Bronzer has evolved and its use in makeup has grown over the years. It has become an important and transformative element for the over 50 woman’s makeup arsenal.
Topics in this article cover what bronzer is used for, how to apply it, placement on the face, and some contouring tips and tricks. Bronzer product suggestions are included.
“For makeup, a bit of blusher–what you call bronzer–a bit of an eye, and an eyelash curler.” Kate Moss
Bronzer Use in Makeup
What is bronzer and what is its use in over 50 makeup today?
Something akin to bronzer was my first ever and cherished makeup product circa 1972. Bonne Belle introduced a bronzing gel that created what we now label as the no-makeup makeup look. No foundation or additional makeup was needed to achieve a very healthy “skin but better” glow.
Over the years, similar makeup products emerged that moved the needle from “healthy glow” to tan and then to overdone tan. The result was a fake-makeup makeup look. As a result of the heavy-handedness, bronzers got a bad reputation for many years. They weren’t even an afterthought for my makeup routine.
And then somewhere along the line, bronzers changed. Like many cosmetics, they evolved into many variegated shades of color and forms encompassing creams, powders, sticks, and liquids. This evolution allowed for more refinement over how and when we used it.
In this full circle Lion King kind of moment, I will boldly say that bronzer could hold the status (again) as one of a few essential “cherished” makeup products. Particularly so for the over 50 makeup bag.
In today’s world, versatility and quick and easy color impact on the skin is the name of the game for bronzer. Specifically, we can:
- Warm and brighten the face quickly to achieve a simple healthy no-makeup makeup look. We still look like ourselves only with a sun-kissed glow.
- Vastly improve the look of skin and counteract any type of skin dullness.
- Use it as a double even triple-duty makeup product: warmth to the skin/face, natural-looking eyeshadow base and/or eyeshadow, color complement to blush and highlighter.
- Soften the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles when applied strategically.
- Add subtle contour and depth to the face.
What Bronzer is Not
Given its many positive traits, it’s easy to think that bronzer is a one size fits all. It’s not. I also believe we run the risk of over-confidently applying too much of it.
Let’s first define bronzer by describing what it is not.
Bronzer is not contour. Not necessarily that is. Contour makeup with its cool undertones is used exclusively to change the perception of facial features through the play of darkness and light. In contrast, bronzer’s main goal is to add warmth and glow to the skin. With that said, bronzer can work well to shape and improve the definition of the face.
Bronzer is not foundation. Foundation is used to even out skin tone and provide coverage, often all over the face. Bronzer, on the other hand, primarily provides warmth and glow and is used only on specific areas of the face.
Bronzer is not a self-tanner or tanning replacement. Cue in the false makeup makeup look. For that, instead, use a self-tanning lotion or spray product.
Bronzer is not a highlighter or blush although it can be used instead of or in conjunction with either. Bronzer can also enhance the color and effect of one or the other when placed strategically on the face,
How to Apply Bronzer for a Natural Look
To achieve a more natural look, here are some general bronzer application guidelines:
- Choose a bronzer color that is only 1 to 2 shades darker than your natural skin color. A color that is too dark will result in an unnatural muddy look.
- Choosing a matte (vs shimmer) finish will typically offer the most natural effect on the face.
- Build up the bronzer slowly in layers on the face starting light and gradually getting darker.
- Blend the bronzer well and seamlessly between each layer.
- With more mature or dry skin, consider a cream bronzer as opposed to a powder bronzer. Cream formulations are easy to blend with no risk of patchiness. They not only offer warmth but they also provide a dewy finish. A few product recommendations are below.
- The tools to apply are many and the choice boils down to personal preference. Brushes, fingers, or beauty sponges are all good. I generally use a stippling brush for bronzer since it is perfect for building up the product slowly on the skin (read more here about stippling). Bronzing brushes are thicker and apply heavier. Here are a few options below:
Where to Put Bronzer On the Face
The great thing about bronzer is how easy it is to use. Virtually all faces benefit from the following placement depicted below:
The white arrows indicate where to place the bronzer essentially framing or hugging the outside of the entirety of the face. Place the bronzer more toward the bottom part of the cheekbone. This placement helps define the bone structure a bit and leaves room above the bronzer for blush and highlighter if needed.
If desired, sweep the bronzer over the nose (dotted line) providing additional warmth.
Bronzer as Eyeshadow
There are no hard and fast rules for applying bronzer as eyeshadow. Sweep it on for simple and natural or use it as an eyeshadow base for a more complex eyeshadow look. The warmth looks great on everyone.
Defining Facial Features
For those of you who have features that you would like to play up or down, some adjustments can be made with bronzer. Here are a few tricks:
- For a smaller forehead, bring and blend the bronzer a bit closer to the middle of the forehead as indicated by the red lines
- To soften an angular forehead of a square face, try adding and diffusing a little more bronzer just at the temples.
- To shorten a long or longer oval face, try bringing bronzer down onto the forehead a bit more. and bring it up on the chin to shorten the face. The chin tip also works for a longer chin on a heart-shaped face.
Here is just one example of bronzer live and in action.
There are a plethora of bronzers on the market right now so many so that it becomes hard to choose. The key factors when weighing options are color for your skin and blendability for seamless color and warmth.
Here are a few bronzers that I have tried and liked. Also linked below is an article listing many more options that you may want to explore.
chanel les beiges healthy glow bronzing cream
I love this cream bronzer and it’s an almost daily go-to for me. It slips right on the skin and blends effortlessly. The one negative is that the color selection is very limited so it’s not for everyone.
Saie sun melt natural cream bronzer
Saie is a new(er) woman-owned clean makeup brand. Blends well with a slightly tackier feel than Chanel but still has great blending ability. More color options than Chanel.
Anastasia beverly hills cream bronzer
A solid matte cream bronzer option that performs well. Good color selection.
urban decay beached bronzer
This is the only powder on my list and for someone with dry skin that is saying a lot. With minimal colors (I think there are only 2!), it’s subtle and silky. A great first step into bronzer as it is difficult to go overboard on the color.
This post discussed bronzer’s value in makeup particularly for the over 50 woman. Topics included what bronzer is used for, how to apply bronzer, bronzer placement on the face, and a few contouring tips and tricks.
If you are looking to explore more bronzer options, take a look at this article on the 11 Best Cream Bronzers of 2023.
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