Mastering the Bronzer/Blush Duo
Batman has Robin. Peanut butter has jelly. And blush has…bronzer? Yes, the blush-and-bronzer duo could be one of your best makeup pairs—if you know how to marry the two together correctly. From placement to application, each has its own set of rules and plays a unique role in accentuating your face. But like most duos, one wrong move can cause discord. To make sure your blush and bronzer work in harmony, follow these insider tips from makeup artists Camille Clark and Julianne Kaye.
The All-Important Brush
While some say makeup brushes boil down to personal preference, there’s truth to the fact that cut, shape and bristle type will lay down different pigments properly. With blush and bronzer, it’s no different. Clark prefers to paint her faux flush with brushes that have a round and flat head, foolproof for “lightly tapping on the perfect amount of blush.” (Her pick: Hakuhodo S110 Series H2007.) For bronzer, Kaye chooses angled contour brushes, like MAC Cosmetics 168 Large Angled Contour Brush, that “allow me to sculpt the face and blend the bronzer for a soft look.”
Does it matter if your blush and bronzer have dueling undertones? Not one bit. What does matter: “Your bronzer should be warm or cool enough for your skin tone,” Kaye says. If the bronzer (which should be one shade darker than your natural skin tone) properly accentuates your skin, the blush will marry well with it. And Kaye warns to steer clear of bronzers with orange undertones—they don’t work on anyone. As for blush, Clark suggests the old “pinch and flush” trick. “Choose a blush that mimics the natural flush” of the pink that appears, she says.
Mix Your Finishes…or Don’t
Shimmer and matte can certainly co-exist, and there’s no steadfast rule saying you must match your bronzer finish with your blush finish. That being said, when it comes to bronzers, the less reflective, the better; you don’t want your face to resemble a disco ball. “Shimmers in bronzer can also make pores look larger, and they tend to have an artificial feel to them,” Clark says. On the other end of the spectrum, matte bronzers that are too dark can appear muddy and make the skin look dirty. Kaye recommends choosing a matte finish for your bronzer (try Guerlain Terracotta Bronzing Powder), which tends to look more natural, and layer it with a blush that has a hint of shimmer (Kaye suggest NARS Blush in Orgasm or Torrid for light to medium skin tones, and NARS Blush in Exhibit A for darker tones). “The shimmer in the blush will capture the light, making your face not only glow in the right spots, but will also help your cheekbones pop!” Kaye says.
Which comes first: the bronzer or the blush? “I layer on bronzer first because it’s easier to blend the blush into the bronzer, helping them gel together,” Kaye explains.Clark agrees, “Applying bronzer first gives it a chance to ‘melt’ into the skin for a more natural appearance.”
How you layer your blush and bronzer ultimately affects the color of your products. “If you apply your bronzer after your blush, the blending of the two together tends to look muddy and causes your cheekbones to darken, which isn’t the effect you want to achieve,” Kaye warns.
Location, Location, Location
Proper bronzer placement is 100 percent linked to where the sun would naturally tan your skin: the top of the forehead (along your hairline), bridge of the nose and tops of the cheeks. “I even add a little smidge on the chin,” Clark shares. But smart bronzing is also about accentuating features, and Kaye says that if you’re looking to softly contour your face, “sweep bronzer along the hollows of the cheeks, the temples and even under the jawline for a ‘slimmer’ appearance.” Since you’ve bronzed-up your cheekbones, tap your blush only on the apples of the cheeks to lend a healthy flush.
There’s an Application Technique for Each
It should go without saying: use a light touch with your bronzer—and even your blush—lest you want to appear like an extra on "Jersey Shore." "It can look gaudy if you go overboard," Kaye admits. "My general rule: you can always add color, but it’s much more difficult to subtract it." Before applying bronzer, tap off any excess product from the brush, and then sweep on your bronzer, using a back-and-forth motion. For blush, Kaye gently taps her brush onto the apples and then “swirls the blush into the bronzer, connecting the two for a seamless finish.”