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Dublin: 13 °C Tuesday 15 October, 2019

Skin Deep: How to use bronzer without looking like an Oompa Loompa who's had a roll in some muck

Get that glow while avoiding the pitfalls!


Welcome to Skin Deep with Louise McSharry, my opportunity to put years of obsessing over beauty products and techniques to good use. I won’t tell you something is good if it’s not. I won’t recommend products I haven’t actually tried. As the magical sitar in Moulin Rouge said, I only speak the truth.

For a while there it seemed like we were living in an eternal winter. We’d gone through the wardrobe, Narnia had taken us, and the ice had permanently descended.

This week, however, we’ve gotten a little taste of what I’m going to tentatively call Spring (in hushed tones of course, lest I jinx anything), and boy does it feel good.

When the sun comes out, so does the bronzer, and I for one am looking forward to warming up my makeup routine. Having said that, the world of bronzer is fraught with danger, and by danger, I mean the opportunity to mess up your face.


The two categories of bronzing mistakes are product selection and application. If you mess up either of these, it’s game over. You’ll look like an oompa loompa or someone who’s rolled around in the muck, and nobody wants that. So let’s get down to brass tacks, how does one avoid such mistakes?

Start by being realistic about your skin colour. Whatever your skin colour is, it is. Bronzer can not make you look like Rihanna if you’re a pale person with freckles. What bronzer can do is make you look like a pale person with freckles who’s gotten a little bit of sun. Therefore, when selecting a bronzer, consider what colour your skin naturally goes when it’s been in the sun and choose something along those lines. Make sure that the product’s undertones match the undertones of your skin (cool/warm/neutral, as explained here).


If you have sallow skin with warm undertones then you’ll probably find most bronzers will work for you, but if you have cool or neutral undertones, or in fact, if you’re pale with warm undertones, lots of bronzers will be too orange for you.

Some bronzers which I’ve found work well on pale skin are Benefit Hoola Lite and Urban Decay’s Beached Bronzer, but my favourite trick is to avoid ‘bronzer’ entirely. For a natural, sunny glow, simply choose a pressed powder which is a couple of shades darker than your skin tone. It’s a fool proof way to avoid mucky Oompa Loompa land!

Of course, if you want a sparkly or shimmery bronzer, this selection method is not for you, but in my opinion, sparkly, shimmery bronzers are not for the face. Sure, it may be fun to lash some on when you’re on holiday or across your collar bone when getting dressed up, but on the face, shimmer completely destroys the illusion of natural depth and glow (not to mention potentially crossing the line from ‘glowing’ to ‘sweaty’).


Once you’ve chosen your product, it’s time to apply. The days of lashing bronzer over the entirety of our faces with giant kabuki brushes are gone. At least, they should be, in my opinion.

Instead, select a medium sized fluffy brush which is still relatively firm, and brush it across the product (this’ll do). This is one product which definitely benefits from being applied little by little, so tap off any excess before beginning application and build slowly on the face. Apply the product along the hairline, in the hollows of your cheeks (don’t worry if you can’t find them, just suck in your cheeks like a goldfish) and if you’d like, just below the jawline.

This will warm up your face and also give the illusion of a natural contour. If you’d like to look a little sunnier, pop a little bit on the bridge of your nose where the sun would naturally hit it. If you feel you’ve gone overboard, take a clean dense brush (if you’ve used one for your foundation use that, any excess product will help) and buff over the product to lighten the effect.

In short, a little goes a long way with bronzer, and when used correctly it can give you a healthy, glowing boost. Use it to accentuate rather than transform your skin, and you’ll be happy as a beachy Larry.

New Product 


If you follow any beauty influencers on Instagram, you will probably have seen the absolutely gorgeous music boxes full of product that were sent out to promote Nars’ new collection with Erdem. The new collaboration combines the beautiful and delicate with the edgy and dramatic perfectly. The packaging is what you’re used to from Nars, except in a beautiful eggshell blue. I particularly like the lipstick in Bloodflower (what a great name) and blush in Loves Me Not.

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