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Are you trying to look like a glowing goddess this summer?

Even if you’re reading this in the middle of the winter, you don’t have to give up on using bronzer. No matter what time of the year or what time of day you’re looking to add a sun-kissed glow to your face, bronzer will be there to back you up.

One of the best ways you can accomplish looking like a glowing goddess is by using bronzer on your face. A lot of people tend to get bronzer and contour confused with one another. Plus, a lot of people believe that using bronzer is similar to using mascara – a “one size fits all” kind of situation. But, finding the right type of bronzer for your skin tone will ensure that you don’t look orange or muddy.

So, if you’re a complete beginner to the world of bronzer, grab a seat! In this guide, I’m going to walk you through every single thing you need to know about bronzer. 

Here, you’re going to learn what bronzer is, how to choose the best bronzer, and the best tips for applying bronzer to your face. Keep reading to learn more!

What is Bronzer?


Bronzer is a type of makeup that’s used to “fake” a sun-kissed glow on the skin. Using bronzer in your makeup routine is a great way to give your skin a healthy and radiant glow. Also, some people will use bronzer to make their tan look more enhanced.

A common misconception is that bronzer can only come in one type of formula. However, this isn’t true. Bronzer can come in liquids, powders, gels, and creams. Also, certain bronzer products are used all over the body and not just on the face.

In addition, there are matte bronzers and shimmering bronzers. Each type of bronzer is good for a specific use. For example, a matte bronzer is good to use if you’re looking to obtain a natural look for your makeup. Yet, shimmering bronzers are great if you’re looking to give yourself a radiant finish that makes you look like you just spent a few hours in the sun.

Bronzer vs Contour: What’s The Difference?

Bronzer is warm-toned, no matter what formula you’re using. This is why you should never use contour as a substitute for bronzer. While a lot of beauty gurus say that you can use matte bronzer as a type of contour, it’s not going to create the same effect.

Contour products, no matter what type of formula they’re in, are cool-toned. The purpose of the contour is to add structure and definition to the face. The main difference between bronzing and contouring is that bronzing provides warmth (sun-kissed glow), and contour actually shapes the face and adds dimension.

Bronzer should be applied to the areas of the face where the sun naturally hits it. Contour is applied to already existing bone structure and can give the illusion of a slimmer, more accentuated face.

What Are The Different Tones and Colors for Bronzers?

There’s a rule of thumb you should keep in the back of your mind when choosing your bronzer: aim to find a shade that’s one to two shades darker than what your natural skin tone is. If you like to wear your foundation lighter or darker than your natural skin color, choose your bronzer based on one or two shades darker than the shade of your foundation. 

A great way to ensure that you’re choosing the right shade of bronzer is to understand your skin’s undertone. Knowing whether your skin has warm, neutral, or cool undertones will help you pick the best bronzer shade to harmonize with your complexion.

How to Find Your Undertone

The best way for you to find your skin’s undertone is to look at the veins in your wrist or your hands. If you have veins that appear blue on your wrists, you most likely have a cool undertone. However, if you noticed that your veins look green, you likely have a warmer undertone. Yet, if you’re unable to tell whether you have blue or green veins, you likely have a neutral undertone.

If you’re finding that you’re still not sure what your skin’s undertone is, another way you can identify what your skin undertones are by thinking about the types of jewelry colors that you look good in. Cool skin undertones tend to look great with silver jewelry. Yet, if you find that you choose a lot of gold jewelry because you like how it looks on your skin, you likely have a warmer undertone. But if you find a suit for both types of skin tones, you have a neutral undertone.

Cool Undertones

Cool undertones look best with soft Brown, Beige, Taupe, or Warm peach shades.

Neutral Undertones

Neutral undertones look great with shades that stray away from being too pink or too yellow. 

Warm Undertones

Warm undertones look great with warm golden brown shades.

To note, you’ll want to combine your skin tone with your undertone when looking through the rest of this guide to figure out the perfect shade of bronzer for your makeup routine.

Fair to Light Skin Tones

For an individual with fair to light skin, you should consider using tones that have peach or brown hues. You should stay away from using a bronzer that has red or orange tones to it. Also, one thing to consider is how your skin reacts when you get a little bit of sun on it.

This is because people with fair to light skin often develop a pink tint when they’re out in the sun for too long. This is different than other skin tones, which will develop an olive appearance after spending time out in the sun. For you to accomplish a natural look, make sure that you consider what your skin looks like in the sunlight before you purchase any bronzing makeup products.

Something to keep in mind for people with fair skin is to not get intimidated by bronzers. There are a lot of people that tend to shy away from using bronzers when they have fair to light skin tones because of the tendency to look more orange. However, if you don’t want to look too pale while you’re wearing makeup, there are options out there for you.

