You don’t have to lounge for hours in the sun to get a sun-kissed look—in fact, you don’t have to step foot under those harsh, wrinkle-causing rays at all. Thanks to the glow-giving power of powdered bronzer, your skin stays safe, you stay cool and no one has to know that you actually spent your weekend lazing through a Netflix marathon.
Applying bronzer is a great way to fake a tan, and unlike self tanner—which could leave you streaky or orange for days—it’s 100% commitment free. If you don’t like how it looks, just wash it off and start over. The effects are more natural, too. Rather than staining skin a solid, forced-looking shade, bronzer lends subtle warmth and radiance, like real sunshine struck in all the right places.
Here are 5 tips to help you pull off the perfect bronze:
Select a shade
Whether you’re fair skinned or dark, choose a bronzer that’s no more than two shades deeper than your current tone. For those with naturally warm complexions, brown golden or peachy powders create the most natural look. If you’re in the cool camp, beige and neutral are best for you. Bronzer is all about shine, so try to avoid products that boast extra shimmer if you have oily skin.
Use the right brush
Save the small, skimpy brushes for detail work. For bronzer, you want to use a large, full and fluffy-but-firm brush that will spread the powder lightly, easily and evenly over your face. It’s also a good idea to reserve a brush just for bronzing. Double dipping with your blush or powder brush can muddy up the color and the finish.
Hit the right spots
After applying your foundation, concealer and powder, brush on bronzer to areas of your face where exposure to sunlight would create color and glow naturally—your forehead, cheeks and tip of your nose. If you’re using a loose powder, pick up just a small amount and tap the brush on your palm to get rid of excess before touching your skin.
Think sheer—and build from there. Overdoing it is a common bronzer mistake that can be avoided easily by applying soft, gradual layers. Work in delicate, circular sweeps around your face, starting with your forehead and working down to your cheeks. To avoid going too far, check out the results in natural light before adding more.
There’s no bigger bronzer blunder than brushing it on and not blending in the edges. Avoid a ring-around-the-face look by carefully softening hard edges with a lightly dampened makeup sponge.