Currently, we are on week… Three..? Four..? Seventeen..? Of Quarantine. My Facebook is filled with memes and videos begging for the government to deem beauty pros and medical grade dermatology offices and spas essential. We are dealing with grey hair, lack of botox, and let’s not even discuss the upper lip and eye brow situation, am I right? Being from Central Minnesota, I have spent the past six months self-quarantining because of the frigid winter weather and I am ready – oh so ready – for some sunshine and to be out and about with my clients and family. I’m sure that if you are reading this, you are ready too… So today I want to teach you a few tricks to faking that “I just returned from the beaches of Cabo” glow, yes even in the middle of a world wide pandemic.

For starters, you should be advised that there are a few different versions of bronzers and all serve a very important purpose. But it is equally important to remember that your bronzer and contour shades should be very different in nature. A bronzer, historically speaking is more of a bronze or terra-cotta undertone and mimics the illusion that you have been out on the beach, drinking your favorite margarita all afternoon. A contour shade should be a soft and cool undertone, and used to mimic and enhance the natural shadows of the face to create more dimension and a gentle sculpt to the cheekbones and jaw line.

When applying bronzer to the skin, it should be applied with a fluffy brush – not terribly dense. I really enjoy using a natural fiber brush for this step as it blends and blurs the products smoothly over the skin without getting too heavy the way a densely packed synthetic brush would. I also like to swirl the brush directly into the product, and tap the excess off before applying it to the face. (It’s really easy to go from zero to sixty and turn yourself into a muddy mess if you are too aggressive with the bronzer right out of the gate). Once the excess has been removed, using large sweeping, circular motions to apply the bronzer, and I gently pinch the middle half of the handle (further from the bristles) to control the application, but never apply too much pressure. The bronzer itself should be applied to the cheekbones, down the bridge of the nose, along the hairline of the forehead, and underneath the jaw line (ever so slightly). I also bring the color down the neck and brush it along the decollate to give an overall glow. Be sure to use minimal product when doing this to ensure you do not cause yourself to look orange or unnaturally bronzed. A rule of thumb is that the bronzer should only be applied wherever the sun would naturally kiss your skin. You can also use the “3 and E” method as you will be applying the bronzer along the perimeter of the face in the shape of a 3 and E to build that natural dimension.

Now, which bronzers do I love to use on myself and on clients? Truly, there are so many different options for bronzers. I used to be super loyal to “Warmth” from Bareminerals (link here), but because of its loose nature, it has become far too messy for my liking. Instead, I prefer a compact powder formulation over a loose pigment or cream contour. I have found that this gives me a greater level of control over the amount of product that I use and where I apply it.

For a contouring shade, I enjoy the TooFaced Milk Chocolate Soleil Bronzer (link here). This product is not terribly warm-toned, nor is it terribly cool-toned either. Instead it is a nice neutral shade that you can use to give a sunkissed illusion in a pinch, or use as a contour shade as well. I also really enjoy using the matte Park Avenue Princess waterproof bronzer (link here) from Tarte when greating a soft contour. It also has a soft and neutral undertone, but I would say it leans more cool so I do not like to use it for a true bronze. It is so important that your contour shade never be warm or shimmery in nature, as the contour is supposed to amplify and define the shadows of your face, and essentially cancel out extra light. By using something with a shimmer or shine, it actually creates conflicting light sources and makes you appear more “plump” or “glowy” in areas you would much rather avoid.

To create that subtle, back from the beach tan, I enjoy using the Beautycounter bronzers in “Dune” or “Surf” (link here). I actually have picked up all three shades, but I find myself reaching for these two shades the most often. They have a soft shimmer and terra-cotta tone to them, which gives the illusion that you have been lounging on the beaches of St. Tropez while a cute waiter brings you a margarita. Seriously, I use these on all of my brides after applying a gentle contour and a little blush, and the effect is AMAZING.

Want to know a trick? If you’ve gotten a little wild and western with the bronzer, take a moment to blend everything out with a clean, product-free brush. This will soften any harsh lines and serves as a buffer to smooth out a heavy-handed application. After, be sure to use a setting powder, or translucent powder with a little glow. This will act as a veil that helps with longevity of your makeup, and assists in making the makeup last longer, but it also helps to smooth out and blur any choppiness that may come from blending in a fury. I love, love, love the Too Faced Ethereal Translucent Powder (link here) and highly recommend this as an awesome option for you to use!

So why is bronzer important? Well, when clients skip the bronzer, blush, and highlight it can leave your makeup looking a little too dimensional and almost plastic-y. Think about when you are not wearing makeup, your natural skin has a lot of different tones, dimension, and natural coloring. Rosy cheeks, a gentle tan if you’ve been outside, freckles here and there. When you apply your foundation – whether liquid or powder – you apply it to cancel out any discoloration that your skin naturally has, but in doing so it also cancels out the dimension and natural tones that bring your skin to life. This is why it is so important to implement a blush or bronzer, or both and top it off with a little highlight! When applied with a gentle hand and the appropriate brush, your makeup routine will truly yield the most beautiful results. Happy bronzing!