One bronzer that I would highly recommend for people who have fair or light skin tones is the Benefit Cosmetics Hoola Lite. This shade of bronzer is light enough to give you a sun-kissed glow without making you look too orange or as if you’re sporting a fake tan on your face.

Also, if you want to have a bronzer that has a little bit of shimmer to it, try purchasing one that has silver or pink tones. Staying away from gold will help to make your makeup look more natural.

Medium and Olive Skin Tones

Individuals that have medium to olive skin tones are pretty much able to sport any type of bronzer shades without having to worry about looking unnatural or orange. However, that doesn’t mean that you should go purchase any bronzer that you find in the store. Instead, find bronzers that are copper-toned or that use earthy tones, such as brown, taupe, or beige.

Using these tones in your bronzer will ensure that you look like you’re wearing natural makeup. A great bronzer that will help you to accomplish this appearance is the Nars Laguna bronzer.

Deep Skin Tones

If you have a darker complexion, you may struggle to find a bronzer that will show up on your skin. However, that doesn’t mean that you need to abandon all hope of ever wearing a bronzer and giving yourself a sun-kissed glow to your makeup.

You can look for bronzers that have chocolate tones or deep terracotta tones. Also, if you’re looking at a little bit of shimmer for your bronzer, you may want to consider sticking with a gold-based shimmer. The gold shimmer will look the most natural on your skin tone. A great bronzer for dark skin tones is the Becca Sunlit Bronzer in Maui Night.

How do you choose a bronzer for your skin type?

When it comes to choosing a formulation for your skin type, this is different than choosing the right type of shade for your skin tone. While you can use any kind of bronzer you want, as there are no rules to makeup, you may find that there are some formulas that work better for your skin than others.

Whether you have combination, oily, or normal skin, you will find that powder bronzers are great to use. If you have normal to dry skin, you may find that cream or liquid bronzers are the best types of formula for your skin. 

Lastly, if you have very oily skin or have skin that is prone to breakouts, you may want to consider using a liquid, powder, or gel bronzer. Also, another tip to keep in mind is to skip out on using bronzers that have any sparkle to them. If you are very self-conscious about the texture of your skin due to breakouts, shimmer bronzers will highlight it even further. 

Powder vs Cream vs Liquid vs Gel

If you’ve been to a makeup store recently, you’ve likely discovered that there are now many different types of bronzers on the market. Even just a few years ago,  there weren’t many different bronzers for you to choose from. Now, you have powder bronzers, jelly bronzers, cream bronzers, and liquid bronzers. Also, you’ll have to choose whether you want a matte or shimmer finish.

So, how do you choose the right formula for your skin? Let’s take a look at each type of bronzer formulation and what skin types would be the most benefited from using them.

Powder Bronzers

Powder bronzer is great for people with all different skin types. However, people who have oily skin and or combination skin will benefit the most from using a powder bronzer. This is because powder bronzer isn’t going to move around your face, unlike other formulations will if your skin starts getting really oily.

Powder bronzers are great for beginners. If you’ve never applied a bronzer before, you want to start off with using powder because it’s the easiest to apply out of all of the different formulations.

To apply powder bronzer, all you have to do is to use a medium or large powder brush, depending on the size of your face, and swirl it around in the bronzing powder. Then, you’ll apply the bronzer to the appropriate areas of your face.

If you’re looking to build up the bronzer, even more, you can try using a smaller powder brush. Using a small powder brush will help you to build up the bronzer. But, always be sure to blend at the bronzer in circular motions, so you don’t build up any harsh lines.

Liquid Bronzer

Liquid bronzers are great for people who have dry skin. But, this skin type isn’t the only one that can benefit from using this type of bronzer. If you have any other skin type and want to have a glowy look, you can apply a liquid bronzer. However, be sure to apply liquid bronzer over top of your foundation before you apply any powder at all. When you’re applying liquid bronzer to your face, make sure that you blend in circular motions so that it looks natural and that you don’t have any harsh lines. 

Cream and Gel Bronzers

Both of these formulations are great for normal and dry skin types. That’s because these formulas won’t settle into dry or flaking skin in the same way that powder bronzers do. For people who have dry or normal skin types, powder bronzer tends to settle into the dryness of the face, making their makeup look cakey.

To apply this type of bronzer, you can use a makeup sponge or your fingertips. However, be sure that you’re carefully blending everything so that you don’t develop any harsh lines. Also, be sure always to apply your gel or cream bronzer before you apply any powder products to your face. If you apply the powder product and then use a gel or cream formula, you may find that your makeup will appear splotchy.

How do you Apply Bronzer?

