Sun’s out, bronzer’s out. Matte, powder, liquid, or cream, no matter what formula you penchant, a bronzer is a must-have product to keep stashed in your makeup bag this summer to fake a sun-kissed glow without the harmful UV/UVA ray damage you would get from the real thing. However, while a bronzer-made radiant complexion can be a beautiful thing, if it’s not applied correctly, it’s easy to fall into the territory where skin looks muddy and not like you just landed from an exotic St. Barth’s beach.
If you’ve experienced a bronzer blunder or two, you’re not alone. There’s so much more to using the product than merely swiping it on your face. We turned to celebrity makeup artist Allan Avendaño who regularly keeps the complexions of Chrissy Teigen, Zendaya, and Sarah Hyland glowing, to provide us with a set of pro-tips to help you avoid making common bronzer application mistakes this summer.
Mistake #1: You’re wearing the Wrong Shade
Wearing the wrong bronzer shade is going to leave you with a dirty finish no matter how skilled you are at applying it. When it comes to picking your shade, it’s all about balance. Try to choose a color that isn’t too red or orange because this is what can lead to an unnatural look. As a general rule of thumb, Avendaño recommends sticking with a bronzer that’s one to two shades darker than your complexion, although he cautions that this can vary depending on your skin tone.
Mistake #2: You’re using the Wrong Tools
Using the right brush is just as important as the bronzer itself because it make applying the product all the more easier. If you’re using a cream or liquid formula, Avendaño suggests using a flat-ended brush such as NARS Ita Kabuki Brush ($55; narscosmetics.com) or a Beauty Blender ($20; sephora.com) because either tool distributes the product evenly onto skin and blends it seamlessly. If you’re using a powder, he recommends a fan brush such as Kevyn Aucoin Beauty The Large Fan Brush ($60; nordstrom.com). “Although it takes a little more time to use one, a fan brush is ideal for applying a powder because you can accurately shape your face with it, and apply the bronzer lightly so you can build the color without it looking fake.
Mistake #3: You’re Not Considering Your Skin Type
Although the bronzer formula you use primarily depends on personal preference, Avendaño notes that if your skin tends to be oily, you should avoid powder bronzers. “If a person tends to be oily, a cream or liquid works better and will leave a dewy, modern finish since it will blend with your skin’s natural oils,” he says. “When you use a powder on oily skin, it will gather in the parts of your face that produces excess oil, whereas a cream can be manipulated a bit more.”
Mistake #4: You’re applying it in the Wrong Places
To achieve a healthy glow, apply the bronzer on the high points your face that the sunlight naturally hits. Avendaño recommends that the easiest way to do so is by drawing on the bronzer in the shape of a “3” starting at temple, hitting the top of the cheekbone, and down to the jawline, followed by gently blending the product in to smooth out any harsh lines. If you’re heading out for the evening and want a more glamourous look, Avendaño says you could also use the bronzer to add a little contour that will further shape your face.
Mistake #5: Lighting is Everything
Dim lighting is bronzer’s worst enemy. To ensure you’re using the right shade and haven’t been too heavy-handed, apply bronzer in natural lighting. “Bronzer can be tricky, but once you got the colors down in natural light, your application will be a lot easier,” says Avendaño. “I always tell people when they’re testing bronzers (or other makeup shades) to go outside in natural light and bring a mirror because your phone won’t catch the product’s actual color to make sure the color is right.” He also notes that if the lighting you’re in is too blue, the color won’t show up, and if you’re in light that’s too yellow, the color will appear more orange than its true shade.
Mistake #6: When In Doubt, Beauty Blend it Out
Even if you’ve followed all of the bronzer commandments, mistakes still happen and sometimes you end up with too much bronzer on your cheekbones. Luckily, there’s an easy, foolproof solution and all you need is your trusty Beauty Blender. Avendaño recommends taking a damp Beauty Blender and dabbing the area that has too much bronzer to blend out the blunder and pickup excess product. As a final step, you can take a little bit of foundation and blend it in to further tone down the bronzer.