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When, Where, and How To Apply Bronzer and Blush

Bronzer vs. Blush: How To Apply Bronzer and Blush Like a Pro

11 Jul 2024

Achieving a flawless makeup look often hinges on technique—like knowing how to apply bronzer and blush. These two beauty essentials can add warmth, dimension, and a healthy-looking glow to your skin. But understanding the differences between bronzer vs. blush and knowing when to apply each is a must for achieving a cohesive look. Ahead, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about these must-haves, including how they differ, where to apply bronzer vs. blush, and more.

What Is Bronzer?

Bronzer is a type of makeup product designed to mimic the look of a natural tan—without the risk associated with lounging in the sun. It's typically tan or brown in color and usually has a warmer undertone to help create the illusion of a sun-kissed glow. There are several different types of bronzer formulas to choose from, including powders, creams, and liquids, and can be matte or shimmery in finish. Depending on the formula you choose, you can use bronzer to add warmth to your complexion, softly define your features, or give your skin a bronzy, beachy glow. It's generally applied to the areas of the face where the sun would naturally hit, such as the forehead, cheekbones, and jawline.

What Is Blush?

Blush is a type of makeup used to mimic a natural flush. It's often pinkish or reddish in tone and, like bronzer, can come in a variety of finishes, from matte to satin to shimmer. The formulas, too, can vary, though powder blush, liquid blush, and cream blushes are the most popular types of blush.

For a natural-looking effect, blush is typically applied on or near the apples of your cheeks and blended outwars. However, it can also be used like contour to help define and sculpt your features. (For a breakdown of the latter technique, check out our article Blush Contouring: All About This Viral Makeup Trend).

Blush vs. Bronzer: What’s The Difference?

While both blush and bronzer add color to your face, they serve different purposes. As mentioned, bronzer is intended to give your skin a tanned effect, while blush is designed to make your skin look flushed. As such, bronzer tends to be more muted in tone—think beige, sepia, or brown—while blush can be any number of colors, from light pink to deep chocolate.

Choosing a bronzer shade is fairly straightforward: just select a shade slightly darker than your skin tone to mimic a natural, sun-kissed tan. Finding a blush shade is slightly more involved, as there are so many different colors to choose from. For a flattering look, you’ll want to choose one that complements both your skin tone and undertone (the underlying tint of your skin).

In case you’re unfamiliar, undertones are typically categorized as either cool, warm, or neutral. You can determine yours by taking a look at the veins on the inside of your wrist. If they appear blue or purple, it’s likely that you have cool undertones. A greenish tint, meanwhile, suggests a warmer undertone. If your veins appear neither overtly blue nor obviously green, you probably have neutral undertones.

Generally, cool-toned blushes (like baby pink or mauve) complement cooler complexions well, while warmer hues like coral and apricot flatter warm skin nicely. That said, since there are so many different shades of blush to choose from—most with both warm and cool-toned variations—finding the perfect shade can feel tricky. For an in-depth guide to choosing the best blush for your complexion, check out our article How To Choose a Blush Color For Your Skin Tone.

When To Use Bronzer vs. Blush

Knowing when to use bronzer and when to use blush will help you achieve the look you're aiming for. If you desire a radiant, sun-kissed glow, bronzer is the way to go. It's perfect for enhancing a natural tan or adding warmth to your complexion.

On the other hand, if you want to add a flush of color to your cheeks and achieve a youthful, vibrant look, reach for blush. It's ideal for making your skin look fresh and healthy.

However, it's important to note that blush and bronzer can be (and often are!) used together. When pairing the two, you’ll want to make sure your placement is on point (more on that shortly) and your formulas are compatible to help ensure a seamless, natural-looking finish.

Where To Apply Bronzer and Blush For a Complementary Look

Understanding the differences between the ideal bronzer vs. blush placement is crucial if you plan on using these two makeup bag staples together. Ahead, we’ll explain how to use bronzer and blush together in your makeup routine.

Step 1: Prime your skin

Before applying any makeup, you’ll want to prep your skin well. Start by cleansing your face to remove dirt, oil, and other impurities. Afterward, smooth on a moisturizer to help hydrate your skin (be sure to use one that’s suitable for your skin type). Finally, apply a makeup primer to help your makeup last longer and go on more evenly. If you’re after a smooth, matte look, we suggest using our Blurscreen SPF 30 Primer, which blurs imperfections, helps grip makeup for up to 18 hours of wear, and provides SPF 30 protection against the sun. Those who favor a more dewy finish may prefer the Plump Right Back Primer + Serum, which moisturizes the skin and leaves it looking fresh and glowy. If you wear foundation and concealer, apply those after priming your skin as you normally would.

Step 2: Sweep on your bronzer

You can apply bronzer and blush in any order you’d like, but we think applying bronzer first is easier. Done properly, it’ll help add dimension to your face and help guide your blush placement.

For this tutorial, we recommend using a powder bronzer, such as our Buttermelt Bronzer. The silky-smooth formula applies easily and blends like a dream, melting into the skin for a natural-looking finish. Plus, the almond, mango, and shea butter-infused formula offers up to 12 hours of fade- and transfer-resistant wear.

While where to apply bronzer depends on your face shape, you’ll generally want to stick to areas you’d naturally tan. For a sun-kissed look, use the Buttermelt Bronzer Brush to sweep a shade slightly darker than your skin onto your cheekbones, blending the color toward your temples. You’ll also want to hit the other areas the sun would shine on—usually, this includes the hairline and along the bridge of your nose. A note: Take care not to blend your bronzer beneath your cheekbones—that’s where contour goes (if you’re using it).

Step 3: Add color with blush

Because you’re using a powder bronzer, you’ll also want to use a powder blush—this helps ensure a seamless, streak-free blend. We recommend the Buttermelt Blush. Like the bronzer, it’s smooth, blendable, and pigmented and provides up to 12 hours of wear.

There are a few factors to keep in mind when applying blush, but your face shape is arguably the most important. Typically, people with more angular features (like those with square and rectangular faces) will want to apply blush onto the apples of their cheeks, while those with rounder faces do well with a higher application that makes the cheekbones pop. For an in-depth look at where to apply blush, we suggest checking out our article How To Apply Blush and Flatter Your Face Shape.

Be sure to blend both your bronzer and blush well so there are no harsh lines where the two products meet.

Step 4: Set your makeup

Once you’re satisfied with your look, set your makeup with a setting spray. The right formula can help lock in your makeup, prevent fading, and prolong wear. If you favor a more matte makeup finish, we recommend reaching for our Marshmellow Matte Setting Spray, which helps extend makeup wear for up to 16 hours. Those who favor a dewier, glowier finish may prefer the Plump Finish Setting Spray, which offers up to 24 hours of wear and leaves the skin with a moisturized, healthy appearance.

Learn More About Bronzer and Blush

Now, you know where blush and bronzer go, but you may still have other questions about these complexion favorites. You can learn more about bronzer in our article Bronzer vs. Contour: Their Differences & How To Use Them. If you’re looking to brush up on your blush knowledge (try saying that five times fast), our articles Cream vs. Powder Blush: Which Is Better? and How To Do Sunset Blush, TikTok’s Lastest Blush Trend can help.

Next Up: Where To Put Highlighter: 9 Tips For a Lit Makeup Look

We want to see your bronzed, sun-kissed glow! Share a pic of your favorite bronzy, flushed looks on social and tag us @nyxcosmetics!


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