How to wear bronzer in fresh and flattering ways

Makeup artist Wendy Rowe shares her advice on the best ways to wear bronzer this summer
How to wear bronzer in fresh and flattering ways

When it comes to bronzer, it’s all about brushes or hands

London native Wendy Rowe is one of the world's leading makeup artists. She has worked with Gisele Bündchen, Naomi Campbell and Sienna Miller, on campaigns for Prada, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton, and on products for Burberry and Max Factor. Dick Page — creator of Kate Moss’ most iconic ‘no makeup’ looks — was an early mentor and she is also a wellness expert, so it is little wonder that the faces she’s famous for make women look naturally ethereal (there are no oxymorons in makeup). She was the perfect person to ask for advice on the most fresh and flattering ways to wear bronzer this summer.

Orange you after a tan?

“The most common mistake people make with bronzer is choosing a product that is too orange. Formulas have improved in recent years but there are some brands that don’t feel they need to improve, simply because orangey shades keep selling. They never look natural, you should be trying to mimic a tan with your bronzer and that’s a golden-taupe colour. If you are fair-skinned, try to go no more than four shades darker than your complexion. Your bronzer should look like a darker foundation shade. You could even use a bit of stick foundation in a dark shade as your bronzer. Try mixing it with moisturiser to make it easier to blend. I always like to pair it with a cream blush for a heathy glow.”

Nars The Matte Multiple in Laguna is Wendy’s favourite stick bronzer. This formula is currently unavailable but Nars has a limited edition cream in the same shade and finish out this summer.

Nars Sunkissed Bronzing Cream, €38 at
Nars Sunkissed Bronzing Cream, €38 at

Nars Sunkissed Bronzing Cream, €38 at, is cream-to-powder hybrid with a soft- matte finish and the warmth of the brand’s most popular bronze.

Tools matter

“A large brush makes powder apply sparingly, not too intense in one area and therefore more natural.” Wendy’s favourite powder bronzers are Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Illuminating Powder, €50 at, and Guerlain’s signature Terracotta Bronzing Powder, €44.46 at which is available in a new, 96% naturally-derived formula this summer. 

She rarely uses sponges as the colour they deposit tends to be heavier — it’s all about brushes or hands. If you are short on time or lack access to a great mirror and lighting, she recommends hand-applying a tinted moisturiser a few shades darker than your complexion to ward off disaster. “It just gives you the feeling you look browner and more healthy.” She loves Typology Tinted Serum in Brun or Brun Foncé, €23.50 at

Three isn’t the magic number

Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Bronzing Cream, €44 at
Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Bronzing Cream, €44 at

If, like me, you got a voucher for a makeup lesson on your 15th birthday, you may have been advised to sweep bronzer in a figure ‘3’ down each side of your face. Wendy feels this advice is dated: “That for me is a more contouring way to apply bronzer and can look quite heavy. What I like to do when applying bronzing powder with a brush is to go all the way around the circumference of the face and across (rather than down) the nose and the hollows of your cheekbones. Sometimes when you get a tan it does hit your nose. Then I’d take it down the sides of the cheeks and onto the jawline. Keep all of this very light, you can always build the colour where you’d prefer. When using a cream you can use it over more of the face.”

She recommends Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Bronzing Cream, €44 at  The gel-cream is exceptionally easy to blend and available in two new shades this season.

Don’t contour with bronzer

"I wouldn’t contour with a bronzer because it’s not the best product for shaping the face. An effective contouring shade is a flatter colour than a natural-looking bronzer. I use contour sticks for a sculpted look. It’s more like painting a picture than creating a naturally bronzed face.” 

Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Contour Wand, €35 at
Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Contour Wand, €35 at

Charlotte Tilbury’s Hollywood Contour Wand, €35 at, has pigments treated for colour uniformity, to create natural shadows on the face.

Fake tan for a great base

“I don’t use fake tan to contour either, but I do recommend prepping the skin the night before you plan to bronze with James Read Sleep Mask Face, €33.95 at It’s very natural, it gives you a great base and evens out skin tone. Just remember to take the mask down your neck to your décolletage and to wash your hands afterwards.”

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