How To Wear Bronzer Like A Pro

Bronzer has been our go-to summer beauty product (actually, make that year-round) since we first discovered Benefit's Hoola back in middle school. We know that too much sun = bad, and SPF = good, but we also know that sometimes, it's nice to have a little sun-kissed glow — or at least look like we have one. Cue bronzer, a.k.a. a tan in a handy little compact. (We’ll admit it: Sometimes it makes us feel so good we’re tricked into thinking it’s all that we need. But under-eye concealer and brow definition are almost always necessary, no matter how bronzed).

As much as we’ve come to love and depend on it, however, the success rate of bronzer use is, uh, varied. You buy a bronzer and somehow end up with an all-orange face. Or worse: Stripes. Go one step further and you've got sparkles everywhere. And the ultimate worst, looking like you've delicately applied some dirt onto your cheeks.

Obviously we want to wear bronzer, but despite our product loyalty, there are (many) times when we still get it wrong. So we dialed Romy Soleimani, makeup artist and beauty director of, who’s been pumping up the glow of pretty much everyone on your “Summertime Sadness” (don’t lie) Pinterest board for years — from Carolyn Murphy and Daria Werbowy to Gisele Bündchen and Keira Knightley.

Finally, a decisive guide to the product we all use, whether or not we actually know how.
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Soleimani explains how to choose the right shade for your skin tone:
"Something to keep in mind as you look for a bronzer is that you don't want to go from fair to super bronze — you want to look like you've had just a kiss of sun. Take your skin tone into consideration and build up slowly."
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For fair skin tones, she recommends staying away from anything that's too warm — "You don't want it to be orange-y or too dark. The skin should look pale and tawny, like a soft beige. Olive tones can look for bronzers that are a little bit warmer, but should keep the same principles in mind."
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For different formulations, Soleimani instructs "You'll want to use different applicators. A general rule of thumb for application, though, is that you'll want to start with the product on the apples of our cheeks, then up to the temples, with dabs of product on your forehead, nose, and chin for balance."
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When it comes to powder formulas, the makeup artist says to use "a small, fluffy cheek brush to apply the product on the apples of your cheek and go up to the temple. What's left should be brushed on your forehead, nose, and chin. NARS Laguna is a good option, as are the Anti-Aging Matte Bronzer and Radiance Ombre bronzers from It Cosmetics. Laura Geller also offers two nice options for powders (here and here).”

Related: Why You Need A Gel Moisturizer
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And if you're using a cream-based bronzer formula with a beautyblender, "Press the product again on the apples of your cheeks and press into your temple. With what's left on the sponge, use on your forehead, nose, and chin. Always blend with your fingers to get a real glow."

Jouer's Luminizing Moisutre Tint in bronze is great for fair skin. The deep bronze in this line looks great with olive-toned skin. Another option is Tom Ford Contour in a darker shade for a light sun kiss.
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“A liquid should look like a bronze stain for your face," Soleimani notes.

"To get the glow, add a drop of product to your hands and rub together. Then, take the product into the palm of your hand and rub into your face. Press sides of face with your palms, focusing on the area from your cheeks up to temples, then dabbing on your forehead, nose, and chin. By Terry's Tea to Tan is a great liquid bronzer and I love their bronzing mousse as well!"
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Maybe her most important instruction is this: “Don't overdo it. Don't apply bronzer heavily and all over your face. You really want to think about the sun hitting your face, and where it would naturally highlight it."
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Her last piece of advice? "If you ever you look orange, it's the wrong bronzer for you — wash off immediately!”

Next: How To Get Summer Skin From Head To Toe

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