This Is the Bronzer InStyle's Associate Beauty Editor Swears By
I was 13 the first time I ever entered a Sephora store, and spent 3 hours in there. If you think that's a gross exaggeration, it isn't—my entire family can attest to this, and while my mom had fun partaking in one of the in-store makeovers, my brother and dad were completely miserable. They'd do a lap around the mall, plead with me to leave, I'd get stuck and overwhelmed within the colors and kitschy packaging linine the Benefit aisle, and they'd be forced to do another lap.
After 3 hours and some change, Benefit's Hoola bronzer ($29; sephora.com) left the store with me that day, alongside a pink Too Faced glitter (titled Pussy Galore, for some reason), a metallic nude lipgloss from the now-defunct brand Alchemy, and a bottle of Givenchy's Oblique fragrance in FFWD. The latter three were either reformulated or phased out completely—this was in late '99 or the early millennium, after all—but Hoola has been a steady of mine to this day, and has rightfully earned the title of Best Bronzer in our annual Best Beauty Buys awards.
Certain bronzers would almost disappear on my skin, but I love Hoola because it actually shows up, but doesn't look unnatural. Back in the day, I'd use a kabuki brush to liberally apply the powder to my cheeks, blending upward, and would add a little to my décolleté for the sake of consistency. Even then, in my frosted shadow and tweezed brow glory, I at least was aware that it looked weird as hell to have a different color on your face from your body.
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My application method today hasn't changed much—define the cheekbones and blend upward with a damp Beautyblender, then a little on the chest area—but I'll have a little more fun with the contouring. I'll swipe it around my jawline, over the forehead, and will make feeble attempts to chisel down my massive nose. Since it's matte and looks pretty natural, I'll still achieve that defined, high-cheekbone look without veering too far into Instagram contour territory.