Texture and powder bronzer are not friends – in fact, I might go as far to say that they are sworn enemies, especially when it’s buffed into the skin! However, no one can deny how flattering the warmth that a bronzer brings to the face and how this ties a makeup look together, making the whole face look complete. My makeup-mission for a long time as been to try and find a technique where I can bronze my skin without disturbing the seamlessness of the foundation and concealer underneath, and without emphasising texture.
Ironically given the above photograph is of a powder bronzer, my secret weapon is actually concealer – let me explain. It started when Cult Beauty accidentally sent me the wrong shade of the Laura Mercier Flawless Fusion concealer – 5N instead of 0.5N. There was not a chance I could use it as a spot corrector, but I didn’t want to waste it. One day I decided to try a small amount as a bronzer. Firstly, the undertone matched that of my skin, and, secondly, I assumed that, because I dot the paler version of the same concealer all over my face anyway, the darker colour would blend in effortlessly across my cheeks since the formula’s are the same. Also, it’s a concealer, meaning it would retain and add coverage while giving my skin a lovely, even and smooth texture. It was worth a shot – and it worked.
I’ve found that the easiest way to apply concealer as a bronzer is to place a small amount of the product on the back of your hand. With an angled bronzer brush (such as the MAC 168S Large Angled Contour, or Fenty 125 Face Shaping) disperse the concealer evenly across the brush, tapping off any excess product on a clean area of skin on your hand/arm. With the remaining product, lightly tap/press the product across your cheeks, forehead, nose – wherever you like to place your bronzer – and keep doing so until it’s blended out. Going in with light layers and light pressure gives you control over the amount of application, and the ability to make the bronzer look as smooth and blended as possible.
There are two crucial factors. One, do not set your foundation and skin concealer with a normal setting powder before applying a darker concealer as a bronzer – liquid products in general don’t apply well on top of a powder. The second factor is: make sure the concealer you have chosen as your bronzer has the same undertone as your foundation – warm, cool or neutral – and, of course, make sure your foundation has the same undertone as your neck colour so your makeup looks ‘natural’. You can largely detect your skin’s undertone by looking at your veins on the inside of your wrists: if greenish, you have a warm undertone; if bluish or purple, you have a more cool undertone. If you have a neutral undertone, this means you suit a wide variety of coloured clothing, including white, black and grey.
After I’ve finished applying the darker bronzer-concealer, I tap a loose translucent setting powder wherever I want it, trying to minimise the amount used where the bronzer has been applied. If I want to wear a cream highlighter, I apply it before using any setting powder and then avoid the product while applying the powder in the aforementioned way. A good way to set the bronzer-concealer further is to use a classic powder bronzer EXTREMELY lightly in pressing motions. This will stop the cream bronzer slipping and sliding or removing itself throughout the day, while retaining the intensity of the bronze colour. When it comes to face powders (setting, bronzing, etc.) it is much better to tap the product onto the skin rather than to buff, especially if you have texture, acne or pigmentation you want to cover. Buffing tends to move and disturb product, and this makes your makeup look more patchy and your coverage less effective.
When setting cream bronzer with a powder bronzer, the brush you use will make a huge difference to whether texture is emphasised or remains looking smooth. While I do like some of the Real Technique’s brushes, the bristles aren’t as soft and gentle as the iconic pink and pointy ones from Fenty Beauty. These softer brushes don’t lift up coverage nearly as much as the Real Technique brushes. For this technique, my go-to brush is the 170 Powder Puff Setting Brush – in fact, I have two of these brushes: One for this technique and one for my all-over setting powder.
When it comes to powder bronzers, whether the formula is matte or contains a slight shimmer will determine how easy the product settles into the skin and how seamless it will look. As is the same with eyeshadows, fully matte formulas are more difficult to blend than those that contain shimmer – even if it is the tiniest amount, so tiny that the shimmer is undetectable once applied to the skin. This is because of the oil content shimmer brings, which naturally makes the powder more smooth and easier to blend. If you just want to quickly tap a small amount of powder bronzer on top of a cream bronzer, a matte formula will do the job really well, and if you have really good skin, it doesn’t particularly matter which formula you choose. It’s just something to consider when picking out the best bronzer for you! My favourite powder bronzer is the ‘Sculpt’ shade in Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze & Glow – it’s reliable, gentle and natural.