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How to choose the best bronzer for your skin type

It’s instinctive to reach for bronzer when you’re feeling a little lackluster, but pick the wrong one and you could end up looking muddy, not luminous. MADELEINE SPENCER explains how to pick the right one for your skin


Is there a more hard-working item in your makeup bag than your bronzer? Not only does it add warmth and life to skin, but it can also reintroduce shape to a face that has softened with age, brighten eyes when worn on lids, and add definition to your décolleté. It’s all too easy to pick the wrong shade, texture or finish for your own skin tone and type, though. So, here’s how to get it right…

Best bronzer for blemished skin… NARS Matte Bronzing Powder

If your skin is congested and prone to breakouts, keep your makeup matte, as shine can emphasize bumps. This mattifying bronzer by Nars helps to reduce shine throughout the day.

Tip: apply this after you cover any breakouts with concealer and powder. To avoid moving the concealer, don’t buff the bronzer onto skin. Instead, sweep it on with a soft brush that has densely packed fibers to ensure it goes on evenly (try Sisley’s Blush Brush).

Best bronzer for dehydrated skinSurratt Beauty Artistique Blush in Grisaille

Those fine lines resulting from dehydration can be exacerbated by a heavy-handed approach to bronzing. This finely milled, satin-finish bronzer is buildable and lightweight, so it won’t settle in any creases or emphasize dehydrated patches.

Tip: Surratt Beauty’s Grisaille is a very versatile shade. Once you have dusted it over your skin, apply a wash over your eyelids and then add mascara for a quick and simple eye-makeup look.

Best bronzer for shoulders and décolleté… La Mer The Bronzing Powder

When it comes to skincare and makeup, you shouldn’t stop at your jawline. For a seamless sun-kissed glow, it’s important to dust your collarbones and décolleté when they are on show. La Mer’s shimmering powder adds a warm, diffused shimmer to skin that is only noticeable when it’s caught in the light. It is beautifully subtle and contains the added skincare benefit of the brand’s renowned vitamin-rich Miracle Broth.

Tip: as a rule, the denser the brush, the more intense the color. Use a large, loosely packed powder brush – like the Hourglass Ambient Powder Brush – to apply the powder in a thin, veil-like layer for a subtle sheen.

Best bronzer for flat winter light… Hourglass Ambient Lighting Bronzer

This airy, illuminating bronzer by Hourglass is loved for its ability to light up skin, and is a great choice on dull, wintry days, when complexions can look flat and lifeless. Its Photoluminescent Technology gives skin an ethereal soft-lit glow. The result? Skin looks healthier and imperfections are diffused.

Tip: this powder is incredibly finely milled, so it layers up a treat. Reapply as the day wears on, and add an extra sweep for evening.

Best bronzer for going all out… Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze & Glow

This bronzer-and-highlighter compact duo is brilliant for giving dull skin instant glow. The combination of reflective pearl and warm-bronze tones in this palette confers a megawatt sheen – and injects a touch of warmth and vitality to sallow skin.

Tip: apply with a cheek brush (try By Terry Blush Brush) in small circles, dusting it across the tops of your cheeks and into your hairline to mimic a sun-kissed complexion.

Best bronzer for medium to dark skin… Westman Atelier Beauty Butter Powder Bronzer

A buffing of bronzer to cheeks and into the temples lends medium to dark skin tones a sheen of glowy warmth. This unique formula is silky smooth and a dream to blend, with or without a brush; it also contains cupuacu, cocoa-seed and mango-seed butters to nourish skin and offer a layer of protection from the environment.

Tip: thanks to its lack of noticeable shimmer, this bronzer is also an excellent contour product on medium skin tones.

Best bronzer for pale skin… La Bouche Rouge La Terre Bronzer Refill in Blonde

Bronzer can be daunting when you have very pale skin, as many bronze shades can look far too obvious, even when blended out. This bronzer has been formulated with pale skin in mind. It is finely milled, so it can be applied in wisp-like subtle layers – and the shade is soft and muted, so it imparts a warm diffusion of color.

Tip: if you’re applying bronzer up onto your forehead, be sure to buff it into your hairline to avoid a white strip around the perimeter of your face.

Best bronzer for contouring… Huda Beauty Tantour Contour & Bronzer Cream

Doubling as a contour, this bronzing cream is excellent for adding realistic, subtle shading to accentuate cheekbones and redefine your jaw. It blends in easily, like a cream, but quickly settles into a velvety powder finish. A small amount goes far, so buff a touch of pigment into the hollows of your cheeks and underneath your jawline, then buff again to avoid leaving obvious lines on your skin.

Tip: the eye area loses definition with age, and this creamy bronzer is just the thing for cheating it back into place. Use a small eyeshadow brush, such as Chantecaille Shade and Sweep Eye Brush, to blend the bronzer into your socket line or crease, then blend upwards towards the outer part of your brow.

The model featured in this story is not associated with NET-A-PORTER and does not endorse it or the products shown