The Bronzer Mistakes You’re Making (And How To Stop)

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Faking a natural glow is good—really, we encourage it. But when it comes to bronzer, things can go really wrong, really quickly. From picking the right shade to perfecting the application, this summer beauty staple requires a bit of finesse. So, the next time you break out your favorite glow-getter, avoid these common mistakes and achieve a perfect sun-kissed radiance.

ImaxTree

Believable Bronze

Sun Wash Diffusing Bronzer

$40

NARS

You're Picking The Wrong Shade

A shade too light will go completely undetected, but a shade too dark can look dirty. For a subtle glow, choose a bronzer one shade darker than your foundation. For a just-from-vacation tan, opt for two shades darker—but nothing more than that.

Bronzer

$65

Victoria Beckham Estée Lauder

You're Contouring With Bronzer

If you're seeking definition, it's best to stick to contouring products. Bronzers typically have orange undertones that mimic a real-life tan, so it's important the placement is believable. Since the sun naturally hits the high points of your face (like your cheekbones, nose, forehead and chin), these are the areas where you want to apply bronzer. For tips on how to contour, watch this simple tutorial.

Ambient Lighting Bronzer

$50

Hourglass

You're Using Shimmer In The Wrong Places

Bronzer can be used in place of highlighter, but only on the high points of your face. For a believable glow, use a shimmery product on your cheekbones, but switch to a matte bronzer for other areas.

Contour Bronze

$28

RMS Beauty

You're Using The Wrong Formula

You can find a bronzer today in almost any formula, but many beauty junkies make the mistake of choosing the wrong one. If you have dry skin, opt for a cream formula instead of a powder to avoid looking flaky. If you have oily skin, go with a powder to avoid looking greasy.

Soleil Contouring Compact

$108

Tom Ford Beauty

You're Using Only Bronzer

A fresh-from-vacation look takes more than just bronzer. A peachy blush on the apples of your cheeks adds dimension as well as a faux warm-weather-induced flush.