How Do I use a Bronzer? Top Tips on how to apply Bronzer by Maxime Poulin, Guerlain International Makeup Artist

by Paris B on · 58 comments

in Bronzer,Makeup,Musings,Tips

Its June and June usually translates into Summer. Hot sun, tans…. but I hear the ladies in the Northern Hemisphere aren’t quite enjoying as hot a summer as they’d like this year. Wish I could trade you some sun for some cooling rain! Down in the Southern Hemisphere, its turning cold as winter sets in.

I’ve learnt that there is one makeup item that pops up at about this time that can transcend the seasons – bronzer. It brings glow to a tan in Summer and brings life to dull pasty skin in Winter. I am personally only just starting to get the hang of bronzers. For the most part, I’m still not quite into them, simply because the brown shades show up quite stark against my skin. But I’m learning to look at bronzers which are lighter and sheerer in colour and texture and when I do find them, comes the next question: How do I use a bronzer?

maxime poulin guerlain How Do I use a Bronzer? Top Tips on how to apply Bronzer by Maxime Poulin, Guerlain International Makeup Artist

Maxime Poulin ~ Guerlain International Makeup Artist from Paris

The most important thing however, is knowing how to apply a bronzer. Sure, we’ve all heard of tips like “Drawing a big 3 on your face”, “Shading under your cheekbones”, “Use it to contour”, “Apply it where the sun hits” but seriously ladies, I don’t know about you, but these tell me nothing. I can’t apply it where the sun hits because on this pancake face, it hits everywhere icon razz How Do I use a Bronzer? Top Tips on how to apply Bronzer by Maxime Poulin, Guerlain International Makeup Artist Plus since I don’t tan, and don’t go out in the sun a lot, I’m not quite sure where the sun hits.

However, during a short chat with Mr. Maxime Poulin, International Makeup Artist from Guerlain, I’ve picked up some tips that I found much more helpful than anything I’d ever read. I hope you will too.

Where to apply bronzer

  • Start by feeling the bones on your face. You want to look natural by shading under the bones that protrude – cheekbones, brow bone. Don’t shade where you will not naturally see a shadow or hollow. The eye isn’t tricked that easily and you could end up looking odd.
  • Shade under the jawline. This gives an illusion of a defined jawline. Don’t use a colour that is too dark because it has to blend into your neck as well. Not done right, you might look like you have some dirt on your jaw that needs cleaning.
  • Shade at both corners of your temples from the brow-bone creating a triangle taking it to the hairline. This tricks the eye into making your forehead look less broad and your face look smaller.
  • Shade under your natural cheekbones to lift your cheekbones visually. This gives an illusion of higher cheekbones.
  • Shade close to your hair line. It should be a seamless shadow that looks natural, not so obvious as to say “Look! I’m wearing bronzer!”

I have done a little collage for some simple guidelines on where you could apply bronzer and more importantly, where NOT to apply bronzer. Pictures are just so much easier to handle than words aren’t they? icon smile How Do I use a Bronzer? Top Tips on how to apply Bronzer by Maxime Poulin, Guerlain International Makeup Artist

bronzer2 How Do I use a Bronzer? Top Tips on how to apply Bronzer by Maxime Poulin, Guerlain International Makeup Artist

The brown shaded areas show you where bronzer should go. The blue lines are the limits.

Where NOT to apply bronzer

As important as it is to know where to apply bronzer is to know where NOT to apply bronzer. Using a bronzer seems to be more of an exact science than any other makeup item! Using the image above, here’s where you should stop with the bronzer.

