The Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Bronzer—And How to Avoid Them

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Whether in the dead of winter when we’re all feeling just a wee bit pale and pasty or any time we want to add a healthy glow to our cheeks, bronzer can have a powerful impact. But whether that impact is awesome or not depends on if you are choosing the right bronzer for you—and if you know how to apply bronzer. Knowledge is power.

When choosing a bronzer, it’s important to get color right so you have a natural glow.
Never use a shade that’s more than two shades deeper than skin tone or it will look artificial. “Look for a bronzer with multiple shades. When it’s pre-blended for you, it comes across more natural as opposed to a one-dimensional shade,” says Physicians Formula Celebrity Makeup Artist, Joanna Schlip.

Choose the right formula for you.
Powders are the easiest to apply and provide the most natural finish. Shimmery bronzers promise to give you glowing skin, but too much sparkle can make your complexion look greasy. “We like Colorescience Loose Mineral Bronzer  because it creates a beautiful, natural glow. Plus, the retractable brush makes application easy at home or on the go,” says Joel Schlessinger, MD, FAAD, FAACS, Board Certified Dermatologist and Cosmetic Surgeon and founder of LovelySkin.com.

A little bit of shimmer can add a healthy glow and highlight your facial structure, but too much can emphasize uneven skin texture. To avoid this, choose a product with fine shimmer particles and apply sparingly, suggests Nicci Gilland of A Different Face. A shimmer bronzer is a great choice for illuminating the skin and giving a sun-kissed glow, but not ideal for contour and shadow.

MORE: In Pursuit of the Best Drugstore Highlighters

Darker isn’t always better.
For a more natural looking bronze look on fair skin tones, swap your bronzer for a warm nude blush—something with a hint of peach or rose works best. Those warmer undertones give the skin a gorgeous kissed-by-the-sun flush that never looks muddy or artificial. “On medium and dark tones, I like to touch a brick-toned blush over the T-zone and cheekbones. The red undertone of the blush simulates the natural flush that appears just after stepping off the beach,” says Wantable Beauty Editor, Jordan Liberty. And remember, less is more; too much blush can make you look sunburned. Use a large powder brush or fan brush to apply the perfect amount of product.

Choose the right brush.
You should use the largest, softest brush you have. Avoid using a brush that is too dense, like a Kabuki brush. “The more dense the brush, the stronger the color will come out. This can make you look dirty instead of just bronzed,” says makeup artist Donna Kelly.

Aim right.
“The biggest no-no I have heard makeup artists say is ‘Kiss your face with bronzer where the sun hits your face.’ Well, for me, that’s all over! Bronzer all over your face is like using a a face powder 8 shades to dark. You look muddy, and perhaps like you belong in the cast of Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory!” says makeup artist Jentry Kelley. “First I was an artist, then later became a makeup artist. So I know the basic concept of highlighting and shadowing, and by pacing something darker than the subject (your face) all over it becomes flat and dull,” says Kelley.

MORE: What Type of Bronzer Is Right for You?

Every person’s face shape is unique and bronzer should be used to shadow in any area that we would like to minimize, while warming up the skin at the same time to match the chest. “One area I always use bronzer is on my neck and under my chin. This gives the appearance as if I had a neck lift! It also marries all the color from my cheek, neck, and face so I don’t have white face photos. It can also be used on the chin, or along the hairline around the forehead through temples to minimize,” says Kelley. Women with smaller foreheads should not use bronzer in that area.

Apply bronzer in a “3” shape.
Sweep across the forehead, around to the cheekbone and then down the jaw. Don’t forget the nose and ears! “Also, if the décolleté or neck is exposed, be sure to apply bronzer there as well for a natural head to toe glow,” says Schlip.

Instead of caking on the color, lightly dust bronzer where the sun would hit your skin. These areas include the bridge of your nose, across your hairline and the apples of your cheeks. “To avoid a muddy skin tone, apply a highlighter across your cheekbones and your brow bone, which will give you face more dimension,” says Dr. Schlessinger.

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How to Master Winged Eyeliner

Hailee Steinfeld’s cat eye liner is perfection. Photo: Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

 

Cat eyes are a classic beauty look, and we couldn’t be happier that it’s making a comeback. Winged liner has been huge on the red carpet recently, and it’s shaping up to be a big look for Fall—but if you’re like a lot of us, the feline flick can seem incredibly intimidating. The good news is that cat eye liner isn’t as complicated or scary as it seems; it just requires a little practice and some know-how.

And nobody knows more about liquid eyeliner than we do, so we’ve put together our essential guide for how to do winged eyeliner. Read on and learn how to totally master the cat eye look.

1. Choose your liner.

Gel! Liquid! Angled brushes! Straight brushes! There are just SO many different types of eyeliner—how do you know which is right for you? While personal preference plays a big part in this, we have some general tips that will make finding your perfect liner much easier.

Gel eyeliner is probably the easiest to use if you’re a cat eye newbie because the formula is a little softer and more forgiving of mistakes. You’ll generally need a separate angled brush to apply it, though, which can involve a bit of a learning curve.