There are many different ways that you can go about applying bronzer. If you take a moment to go on Instagram or YouTube, you’ll find thousands of different tutorials explaining how you can apply bronzer depending on your skin tone, skin type, or face shape. However, everybody can follow some basic rules when they’re looking to apply bronzer.

Prep your skin

First and foremost, it’s extremely important that you prep your face before you apply any bronzer to it. By properly prepping your face, you’ll not only ensure that your bronzer applies seamlessly but will also last for as long as you want it to.

The first thing that you need to do is apply your bronzer to a clean face. The first thing that you should do is wash your face with whatever face wash or soap you feel comfortable using. Next, you’ll want to apply your favorite moisturizer. Be sure that the moisturizer isn’t too heavy because if it is, you may have a hard time getting the bronzer to stick to your face.

After you have washed your face and added in moisturizer, give yourself a minute. This will allow the moisturizer to soak into your skin completely. If you have any extra oil or product left on your face after waiting a few minutes, be sure to blot away any of the extra oil or moisturizer with a clean tissue.

Next, apply bronzer to your primer and foundation. Using primer and foundation on your skin will help to keep your skin protected from the sun and be fresh for all-day wear. 

Applying Your Bronzer

After you’ve gone through this step, the next thing you’re going to want to do is to choose your bronzer. Use all of the tips listed above to choose the right bronzer for your skin type and tone.

As you’re applying the bronzer to your face, think about whether or not you really want to finish off your look with blush. If you want to apply blush, consider using the same brush that you used to apply the bronzer to apply the blush to your cheeks. When you’re applying the blush to your face, aim for the apples of your cheeks to give yourself some color. Using the same brush, you’ll help swirl the colors together to make everything look seamless together. 

Additional Tips for Applying Bronzer

If you already understand how to apply bronzer and you’re just looking for some additional tips to help you look fabulous, don’t worry, I’ve got your back. Here are some of the best-kept secrets I have for applying bronzer that’ll help you look fabulous:

Always be sure to apply the bronzer to your skin gradually

One of the most common mistakes that many beginners make when they’re first starting off with using bronzer is they tend to over-apply bronzer on it their skin. For you to accomplish a sun-kissed glow, you need to think about where the sun will naturally hit on your face when you’re out in the sunlight. For many people, these areas happen to be the bridge of the nose, the tip of the chin, the hairline, and the apples of the cheeks.

Think about the number three when you are applying your bronzer

Since many people aren’t sure of where to apply the bronzer on their faces, I always like to tell people to apply it in the shape of the number 3. On both sides of your face, you want to start applying bronzer on your forehead, right along your hairline.

Use your brush to follow the curve of your face, making the second part of the ‘3’ the area of your cheekbone and the final part of the ‘3’ along your jawline. Be sure to keep your bronzer application light; you can always go back and add in more bronzer if you want to darken it up. It’s very difficult for you to take it off if you put too much on, especially if you got a face full of makeup.

Never forget about natural sunlight when you’re applying your bronzer

Another mistake that I see many beginners make is they apply the bronzer on their faces when they’re in harsh artificial lighting. So, if you tend to apply your makeup in your bedroom or your bathroom, take a step into a naturally well-lit room. This is especially important if you are using a bronzer that has a shimmer to it.

Think about the type of brush you’re using to apply your bronzer

If you are using a cream bronzer or a liquid bronzer, you may want to consider using a foundation brush that’s made of synthetic hair or using a beauty blender to apply the makeup to your face. Using the stippling effect to apply the bronzer to your face will help give you an airbrushed appearance.

However, if you are using powder bronzer, you will want to use a fluffy medium-size brush in your application. This type of brush will give you the most control over the powder that is on your bristles. Before you start applying any bronzer with this type of brush, make sure that you tap off any excess powder by banging your brush onto the edge of your table or even on your finger. This is an extremely useful tip to use if you’re concerned about applying too much bronzer too quickly to your face.

If you’re worried that your bronzer is looking too dark, don’t worry

You can remove some of the excess bronzers on your face by using a clean powder brush with hair or synthetic fibers that are densely packed in. Rub the clean makeup brush in a circular motion to blend up the edges of the bronzer on your face. However, if you have found that there are some sharp or harsh edges, don’t be afraid to use a damp beauty sponge to blend out the harsh edges of your makeup.

How To Apply Bronzer Depending on Your Face Shape

Lastly, you need to know how to apply bronzer depending on your face shape. However, keep in mind that all of the tips listed above, such as the ‘3’ tip, still apply. We’re going to break down how to apply bronzer properly depending on your face shape. 

Round faces

Round faces typically have the widest part being the cheekbones; the forehead and the chin areas are a lot narrower. For you to properly add bronzer to your face, you’ll find that your application will look the most natural by applying bronzer to the apples of your cheeks.