  1. No bronzer in the area between the irises of the eyes. Just looking at the irises of your own eyes, keep the area in between a bronzer free zone. This should instead be used as a highlight area which can give an illusion of a narrower face.
  2. Measuring from the tops of your ears to your nose, no bronzer above that imaginary line. The area above would be your natural cheekbones which would be reserved for blush and highlighter. Going above it with bronzer can throw off the line of the eye.
  3. No bronzer under your nose. Going too low with your bronzer, just like blush, can pull down your face visually and make you look older. This applies mostly for the cheek bronzer application. The area to shade would be just a small triangle under your cheekbones, just above the line of your nose.
  4. Bronzing on temples on side of brow bone to the hair line. Don’t take it too far inwards (Remember Item #1)

I was quite naturally thrilled to know that Monsieur Maxime Poulin is a big fan of the Guerlain Meteorites perles powder. Truly a man after my own heart icon smile How Do I use a Bronzer? Top Tips on how to apply Bronzer by Maxime Poulin, Guerlain International Makeup Artist Guerlain Meteorites are, he says, like a family secret. It is a beauty tip passed down from mother to daughter. I couldn’t agree more!

However, if a young lady in France were to go out and buy her first Guerlain item, she would likely go for the Guerlain Terracotta powders. Guerlain was the first company to use the name “Terracotta” in their bronzing powders and the powders are supposed to be light and sheer enough to suit any skintone, even mine.

In fact, and I have to agree, Guerlain has one of the largest selections of bronzing powders as compared to other brands, and it is mostly permanent. Talking to Monseiur Poulin made me want to run right out and pick up a Guerlain Terracotta powder! Sadly, with all due respect to Monseiur Poulin, I still found them too brown-orange for me. I am however happy with the colour in Terra Inca from last year, so I’ve decided to practice with it for now using these tips here, and see how I feel about it. Maybe by Guerlain’s Terracotta 2013 collection, I’ll be ready for my first proper Terracotta bronzer icon smile How Do I use a Bronzer? Top Tips on how to apply Bronzer by Maxime Poulin, Guerlain International Makeup Artist

I hope these tips on how to apply bronzer have helped you understand it and maybe be less afraid of it. I must say that the key thing for me, is to find a powder that can double up for contouring because many bronzers are by themselves a little too deep in tone for me. However, when you do find one, practice. None of this is an exact science and naturally, you shouldn’t be seeing lines of colour on your face as I have shown in the image. What you should see is a softly contoured look that tricks the eye into seeing cheekbones and definition without someone telling you “Oh, is that some dirt on your face? Here, let me help you remove it with some tissue paper”

Are you a fan of bronzer? Have you tried the Guerlain Terracotta bronzing powders and do you have a recommendation for one that you think might not be as scary dark for me? icon smile How Do I use a Bronzer? Top Tips on how to apply Bronzer by Maxime Poulin, Guerlain International Makeup Artist

Paris B

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[ 58 comments… read them below or join the discussion ]

Raquel M. June 19, 2012 at 8:39 am

I love bronzers! I’m very fair so I use them all year long with a sheer light layer and in the summer more intensely. I’m using Estée Lauder’s Soft Shimmer Bronzer, it’s my all-time favourite :)

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Paris B
Twitter:
June 22, 2012 at 10:11 pm

Sounds like a lovely way to add colour to your skintone :) thanks for sharing your fave bronzer too!

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CC June 19, 2012 at 8:40 am

Classic example of A picture is worth a thousand words!

Thanks, Paris!! ;)

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Paris B
Twitter:
June 22, 2012 at 10:12 pm

Glad you found it useful, CC! :)

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Yani June 19, 2012 at 9:10 am

Love the illustration!! Great post, Paris! I really appreciated the way he explained things, and made them really easy to understand. :)

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Paris B
Twitter:
June 22, 2012 at 10:12 pm

Thanks Yani! It was so clear after he explained it that I actually got it right! Lol!

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Hanny Daforcena
Twitter:
June 19, 2012 at 9:15 am

Great tips! I usually suck in my cheeks ala fish-face and apply the bronzer under my cheekbones hahaha. I also use it on my jawline to fake a kuaci face, heh heh heh.
Hanny Daforcena recently blogged…What’s In Your Bag Tag!My Profile

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Paris B
Twitter:
June 22, 2012 at 10:20 pm

Yes, the sucking in of cheeks is a good place to start but it may not show you where to stop :) I’m sort of glad I no longer have to make a fish face at myself anymore lol!

