As someone who’s really, really pale, there are certain beauty trends I stay far, far away from: Self-tanner, for one — it just looks unnatural on my Shade 001 skin — and ‘90s-era brown lipstick is another. I’ve skipped out on bronzers for most of my life, too, since my application attempts have historically read less “just came back from the beach” and more “just came in from an afternoon of gardening and got a little bit of dirt on my face.” But I'm happy to announce that this summer, I finally figured out how to wear bronzer on my pale skin without looking like I’m in desperate need of a double-cleanse, thanks to five (genius) tips from pro makeup artists.
First, my fellow porcelain-skinned beauty enthusiasts, you need to select the right texture. “For very pale skin, I prefer using a powder bronzer, like Christian Dior Mineral Nude Healthy Glow Bronzing Powder,” Josee Leduc, a makeup artist and the founder of Odièle, tells The Zoe Report. “I choose a powder as opposed to a bronzing gel or cream because in the heat of summer, any sweat would create streaks.”
The shade of said powder is equally important. “Aim for a more sheer bronzer, so it gives a natural, sun-kissed look,” Stephanie Gee, the co-founder of Gee Beauty, tells TZR. Her company's Golden Glow Bronzer fits the bill (and just happens to be my bronzer of choice). “Instead of using shades that are too warm, opt for more taupe-y shades that would still create the effect without looking muddy,” Jaleesa Jaikaran, a runway makeup artist, adds in an email to The Zoe Report. She also warns against orange-tinted bronzers and too much shimmer — because the goal, really, is not to draw attention to the area. With pale skin, subtle is the name of the game.
The best way to apply bronzing powder is with a mid-sized makeup brush. “I like using a medium brush, so the application is precise instead of using a larger brush that could end up with you having bronzer in the wrong places,” Jaikaran says. Gee swears by a fan brush, since it will “evenly distribute the bronzer for a soft effect.” Whichever you personally prefer, Jaikaran suggests "tapping off excess product before applying, as it’s easier to blend and build intensity."
“You want to apply bronzer on the areas where the sun hits naturally,” Jaikaran adds. That translates the apples of the cheeks, the bridge of the nose, and the high points of the forehead and chin (if you’re feeling adventurous). “I’m always sure to feel my cheek area first to ensure I’m applying it not too high or too low,” she says. If you’re craving a more simplified approach, try this technique from Gee: “Use a fan brush in the shape of a ‘3’ on the outside of the forehead, coming onto the cheekbones, and then back out onto the jawline for a sexy and natural contour.”
The finishing touch is a bit of blush on the cheeks. “Adding a pop of color creates a ‘sun-kissed’ effect, to give the final look a natural glow,” Leduc explains. Et voilá: Just-came-back-from-the-beach bronzer.
Ahead, shop experts’ favorite pale-skin-friendly powders.