How to apply bronzer: a beginner’s guide

Here's how to get the most out of your bronzer

by Phoebe Denman |
Published on

Of all the fabulous beauty products out there these days, you might overlook bronzer as an add-on – big mistake. It adds warmth back into your face after applying your base make-up, of course, but the benefits of face bronzer extend far beyond that.

With the right shade and application technique, just a few swipes of bronzer can completely transform your look. In fact, some of the best-trending make-up looks involve sculpting the face with bronzer, so it’s time to get on board if you haven’t already.

What does bronzer do?

When it comes to doing your makeup, applying a little bronzer can “create the illusion of a sun-kissed glow, even when it’s not summertime,” insists TikTok MUA, Kirsty Belle, who has over 1 million followers behind her. “It’s a great way to give your face a healthy, radiant look that can be achieved with just a few swipes of a brush.”

From creating the perfect contour to choosing the right cream or powder formula for you, read on for advice on how to use bronzer with a few top tips from Kirsty to give you that snatched and sculpted finish.

Bronzer vs contour

Bronzer and contour are two different things. Bronzer is a product designed to add all-over glow and warmth to your face. Similar to contour, applying bronzer to your cheekbones, temple, nose and jawline can help sculpt the look of your face and add dimension, however this isn’t its main purpose. Unlike contour makeup, bronzer tends to have a bit more warmth to its colouring and can be applied with a bigger brush for an all-over bronzed look.

Contouring works by mimicking natural shadow, so a matte finish in a contour product is a must. Kirsty Belle explains that contour’s main purpose is to sculpt, “Contour is used to create the illusion of depth and shadow. It is typically applied to the hollows of the cheeks, temples, and jawline to define and sculpt the face.”

How to apply bronzer

Step one

If you’re not sure where to apply bronzer, the general rule is to swipe it on in a number 3 shape on the side of your face. Begin by applying the bronzer to your forehead and temples in a sweeping motion. Sweep the brush directly from the end of your eye up towards your temple to lift the face. It’s important that you blend, blend, blend throughout this process to make the finished result look natural.

Step two

Next, move on to the cheeks. Apply your bronzer along cheekbones in small, circular strokes and blend out.

Step three

Apply a slightly lighter touch of product to your chin, jawline and to the bridge of your nose. Gently blend everything in.

Step four

This step is optional depending on how hard you want to go with your sun-kissed look. For an all-over glow, continue to lightly buff and blend your bronzer on to your shoulders, collarbone and limbs to give you a bronzed goddess vibe that’ll have people questioning whether you’ve just stepped off a flight.

Step five

If you’ve blended and your complexion still isn’t looking as smooth and subtle as you were hoping for, don’t panic, it’s an easy fix. Swirl a blending brush in a translucent powder, tap off the excess and re-blend to eliminate any harsh lines.

Now we’ve covered where to put bronzer, it’s time to find the right shade. Your bronzer should be darker than your skin without looking unnatural. Kirsty has an expert hack involving using a darker shade for the ultimate snatched look: “One of the most popular TikTok hacks is to use a lighter shade of foundation or concealer on the high points of your face, such as the bridge of your nose, forehead and chin. Then use a deeper shade of bronzer on the perimeter of your face and your cheekbones for a natural-looking glow.” This is also a great way to add a natural-looking highlight to the higher points of your face.

How to choose the right formula

There are four main types of bronzing products: powder, cream, liquid and gel bronzers, but the two most popular are powder and cream formulas. Powder products won’t overpower the complexion with too much shimmer and work better on skin with imperfections, while cream bronzers give a more dewy, natural finish. While matte bronzer powders are a makeup OG, cream shimmer bronzers are hot right now in the beauty world and can give you the natural-looking glow you’ve been dreaming of with just a few swipes.

“Cream bronzers are easier to blend and create a more natural, skin-like finish,” says Kirsty. “To apply cream bronzer, use a sponge or brush and blend it into the skin using circular motions. Remember to start with a small amount and build up the intensity as needed.”

Put these tips and tricks into practice and you’ll be looking like a sculpted, sun-kissed queen in no time. We recommend using a larger, flatter brush to apply your bronzer. The larger surface area makes blending a little more seamless and leaves you with a more natural looking finish. It’s also a good idea to opt for an angled brush if you want to be more precise with your application.

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