The bottom line: if you look orange, start over.
Bronzer has been our go-to summer beauty product (actually, make that year-‘round for the most part) since we first discovered Hula back in middle school. We know that too much sun = bad, and SPF = good, but we also know that, simply put, everyone looks better with a tan. Cue bronzer, a.k.a. a tan in a handy little compact. (We’ll admit it: sometimes it makes us feel so good we’re tricked into thinking it’s all that we need. Noted: under-eye concealer and brow definition are almost always necessary, no matter how bronzed.)
As much as we’ve come to love and depend on it, however, the success rate of bronzer use is, uh, varied. You buy a bronzer and somehow end up with an all-over orange face, or worse, stripes, or even worse, sparkles literally everywhere, or the worst, it just looks like you’ve delicately applied some dirt to your cheeks.
Obviously we want to wear bronzer, but despite our product loyalty, there are (many) times when we still get it wrong. So we dialled Romy Soleimani, makeup artist and beauty director of Beauty.com, who’s been pumping up the glow of pretty much everyone on your “Summertime Sadness” (don’t lie) Pinterest board for years — from Carolyn Murphy and Daria Werbowy to Gisele Bündchen and Keira Knightly. Finally, a decisive guide to the product we all use, whether or not we actually know how.
How to choose the right shade
FOR YOUR SKIN TONE
“Something to keep in mind as you look for a bronzer is that you don't want to go from fair to super bronze—you want to look like you've had just a kiss of sun. Take your skin tone into consideration and build up slowly.
For fair skin tones, stay away from anything that's too warm—you don't want it to be orange-y or too dark. The skin should look pale and tawny, like a soft beige. Olive tones can look for bronzers that are a little bit warmer but should keep the same principles in mind.”
“For different formulations, you'll want to you different applicators. A general rule of thumb for application, though, is that you'll want to start with the product on the apples of our cheeks, then up to the temples, with dabs of product on your forehead, nose and chin for balance. Remember that you don't want to use this all over your face like you would a tinted moisturizer!”
POWDER: “Use a small fluffy cheek brush to apply the product on the apples of your cheek, and go up to the temple. What's left should be brushed on your forehead, nose and chin. Nars Laguna is a good option, as are the Anti Aging Matte Bronzer and Radiance Ombre bronzers from It Cosmetics. Laura Geller also offers two nice options for powders (here and here).”
CREAM: “Using a beauty blender, press the product again on the apples of your cheeks and press into your temple. With what's left on the sponge, use on your forehead, nose and chin. After dabbing your forehead, nose, and chin with the excess product from the sponge, always blend with your fingers to get a real glow. Jouer's Luminizing Moisutre Tint in bronze is great for fair skin. The deep bronze in this line looks great with olive toned skin. Another option is Tom Ford Contour in a darker shade for a light sun kiss.
LIQUID: “A liquid should look like a bronze stain for your face. To get the glow, add a drop of product to your hands and rub together. Then take the product into the palm of your hand and rub into your face. Press sides of face with your palms, again focusing on the area from your cheeks, up to temples, then dabbing on your forehead, nose and chin. By Terry's Tea to Tan is a great liquid bronzer, and I love their bronzing mousse as well!
“Don't overdo it. Don't apply bronzer heavily and all over your face. You really want to think about the sun hitting your face and where it would naturally highlight your face. If you ever you look orange, it's the wrong bronzer for you—wash off immediately!!”