Beauty How-To: Go Bronze Yourself

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this before, but I am Pale. Like, really pale, so pale it warrants a capital P for emphasis. I glow under black lights; practically all of my veins and arteries are peeking through my flesh braying for you to notice them; when I go out in public without makeup on perfect strangers ask me if I am okay. (I am fine.) However, I will melt in direct sunlight, and the fake bronze look of artificial tanning just does not appeal to me, so I long ago fully embraced my fairness with open (white) arms. In fact, I quite like it, and I quietly resent anyone, friend or foe, who tells me off-handedly that I “need a tan.” No, I don’t — I just need a little bit of bronzer, and then I’m back to looking human again.

I’m a dope hand at contouring because I’m obsessssssed with cheekbones, but my full-face bronzing technique leaves something to be desired (I stick a huge, fluffy brush in the pan and just slap it all over my face, whatever). Consider this remedial how-to my effort at learning with you.

Select a shade! Duh. Super-fair types like myself and the oily-skinned will want to avoid anything with shimmer particles in it. Shimmer is really obvious on pales (and enhances the look of pores and blemishes) and we all know that the all-over sparkle look doesn’t do anybody any favors outside of the mall. If you have clear, deeper-toned skin, though, by all means go for a shimmery bronzer. (I am jealous, but I’m going to stick to the matte options. It’s better this way.) Again, pales have to be really, really careful about choosing the right tone, because anything too warm is going to go straight to Orange. Bobbi Brown makes the O.G. “balanced tones” bronzer; I’m way into Natural. Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder is also a great neutral choice that you can use for both contouring or all-over color. Regardless of your skin tone, it’s probably a good choice to try bronzer out in person so that you can really see what works and what doesn’t. I’m not gonna tell you what to do, but keep in mind that I’ve ordered quite a few bronzers online in my day. Of these, exactly zero of them have worked for me.

Get a brurrrrrrsh. There is no way you are going to be able to apply bronzer without a brush. I know, it sucks, and I personally prefer to get my face on with as few tools as possible aside from my filthy fingers, but you need one for this. How about this one from Real Techniques? That one looks nice, and it’s only $8.99. If you’re a fancy motherfucker like me, this one from Sephora looks great, and it only costs four times as much as the other one! Can you believe! If you’re an even fancier motherfucker (the fanciest motherfucker?), here’s one for you: it’s Chanel! I could never own that, it’s too nice. I would feel compelled to do something terrible with it, like use it to groom my cat or put the bristles in my mouth. Chuck it in the river, I don’t know. There’s something wrong with me.

Put it on! This is probably the most important step. You’re gonna wanna put this bronzer on your face. Swirl your brush in the pan until the bristles are coated lightly. You don’t want them to be saturated in it because then you’ll end up looking crazy uneven — the key is to layer. Speaking of looking uneven, you’ll want to apply the bronzer after you’ve already used a thin layer of powder on your face, whether it’s powder foundation or finishing powder. Powder bronzer just goes on better when there’s something underneath for it to stick to. Anyway! Like I said, put it on! Use a light hand to sweep bronzer on all the areas that light (sun!) naturally hits — the top of the forehead, the bridge of your nose, and along the high points of cheeks. Use very, very light strokes and as little pressure as possible to avoid streaks or depositing too much color in one area.

Check it. Ch-ch-check it. Stand by a window or, hell, maybe even go outside and check that shit out. Make sure it looks natural and even — if it’s not, blend it in with your fingertips or a makeup sponge. You should be able to avoid the “my face is ten times darker than any other area of my body” trap altogether by not applying the bronzer on your chin or anywhere that comes in contact with your neck, but if you go for the full-face bronze (which, come on, I sometimes do), make sure you blend it down with the brush so it looks seamless. No one ever has to know that you aren’t just a naturally glorious bronzed goddess. No one.

Is there a celebrity beauty look you want to steal? A new product you want to learn how to use? Don’t know which foundation, moisturizer, volumizing spray, or novelty eye glitter to invest in? Want to see how many Momofuku birthday cake truffles I can fit in my mouth at once? If you’ve got a beauty question, concern, or demand, any at all, hit me up on my videophone. I mean, uh, my email. Or Twitter! [email protected] or @frigidbardot — make it ring, or rain, or something like that, babes!


[Photo of woman applying makeup via Shutterstock]