…
There are so many different ways to apply bronzer. The easiest is to simply dust the product all over the face lightly using a large brush. This adds an all-over subtle glow and a hint of colour without requiring too much skill. The most flattering technique however, is to target certain areas of the face to lightly contour, and add definition. “I like to use bronzer where the sun would naturally tan your face, such as the top of the forehead, on the cheeks and down the bridge of the nose,” explains Vincent.
For more control, use a slightly smaller, tapered brush; we like the NARS Blush Brush, which is dense enough to pick up product yet small enough to use on targeted areas like the cheekbones. Bronzers are also great multitaskers. Forgotten your blusher? Opt for a face-brightening golden glow instead. Over your eyeshadow? Apply a wash of bronzer as a base to define sockets.
Finding Your Bronzing Formula
Traditionally the most popular way to bronze, powder formulas are incredibly versatile, come in a range of finishes and are very user-friendly. Opt for a bronzing powder that contains a hint of glimmer for a summer-ready look; this is the best finish for lightly dusting product all over or just on areas where the sun hits.
We love the new Becca Gradient Sunlit Bronzer, which features a spectrum of bronze hues and pearlescent highlighting finishes which, when swirled together, mix the perfect colour for summer. Hourglass’ Ambient Lighting Powder similarly contains a mix of colour and shimmer and comes in a range of shades. If you prefer a matte bronzer, the NARS Sun Wash Diffusing Bronzer in Laguna is a must-have. An icon for a reason, this bronzer has a weightless texture and provides an amazing colour on a range of skintones.
Creams And Liquids
While cream bronzers can seem intimidating, they have their advantages. “A cream or liquid bronzer can be blended into the skin for a more natural bronzed look compared to a powder,” says Vincent. As well as providing a more dewy finish, cream and liquid formulas are incredibly versatile and can be used in a number of ways. Firstly, they can be mixed in with primer or foundation for a hit of all-over colour or to warm up your winter foundation shade for summer.
They can also be used for contouring on the cheekbones and other areas the sun naturally hits. Apply with a small brush and then buff in. RMS’ Buriti Bronzer is great for this technique, as is the NARS Laguna Liquid Bronzer, which has a slightly more liquid texture so lends itself to mixing with your base.
If you’re specifically interested in contouring, bronzing products can easily be used instead of separate, contour-specific formulations. Matte bronzing formulations or bronzing sticks are great for contouring and mean you don’t have to buy specific products to create definition. So how do you use your bronzer as a contouring product? “I apply it under the cheekbones, down the sides of the nose and on the neck area to sculpt the face,” Vincent explains.
Use Kevyn Aucoin’s Matte Bronzing Veil with a small, tapered brush along the cheekbones, or if you prefer creamier formulas and find them easier to blend, Nudestix has some great options. We love their Bronzing Pencil, which can be applied directly and buffed out with a dense brush for ultimate definition and a natural finish.