Bronzer can be one of the trickiest products to shop for: Shimmer or no shimmer? Powder or cream? Too dark or just the right shade? Health spoke with Laramie, makeup artist and founder of Book Your Look, for her tips on finding the perfect bronzer for your skin type and tone. Read on to learn how to get your skin glowy and gorgeous for summer, sans sun damage.
Choose the right shade
Look for a bronzer that’s one to two shades darker than your natural skin color. Then determine your skin’s undertone and look for the same tone in a bronzer. Here’s how: “Your perfect bronzer tone is the color your skin turns when [you've spent a long day in the sun],” Laramie said. If your skin turns pinky-red post-tan, your go-to is a warm bronzer with a slight peachy (but not too orange) undertone. Are you more yellow-toned after a day at the beach? Stick to golden browns. If you don’t sunburn or tan at all, most neutral browns will work.
Know the best formula for your skin type
If you have oily skin: A gel is your best bet because they have greater staying power than powders. "A lot of times if I’m on set and it’s going to be a long day, I’ll use a gel bronzer to warm up the skin and a powder bronzer to touch up later in the day,” Laramie noted. Try Make Up For Ever Pro Bronze Fusion ($36, sephora.com), a new gel-to-powder bronzer.
If you have dry skin: Opt for a cream or balm formulation for a dewiness that’s normally tricky for this skin type to achieve, like RMS Beauty Buriti Bronzer ($28, rmsbeauty.com).
If you have combination skin: A powder formulation, like this Giorgio Armani Sun Fabric Sheer Bronzer ($54, sephora.com), is the way to go.
Say yes to shimmer (but no to sparkle)
To achieve a believable tan, choose a bronzer that has a touch of shimmer in it. “Shimmer is different from sparkle,” Laramie notes. “You don’t necessarily want a sparkly bronzer, because you’ll be able to see the individual flecks on your face when you’re out in the sun. Shimmer is more finely ground sparkle; that’s what’s going to give you a warm glow that looks healthy and sun-kissed."
Follow these easy application tricks
For powders Swirl a large fluffy brush into the bronzer, tap off excess, and sweep over just these key areas in big circles: your forehead, tip of the nose, highest point of the cheeks, and chin. Laramie also recommends sweeping a little bit along the jawline and around your ears.
For cream, gel, or liquids Press a synthetic, flat-top kabuki brush into bronzer. Gently brush off excess onto the back of the hand. In small circles, start in the center of the area you want to apply to—as with powders, you're aiming for the forehead, tip of the nose, tops of the cheeks, and chin—and buff out. Optional step: Use a damp beauty sponge to further blend out. While you can never over-blend, less is definitely more when it comes to the amount of bronzer you first pick up to apply. It's easier to add on thin layers than attempting to evenly blend out one thick, goopy layer.
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Know that "bronzing" is different from "contouring"
“Bronzing” and “contouring” are often used interchangeably, but contouring is very different from bronzing. For contouring, you need a matte (not shimmery) brown formula with cool, grey undertones since you want to create a true shadow and give your cheekbones a lift, not add an overall glow and highlight. If you’re a beginner (or just not looking for adding that much drama to your routine, start out with this super-easy starter technique you can do with bronzer.