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lazeny June 19, 2012 at 9:29 am

Hi Paris, I would like to recommend Lunasol Shading Cheeks for contour, I got mine from Ichibankao. It’s divided into 3 strips of poweder & has a strip of powder to contour as well as a strip of powder to give a subtle highlight. It show’s subtly on my face, I’m usually NC30 but on cold days about NC25. It is very subtle :)

I love Guerlain Bronzers! The 4Seasons is my favorite.

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Paris B
Twitter:
June 22, 2012 at 10:21 pm

Hi Lazeny, thanks for theLunasol rec! I love Lunasol makeup so I’ll check it out at the counter next time I’m there :) I’m actually dying to try a Guerlain bronzer. I wonder if I dare take the plunge anyway and hope its not too strong :P

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Nikki June 19, 2012 at 9:53 am

You know how much I love bronzers! Would my boring skin, Bronzer gives me the life! :) Thanks for sharing the tips and diagram!!! :)
Nikki recently blogged…AMW Reviews: Sleek Blush in FlamingoMy Profile

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Paris B
Twitter:
June 22, 2012 at 10:23 pm

Bring skin? You?? No way :P

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germs June 19, 2012 at 9:57 am

awesome information, Paris! i’m a pale girl too and to be honest i’ve never been attracted to bronzers – tried it out once using a friend’s bronzer with the ‘draw a big 3′ method and i ended up looking like a monkey. this post plus the burberry bronzer you featured recently might just get my bronzer buying engine started! :D
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Paris B
Twitter:
June 22, 2012 at 10:24 pm

Haha I know exactly what you mean!! All those ‘draw a big 3′ tips never worked for me. I looked odd and everything was just off. I still prefer my pale self but the Burberry was a good place to start. Also look at Guerlain, because they seem to be specialists in bronzers :)

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Lumi June 19, 2012 at 10:32 am

Thanks for the tips! I like the drawings. :)

I don’t wear bronzer much, but I’d like to learn how to use them more to get a nice glow and defined features like my cheekbones. ^^

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Paris B
Twitter:
June 22, 2012 at 10:25 pm

Thanks Lumi! Like you, I’m not that into bronzers but I have to admit that done right, it does accentuate the contours of the face in a very flattering way!

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shusheshe
Twitter:
June 19, 2012 at 10:38 am

Thanks for the tips! This is the most useful tips I’ve gotten so far. A Bobbi Brown SA taught me to draw a big three (forehead, top of my cheekbones, jaw), but it’s always looked a bit odd on me.

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Paris B
Twitter:
June 22, 2012 at 10:27 pm

I’m glad you found these useful. I thought Mr. Poulin made so much sense and made it seem so easy! I never got the big 3 tip either. I just ended up looking off. On hindsight, it might be because it’s too low on our faces :) have you tried these tips yet?

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Jyoan June 19, 2012 at 11:27 am

Did the makeup artist say anything about how to choose the shade of bronzer? I feel like it’s so hard to choose the correct shade. It’s like buying so many, and see when you get lucky. haha.

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Paris B
Twitter:
June 22, 2012 at 10:29 pm

No he didn’t say anything about that although he assured me I could wear a Guerlain bronzer even though it looks dark, because the powders come indifferent shades, are very sheer and suit all skintones. That said, he was from Guerlain so naturally he was pushing his powders ;)

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Efraín
Twitter:
June 19, 2012 at 12:21 pm

I’m not that into bronzer because I’m already tan all the year (for have an idea I´m a NC42 in MAC) so using bronzer for me it´s not really an tempting idea, but if I buy one it would be for contour.

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Paris B
Twitter:
June 22, 2012 at 10:30 pm

Ah yes, you wouldn’t be needing bronzer to tan, but maybe to add a glow or contour?

