The Right Way to Wear Bronzer, From Day to Night

By Tara Thompson Rasmus
step by step bronzer tutorial

For me, bronzer is in that beauty category (with blush and foundation) of products that can truly make or break your look. When applied properly, in the form of the correct formulas for your skin’s tone and texture, these products can make you appear glowy and well-rested; like you just so happen to have perfect skin. But, get these products wrong, and your makeup can end up looking obvious and mask-like—which completely defeats the purpose of wearing makeup in the first place!

So, when one of my favorite natural makeup brands, W3LL PEOPLE, approached me about doing a tutorial that would teach me (and you!) exactly how to wear bronzer, I jumped at the chance. Shirley Pinkson, the celebrity makeup artist behind W3LL PEOPLE, is a total master of the natural-yet-glamorous makeup looks that I typically go for—and she is a total wizard with bronzer. First up, she offers some tips for picking the right bronzer for you. “Be sure to pick a bronzer that Is not too shimmery to create a natural, gorgeous glow,” she advises. A satin finish, which is what the bronzers from her line offer, is your best (and most believable) bet. In terms of creams versus powders, both products are pretty buildable and adaptable—you’ll just want to choose your product according to whether you prefer a dewy or matte finish.

step by step bronzer tutorial

Read ahead for more of Pinkson’s pro tips as she shows me exactly how to wear bronzer so it looks totally natural and believable for day—and warm and sultry at night.

photographed by tiffany gifford on location at regular visitors in boerum hill, brooklyn
featured image via leseclaireuses


  1. The daytime look that Pinkson dreamed up for me was “polished, fresh and confident,” as Pinkson drescribes it. “It’s suited for the modern woman who doesn’t always have time on her side.” To start, Pinkson prepped my clean skin with a complexion-softening probiotic toner. “Toner prepares the skin to absorb the benefits of your tinted moisturizer, and allows for smoother product blending,” explains Pinkson.
  2. Next, Pinkson prepped the delicate skin around my eyes to ensure that my concealer didn’t crease or get cakey. “The summer sun can wreak havoc on the thin skin around your eyes,” explains Pinkson. “The added hydration allows for concealer to blend in seamlessly.”
  3. Once my skin was prepped, Pinkson applied a lightweight, satin-finish tinted moisturizer with SPF: W3LL PEOPLE Tint Multi-Action Moisturizer SPF 30. “If the tinted moisturizer is too shiny or heavy, it will melt away in the summer heat,” explains Pinkson. For those with oily skin types, Pinkson suggests lightly and strategically dusting the complexion with an invisible powder, giving special attention to the T-zone.
  4. Next, brighten the eye area by tapping on concealer; Pinkson used W3LL PEOPLE Bio Correct Concealer.
  5. Now, on the main event: bronzer! For this more natural daytime look, Pinkson actually recommends a cream bronzer; which surprised me, as I had always assumed that creams were too intense for daytime. But, Pinkson assured me that the creamy texture would melt into my skin—that is, as long as it was applied correctly. “For the most natural, sun-kissed finish, apply a cream-based bronzer to the contour of the cheeks, sweeping inward from the ear to the nose, and the outer perimeter of the forehead,” instructs Pinkson. “To define the eyes, tap a small amount onto the outer corner of the eye. The creamy texture gives you more control in application, and it has a slight sheen, which makes your face look healthy and radiant!” Duly noted, sister.
  6. One of the most important steps of bronzer application is, of course, blending. “Blend, blend, and blend again with a soft, fluffy brush,” instructs Pinkson. “I always finish bronzer by sweeping a clean brush over the complexion to soften lines and create a soft-focus look. Remember: less is more! You can always add more bronzer, but it’s not so easy to take it away.”
  7. To complement your bronzer (and add all of those glowy feels), Pinkson added a cream highlighter to mycheekbones, the bridge of my nose, my cupid’s bow, and my lower eyelids. “Look for a highlighter that is not too glittery or frosty,” says Pinkson. “The goal is to create a subtle, pearly radiance that catches the light, enhancing the dimension of your complexion.” I’ve been truly amazed by how subtle and wearable Pinkson’s Bio Brightener Stick is; you truly don’t look like you’re wearing highlighter, you just look like you happened to be surrounded by perfect lighting, all day long.
  8. Pinkson completed the look with a lash-building, water-resistant mascara, taking care to avoid my lower lashes to avoid any summer-sweat-induced raccoon eyes (New York humidity is no joke!).
  9. Perk up your pout with a neutral, shimmering lip gloss, such as W3LL PEOPLE Bio Extreme Lip Gloss in Afterglow.
  10. To set my look (and add a little extra glow—because really, is it ever enough?), Pinkson finished with a light spritz of that same probiotic toner.


  1. “The night look simply emphasizes what I deem to be a key feature—in Tara’s case, her green eyes—while leaving everything else the same,” says Pinkson. To start, she refreshed my day look with a spritz of the same refreshing and softening toner. Then, she heavily lined my upper lashlines with a plum eyeliner. “Smudge the outer edges of the eyeliner to create a smoldering, smudgy eye,” advises Pinkson.
  2. After applying the subtly smoky pencil liner, Pinkson followed with a tightline of black liquid liner—the final look was decidedly sexy, but not heavy at all, which makes it perfect for steamy summer evenings.
  3. To add extra drama and polish to my eyes, Pinkson layered on another coat of mascara.
  4. For that extra-glowy, I-spent-the-day-at-the-beach look, Pinkson intensified my look with a powder bronzer. “Reapply your pressed or loose bronzer directly over the cream bronzer,” Pinkson instructs. “Then, using an eye brush, swipe bronzer into the crease of the eye, paying special attention to the outer corners.”
  5. For an added pop of color, Pinkson tapped a warm, peachy cream blush onto the apple of the cheeks and lips.
  6. Blend, blend, blend!
  7. To finish the look, Pinkson reapplied a bit of the same subtly golden lip gloss from the daytime look.