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How to Apply Bronzer

The "must-hit" spots on the face; plus, my favorite bronzers


How to Apply Bronzer
Digital Vision/Getty Images How to Apply Bronzer

Bronzer is a great staple for any beauty bag. It can make your skin look sun-kissed even when it's protected with sunscreen. It can also wake up tired, pasty skin. Here are some tried-and-true tips for proper application.

The Must-Hit Spots for Bronzer

Bronzer looks best when applied lightly to all the spots where the sun naturally shines (the forehead, cheeks, nose and chin).

How to Create Thicker Lips, Better Cheekbones & a More Angular Jawline With Bronzer

Contouring is the use of bronzers and blush to create definition to your face. The goal here is to create shadows to highlight your best parts (hello cheekbones and jawbone!) and downplay any bad parts like a weak or double chin, a big nose or thin lips.

You'll need a bronzer that's not too shimmery or orange. Brown bronzers tend to work best. Remember: You don't want to bring attention to the bronzer. It is meant to create an illusion.

Find out more in How to Contour Using Makeup

Don't Go Too Dark

Most companies sell light, medium and dark bronzers. Choose a shade that's no more than two shades darker than your skin. I once made the mistake of buying bronzer that came in a quad of four colors. The darkest was WAY too dark for my skin. (Hello George Hamilton!).

Keep in mind you might need a different shade in winter than summer, when your skin is naturally darker.

If you're fair and sunburn easily, peach or pink bronzers are a great choice. (Bronzers in general are great for neutralizing a ruddy complexion, according to InStyle's book, "Getting Gorgeous"). Copper shades are nice on olive skin tones, while darker shades are perfect for dark skin. Avoid orange shades, which can look unnatural.

See my list of the best bronzers.

How to Choose the Right Bronzer

Powder-based bronzer is best for oily or normal skin. Use a short, fluffy blush brush to apply, but first blow excess bronzer off brush before application or you risk going overboard with color.

Cream- or gel-based bronzers work best for dry skin. Apply with finger or a sponge. As with most cream-based beauty products, it's important to blend well into skin or you risk looking like a clown.

I'm a sucker for the bronzed look all year round. However, I've found that my summer bronzer can look too harsh on my paler winter skin. To fix this, I always blow on my brush once I dip it into the bronzer. This ensures I'm using as little as possible. You can also buy a lighter bronzer for winter, much as you would keep a lighter foundation for winter and a darker one for summer. Other suggestions I've read about: Mix in a bit of bronzer powder into your moisturizer for an all-over, but slight, glow. You can also put away the bronzer for winter and opt instead for a tinted mosturizer or tinted sunscreen.

Don't Forget Blush

Bronzer alone can appear dull. For a dewy look, apply cream blush to the apples of your cheeks. The combination of bronzer and cream blush is absolutely gorgeous.

According to makeup artist Bobbi Brown, bronzer looks best on days you don't wear a lot of foundation.

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