Oooh natural bronzer! The other Vitamin B. I recommend you get your daily dose for a year-round healthy glow.
I’m a fan of bronzer and consider it my secret weapon to naturally take any makeup look you have to the next level. In this guide, I cover everything you need to know about bronzer, what it is, what it isn’t, what’s in it, where to put it, and what I think are the best natural and clean bronzers to try in 2021.
Can’t wait? Click here to jump directly to my 7 top natural bronzer product recommendations!
Bronzer gets a bad rap but I’m here to tell you that, if you have a light to deep medium skin tone, bronzer is a year-round essential product in your beauty tool kit. It is one of the secrets to giving your face the overall over healthy, natural glow you have been looking for.
I just wish it wasn’t called “bronzer”.
For those of the paler persuasion, this word “bronzer” spins the imagination into horrific images of muddy, orange, shimmery oompa-loompa-esque faces. Nothing could be farther from the truth when bronzer’s used correctly… If I were to rebrand bronzer, I would call it “inner glow” or “sun glow” because a well-done natural bronzer does just that, it gives you a subtle inner, healthy glow that simply can’t be achieved by even the most well-placed foundation and blush alone.
Why use bronzer on your face?
If you’re asking yourself about the benefits of bronzer you’re not alone. Most people pass on bronzer because they simply don’t understand the benefits. Perhaps you don’t wear bronzer because you may believe that it will leave you looking like you’re sporting an unfortunate fake tan. You may not know it now, but bronzer could be the secret weapon in your beauty kit. It’s the easiest and healthiest way to painlessly and immediately achieve a year-round sun-kissed glow. With a few sweeps of your brush, bronzer can help you achieve more sculpted cheekbones and that envious beach holiday glow.
How do I know what shade I should choose for my bronzer?
Brands generally offer one to three shades of bronzer. If you consider yourself very fair, always start with the very lightest bronzer you can find. If you want more intensity, only then move to the next deepest shade. Medium skin tones can generally work with both a medium and deep bronzer. Much of your experience of bronzer will be in the application technique, so start with a light hand, build, and blend.
Can I use bronzer without foundation?
Should I apply bronzer or concealer first?
Apply all your skincare and complexion products (foundation and concealers) before applying bronzer.
Should I apply my bronzer or blush first?
You’ll read lots of blogs that give you “rules”. That’s not my style. Do whatever you want. Have fun with it and experiment. As a baseline, you could start by applying bronzer lightly all over your face and/or just below your cheekbone, and anywhere the sun would naturally strongly hit your face like the top of your forehead. Then apply blush to the apples of your cheeks, then highlighter in that order.
What brush should I use to apply my powder bronzer?
First and foremost, dedicate a brush to your bronzer application to ensure the color stays true to its shade. The very last thing you want to do is use the same brush for bronzer and blush… or you may find yourself looking redder and more sunburnt from the blush in the brush hairs than bronzed.
Choose a large vegan bronzer brush with soft bristles for a smooth, seamless application. If you want to play with more precision bronzer placement, I also suggest you add a smaller, angled brush to your collection.
Check out these three great vegan bronzing brushes:
- Large Bronzing Brush: IT Cosmetics Heavenly Luxe Airbrush Powder & Bronzer Brush
- Large Bronzing Brush: e.l.f. Flawless Face Brush
- Precision Bronzing Brush: Sigma Beauty F29 HD Bronze Makeup Brush
How to apply bronzer for that post-beach glow:
Before beginning your natural bronzer application, make sure that you’ve prepped your skin, applied concealer and foundation if you wish (not necessary).
Use a dedicated cosmetic brush and lightly sweep it across your pressed bronzer or dip it lightly into your loose bronzer. Ignore suggestions to “blow the excess bronzer off” Don’t do this. Blowing powder randomly will just make a mess. Simply, tap the excess off the brush back into the container.
There are two easy bronzer application techniques: Remember the key to the very best natural bronzer application technique is to apply bronzer in light layers until you are satisfied with the intensity of the glow and make sure to blend, blend, and blend some more.
- The “#3” Bronzer Application Technique: Imagine you are painting a number three on each side of your face with your bronzer. This will perfectly place your bronzer right below your cheekbones and along your jawline.
- Start with the cheek application by placing your bronzer charged brush at your temple, sweeping it in a number 3 formation under your
- Tracing your imaginary number 3 back to your hairline.
