The Right (And Wrong) Way to Wear Bronzer After 40
Applying bronzer hardly seems like something that requires instructions. You sweep a big, fluffy brush over copper-colored powder. Dust it over your face. Done.
At 22, you can get away with this technique. But once we hit our medium years, as I like to call them, dusting dark powder in the center of your face (eyes, nose, mouth) is instantly aging. Almost every makeup artist I’ve met extolls the virtues of keeping the middle of the face light and bright, and this becomes extra important now, as we start to lose some natural luminescence.
So, what, specifically, does a face that's overdosed on bronzer look like? Weathered, tired, slightly dirty—with fine lines around your eyes or large pores around your nose made more obvious by the fact that they’re now etched in a deeper color.
That’s not to say you should avoid bronzer. Quite the contrary. I use it year-round and love the pick-me-up it gives my fair complexion. But I don't apply it with wild abandon. My longtime friend and one of the most talented makeup artists I’ve encountered, Tim Quinn (he’s also known as "Giorgio Armani Cosmetics' Celebrity Makeup Artist"), taught me this strategy: “Sweep bronzer on in the shape of the number three,” says Quinn. “Start at your temples, curve down to the cheekbone, then curve down to the jawline; repeat on the other side.” This adds sunny color to the perimeter of the face, but leaves the center bright and open.
So what kind of bronzer do I recommend? I prefer formulas that are matte or have minimal shimmer. (Too much of the latter emphasizes uneven texture, as the shimmery particles can get wedged inside lines, pores or acne scars.) And I like a hue that's just a shade (or, in the summer, two shades) deeper than my skin color so my face and chest are not two different hues. What I am using right now: Guerlain Terracotta Bronzing Powder in Color 0 ($53; sephora.com). I’ve also tried and like the very affordable Physician’s Formula Bronze Booster Glow-Getting Pressed Powder ($15; ulta.com); the super-natural Giorgio Armani Sun Fabric Sheer Bronzer ($56; sephora.com); the looks-just-like-a-real-suntan Too Faced Chocolate Soleil Matte Bronzer ($30; ulta.com) and the ask-for-it-for-your-birthday splurge Cle de Peau Beaute Bronzing Powder Duo ($96; nordstrom.com).