Bronzing Powder 101


Top tips from M∙A∙C Senior Makeup Artist Jane McKay
We’re all conscious of the dangers of exposing our skin to the sun; and although we do our best to cover up and wear sunscreen to protect it, we’d be lying if we said we didn’t appreciate a healthy summer glow. So over the past few years, we’ve welcomed self-tanners, tinted moisturizers, and bronzing powders into our beauty routine. We decided to ask Jane McKay, Senior Makeup Artist at M∙A∙C Cosmetics, for advice on choosing the right bronzer, and of course, how to apply it.

Choosing a bronzer
When choosing a bronzing powder, your choice of product should be based on your natural skin colour: fair, medium, or dark. “I’m very fair, with a pinky blue undertone, so I’m always looking for the lightest colour bronzer. I don’t want it to be pink, which would make my skin appear pinker. I like the product to have a little bit of gold in it,” she tells us. Her suggestion for fair-skinned ladies: M∙A∙C Bronzing Powder in Refined Golden.

For people with medium dark skin tone, McKay recommends looking for something that’s a shade warmer than your skin. “You can decide if you want to go for more coppery or iron colours, or if you want the powder to be more bronze or gold,” she says. “Someone who has Middle Eastern, Asian, Eastern European, or Mediterranean global influences will tend to have more gold in their skin naturally,” she continues. If you fit this description, opt for a bronzer with golden undertones to match your natural complexion.

gals can try a bronzer with a red undertone. “Very dark skin sometimes has a cool ash colour to it, especially when makeup is applied on top,” explains McKay. “You have to go really saturated with your pigments on darker skin, so you need a deeper, darker bronzer, and it’s nice to have red in it. It really won’t look ashy at all,” she continues.

How to apply
“I like to think about bronzer like how sun hits the face”, says McKay. “The sun hits the face on the higher planes, so the tip of your nose gets more colour, your cheekbones get a bit, too,” she explains. She also likes to add lighter highlights just beside them: “Highlights can look beautiful on the high planes of the cheekbones, on the brow bone, or down the centre of the nose,” she says. To create them, McKay usually reaches for two products: M∙A∙C Iridescent Loose Powder in Golden Bronze and Silver Dusk. She often mixes the two together to create a custom shade ranging between silver and gold, and then sweeps on the highlights with a fluffy eyeshadow brush, which ensures she doesn’t apply too much product.

“And then there is what we call ‘intelligent bronzing’,” she continues, “which is more about sculpting your face with bronzer, as opposed to just putting it all over.” In this case, the bronzer is applied to the lower planes of the face. Whereas when she is applying a veil all over the face, she uses a larger brush, when McKay wants to sculpt the face, she opts for a smaller one, like a blush brush—her favourite is M∙A∙C No. 116.

Extra application tips
When applying bronzing powder, McKay starts right underneath the cheekbone, which avoids creating a dark spot in the middle of the forehead. “Wherever you put that brush first on your face is where the product grabs most,” she says. You can then sweep whatever is left on your brush across your face for an even veil.

If your skin is particularly fair, you can dip your brush in a translucent powder before swishing it over your bronzing powder. This technique allows you to control the application and density of the colour.

For ladies with high foreheads, McKay recommends applying bronzer on it, for a minimizing effect that will soften the face. “If you’re wearing your hair off your face in a ponytail, put bronzer around the perimeter of your face: it looks amazing! It actually softens the harshness of the hairline and the face becomes a little more prominent,” she says.

As for the rest of your makeup when applying bronzer, McKay says that this season is all about reflecting light. “Use makeup that is adjacent to the light reflection of your bronzer, and you’ll be on trend. This season, it’s not about going so bronze, but rather using light reflection in combination with it,” she says.

Bronzing essentials

M∙A∙C Bronzing Powder, available in four shades: Golden, Bronze, Matte Bronze, and Refined Golden. $30 at

M∙A∙C Iridescent Loose Powder, $30 at

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