How to Apply Liquid, Cream and Powder Bronzers, According to a Makeup Artist

June 30, 2022
Alanna Martine Kilkeary
By: Alanna Martine Kilkeary | by L'Oréal
hand applying bronzer to someone's cheek with a makeup brush

As a pro makeup artist, Emily Oliver is constantly being asked to create a glowing “bronzed goddess” look on clients — and the trickiest part is choosing the right bronzer for each person. As you’ve probably noticed, bronzers come in all shades and types, including powder, liquid and cream, and there are slight nuances in applying each. 

Ahead, find Oliver’s tips on how to apply bronzer with each formula to achieve gorgeous results. 

How to Apply Powder Bronzer

Powder bronzer is one of the more traditional types of bronzers used by makeup lovers and is typically applied with an angled bronzer brush. “When using a powder, make sure to tap off any excess product from the brush,” says Oliver. “Create a ‘3,’ starting from the forehead (moving outward, toward the temple), then under the cheekbone and along the jawline.” 

Of course, powder bronzer is also great for contouring. To contour with powder, use a smaller contouring brush for more precise application. In terms of shades, Oliver prefers a taupe bronzer versus a red or terracotta one, as cool tones are better for sculpting. If you’re looking for a great drugstore bronzer, we love the L’Oréal Paris Infallible 24H Fresh Wear Soft Matte Bronzer.
L’Oréal Paris Infallible 24H Fresh Wear Soft Matte Bronzer

How to Apply Liquid Bronzer 

Liquid bronzers, like the Milk Makeup Bionic Bronzer, are quite easy to work with once you get the hang of them. “I use liquid bronzers on clients who want to have a naturally contoured appearance,” says Oliver. “And because liquid bronzer almost melts into the skin, it’s easy to blend and sits well on top of textured skin, like acne, rosacea and eczema.” You can blend this type of formula using a synthetic hair brush or a sponge.
Milk Makeup Bionic Bronzer

How to Apply Cream Bronzer 

“Cream-based bronzers are fantastic for applying heavier coverage or creating a more sculpted contour on the skin,” notes Oliver. She also recommends cream bronzers for those with dry, mature or wrinkled skin. “There’s something so beautiful about the way a cream bronzer glides over the skin, and applying a cream formula immediately after liquid foundation gives a more natural finish.” If you want a pigmented formula with an ultra-creamy texture, try the LYS Beauty No Limits Cream Bronzer Stick. We also love the NYX Professional Makeup Wonder Stick Two-In-One Cream Contour Stick and Highlighter Stick for a more sculpted look. 

Oliver recommends using a flat foundation brush to place and blend the product on your skin. Then, if you want to further diffuse the color for a more natural appearance, use a wet beauty sponge to blend it in even more.

LYS Beauty No Limits Cream Bronzer Stick
Photographer: Chaunte Vaughn

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