How To

Bronzing by Numbers – A Beginner’s Guide to Sunkissed Skin

Simple Steps to Perfect BronzingMost of us have a bronzing powder in our make up arsenal – something we dust all over to ‘pep’ up our skins when we’re looking decidedly dreary – but with so many formulas to choose from, finding the ‘faux-glow grail’ can prove complicated. We’ve put together some tips to steer you through the bronzing maze, and application tricks to get you naturally glowing…

{Find the right formula} Creams and powders are pretty interchangeable, but cream textures tend to look a little more ‘dewy’ – so are perfect for drier, more mature skin types, while powders (especially matte ones) are great if you’re susceptible to shine. With powder, it is also easier to be a bit more ‘tentative’ – ideal if you’re fair-skinned or a bronzing novice.

The Matte Bronzing Veil - Kevyn AucoinConversely, creamy textures work brilliantly with liquid bases, and can be buffed together to create a seamless, sculpted look – but it’s also easier to be too heavy-handed, so begin with a matte powder if you tend to be a bit ‘slapdash’. Kevyn Aucoin’s {The Matte Bronzing Veil} is available in two shades – ‘Desert Days’ and ‘Desert Nights’ – to lend a sheer, sunkissed finish to skin. Choose ‘Desert Days’ if you’re particularly pale – then switch to ‘Desert Nights’ once the sun sets.


BECCA Shimmering Skin Perfector Topaz{Ace your base…} ahead of bronzing. Make up artist Pat McGrath recommends ‘warming’ up your foundation, by either choosing 1 shade deeper than your usual, or supplementing it with something gold-toned. BECCA’s stunning {Shimmering Skin Perfector} comes in myriad shades, and can be mixed with base or moisturiser, applied all over as a primer, or dotted along cheekbones for a hint of highlight. The shade ‘Topaz’ is a beautiful copper-bronze and just half a pump, mixed with your usual skin enhancer will create an enviable, lit-from-within look.

W3LL PEOPLE Kabuki Powder Brush{Pick your weapons} {The One Perfecting Brush} is a multi-purpose must-have – with naturally antibacterial, super-soft goat hair bristles to pick up and distribute just the right amount of liquid, cream or powder for a flawless effect. The bristles are also arranged in a ‘brick’ shape, for accessing angles and facial contours. Alternatively, try a fluffy powder or Kabuki brush – Kevyn Aucoin’s {Blush & Powder Brush} is wonderfully versatile, while W3LL PEOPLE’S {Kabuki Brush} has densely packed bristles to buff your products to perfection.

{Sculpt by numbers} The best way to bronze, is to mirror the way that you’d naturally catch the sun – down the centre of your face, and on the ‘high points’. With your bronzing brush (or sponge – the {Beautyblender} is brilliant for creamy textures), dip your brush in product, tap off any excess then swirl the bristles in the lid, or on a flat surface to ‘work’ and disperse the product properly. Starting just above your temples, dust a ‘3’ shape on each side of your face – skirting your hairline on the outskirts of your temples, then darting in just under your cheekbones, parallel with your earlobes for a subtle, sculpted look (this is the ‘peak’ of your ‘3’). Then ‘reverse’ back up towards your ears, and follow the edge of your face down, along the jawline and towards your chin.

Kevyn Aucoin’s {The Matte Bronzing Veil} has an exquisite, buttery texture which blends effortlessly for a soft-focus effect, while Jouer Cosmetics’ {Mattifying Powder Bronzer} is whisper-weight, so perfect for the fair-skinned who’re intimidated by the ‘bronzing’ process.

Stila Cosmetics Convertible Colour Bronzing Duo{Once you’ve mastered matte…} you can experiment with shimmer. BECCA’s {Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed} – again, in shade ‘Topaz’ – grants cheekbones a gorgeous golden gleam, while Stila Cosmetics’ {Convertible Colour Bronzing & Contouring Duo} is a split-pan palette, with sheer matte and glistening gold-toned gel-creams to enhance your favourite features; apply sparingly to illuminate your complexion, blending with fingertips for quick and convenient radiance.

Vita Liberata Trystal Minerals{And if you’re in it for the long haul…} you need Vita Liberata’s {Trystal Minerals} – enriched with the tanning agent ‘DHA’ (a fruit acid complex), to grant an instant glow that lasts, long after you’ve taken your make up off. Just dust all over face and neck – the tan develops underneath the powder, so that you still look gorgeously golden come bedtime.


Verity Douglas

Verity Douglas

Content Editor

Cult Beauty’s Content Editor and a Cult Beauty OG, Verity loves nothing more than the marriage of language and lip balm. A quintessential Libran, she’s a self-professed magpie for luxury ‘must-haves' and always pursuing the new and the niche — from the boujee-est skin care to cutting-edge tech. Balancing an urge to stop the clock with her desire to embrace the ageing process (and set a positive example for her daughter), Verity's a retinol obsessive and will gladly share her thoughts about the time-defying gadgets, masks and treatments worth the splurge...