A makeup artist taught me how to do bronze correctly and changed my face

A makeup artist taught me how to do bronze correctly and changed my face

There are a few things I admit I did wrong, like putting dishes on the top rack of the dishwasher or drinking wine with ice. But when it comes to makeup, I like to think I know a thing or two. It’s pretty much my job, after all. But another part of my job is getting access to professionals, the ones who truly they know what they are doing, having spent years accumulating impressive beauty qualifications and earning a long list of high profile clients to guarantee them.

I recently managed to steal some time with Sir John, a famous makeup artist whose little black book is full of names like Zendaya and Beyoncé. During an hour with him, Sir John introduced me to one of the hottest beauty trends for the summer – “dopamine glam” – but he also hinted that I (and the room full of beauty editors in the my company) we had applied the bronzer incorrectly. None of us wanted to confess it but it seems that we are not the only ones. “Why does my bronzer become mottled / looks muddy / appears orange / disappears?” these are all commonly searched questions on Google.

If you have a TikTok account, you may have noticed that the bronzer is slowly but surely taking the place of our obsession with blushes, with products like NARS Bronzing Cream, £ 32.50, Charlotte Tilbury Beautiful Skin Sun-Kissed Glow Bronzer, £ 42 and Dior Backstage Face & Body Powder-No-Powder, £ 29.50, all of which went viral recently. Does this make sense. Thanks to the heat wave we just experienced, heavy foundation is less popular, but a light sprinkle of bronzer? It can easily improve summer tan and blanket blemishes without feeling heavy.

So you have the perfect product, but according to Sir John it’s more about the application technique. Luckily, in that hour, he dropped some ingenious tanning tips and I can confidently say that what I’ve learned has changed the way my makeup looks better.

A makeup artist taught me how to do bronze correctly and changed my face

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Get your tanning brush right

“Anything that has too short bristles is not good for bronzer application,” said Sir John, who believes denser brushes will only create noticeable streaks on the skin. The vibe she feels on her celebrity clients is a more widespread, seamless bronzer that looks so natural, it’s practically unnoticeable. To achieve this, he opts for a brush with long, loose bristles, such as the By Joy Adenuga Large Powder Brush, £ 22, or the Nanshy Powder Brush, £ 11.95. “Make sure the bristles are about an inch and a half long,” he told me. The result is much more convincing, especially on my cheeks which, before discovering this advice, appeared streaked and full of make-up.

The key to a non-striped bronzer is to constantly move the brush as soon as it hits your face, Sir John said, whether you prefer to blend in circular or up-and-down motions. Also be sure to check your distance. Holding the brush too close to the skin risks applying too much bronzer. Instead, Sir John suggested lightly dusting the skin with the bristles so as not to overdo the color. You can always build it if you feel you need more. “The closer you are, the more aggressive the color,” he explained.

Always wipe off excess if you are using powder

One thing every makeup artist does when using powder makeup, whether it’s bronzer, blush, or eyeshadow, is dab the excess product off the brush and Sir John is no exception. Going directly with a brush loaded with something like a bronzer could make the skin appear bumpy in places, especially if you haven’t blended well enough overall. Sure, it might seem like a waste, but giving your brush even the smallest touch ensures a more flawless finish.

Start from the perimeter of your face, not the center

“Always start by coloring the sides of the face and the hairline,” said Sir John, who starts at the perimeter and works his way inward. “Never start from the center of the face”. Guilty! It makes sense to start here and head towards your cheeks because, if you think about it, these areas tend to get the sun earlier, so your bronzer will look a lot more believable.

Sir John also advised not to apply anything shiny beyond your pupil. “The makeup should be very soft here,” he said. “This is where I stop sculpting when I apply the bronzer to my cheeks.” Since I avoided the shimmer bronzer effect in this area, my makeup looks fresher for longer. How come? Inevitable face grease + makeup shimmer = involuntary shine.

Choose a bronzer with an olive green undertone

Sir John advised investing in a bronzer with an olive (rather than orange) undertone. “Olive tones look more believable,” he said, adding that orange tones have a tendency to look too warm. Sir John loves the affordable L’Oréal Paris Infallible 24H Longwear Soft Matte Bronzer, £ 12.99. R29 also rates VIEVE Modern Bronzer, £ 31, and Bobbi Brown Bronzing Powder, £ 35.

First apply the tanning cream on the back of the hand

The cream makeup is having a moment and the bronzer in particular is doing great. With a product like this, though, it’s so easy to go to the extreme. Instead of dipping the brush in the product and applying it directly to the skin, Sir John suggested blending a little on the back of the hand first. This will not only warm the product and make it easier to blend on the face, but it ensures you don’t apply too much at first (and you’ll have to start all over again).

R29 loves Rose INC. Solar Infusion Soft-Focus Cream Bronzer, £ 27. Also try REFY Cream Bronzer, £ 18, and Sculpted by Aimee Cream Luxe Bronze, £ 16, which all give a matte finish. If you want to add some shine, Sir John likes to pat the highlighter on the top of the cheekbones and along the center of the nose, avoiding the tip. Try L’Oréal Paris Highlighting Powder Iconic Glow, £ 8.99.

For longevity, Sir John sprinkles a touch of bronzing powder on his creamy products. “Duality is the key to durability. The durability ensures that your face really stays on. “

Don’t abandon your summer foundation

A darker foundation or even a concealer can be used to tan the skin if you want to complement your summer makeup. “Your summer foundation can tan you in the winter and your winter foundation can work as a highlight in the summer,” said Sir John. Again, it’s worth blending some product onto the back of your hand first and then dipping it into the brush to apply it so it doesn’t get too sticky on the skin.

Combine bronzer and blush for a believable finish

Bronzer sculpts and warms the face, but it’s nothing without a touch of over-the-top blush, said Sir John, who likes L’Oréal Paris True Match Blush, £ 7.99. If you’ve brought your bronzer into the hollows of your cheeks, focus the blush much higher, Sir John advised, to provide a sculptural effect. Also try Pixi Beauty On-The-Glow Blush, £ 18, Milk Makeup Bionic Blush, £ 21, or Morphe Blush Balm Soft-Focus Cream Blush, £ 12.

Don’t forget the eyelids

Forget the eyeshadow. Bronzer is multipurpose. “I like to apply a touch of bronzer on the eyelid, right in the inner corner, and sculpt upwards towards the brow bone,” said Sir John, using L’Oréal Paris Infallible 24H Longwear Soft Matte Bronzer, £ 12, 99, and a small soft brush. Try the 217S Blending Brush / MAC x Stranger Things, £ 22, or the Morphe M433 Pro Firm Blending Fluff Brush, £ 8.

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