April 8, 2015 Angela Melero Spotlight

Shimmer, Matte & Sheer: Which Bronzer Is Right For You?

While the pretty porcelain look was lovely for the colder months, the sun is now out in full force (for the most part) and your face needs to catch up on its sunshine! However, that doesn’t mean you need to run out and soak up the UVs. In fact, we don’t recommend that at all. Keep your SPF handy and get the sun-kissed glow with a little miracle-worker we like to call bronzer.

If you couldn’t tell from our countless tutorials and how-to articles, we are all about a good bronzer! But, there’s still an important question we’ve never truly addressed: Which bronzer is right for you? With so many options, formulas and finishes out there, it’s easy to get a little overwhelmed and utterly confused. We get it. To help make the selection process a bit easier, we compiled an ultimate bronzer guide to get you the sun-kissed skin of your dreams! You’re welcome.

bronzer tutorial

Shimmer Bronzer


The Look: Radiant skin with a natural glow.
Powder-based, shimmer bronzers are perfect if you’re looking to add a little color to your complexion, without going overboard. While it doesn’t deliver a full tan-like look, the shimmery finish lends your skin a pretty, luminous glow that literally makes you look like you woke up with a perfect face. Who doesn’t want that?

How to Apply:
The rule of thumb with shimmery bronzers is to avoid applying the stuff to your entire face (unless you enjoy looking like a human disco ball). Be strategic by lightly dusting the powder on places where the sun would naturally hit your skin: bridge of the nose, top of the forehead, cheekbones and the tip of your chin.

Product Recommendations:
Lancôme Paris Star Bronzer, The Body Shop Baked-to-Last Bronzer

Related: The Basics of Bronzer

Matte Bronzer

The Look: Chiseled, contoured skin. Matte bronzers have become the go-to for creating a defined and chiseled face with some healthy color to boot. Contouring is steadily increasing in popularity and doesn’t seem to be losing steam, so jump on the beauty bandwagon already! Invest in a matte bronzer about one to two shades darker than your natural skin tone and get to contouring!

How to Apply:
The point of contouring is to define your facial structure through the use of shadow and light. Bronzer is the shadow component of the application process. The main areas to focus your bronzing attention on are the hollows of the cheeks, top of the forehead, jaw line and sides of the nose. To blend your color well and ensure the most natural finish, enlist the help of a great blending brush or beauty blender. You don’t want any visible or harsh lines to show! To learn how to contour like a pro check out this easy-to-follow tutorial.

Product Recommendations:
NYX Cosmetics Matte Bronzer, YSL Le Teint Saharienne

Sheer Bronzer

The Look: Day-at-the beach tan. Want to look like you just got back from a weekend in St. Barts? Then a light, sheer bronzer is the way to go! We know what you’re thinking, “Why would I want to wear bronzer that’s sheer? Show me the color!” Before you write this stuff off, let us explain something about the magic of this barely-there bronzer.

Unlike shimmery-bronzers, sheer formulas have less of a glow effect and lend more of a clean, fresh-faced finish. This type of formula is designed to bring out the natural warmth in your complexion, giving your skin a sun-kissed look rather than the not-so-cute, orange-y finishes heavier bronzers can leave. Sheer bronzer is especially good for fair-skinned ladies, as it will give your skin a more subtle, rosy color and not make you look like you’re trying too hard.

How to Apply:
Application for sheer bronzer can work one of two ways. For a more subtle, sun-kissed glow dab (or dust, if using a powder-based formula) some bronzer on the places where the sun naturally hits your face (similar to the shimmery-bronzer approach), and blend it in with a blending brush. For all-over color, try mixing a drop or two of liquid bronzer in with your foundation and blend it into your skin with a beauty blender.

Product Recommendations:
Giorgio Armani Maestro Bronzer, Maybelline Mineral Power Bronzer in Sunset Bronze

What’s your go-to bronzer style?
Do tell in the comments below!

Photo: iStock

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    About the Author: Angela helps inspire and inform the Makeup.com audience by delivering the latest beauty tips, tricks and trends.