Bronzer is back and it’s the key step in your spring makeup

Laura Kennedy: Bronzer is a tickle of colour where the sun might leave its mark

Bronzer is not contour. It is not the imposition of harsh structure to the face using shadow, or the generalised ‘warming up’ that Irish women routinely believed constituted good foundation until the mid 2010s. It’s more of a feeling than a prescriptive technique. Bronzer is a tickle of colour where the sun might leave its mark at the end of an afternoon strolling through the golden light of Santorini, or some other place blessed with sunshine.

We now know that cooking your face in UV rays anywhere from Santorini to Santry is far from a good idea. However, mimicking the effects of sun on skin with makeup is harmless, adds soft but serious structure to the face and embodies that flattering, golden light of spring and summer which just makes everyone look more beautiful.

You can ”bronze” with blush – it doesn’t need to be a warm-toned or earthy-hued product. Rather, it’s the watercolour style diffusion of sheer product over skin that makes the look. It should be applied as a wash across cheekbones, the top of the forehead and the bridge of the nose. Extra points if you apply a dash to the cupid’s bow of the lips too.

While powder bronzers still exist and many of them are great, especially for that seamlessly natural sun-mimicry, I never miss the opportunity to add light to my skin when applying makeup. Pale skin is the least light-reflective, and consequently the most challenging to knock a bit of sheen on to.


At the far end of winter’s long tunnel, where we find ourselves at this time of year, the paler among us are a little grey and traumatised looking. My skin is already matte because, frankly, it’s dull. I don’t want a matte powder bronzer, but something creamy and radiant which I can apply easily with fingers, buff away at the edges and give me the natural, unfussy, but sculpted look that I find most appealing. Give us artificial radiance or give us a week in Santorini.

You don’t need to buy a new product to create this look – any beloved cream or liquid blush will work. If you seek something new, though, Lukey Lukey is an Irish brand I fell for instantly. Their Crème Blush in 11:11 (€29 at is spring skin in a compact. On deep skin tones, it will make a sensational highlighter, but for the paler and olive-skinned among us, it adds a little structure too. I horse this liberally across my cheeks and the top of my forehead. The sheer formula is forgiving enough that you can’t really mess it up but tinted enough to make an instant difference.

If you prefer a gel or liquid texture, which requires just a touch more careful application than a cream (but not much), opt for Sculpted by Aimee Liquid Lights in Bronze Glow (€14 in Boots). Keep in mind that this is very far from a matte bronzing gel and a little goes a long way. Apply it with a fluffy brush for precise application, blending the edges for a seamless finish.

Finally, to prove that bronzing isn’t boring or limited to browns, Chanel Baume Essentiel in Rouge Frais (€42 in Brown Thomas) is nothing short of scrumptious. Like a whisper of heat on the skin, it gives a rich warmth without looking like makeup. Yes, it looks red in the tube, but on the skin, it gives a soft, radiant flush that gives beautiful structure to the face.

Laura Kennedy

Laura Kennedy

Laura Kennedy is a contributor to The Irish Times