Don't Make These 8 Common Bronzer Mistakes

by Miki Hayes

Bronzer is such a staple in any beauty arsenal. It can serve a variety of purposes from helping you fake a tan, to simply warming up your complexion, to even assisting an eye look. But even though there are many ways to use it, there are still some common bronzer mistakes you'll want to avoid. After all, just one misstep can take you from looking sun-kissed to like an Oompa Loompa. And I'm going to go ahead and guess that's not the look you're going for.

So to find out how to make sure your bronzer always looks flawless, I emailed with four makeup experts. Natalie Soto-Carlisle, Global Educator for jane iredale cosmetics; Stephanie Koutikas, makeup artist and Creative Director at Mehron Makeup; Ashlee Glazer, Smith & Cult Beauty Ambassador; and Monika Deol, founder and CEO of Stellar, all let me in on how to make sure the color, formula, and finish of your bronzer will perfectly suit you. You know, so you can have a natural-looking bronze instead of a patchy or muddy one. The good news? It's not nearly as difficult as it sounds. Just make sure you're not making these eight mistakes:

1. Choosing A Shade That's Too Orange

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Try: Benefit Hoola Lite Matte Bronzer, $29, Benefit

According to Soto-Carlisle, one of the most common mistakes when selecting a bronzer is choosing one that pulls too orange for your skin tone. Try to swatch some options if you can, and choose one, says Soto-Carlisle, based on the "shade your skin would naturally tan to."

2. Choosing A Shade That's Too Shimmery

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Try: Mehron Aura Bronzing Gel, $33, Amazon

It's up to you whether a matte, satin, or shimmer bronzer speaks to you. But Deol and Koutikas warn against using a formula with too much shimmer in it. Deol explains that bronzer is more about giving a warmth to your complexion, so too much shimmer defeats the purpose. Koutikas adds that using a bronzer with too much shimmer all over the face can make you look sweaty. If you love that shimmery bronze, just stick to the cheeks, she says.

3. Not Building Up The Color

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Try: Smith & Cult Book of Sun Blush/Bronzer Duette in Chapter 1, Smith & Cult

It's easier to add more color than take it away, so Soto-Carlisle and Koutikas recommend gradually building up your bronze rather than going for a deep tan in one swipe. Soto-Carlisle suggests lightly layering your color until you reach your desired bronze. Koutikas says if you accidentally applied too much, try softening the effect with some extra blending.

4. Applying It All Over

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Try: Chanel Soleil Tan De Chanel, $50, Nordstrom

While it can be tempting to slather yourself in bronzer, for the most natural-looking result that will add some dimension to your face, Soto-Carlisle and Deol both say it's important to not apply bronzer all over. Instead, try to hit only these recommended areas: Cheekbones, bridge of the nose, and forehead. When in doubt, both experts say to bronze wherever the sun would naturally hit your face.

5. Using The Wrong Tools

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Try: Nudestix Nudies All Over Face Color Matte in Bondi Bae, $30, Sephora

To achieve the best bronze, sometimes the applicator is just as important as the bronzer itself. If you go for a powder bronzer, Glazer says the most blended and natural-looking results come from using a fluffy brush. Prefer cream or liquid bronzer? A stippling brush or your fingers tend to work better for even coverage, says Glazer.

6. Using The Wrong Formula For Your Skin Type

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Try: Volition Thanakha Radiant Bronzer, $40, Volition Beauty

"Everyone's skin is different so it's super important to select a bronzer formula that makes the most sense for your skin type," says Koutikas. For dry or mature skin, she recommends using a gel bronzer that will create a more dewy, hydrated look. Glazer adds that if you have textured skin, a cream bronzer will be subtle and hydrating enough to not cling to any patches or emphasize texture. And if you have oily or combination skin, Deol says to stick with powder formulas.

7. Using The Wrong Color For Your Skin Tone

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Try: Becca Sunlit Bronzer in Maui Nights, $38, Becca Cosmetics

While bronzer will always be some shade of brown, depending on your skin tone and undertones, there are different tones of bronzer to look for. For fair skin-tones, Deol says to look for warm, pink undertones. Glazer says light skin-tones will benefit from soft-taupe and cool-toned shades. For medium skin, Deol says to try bronzer with a slight peach undertone. Olive skin-tones will be flattered by terracotta bronzers, says Glazer. And deep skin-tones should look for red undertones, says Deol.

8. Not Testing Your Lighting

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Try: Too Faced Sweethearts Bronzer, $30, Too Faced

One of the most important things you can do during and after bronzer application though, is to check your lighting. What looks even and well-blended in dim lighting may actually be harsh and muddy in natural lighting. To avoid not really knowing how your bronzer looks, Koutikas says to always apply your bronzer in natural light if possible, or the brightest indoor lighting you can find. And if you want to double-check your application, Glazer recommends taking a selfie both in natural daylight and with flash to make sure everything is totally blended.

Flawless bronzer? Check.