Not knowing what to do with bronzer is such a common inquiry, you’d think it was one of the great makeup mysteries of our time. Just what should you do with that pretty tan powder now that you’ve gotten it home?! Luckily, the answer is surprisingly simple, once you know a few tips. Before you delve into the mystical vault of makeup knowledge, let’s take a look at what a bronzer is even used for, just to refresh those who may just be that confused.

Typically, bronzer is used to give a sun-kissed tan to the skin, and some radiance as well (depending on the product you use). A nice bronzed complexion makes the skin look ultra smooth and healthy, so it’s no wonder we fake it when we can! There are tons of bronzer options out there, but in general, matte bronzers will add pure color, while shimmery bronzers add color and glow (because of this, matte is generally more flattering for daytime, while shimmer looks  gorgeous at night).

There are several ways you can apply bronzer, depending on the effect you want, so give one (or all three) of these a try and embrace Summer’s favorite product:

My personal favorite bronzing technique is to create an au natural tan by hitting the “high planes” of the face. These are the parts that protrude the most and would actually get the most sun if you were outside. With this in mind, use a fluffy brush and apply the bronzer across the forehead, cheekbones, nose, and chin, making sure to blend seamlessly.

If you desire a more smooth, all-over tan, try a different approach: Use a large fluffy brush and apply a light dusting of bronzer all over the face and neck, just like you would apply face powder. Make sure you are not going too dark as compared to your chest and the rest of your body–nobody wants to be that girl!

Another great way to use bronzer is to contour the face, making your bone structure pop while also adding some warmth to the skin. Apply the bronzer at the temples, underneath the cheekbones, and finally down along you jawline. It’s even great as a contour shade for the eyes.

See, bronzer isn’t the great mystery it seems to be is it? It’s such a wonderful product to play up the skin and give you some added dimension, taking you anywhere from sporty to sophisticated. Just invest in a good quality brush, use a light hand, and get bronzing while the summer is still upon us!

Side Note– if you have no clue which bronzer to try, here’s a few I adore: NARS Laguna, Benefit Hoola, Too Faced Sun Bunny,  and Smashbox Halo Bronzer. Find all of the above online or at Sephora!

Post by Melissa Murdick, a professional makeup artist based in Los Angeles. Visit her website at, or for daily beauty tips and more makeup know-how, follow Melissa on twitter @melissamthemua.

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