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“It’s all about the undertone,” says Uzo, the lead makeup stylist for NARS International. “A bronzer with a golden-yellow undertone looks best on almost all complexions. Very fair complexions usually need a bronzer that has a pink or red undertone to make skin look sun-kissed. Darker complexions need bronzers that have a deeper pigment to give the complexion additional dimension. Avoid bronzers that are orangey and have too much shimmer as they look unnatural and tend to oxidize to give skin an unflattering terrracotta hue.”
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How to apply bronzer rule #2: Test out the shade before you buy
We can’t stress this enough. “People really need to test it out on their skin, sometimes what you would think would be too dark for somebody actually really looks beautiful on someone and gives them that sun-kissed look,” says Nico Guilis , a celebrity makeup artist with Starworks Artists.
“The last thing you want your bronzer to do is to look muddy and I think that’s the biggest thing that I see with people: they’ll make their face so tan that their body doesn’t match,” she says. Guilis recommends swiping the shade on your jawline, between the neck and face, to match skin tone, and not your wrist: “It’s so much lighter than everywhere else on your body.”
How to apply bronzer rule #3: Know your texture—and how to use it
Different textures—powder, cream, gel—have different functions. “A cream bronzer—like Soleil Tan de Chanel whipped bronzer— I really like it for contouring,” says Guilis. “The finish is going to hold all day and wear nicely into your skin.” Her favourite products? “Lorac has a beautiful one, Armani has an amazing bronzer. NARS Laguna is really pretty.”
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For more rules on how to apply bronzer, read on to the next page... How to apply bronzer rule #4: Prep skin before you apply
Start with a freshly cleansed palette. “For best results, always start off your skin care routine with an amazing cleansing balm,” says Melanie Charalambous, assistant manager of Murale in Toronto, who loves Eve Lom Cleanser, which eliminates dry skin and impurities.
How to apply bronzer rule #5: Create a perfect DIY tinted moisturizer
“Use a moisturizer that’s good for your skin tone and mix in a dime-size amount of foundation with an SPF,” says Guilis. “Lightly apply over T-zone, and for under the eyes, on the nose and chin—where you tend to get oily, which what makes you look tired—use a loose, natural powder.”
How to apply bronzer rule #6: Set the perfect base
Immediately after cleansing “apply foundation while skin is still moist,” says Hayley Miller, an eco-friendly make-up artist based in Vancouver. “Make-up is heat activated and works best on warm skin.” Set with a powder, and let dry completely to create a silky finish.
How to apply bronzer rule #7: Use the right brush
“I really like bronzer to be applied with a powder brush instead of a traditional bronzer brush,” says Uzo. “It’s easier to control the amount of bronzer being applied to the face: you are able to lightly diffuse the bronzer over the entire face which really helps to blur imperfections, compared to looking overly sun-tanned. The only time I recommend a bronzing brush is when you want to sculpt cheekbones and define the jawline.” She recommends NARS Yachiyo Brush, a loose powder brush inspired by traditional Japanese brushes, designed specifically for precise powder, blush and bronzer application.
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“I think that people use bronzer for contouring purposes, to bring out their cheekbones,” says Guilis. “So I think that’s naturally the one place people gravitate toward for application. A really good product is the NARS The Multiple stick in Malibu and Maui—both of those colours make you look like you’ve been in the sun for a few hours. I like to press them into the apple of the cheek after I use the bronzer, it just gives you that youthful flush.”
How to apply bronzer rule #9: Get a naturally tan look allover
“Look for products that have the words tan extender rather than bronzer, because when you start putting bronzers on your skin, especially bronze gel, that’s when it starts to get shimmery and streaky,” warns Guilis, who prefers Australian Gold Moisture Lock Tan Extender for it’s lovely, golden finish. Apply in the evening to avoid leaving the house in a streaky huff. And watch your lighting: “sometimes you can’t see in your bathroom and you don’t realize until you walk around outside that you’re the colour of a carrot!”
How to apply bronzer rule #10: Keep a fresh glow all day
Avoid worn-out and muddy-looking make-up come five o’clock. “I suggest that people use a foundation that’s water-based with an SPF,” says Guilis, who suggests Neutrogena Healthy Skin or Chanel Vitalumière Aqua Ultra-Light Skin Perfecting Makeup Instant Natural Radiance SPF 15.
Summer skin care: Lighten your FOUNDATION LOAD
Keep oil-absorbing sheets on hand for a quick refresher throughout the day. “My go-to product for touch-ups are the Shiseido Blotting Sheets,” says Charalambous, who recommends blotting along the T-zone for an instant matte finish. “They help absorb facial oils you accumulate during the day without ruining your makeup.”
But, as Gullis points out, “If you just keep layering bronzing products, it looks really bad.” Don't be afraid to wipe away and start over in your quest for the perfect golden glow.
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