Liquid eyeliner often comes in a small pot with a thin brush attached to the lid. These brushes can be super flexible, which allows for very delicate—but they can also be TOO flexible, which can lead to mistakes.

Our favorite type of liquid liner comes in a pen with a marker-tip applicator instead of a brush. This makes it easy to use and control—you use it the same way you’d use a pen, and odds are that you’re pretty familiar with that. Our favorite liquid liner ever is LORAC Front of the Line PRO ($23, ulta.com) which has a long, flexible marker-type tip that dispenses a gorgeously dark black, truly waterproof liner. It’s perfect for beginners and advancedcat eye practitioners alike.

2. Line 101.

Not all cat eyes are created equal, but there are some general shape rules that you should keep in mind.

Cat eyes are not the same width all the way across. They begin thin at the inner corner near the tear duct, getting thicker towards the outer corner, like so:

The way you play with the line’s thickness can create some cool illusions. If you want to make your eyes look wider, make the line above your lashes thicker at the center. If you’re looking to make your eyes seem longer, make that line thin all the way across.

3. Wing shape matters.

People often think of a cat eye wing as a one-size-fits-all prospect, but that’s not true. The angular wings of cat eyes are as unique as the eyes that wear them, and while the shape you fall in love with depends mostly on what you like the best, there are some guidelines to adhere to.

There are two general wing shapes: long and curvy (like a capital J laying on its back) and triangular-shaped. Curvy wings extend out, then curve gently up, missing the crease of the eye; triangular wings end at the outer corner of the eye and then flick straight up, going overtop the crease.

This is an example of a triangular wing:

 

 

And this is an example of a curvy wing:

 

 

In general, curvy wings are best for making eyes look longer (because they extend the lash line) and triangular wings are best if you want to make your eyes look bigger—but of course, your mileage will vary. Choose the shape that makes you the happiest!

4. DON’T PULL!

It’s a natural instinct to want to pull your skin taut while you draw your cat eye—don’t do this, because if you do, your cat eye will look crooked when you let go! Instead, tilt your head back while you draw your lines and avoid wonky surprises at the end.

5. Get guidance.

Making your cat eyes even is a crucial—and intimidating—step in nailing this look. But it doesn’t have to be scary, because there’s a super-easy trick to ensuring you have the perfect angle on both eyes. Take a thin makeup brush and hold it against the side of your nose so that it lines up with the outer corner of your eye and the end of your eyebrow. Voila: this shows you the angle you should be aiming for with your cat eye.

If you’re just starting out, use a sharp pencil liner and mark a guideline against your brush. Trace over it with liquid liner, and voila! Perfectly symmetrical cat eyes are all yours!

6. Fixing mistakes.

If you mess up, don’t worry! Dip a cotton swab in alcohol-based makeup remover, gently hold it on top of the mistake, and twist—don’t rub or wipe. The eyeliner will come away easily, and then you only have a small area to fix up afterwards. And don’t worry; practice truly does make perfect when it comes to cat eyes—you’ll find that you mess up less frequently as time goes by!

7. Wear it with…

Winged eyeliner is like a black dress—it goes with everything. Wear it with baby pink lips for a work-appropriate look, or add glossy red lipstick for a sexy date night look. You can even pair it with one of Fall’s high-octane dark lipsticks to channel your inner vamp—or add flushed cheeks and clear, shiny lipgloss for a gamine 60s-inspired look. Whichever you choose, one thing’s for sure: your wings will be sharp and your look will be totally perfect.

How to Pull Off Dark Lipstick Like a Pro

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Photo: Luca Cannonieri/GoRunway.com

Dark lipstick becomes so omnipresent every fall that it’s hard to call it a trend; it’s more of a seasonal staple, like a leather jacket or a new pair of jeans. We’ve always been just a bit too chicken to embrace the look in all its gothic glory, but with new, wearable versions taking center stage (witness the gorgeous burnt red shade from Bottega Veneta’s fall/winter 2013-2014 runway show, above), we’re finally ready to make an attempt. You, too?

To help you navigate the latest crop of plums, berries, bricks and browns hitting beauty counters now, we tapped Make Up For Ever Managing Educator Jessie Powers for her tips on how to sport a dark lip and own it this fall.

Know your limits.
“If you have really thin lips, I don’t recommend a dark lipstick,” Powers says. “Dark colors minimize whereas light colors are going to volumize.” A dark shade on already thin lips will make them look thinner, and that can make a face look older, since lips typically lose volume as we age. “If you have naturally voluminous lips or regular lips, go for it.”

Keep it balanced.
According to Powers, “The key to doing a dark lip color is making sure the rest of your makeup is really in harmony with that lip. Keep it fairly minimal on the rest of your face.”

Using a similar shade on your lids or cheeks can help your lip color harmonize with the rest of your makeup. If you’re wearing a plum-colored lipstick, a purple eye shadow can help tie the look together. Another idea: blend a dab of your lip color onto your cheeks to create a monochromatic flush.

Choose a shade that complements your skin tone.
As with any makeup color, your complexion determines what will look good on you. “Dark can be more purple or more berry or more brick,” Powers says. “You can warm it up or cool it down according to your taste.” If you know you look better in cool shades, opt for a blue-based, berry color. If your complexion is warm, choose a hue that veers toward brown.