By sweeping up towards your temple and towards your jaw, you’re still creating the number ‘three’ as we mentioned above. However, applying only on the apple of your cheeks will help to give your skin a healthy glow.

Heart-shaped faces

In individuals with a heart-shaped face, the widest part is the forehead. As for the narrowest part of their face, it’ll be the chin area. If you want to warm up a heart-shaped face properly, you can begin by bronzing starting at your temple. Then, move your brush down and apply more bronzer into the hollow part of your cheek. Then, you can bring your brush all along up to the tip of your chin to give yourself a little bit more color.

Oval faces

Individuals that have oval-shaped faces tend to be longer than they are wider. Another characteristic of an oval face is that the jawline is round. All you have to do to bronze an oval face is to dust your bronzer along with the apples of your cheeks. Then you can blend the rest of your bronzer into your jaw and into your hairline, giving you a natural sun-kissed glow.

Square shaped faces

In individuals that have square-shaped faces, their face is about as long as it is wide. Also, these people tend to have jawlines that are sharp and very distinguished. To bronze your face, you want to sweep across in the shape of a sideways 3 or a sideways letter ‘W”. You’ll start by sweeping your bronzer across your cheeks. Then, you’ll bring the bronzer across your nose and to the top of your forehead. 

Rectangular faces

Individuals with rectangular faces appear similar to that square faces. However, people with rectangular faces tend to have longer faces than wide ones. You can bronze this face shape by adding bronzer to the tops of your cheeks and moving it along the top of your chin. Then, you can add bronzer to your forehead to give yourself an utterly sun-kissed glow from head to toe. 

What Are Some of The Best Bronzers?

There are so many different bronzers on the market. So, we’re going to take a quick look at some of the best bronzers that are out there for you to begin your journey.

Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Bronzer

This is a powder bronzer that I really love because of how easy it blends into the skin. It’s literally almost like putting chocolate under my skin- it just blends in so easily. Also, I don’t ever have a problem with harsh lines with this bronzer; the hyaluronic acid in the formula provides my skin with a seamless finish. I can put on a beautiful glow with just one sweep of my brush. 

NARS Laguna Liquid Bronzer

nars laguna liquid bronzer

This is a bronzer that I mentioned above. Too many people talk about the Orgasm blush from Nars, but not enough people talk about this liquid bronzer. It mixes in really easily, and it doesn’t leave my skin looking cakey or feeling tacky. 

Benefit Cosmetics Hoola Matte Bronzer

benefit cosmetics hoola matte bronzer

This is one of the OG bronzers on the market. As somebody with oily skin, this is a bronzer that I tend to reach for in the summer. There are four different shades for you to choose from, so if you used this bronzer before but weren’t able to find a shade that was suitable for your skin, try looking at it again to see if this will work for you. 

Chanel Les Beiges Bronzing Cream Gel 

This cream-gel bronzer is easy to apply and can even be mixed with a powder bronzer to really enhance the look of your sun-kissed glow. It comes in a jar, so it’s easy for you to scoop out if you aren’t comfortable with pumpable bronzers. 

Milk Makeup Matte Bronzer

milk makeup bronzer

I like this matte bronzer for when I’m on the go. It comes in a stick, and I’m really able just to sweep it on my cheeks and blend it out in my fingertips. I’ve completely transformed my daytime makeup look to sunkissed and glowing for my afternoon adventures. If you’re ever in a rush and you don’t have a lot of time to do make-up, I highly recommend this bronzer. 


Question: Do you need a bronzer if you use contour?

Answer: As we talked about above, bronzer is warm-toned and tends to be shimmery. However, the contour tends to be cool-toned and matte. You don’t need a bronzer if you are using contour and vice versa. However, that isn’t to say that you can’t use them both together. You can use bronzer and contour together, depending on where you place the two makeup items.
If you use contour in the hollows of your face or even just your cheekbones, you’ll give it yourself a hollowed-out and sculpted look. If you use bronzer on the high points of your face, you’ll be giving yourself a sun-kissed glow. So, don’t put your bronzer where you’re putting your contour. Instead, just focus on putting the bronzer on the high parts of your face.
Also, be certain to apply your contour before you apply your bronzer if you do plan on using both of them together. 

Question: Where do I apply bronzer on my face?

Answer: You’ll apply bronzer on your face on the high parts.


Overall, you’ll need to consider your skin type, the undertones of your skin, as well as your skin tone when choosing a bronzer. Don’t be afraid to play around with different formulas, as one formula of bronzer may work a lot better for your skin than another type.

The entire goal of using bronzer is to add a sun-kissed glow to your face. But, there aren’t any rules with makeup, so don’t be afraid to get creative! Check out the rest of our website for more makeup and beauty tips today.