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Lily
Twitter:
June 19, 2012 at 3:22 pm

In my opinion, the most important thing is to start with a light hand then build up from there. Also, a well blended contour is key to looking natural!
Lily recently blogged…Beauty Elixir, served by CaudalieMy Profile

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Paris B
Twitter:
June 22, 2012 at 10:32 pm

Good tips, Lily. I think bronzers and blush are the easiest things to overdo

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Sze Ling June 19, 2012 at 3:34 pm

ROFL. Luckily I haven’t had people telling me “Oh, is that some dirt on your face?” yet. :D
Looks like I might be using the right method afterall. ;)
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Paris B
Twitter:
June 22, 2012 at 10:32 pm

Awesome! Which bronzer are you using?

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Sze Ling June 23, 2012 at 12:12 pm

NARS Laguna :) Though it’s a bit hard to get locally.
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Teddy June 19, 2012 at 3:40 pm

Dior Bronze Matte Sunshine #1 Healthy Matte is perfect for fair complexions (you can always go with the “Original Tan” if you prefer iridescence; the shades are all identical). The colour is a delicate peachy bronze that isn’t the least bit brown!

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Paris B
Twitter:
June 22, 2012 at 10:33 pm

Thanks for the rec! Peachy bronze sounds pretty!

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xin
Twitter:
June 19, 2012 at 3:41 pm

excellent diagrams! i remember watching a video once about how to use stila contouring kit and i really learnt a lot from the video :D
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Paris B
Twitter:
June 22, 2012 at 10:33 pm

True! Video wild have been much better…. But No way I’m doing a video lol!

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Sukie June 19, 2012 at 3:52 pm

Thank you so much for these idiot-proof diagrams! *runs off to dust bronzer on face*
Sukie recently blogged…Review: Guerlain by Emilio Pucci’s Terracotta Gloss in #12 Porto AzzurroMy Profile

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Paris B
Twitter:
June 22, 2012 at 10:34 pm

I hope they were helpful, Sukie! Which bronzer are you using then?

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Sukie June 23, 2012 at 4:56 am

Im using the Guerlain Terracotta bronzer! Tried it on with a really light hand and it seems to look okay! Didn’t get strange looks from others so I’m guessing it turned out fine! Thank you so much for your help! :D
Sukie recently blogged…Review: Guerlain by Emilio Pucci’s Terracotta Gloss in #12 Porto AzzurroMy Profile

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Paris B
Twitter:
June 24, 2012 at 10:15 pm

Ahhhh I might cave and get the mosaic one. I read it’s much sheerer so I’m less likely to make mistakes :)

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Alene June 19, 2012 at 6:16 pm

i have pancake face too! and i never wear makeup now that i stopped working, but my masters just ended so it may be time for some learning to bronze! i do want a contoured face =(

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Paris B
Twitter:
June 22, 2012 at 10:36 pm

Won’t take you long to pick it up I’m sure! Congrats on completing your Masters, you brainy one ;)

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gio June 19, 2012 at 6:37 pm

Great post! You explained everything so clearly and the illustrations are very helpful. I use bronzers to contour my face on special occasions. I don’t have a favourite bronzer though. At the moment I’m using mainly Sleek Makeup Blush in Suede as bronzer. It is matte and looks very natural on pale skin.
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Paris B
Twitter:
June 22, 2012 at 10:37 pm

Thank you Gio, glad the drawings were useful! I didn’t think of using Suede! I wonder if I still have it or if I’ve given it away lol!

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Vonvon June 19, 2012 at 8:29 pm

I wasn’t into bronzers before but when I saw the results of contouring on my face a few years back, I am sold. I dont usually go all out to contour my face, but for day to day, I apply a bit under my cheekbones to give the ‘slimmer face’ look. And I actually use theBalm Bahama Mama.

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Paris B
Twitter:
June 22, 2012 at 10:38 pm

Ah theBalm is popular and it looks pretty too! I was afraid it’s too brown though. I’m terrified of brown powders I guess :P

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Shay June 19, 2012 at 10:51 pm

I like doing the shading under my jaws. Actually, slightly above, from under my ear lobes (my ears are quite long) slanting down to my chin. Gives me the illusion of a slimmer, shaper face. Normally matte ones work better.

I see Canmake chocolate contour powder at Watsons in Sg. They are matte ones which would do the shading beautifully.

