You’ll sooner catch me rocking a fuschia lip or a smoky eye than see me even breathing in the direction of a bronzer. I have nothing against them—I’ve just always found the creams and dusts to be particularly intimidating, let alone impossible to apply without feeling like a TBT to, like, 2009.
And yet—it’s the depth of winter, and I’d really appreciate knowing the secret to using bronzer like a pro to add some sun-swathing to my complexion. “Bronzer is meant to define and warm a complexion,” says Shirley Pinkson, makeup artist guru and cofounder of W3ll People. And anyone can use bronzer, no matter their skin tone.
“I love glow, so bronzer and highlighters are my holy grail products,” says Beyonce’s makeup artist, Sir John, adding that he uses bronzer in nearly every look he does. “No matter what your skin tone is, your bronzer should always be used to make your complexion warmer and give your skin this ‘healthy’ look.” Turns out the illuminating makeup product is nothing to be afraid of. If you’re like me and aren’t quite sure how to use it, keep scrolling for Pinkson and Sir John’s pro tips.
Steal these makeup artist-approved tips for applying bronzer
Find the right brush: “The first key is to get yourself a really soft brush,” says Pinkson. “If you’re afraid of using too much bronzer, the denser the brush, the more pigment it picks up. So you’ll end up over-applying and then it’s hard to blend out a powder bronzer.” A really fine powder brush, on the other hand, has more movement and flexibility, she says. “The bristle is really soft, it won’t pick up a lot of color, and so it’ll deposit more of a wash on your skin.”
Nail the C shape: Once you’ve got your tools covered, all you have to do is apply where the sunlight touches the skin. Pinkson’s tip? “Applying it in the C shape makes it really simple, fresh, and it will define your complexion more.” For added definition, she takes the pigment from the brush afterwards and rubs it onto her lids in the crease to warm up the eyes. Finish by dusting on the forehead and chin to bring it all together.
Blend it with other products: For an all-over shimmer, Sir John recommends mixing your bronzer into your go-to staple. His fave to do this with? L’Oréal Paris Havana x Camila Cabello Sun-Lit Liquid Bronzer ($15). “You can either use it like a bronzer and apply directly to your skin and blend, or you can mix it with your tinted moisturizer or foundation for that perfect all-over bronzy look,” he says.
Add some blush: I’ve always figured that you either wear bronzer or you wear a blush—you have to choose between the two. Pinkson proved me wrong. “It’s a perfect balance if you smile and put your blush on the apples of your cheeks,” she says. “I always suggest to start with the bronzer, then put on blush and then highlighter if you want. I leave highlighter for last because if you’ve been heavy-handed with blush or bronzer, it softens it all on top and brings it all together.”
Try a cream if you’re new to bronzer: Some people just aren’t into using powders, which is totally cool—you can still use bronzer in cream form with the same effect. “Cream bronzer is great when you’re a newbie because you can tap it away if you put too much on,” says Pinkson. “Texture plays in though, so if you want more of a matte finish, you either have to set it with something or opt for a powder. Cream is for if you want a glowy finish on the skin.”
If you’re just going for a rosy look, here’s the makeup artist-approved trick on how to apply a cream blush. And these are the best natural highlighters to top it all off with.
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