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How to Wear Bronzer in the Winter for a Natural, Effortless Glow


While you’re likely bundled-up in the rain or snow during these winter months, ‘tis always the season to stay bronzed (even if artificially). Thankfully, bronzing products can help you ditch the pasty tone and make it look like you just spent the day poolside, soaking up that summer glow—all in a matter of minutes. 

Whether you have naturally darker skin, fair skin, dry skin or oily, the right bronzer can polish off any makeup look by adding depth and glow. When applying bronzer in the winter, there are a few things you'll want to keep in mind to make sure the application looks natural. Keep reading for makeup artist tips and tricks to help you become a bronzing pro in no time. 

About the Expert:

Aaron Brown is a celebrity hair and makeup artist. 

How to Use Bronzer, Step-by-Step

OFRA COSMETICS South Beach Split Pan Bronzer

Step 1: Find the Perfect Winter Bronzer Shade for You

A single bronzing shade won't be a perfect match for your skin tone year-round. In the summer, when you're tanner, you'll want to use a darker shade than when you're a few shades lighter in the winter. And since multiple different single bronzing powders can clutter your organized makeup stash, we recommend opting for a bronzer palette like the OFRA COSMETICS South Beach Split Pan Bronzer instead. This duo is ideal for winter bronzing because it allows you to mix and match between a lighter and darker matte bronzer to create a custom shade. 

When looking for a winter bronzer, make sure the color is sheer and buildable and that it's max two shades darker than your natural skin tone. Any darker will have you standing out like a sore thumb. Also, keep in mind that shimmery bronzers (like WANDER BEAUTY Riviera Blush and Bronzer Palette) will look more luminous and sunkissed, while matte bronzers will create a more natural, subtle glow. Whichever look you're after is entirely up to you!

WANDER BEAUTY Riviera Blush and Bronzer Palette

When going for a natural look, celebrity makeup artist Aaron Barry frequently opts for powders without too much highlighter or shimmer in them. He sometimes even uses a loose setting powder in two shades deeper than the skin tone. “With a powder brush, I like to sweep this over the perimeters of the face, bridge of the nose, and higher planes of the cheeks, which are areas you would naturally get the most sun,” he explains. Another pro tip he offers is improvising with a darker CC cream as your bronzer. The staying power tends to be stronger than traditional cream bronzer, and a little goes a long way.

Step 2: Choose a Clean Bronzer Brush

Once you've found your perfect product, you'll need to find the right applicator. When applying powder bronzer, you'll want to use a bronzer brush meant for powder products. Need to level up your makeup brush supply? Shop some of our favorite makeup brushes in the IPSY Shop, our member-exclusive store with deals always at least 30 percent off retail.

Before you begin applying the bronzer, it's super important to make sure your bronzer brush is clean. Applying bronzer using a dirty brush can result in patchy, splotchy-looking bronzer–and nobody wants that. Check out our guide on how to clean makeup brushes. We've got everything you need to make sure your bronzer brush is clean, and your glow is flawless and streak-free. 

Step 3: Prep Your Skin 

Typically, you'll get to bronzing after you've applied your other face makeup products, so it's important to make sure you've properly prepped your skin. It's also a surefire way to make sure your natural glow looks just that–natural. To that point, make sure you've applied skincare (we recommend serum, moisturizer, face oil, and SPF), foundation, and concealer to your face before you apply your bronzer (if those are products you intend to use for your look). 

A swatch image of three different shades of bronzer products

Step 4: Sweep on Your Bronzer

Because you’re going for a winter glow versus summer, you don’t need to go overboard with application. You’ll want to focus on a skin look that could be naturally achieved. 

“I tap the brush into the product, starting with a little at the time,” says Barry. “In gentle blending motions, I apply and blend the product on the high plains of the face which would naturally catch the sun the most. I like to apply bronzer to the hairline area, over the bridge, tip of the nose and apples of your cheeks.”

A closeup image of a model wearing copper eyeshadow and subtle blush

Step 5: Apply the Finishing Touches

If you're really looking for that trademark sun-kissed glow, you can also apply a swipe of bronzer along the bridge of your nose. To make your bronzed look the most natural it can be, customize your bronzing and contouring application for your face shape.

More Tips for Using Bronzer in Winter

To really get the most out of your winter bronzer, here are a few other tips and tricks to keep in mind when applying bronzer in the winter.

A closeup image of a model wearing shimmery, bronze eyeshadow and highlighter

1. Use It As Eyeshadow, Too

An easy way to help warm up your overall complexion is to incorporate warm tones into your eyeshadow. To quickly do this, you can use your bronzer as an eyeshadow, or apply your bronzer as a blending shade with the rest of your eyeshadow. For a seamless application, make sure they are the same type of formula. For example, powder bronzer will blend best with powder eyeshadow, whereas cream bronzer will blend better with a cream eyeshadow. 

2. Blending Is Key

The way to an even bronze is making sure you’ve properly blended and buffed out the product. Move the brush in small, quick circles to help blend everything in and create a seamless, streak-free finish.

3. Don’t Forget Your Body

To help make your freshly bronzed face look more natural, you can also apply a few swipes of bronzer to your décolletage. If you're rocking an off-the-shoulder or strapless top, focus on applying bronzer just above and below your collarbones to help them stand out and glow. 

Now that you know how to use bronzer in the winter, it’s time to get your hands on the products to make it happen! Want in on all the IPSY fun? Take our Beauty Quiz now to get started with your own IPSY beauty subscription. Already an IPSY member? Refer your friends to earn points, which you can use toward products. Either way, don’t forget to check us out on Instagram and TikTok @IPSY.

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About the author
Dahvi Shira
Dahvi Shira
Dahvi Shira is a Los Angeles-based beauty writer, who has a passion for hair, makeup, and skincare. She contributes regularly to Mane Addicts and her blog, Skyelyfe. Her work has also appeared on Glossy, People, E!, Sweety High and more.
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Article Last Updated October 2, 2023 12:00 AM