I am using one from The Balm purchased from Sasa in Sg.

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Paris B
Twitter:
June 22, 2012 at 10:39 pm

I’m going to have to do the slimmer jaw thing. Maybe it’ll make me think I’ve lost weight lol! I remember seeing the theBalm bronzer. Will have to check it out again.

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Shay June 23, 2012 at 7:12 am

Yes, definitely! Some colleagues commented about how my face looks slimmer immediately when I started doing this. At the same time, I started going to the gym to workout and using the Clarins V contour serum thing. :D

I guess that helps me to fake it till I make it.

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Tine
Twitter:
June 20, 2012 at 8:11 am

I’m terrible at using bronzers to contour my face. Lack of skill and I was probably using a crap one to begin with. Thanks for the tips though. I have to give this a go again, ‘cos my face is growing and I need makeup to bluff :P
Tine recently blogged…Bloggie Wednesdays: The Cost of Running My Beauty BlogMy Profile

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Paris B
Twitter:
June 22, 2012 at 10:45 pm

With bronzers, I do think a good quality one makes a difference because you can’t afford for it to look patchy, dark or brown :P hope these help!

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Two Chicks
Twitter:
June 20, 2012 at 8:13 am

Great tutorial on where to apply bronzer! Love the visual guides. We love bronzer and always recommend using it for our signature \’5 minute face.\’ Guerlain bronzer is fantastic…I guess its been a favourite forever for a reason. We actually prefer the mosaic bronzers from Guerlain (they come in \’blonde\’ and \’brunette\’) and give a much more natural glow.
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Paris B
Twitter:
June 22, 2012 at 10:47 pm

Thanks for the Guerlain bronzer rec! I have been looking at the Mosaic bronzers because they look pretty and I thought the light shades could work to offset the darker shades. Will take a second look!

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Esther June 20, 2012 at 11:38 am

Thanks for this post Paris! I recently bought the Guerlain X Pucci blush/ bronzer as I think it is so pretty but honestly I don’t have the slightest clue on how to use the bronzer so I just swirled everything together, lol. Now I can make the best use out of the bronzer :)

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Paris B
Twitter:
June 22, 2012 at 11:16 pm

Ahhh I have been debating over the Guerlain Terra Azzurra blush/bronzer forever. I hope it sells out so I don’t have to think anymore lol! Hope you’re enjoying it more now that you have an idea how to use it. The blush side is so pretty!

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Stacey
Twitter:
June 20, 2012 at 11:54 am

i am quite a newbie to bronzing actually. because i am on a quest to look fairer to putting some brown on my face doesn’t seem fitting. my first & crappy bronzer was from elf (cos i wasn’t sure if i like a bronzed look) so i bought a cheapo one. when i applied with it with a brush, i really looked like i fell onto a sandpit.

haha but seeing the beautiful bronzers from chanel and burberry makes me feel like hopping on the bronzing bandwagon and getting one. maybe i will take out the bronzer and give it another try.
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Paris B
Twitter:
June 22, 2012 at 11:18 pm

I’m pretty much like you, preferring to be fair than tanned. But having worked with some better bronzers (and I think this year’s Summer collections are awesome for bronzers!) I’m learning that it’s possible to use a bronzer without having to look tan. In fact it can actually accentuate your fairness if you pair it with a highlighter ;)

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S. June 20, 2012 at 2:23 pm

I’ve applied these tips this morning and..I look good!
Maybe I shouldn’t be the one I saying it but I can’t help smiling when I see my face in the mirror, I like this effect!
Thanks for sharing Paris!
Do you have any tips for eyeliner application as well? xx
S. recently blogged…So Beautiful.My Profile

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Paris B
Twitter:
June 22, 2012 at 11:22 pm

Yay!!! I’m so so happy these tips worked for you and that you are seeing a positive result! I have tried it a few times and I still need more practice but the effects are definitely impressive. I’ll be sure to remember to ask the next makeup artist I meet for their eye lining secrets and share it then ;)

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