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8 Bronzer Makeup Looks to Help You Get a Year-Round Glow

Photo by BreannaDMakeup/Instagram

When it comes to versatility, few makeup products win as many points in the summer as bronzer does. Whether it’s for a sun-kissed glow or to define your features, bronzer is the multitasker to reach for when you want to make your glowy skin dreams come true. If you’re new to bronzer or just want to work on your skills, you’ve come to the right place. We chatted with New York-based makeup artist Brenna D about all the reasons to love bronzer, and rounded up our favorite bronzer makeup looks to get you started on your #glowgoals.

But first, if it seems bronzer has been a buzzworthy beauty staple for forever, it has been. Bronzer can be used in endless ways, on fair skin, deep skin, and everything in between, which makes it easy to work into almost any makeup look. Brenna D says it’s so versatile because, “Bronzer can be used on the face and body, mixed into moisturizer or applied as-is, and it comes in a variety of textures and shades that range from matte to luminous to sparkly.”

And it doesn’t stop there. Brenna D also adds that there are many ways to apply bronzer.

“The most common is to add warmth to the skin and, depending on the product and shade, you can also use bronzer to create dimension, [and also] as eye makeup to add a contrasting, subtle shadow to the eyes.” If you’re a fan of anything but powders, Brenna D says, “A liquid or gel bronzer directly to the skin or mixed with a moisturizer creates an instant tan or glow. You can also tap cream, liquid, or gel bronzers onto the lip for a wash of color. (For more bronzer tips, check out our guide on how to apply bronzer.)

Ready to be bronzed and beautiful all year round? Continue reading for 8 bronzer makeup looks with pro tips to define that jawline, warm up your skin, and give you a gorgeous beachy glow. 

About the Expert:

Brenna D is a New York-based makeup artist, hairstylist, and grooming specialist.

1. Bronzed and Beachy

That just-hit-the-surf flush we all love? You don’t have to spend a day in the sun (wearing your SPF, of course) to get that glowy skin look. For a naturally dewy, slightly rosy sunkissed flush, Brenna D says the best bronzers to use are liquid bronzers, plus a little skincare. “Liquid bronzers can also be used right on top of or mixed into skincare for an authentic beachy bronzed look,” says Brenna D. “Because liquid spreads, they are great for larger areas of skin. A liquid bronzer is easily applied with your fingertips by tapping the product along your forehead and on your cheekbones, right under where you would apply highlight.”

Our Pick: GIGI GORGEOUS The Gigi Body Glow is a deep, golden bronze formula infused with vitamin E that works for a variety of skin types (even dry) and skin tones.

2. Defined and Contoured

Whether you’re into lightly defining or fully enhancing your favorite features, bronzer is the way to go. Brenna D says. “If you want to add some natural-looking contrast and subtle definition to your features, I would choose a matte bronzer that is more neutral than warm, compared to your skin tone. A matte-cream is great for adding subtle depth and warmth to the areas of the skin you would contour. Matte creams tend to be more pigmented/thicker, so I recommend warming the product up if you’re applying with your fingers or building upon the application if using a brush/sponge.” (Learn all about the difference between bronzer and contour here.)

Our Pick: TOO FACED COSMETICS Chocolate Soleil Matte Bronzer creates a seamless contour or allover glow and treats your skin to skin-loving ingredients like antioxidant-rich cocoa powder.

3. All Blushed Up

A dewy bronze flush enhanced by rosy blush gives Halle Bailey gorgeous beach day (or beach party) vibes. Brenna D says, “A luminous cream is great for adding a dewy bronzed glow to the skin as they tend to have a softer, buildable finish.” We love cream formulas as they’re easy to apply with a makeup brush, beauty sponge, or your fingertips—perfect for no-fuss vacay makeup looks.

Our Pick: MODELCO Contour Stick is smooth, lightweight, and oh so creamy. Use it to define and contour, or add a hint of bronze to skin—no matter how you wear it, it blends like a dream.

4. Subtle Sun-Kissed Glam

While we love an all out beachy glow, a soft bronzed look like this one feels fresh, light, and perfect for everyday wear. To avoid looking unnaturally tan, Brenna D says, “Choosing the right shade of bronzer is the most important detail! Stay within 2/3 shades deeper than your base and start with less to build the bronzy glow. Don’t forget to look at all the skin you have showing when applying bronzer. You don’t want to have a beautiful sun-kissed face that doesn’t match your neck and chest.” (Check out our guides to the best bronzers for dark skin tones and for fair skin tones.)

5. An Under Foundation Flush

For those who want the most natural-looking touch of bronzeyness, applying it before your foundation will leave you in awe. “With liquid, cream, and gel bronzers, you can apply them after skincare and then tap your light-coverage base over for a glow from within!  [You can] do the same with your blush,” says Brenna D. Another reason to love? The natural flush keeps focus on the eyes, letting them sparkle, while your contours shine through. Be right back, trying this one out immediately.

Our Pick: YENSA BEAUTY Silk Bronzing Base is a cream bronzer with a super silky texture that feels so light on your skin. The lightweight formula blends out and builds up easily (so it’s perfect under foundation) for the most natural-looking, warm flush. 

6. All Over Eyes

To add contrast and definition to your eye area, try bronzing powder as eyeshadow! Brenna D suggests a few ways to apply, “Sweep [bronzer] in the crease as a transition color or for subtle definition, and blend out under the eyes for a sultry look. Apply across the whole lid for a wash of color, or if the product has a shimmer, you can tap in the middle on top of another shadow for an “eye-opening” effect.”

7. Paired With Bold Lips

The best pairing for a bright red lip color? A touch of light and fresh, luminous bronzer on cheeks and blended up into your eye crease for a hint of definition and dewy glow. Opt for a bronzer with a hint of shimmer for extra dimension that will put your skin in the spotlight, while your red lips pop. 

Our Pick: SPACE CASE COSMETICS Fakecation Bronzer is a powder bronzer with subtle shimmer that delivers a hint of glow wherever you apply. 

8. Make It Monochromatic 

Monochromatic makeup is a makeup trend that shows no sign of slowing down. From rosy lids, lips, and cheeks to all over brown and bronze makeup like Shay Mitchell, it’s a chic and easy look that you can create with just a few products. Apply bronzer to lids and cheeks, (don’t forget to blend up into your hairline and jawline) then follow up with a brown-nude lip color. Or, take a cream bronzer and apply it right on your lips—there are so many ways to make it your own. 

Our Pick: TRESTIQUE Color + Contour Bronzer Stick in Brazilian Bronze is a two-in-one stick with a built-in blender for easy application. The creamy formula is non-drying and long-lasting, so it’s great on your lips, too.

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About the author
Pia Bhattacharya
Pia is a New York-based beauty editor at IPSY with over 10 years experience including editorial, public relations, and copywriting. Her work has appeared in SELF magazine, in beauty and branding for Bloomingdale’s, and others.
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Article Last Updated July 19, 2022 12:00 AM