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How to Make Bronzer Look Natural

Follow these steps for a sun-kissed glow.

Welcome to our Ask Beautyeditor column, where our experts answer your hair, skin and makeup questions. To request makeup advice:

  • Email with “Makeup Question” in the subject line.
  • Briefly describe your makeup issue.

Please note: All photos will be published.

Q: How the heck do you use bronzers? I bought a Rimmel London one a few years ago, which is apparently okay for my complexion, but I have no idea how to use it properly. I follow the "draw a 3 on your face" rule, but I never really notice much of a difference. 

I am super-duper pale and need to stay out of the sun, so I never have that nice hint of summer tan happening on my face. If it’s doable with a bronzer, how do you keep it looking natural and not like you’ve suddenly become a pumpkin? — Gimped

Leighton Meester at a 3.1 Phillip Lim show in 2008.

A: Gimped, thank you for your question. 

There are a few different ways you can approach this. It might not be working for you because of the colour, your technique or the consistency of your product.


For someone like yourself that is super-pale, you definitely want to avoid looking too orange, which is a very common problem. 

I like choosing bronzers that are more beige and have no orange or red undertones.

My favourite is DuWop Mattilume, in either Lighter or Darker.

The Skincare Edit Recommends

DuWop Mattilume in Lighter

These powders don't even look like bronzer, but when applied, they give the perfect colour to pale skin. This is because fair skin tends to show pigment very easily, so even when it looks light in the packaging, it tends to show up darker on the skin.


Another tip would be to try a cream texture instead of a powder. 

I will often just use a foundation that is a couple of shades darker than the person's skin tone, instead of a bronzer. 

You can apply to the outer corners of your face with a foundation swirl brush, such as the Laura Mercier Finishing Brush (swirl brushes are the ones that have black hairs on the bottom and white on the top). This also gives a nice, natural finish.

Laura Mercier Finishing Brush


Applying your bronzer in the "3" shape is correct! That's how I always recommend to do it. 

Make a "3" on the outside of the face, sweeping the product across your outer forehead, cheekbone and along the jawline. Then repeat that in reverse on the other side.


Lastly, I would also steer clear of too much shimmer or glitter in a bronzer. This can definitely make it look too intense and unnatural.

A little bit of shimmer is okay, but if you want to avoid it completely, look for matte finishes, such as Too Faced Chocolate Soleil Matte Bronzer.

Too Faced Chocolate Soleil Matte Bronzer

Sabrina Rinaldi is a Toronto- and Montreal-based hair and makeup artist.

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