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BPGP: Bronzer How-Tos

Let’s talk about bronzer.  Yes, I know that we’ve discussed this topic before, but it’s time for a refresher.  Why? 

Yesterday, I was shopping at the Metro Center H&M when I saw a woman whose liberal bronzer application made her look like she was wearing an Oompa Loompa Halloween mask.  There was shimmery, orange bronzer on every inch of her face…and nowhere else.  I wanted to grab a t-shirt from the bargain bin and start scrubbing for dear life.

Bronzer can be a wonderful thing. But like all wonderful things (alcohol, Girl Scout Cookies, etc.), bronzer is best in moderation.  

The first step to getting that sun-kissed look is to choose the right bronzer.  If you like pure bronzer, I recommend Tarte Matte Park Avenue Princess ($29).  It gives a warm, beachy glow but doesn’t cake or look too orange.

Laura Mercier Shimmer Block ($38)

I prefer to mix my blush and bronzer, I think it gives a slightly brighter look.  If you’re fair skinned, try Smashbox Fusion Softlights ($30) in Baked Starburst.  If a shimmery, blushier glow is your aim, Laura Mercier Shimmer Bloc ($38) is perfect.  And you like a bold, pink cheek (see: MissM), give LORAC Blush/Bronzer Duo ($30) a try.

And, lastly, if you are someone who can’t ever decide, try Physcian’s Formula Glow-Boosting Sun Stones ($15).  You really can’t screw this up, and it’s soft bronze color gives you a buildable palette that doesn’t overwhelm.

Now that you’ve selected your product, you need a bronzing brush.  Much like Goldilocks went searching for a the perfect bed, you are going looking for a brush that is neither too stiff or too soft.  

Too stiff, you’ll look cakey.  Too soft, you’ll look like you bathed in powder.  Neither look is what you want.

You also want something with a rounded top and not too much surface area.  A kabuki brush is not recommended for this application.  I like Bobbi Brown’s Bronzer Brush ($30).  Just make sure to clean it after each application or you won’t be able to control how much color you’re applying.

Now you have the product and the tools, just one lesson to go, and it’s the most important lesson: where to apply the bronzer.

The first assumption is to apply bronzer everywhere.  This is WRONG.  Bronzer only goes on the tip of your chin, your cheekbones, the bridge of your nose and your temples.  That’s it.

image care of: Beauty and Makeup Tips.com

If you choose your color carefully, and apply it sparingly, you will achieve the perfect beach-bronzey look.  Overdo it, and you’ll look like you made out with Snooki at a frat party.  And nobody wants that.


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  1. b says:

    Another great brush that gives you an incredible amount of control is a fan brush. This is especially good if you have very fair skin as it allows bronzer to go on sheerly and prevents any accidental overloads that can be caused by a rounded brush. Smashbox makes a nice one that's not too pricey but I love, love, love my Becca fan brush- I've had it for YEARS and it still looks like new. Here's the link: https://www.smashbox.com/FAN-BRUSH-22

    March 29, 2011/Reply
  2. Meg says:

    Such a helpful post! Belle, when you wear bronzer do you also use blush over top, or skip it?

    March 29, 2011/Reply
  3. Katie says:

    I've always used NARS bronzer and have been pretty happy with it. Also, I have the same question as Meg!

    March 29, 2011/Reply
  4. Kim says:

    B, I love my fan brushes! I originally got one for loose powders, but now have bought one dedicated solely to bronzer use, as well.

    Katie, I am also pretty happy with NARS bronzer. The Make Up For Ever one is great, too.

    March 29, 2011/Reply
  5. Belle says:

    Katie and Meg- I like a pink cheek, so I wear blush as well. If I'm really tan, I wear peach but usually, I wear bright pink.

    March 29, 2011/Reply
  6. jaime says:

    Do you think that you get better results with a high end bronzer than with a DS one? I don't skimp on makeup but for some reason I never want to commit to a good bronzer. I always go with the Physicians Formula brand and am generally OK with it but don't use it all that much. Maybe I would like it better if it were a higher end fomulation?

    March 29, 2011/Reply
  7. Belle says:

    Physician's Formula is the best drugstore brand because there's no talc. But I don't trust any of the other drugstore brands to produce a decent one.

    March 30, 2011/Reply