Bronzer has been a staple in makeup bags for a long time. Whilst the formulas have changed and ranges have expanded, bronzers still serve the same purpose: to emulate sun-kissed skin.
However, for many people, bronzers can be a confusing step. Some may ban bronzing products from their makeup bag altogether, as these cosmetics seem far too easy to get wrong.
The growth in popularity of contouring has enhanced the confusion even more, and now bronzer is being used for all the wrong reasons. Sometimes, it's best to go back to basics and understand why a product was developed before deciding how best to use it on yourself.
What are bronzers used for?
Bronzers are used to give skin a healthy glow. A well-chosen shade makes you look as if you’ve spent time in the sun—without the UV dangers of solar rays or sunbeds. Bronzers enhance your tan, artificial or not, and darken the skin without masking it.
Some bronzing products contain a lot of shimmer, so the light-reflective particles make you sparkle with radiance. Other bronzing cosmetics have a more natural matte finish and add warmth and definition to your skin. Bronzers come in powder, gel, liquid, and cream form and can be intended for the face or body.
Using a bronzer that's too dark or has the wrong undertones can just look muddy and artificial on your skin—not quite the sun-kissed glow you're looking for. A bronzer that looks perfect on your skin tone in summer can look much too dark on your skin in winter, meaning a constant battle to find the best shade.
The difference between bronzing and contouring
Contouring is no longer a beauty-industry secret, and everyone seems to be trying it. However, whilst you're meant to use a darker shade for contour to emulate a shadow, many reach for a bronzer in an attempt to economise.
However, a contour should be matte and cool-toned, whereas bronzers tend to be the opposite, which leads to disastrous results. Contouring has left some confusion as to how you actually apply bronzer. Is it meant for the hollows? Or the prominent areas? But isn’t that where highlight goes? It can be a minefield.
Choosing the perfect bronzer for you
The best way to build up your confidence with bronzer is to pick the right shade for your complexion and then apply it subtly. You should never go more than two shades darker than your natural skin tone in a bronzer. You also need to pay attention to whether your skin is cool, warm, or neutral in tone.
Benefit Hoola Bronzing Powder is a great bronzer for beginners, with a universally flattering shade that gives a fresh-off-the-beach glow.
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The best way to apply bronzer
Avoid using bronzer as a contour! Instead, use bronzer to mimic where the sun would hit your face naturally and where you tan the darkest. This will give you a sun-kissed look and add definition and warmth to your skin. Apply bronzer to the cheekbones, temples, and bridge of your nose. Buff it in for a seamless finish.
Bronzer can be an extremely flattering product if used correctly, so don't discard it prematurely. Practise with a light hand, using a well-matched shade, and you'll have expertly sun-kissed skin in no time.