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How to Apply Bronzer

BY: Editors | Oct 24, 2017

If you're a makeup lover, then you probably already slay the contour game by now. But could you confidently say you know how to apply bronzer? Bronzer may seem like the unsophisticated kid sister of contour, like something that hasn't quite yet blossomed into its full potential, but to dismiss it would be a mistake.

Unlike contour, a cool-toned brown pigment used to add shadows to the face, bronzer is a warm-toned brown pigment used to draw attention to certain features. Yes, it can be used to give you a pretty sun-kissed glow; however, it's also great if you just want to breathe life back into your face after you apply foundation. Here's what you need to become a bronzing master:



The best bronzer is one that is matte, or only slightly shimmery. A glittery bronzer might look lovely at night, but it tends to look strange in harsh daylight. Instead, opt for one of these:

  • Fair/light skin: Physicians Formula Butter Bronzer ($14.95)
  • Tan/olive skin: Tarte Amazonian Clay Matte Waterproof Bronzer ($30)
  • Dark skin: Bobbi Brown Bronzing Powder in Deep ($44)
  • Liquid: bareMinerals Bareskin Sheer Sun Liquid Bronzer ($28)—choose this over powder bronzer if you have dry skin. This can also be layered underneath powder bronzer if you want a look that will last all day.

Bronzer Brush

Choose something large and very fluffy. A dense brush will pick up too much pigment, making your makeup look more muddied than sun-kissed.


How to Apply Bronzer

The goal is to apply bronzer to the points of your face that would get the most sun, i.e., the points that stick out a little further on your face. This includes your cheekbones, nose, temples, and top of your head near your hairline.

Step 1: Swirl your brush into the bronzer and get rid of the excess powder on the brush by swirling it on the back of your hand or tapping it against the pan. A little goes a long way.

Step 2: Sweep the brush back and forth along your cheekbones to buff in the bronzer. Use circular motions to softly diffuse the color.

Step 3: Without lifting the brush, move up to the temples in a C-shape. Stop here if you just want to add a little warmth to the face.

Step 4: Using circular motions, sweep the brush along the top of the forehead, near the hairline. You may want to dip the brush back into the pan at this point, but don't forget to get rid of the excess bronzer.

Step 5: Very lightly dust the bronzer across the top of your nose, avoiding the tip. If you want a more contoured-looking nose, dust a matte bronzer down the sides of your nose along the bones, leaving the middle open. Then dust a touch of bronzer under the tip of the nose.

Step 6: Move the brush down to the jawline and dust bronzer on the underside of your jaw. This will add some dimension to your face. Next, dust bronzer down the center of the neck. This will help your neck look lifted, while also making sure your face and neck tones match.