20s: Highlight Darker Skin
Bronzer isn't just for the fair-skinned. Those with darker skin tones can use it to highlight and define their entire face, especially the cheekbones. "Use a bronzer that is one to two shades darker than your skin," says Marcus Monson, Guerlain National Makeup Artist. "Bronzers with more brown tones are more natural-looking. Steer clear of orange shades, as they can look too dark and cakey at the end of the day."
For a more natural glow, try Milani TANTASTIC Face & Body Baked Bronzer in Sun Glow, $8.49, milanicosmetics.com
20s: Contour with Multiple Bronzers
"Avoid the Jersey Shore orange look and instead opt for a tanned look by mixing a matte and shimmer bronzer together," Monson says. Apply the matte bronzer all over the face in circular motions with a large brush to avoid streaking, then apply the shimmer just to the cheekbones and other areas you want to highlight. Another option? Mix your bronzer and blush for a rosier glow.
Try a palette like Givenchy Le Prisme Sun Visage Mat Soft Compact Face Powder in Sun Mango, $45, sephora.com
30s: Choose the Right Formula
In your 30s, the moisture levels in your skin begin to drop, so it's important to choose a bronzer with a hydrating formula. Pick a bronzer with a luminous finish, and go easy on the application to avoid a dirty, over-colored effect.
For a luminous glow, try a mix-and-match multi-bronzer like Soap & Glory Solar Powder, $11.99, target.com
30s: Be Natural
The "I spent a day at the beach" look won't do anymore. "Bronzers should give believable color in your 30s," says Monson. Opt for a spray bronzer formula like Guerlain Terracotta Bronzing Spray to cover up fine lines and give your complexion a natural radiance.
40s: Gently Glow
Your bronzer should give you a subtle glow and not be a blatant beauty announcement that you're wearing it. Monson says, "Sway toward mineral-based formulas for extra coverage while giving your skin a boost of color."
For a light glow, try Tarte Mineral Powder Bronzer, $29, sephora.com
40s: A Light Touch
For lighter skin tones, you should be highlighting rather than bronzing. To get this look, dust a powder like Physicians Formula Mineral Wear Talc-Free Mineral Illuminating Powder all over your forehead, cheeks, and even eyelids for a soft shine. If you find you are applying with a heavy hand, lightly dust translucent powder over your face to help blend in the color.
50s and Beyond: Pick the Right Formula
As your skin matures, it's important to switch up your bronzer formula. Monson advises, "Stay away from heavily pigmented bronzers, and instead choose a subtle color, adding more to the areas of the face that are naturally kissed by the sun."
Steer toward a cream-based formula to keep your skin hydrated, like Hourglass Illume Creme-to-Powder Bronzer Duo in Bronze Light, $40, sephora.com
50s and Beyond: Use a Light Hand
By this time, you'll notice little gray hairs around your hairline. To avoid mixing product into these gray hairs, apply it lightly all over your face, especially around the outer perimeter, for a more even, natural look. Use a bronzer with SPF, like YSL Poudre de Soleil Bronzing Powder, to protect skin while covering up those tiny lines.