Bronzer is one of my favorite players in the makeup game because it can be used in so many different ways. You can use it over the entire face to make yourself appear more tan, you can brush it across your nose and temples to make it look like you've just been kissed by the sun, and you can also use it to contour, (i.e., make certain parts of your face recede to give yourself a more slim, chiseled look). I like to do a combination of the sun-kissed AND contoured look by following the "3" rule. This simply means that you apply the bronzer in a "3" shape on your face: on your temples, along your cheekbones, and along your jawline. See image below.
This gives you a golden glow but also helps to contour your face a bit, giving you a more chiseled look. You can go as crazy with the contouring as you like (go Kim K on it if your heart desires), but this post is not really about contouring. This is about using bronzer in a more subtle manner, for that sun-kissed, just stepped off the beach, born this way kind of glow.
There are SO MANY different kinds of bronzers on the market - matte, shimmer, liquid, powder, cool-toned, warm-toned... the list goes on... but as with any makeup, it's about finding the one that works for you and your skin tone and your ultimate goal. For contouring, it's typically best to go with a more cool-toned shade (more of a gray base), that way it appears more like a shadow and doesn't look muddy on your skin, and for an overall glow, a more warm shade (more of an orange base) works best. Now, this will vary based on your skin tone, i.e., if your undertone is more warm, cool, or neutral. To find out which bronzer might look best on you, check out this article from Refinery29 or this article from Paula's Choice. Hopefully that's not overwhelming. Makeup is supposed to be fun and unique to YOU, so there's nothing wrong with playing around with different bronzers in Sephora or Ulta to find what you like. Here are some of my favorites and why I love them:
1. Too Faced Little Black Book of Bronzers // In my humble opinion, Too Faced makes the best bronzers on the market. They are creamy, buttery, apply like a dream, AND smell like chocolate. Color me happy. This book is genius. It has EIGHT different bronzers and they are all so unique. Some have shimmer, some are matte, some have pink so you can use them as blush, some are cool toned, some are warm... what more could you ask for, really? If you're going to play with bronzers, this is the product to get. If you don't want to go all out with this book (but honestly, the payoff is insane), then try one of their Soleil Matte Bronzers in three different shades. You won't be sorry.
2. Milani Baked Bronzer // This affordable drugstore bronzer is a great all-around warm-toned shimmery option. It adds a really nice radiance to the skin without being too harsh or over the top. It is buildable, so if you wanted more color payoff, you could certainly achieve it. I would not use this bronzer to contour, this is more of a beachy, brush over your face glow.
3. Kat Von D Shade + Light Contour Palette // As the name implies, this is a contour palette, but the darker shades along the bottom row can be used for more subtle bronzing as well. I LOVE this palette. The formula is exceptional, much like the Too Faced powders, and they apply to the face like butter. I use this palette more for nights when I am going out or for when I know I am having my picture taken, because I like to use the highlighting shades on the top row as well.
4. NARS Bronzing Powder in Laguna // This one is a cult classic. If you love makeup or have a large makeup collection, chances are you've at least heard of Laguna. It's a cool-toned brown bronzer with a bit of a golden shimmer. The shimmer is not too prominent though, so you could use this bronzer to contour as well. The coverage on this is also buildable, so you can go as light or dark as your heart desires.
I typically apply bronzer after foundation and setting powder, and before blush. When it comes to applying any of these bronzers, there is one brush to rule them all (for me anyways). I am a die-hard user of the MAC 135 Large Flat Powder Brush. It is fluffy enough so that you get good coverage, but it is tapered so that you can contour a bit with it as well.
And if that wasn't enough information for you, check out my boy Wayne Goss for a bronzer application tutorial. He really breaks it down, much better than I can.
Hope you enjoyed. Let me know what you'd like to see in the next #givegoodface installment: highlighters, blush, eyeshadow, eyeliner or mascara... or something else!