Use a lip liner.
“Lip liner is an absolute must with dark lips,” Powers explains. “Any saturated color, if it’s not even around the edges, it looks crazy.” Use a pencil to perfect your shape; the waxes in the pencil will also help prevent color bleeding.

Still wary? Try a muted take.
“A berry stain will be an easier way for you to try it out,” Powers says. “It still has a little life and a little brightness to it.” Try a sheer shade such as Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey ($15, clinique.com) — it really does look good on everyone — or create your own by applying a dark lipstick with your fingers instead of straight from the bullet for a sheer wash of color.

Try a trendy shade.
With all things ‘90s back in a big way, “We’re going to be seeing some vamp throwback colors,” this fall, Powers predicts. Her current favorite? Make Up For Ever Rouge Artist Intense 48 ($20, sephora.com), a beautiful black currant shade.

Brick-red shades also make a perfect complement to a fall color palette. Shiseido Perfect Rouge in Dragon ($25, sephora.com) is a deep, orange-based red that flatters warm skin tones.

For the truly bold, Lipstick Queen Velvet Rope in Entourage ($50, available September at lipstickqueen.com) is a deep wine shade with an intensely pigmented, unbelievably lightweight, silky formula — and we’re obsessed with the gilded magnetic case.

Weekend Obsessions: The 5 Best Red Lipsticks

Is there anything more magical than a really wonderful lipstick? The right color can transform your look, your mood and give you the confidence to get out there and really run your day.

And there’s truly no better color lipstick than red. As a crimson connoisseur, I’ve dedicated my life to the search for the best red lipstick. And while I could never pick just one, I have found some really amazing colors and formulas. So to celebrate the long weekend, I’ve put together this collection of my all-time favorite red lipsticks—along with how I wear each of them. Consider this a gift from my red lipstick-obsessed life to yours.

Image via Urban Decay

Urban Decay Matte Revolution in Bad Blood ($22, urbandecay.com)

I love a good matte lipstick, and Urban Decay’s new line of mattes are some of the best I’ve come across. Creamy, dreamy and gorgeous-feeling, the texture and wear on these are unparalleled—I put them on first thing in the morning, and it stays immaculate all day long. Bad Blood, recently seen on FKA Twigs at the VMAs, is a gorgeous cool-toned crimson that makes me think of old Hollywood starlets. To let this shade take center stage on my face, I wear Bad Blood with brown mascara and lots of shimmery highlighter for maximum radiance.

Image via MAC

MAC Vamplify Lip Gloss in Tease Don’t Touch ($20, maccosmetics.com)

I’m a bit of a lipgloss hater in general—I don’t mess with products that are sticky or high maintenance—but even I can’t side-eye Vamplify. These glosses are SO supreme: brightly pigmented and shiny, non-sticky and incredibly long-lasting. Tease Don’t Touch is a slightly warm-toned candy apple red that is absolute perfection—I love wearing it with black winged eyeliner and peach blush for a pinup-inspired look.

Image via Lipstick Queen

Lipstick Queen Velvet Rope Lipstick in Entourage ($50, ulta.com)

Dark reds can be difficult, primarily because they tend to wear strangely—they often apply patchily, sink into the lines of your lips and wear unevenly—and because of this, it took me years to find a deep scarlet that I really loved. Thanks goodness for Entourage. A rich dark red that reminds me of a really good wine, this is one of the few colors that both my mother (who has an olive complexion) and I (very fair) can both wear. Though this is also billed as a matte lipstick, I find that it’s more of a semi-matte; it has some shine to it that gives the color life and interest. Plus, the packaging? Beyond beautiful. My official date night go-to, I pair this lipstick with smokey brown eye makeup and matte skin for a supremely sexy look.

Image via NARS

NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Dragon Girl ($26, sephora.com)

Incredibly bright and flattering, Dragon Girl is my all-time favorite power red—and it’s also Taylor Swift’s favorite lip color too, so I’m in good company. I especially love that this comes in a pencil, because it makes application incredibly quick and easy…plus, any time I can skip lip liner, I’m happy. And the Velvet Matte formula is truly wonderful—it really does feel like velvet on your lips, and never dries you out. I like to pair Dragon Girl with some shimmery bronzer, defined brows and loosely wavy hair. The matte finish elevates any look.

Image via Lipstick Queen

Lipstick Queen Saint Lipstick in Deep Red ($24, ulta.com)

If you haven’t already noticed, I’m a massive Lipstick Queen fan—the brand’s founder, Poppy King, is one of my all-time beauty inspirations. The Saint line of lipsticks is very sheer, and that’s why I love Deep Red; despite the name this is a beautiful neutral red that gives my lips a hint of rosy color without being overpowering. It also has a delicious pastry-like scent that I can’t get enough of. If you’re a red lipstick beginner, this is a great, non-scary color to start with. I like to wear this with no makeup at all when I’m out walking my dog, or as a hint of non-overpowering lip color with bright green eyeliner.

If you have product questions or you’d like to obsess with me, reach out and touch faith. You can find me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram—say hi, and let’s talk beauty!