- Sweeping it along your jawline. Repeat on the other side of your face.
- To finish, lightly sweep a bit of bronzer at your forehead hairline, nose, chin, and neck.
- The “C” Bronzer Application Technique: Imagine you are painting the letter “C” on each side of your face.
- Start by placing your charged bronzer brush on your cheek.
- Sweep the bronzer up your cheek and back to your temple in a “C” shape.
- Repeat this on the other side.
- To finish, lightly sweep a bit of bronzer at your forehead hairline, nose, chin, and neck.
What should I do if I apply too much bronzer?
If you get a little heavy-handed and apply too much bronzer, use a clean cotton ball or pad to lightly buff the excess bronzer off your face. This is just makeup. All mistakes are fixable. Worst case scenario you wash your face and start over.
Is bronzing the same as contouring?
Even though the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, they are different in two ways. Contouring is a makeup technique used to shape the structure of the face by creating subtle shadows and highlights on the face to accentuate or minimize certain features. It can create the illusion of higher cheekbones, a smaller forehead, a more narrow, shorter nose all with the trick of playing with shadows and light. Contouring makeup can be either a powder or a cream in matte tones of beige, neutral taupes for light skin tones, and deeper slightly golden beige shades for olive and deeper skin tones.
Bronzing is the makeup technique of applying a sunnier, warmer bronze color powder or cream to areas of the face where the sun would naturally hit to create that coveted sun-kissed glow.
Why does bronzer always look dirty on my skin?
There are several reasons bronzer could look “dirty” on your skin. If your bronzer looks dirty or patchy:
- make sure your entire face is evenly moisturized
- make sure you are using a quality bronzer
- make sure your bronzer is no more than two years old
- make sure you are using the right shade for your skin tone
- make sure you are using the correct bronzing brush
- make sure to tap off the excess powder from your brush before applying
- make sure you’re using a light hand and applying in light layers
- make sure you are blending and then blend some more
Is bronzer the same as self-tanner?
Many believe that bronzer is the same as self-tanner (AKA sunless tanner). It’s not. Bronzer is simply makeup that temporarily colors your face with a skin-kissed glow using pigments (iron oxides, dyes, and mica).
Self-tanners are entirely different and use several chemicals, the most popular being DHA (Dihydroxyacetone) which is a 3-carbon sugar. When applied to the skin it causes a chemical reaction with the acids in the surface of the skin darkening the topmost layers of the skin. Any product that uses DHA is not makeup and not a bronzer as it’s semi-permanent and can take over a week to disappear. If you have a product with DHA in it you are using a self-tanner, not a bronzer. The best part about using bronzer is that it’s distinctly NOT self-tanner and washes off like any other makeup product you use.
Bronzer vs. blush: Should I use bronzer or blush?
Blush and bronzer are not the same thing. You can wear bronzer alone for a subtle natural allover glow or you can pair it with blush. Blush is generally only offered in red, pinkish, and mauve hues to create a flushed, vibrant look to the apples of the cheeks. It plays well with bronzer though, so I suggest you do exactly that… PLAY. Don’t take it so seriously and just experiment with the different looks you can create pairing the two or simply using bronzer alone.
Bronzer vs. highlighter: Should I use bronzer or highlighter?
You can use both since bronzer and highlighter are fundamentally different products with different purposes. Bronzer comes in various shades of both shimmery and matte brown and bronze colors to mimic a light tanned glow.
Highlighter comes in light ethereal shades of pearl and gold. It adds luminosity and helps bounce light off the face to accentuate cheekbones, the cupids bow of the lips, the ridge of your nose, and the arch of the brow bone. Highlighters are intended to do exactly that, highlight.
What is bronzer made from?
Whether the bronzer is from a traditional beauty brand or a “clean” and natural beauty brand like the ones I recommend below, bronzer powders and creams are generally comprised of a blend of minerals, micas, pigments like iron oxides, and possibly synthetic dyes.
Can I do anything else with bronzer?
Yes! Bronzer can also multi-task as a warm eye shadow shade and as a lip color when blended with a lip balm or lip gloss.
Bronzer for life… or at least to look alive.
You may have always thought about bronzer as irrelevant… but I am here to tell you that, unless you are going for a pallid, porcelain finish (also beautiful) bronzer is a versatile and essential product in your beauty bag.