How to Choose the Right Bronzer

Matching Your Skin Tone and Bronzer

In as much as bronzer can be a big "makeup do" -- it can be a serious "makeup don't" if you've selected the wrong color. Many women make the mistake of mismatching their makeup color to their skin tone when trying new makeup products, especially when it comes to bronzer. It's likely you've seen the results of this error -- such a mismatch can make a woman's skin look like an orange popsicle.

The general rule is to choose a bronzer one or two shades darker than your natural skin tone [source: Irons]. Although, some swear by one shade darker, only [source: Hebert]. Whatever you do, be careful; if the bronzer color is too dark for your skin tone, it can make your face appear "dirty." In choosing the right color for your skin tone, you need to consider not just the color of your skin but also your eyes. Women with fair skin, blonde or red hair and blue or green eyes should use a sheer, slightly rose- or peach-colored bronzer. For women with olive skin, a sheer copper or earth-colored bronzer is ideal; olive skin looks best with a bronze color. And dark brown skin with either warm or blue undertones works well with a rich, chocolaty-brown color with subtle shimmer [source: Jones].

A common mistake that women make is in how they apply the color. Even the right shade of bronzer can look wrong if it's been poorly applied. The easiest way to understand how to apply it is by thinking about the goal you have in mind. You're after a sun-kissed natural look, right? So think about where, exactly, the sun would naturally alight on your face. Depending on your hairstyle, the likely spots would be across the bridge of your nose, forehead and chin, over your cheekbones and around your hairline. Of course, if you have bangs, skip the hairline and forehead. Don't overdo it, or you'll look fake [source: Yarosh]. The overall application makes the color more believable; we don't just get tan on our cheekbones.

Even though you've found the right shade for your skin tone, you're not finished just yet. To learn why you may need to have a different bronzer for each season, keep reading.