That's Not Dirt On My Face, It's Bronzer: Powders That Subtly Mask Your Vitamin D Deficiency

Or: Makeup for anemics.
Publish date:
July 5, 2013
shoppables, makeup, summer beauty, bronzer

This past winter, I saw this picture of my friend and me at a show on Noisey (Vice's music site, in case you're not familiar with the many sites the brand has spawned), and thought, "Damn girl! You don't look like you're dying -- for once."

Thanks, bronzer!

(Really, though: I could've toned down my application JUST a bit. Wait, maybe not. Wait, who cares?)

As I was an outwardly morbid teenager whose beauty mission was to appear "dead" (seriously), I refused to touch any product that had the potential of making it look like blood was healthily flowing throughout my body. On top of that, I was also super anemic. (Which I didn't discover until I was pre-tested to donate blood, something I got extreme pleasure out of doing -- only because I LOVED blood. Morbidity!) My skin was almost translucent.

Nearly 10 years later, the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction, where I'm now into looking a little sun-soaked. (Although hey, SPF, all the way!).

I know lots of you are into porcelain Evan Rachel Wood skin -- and duh, you can look not like a corpse from "CSI" without bronzer. But for those of us who're into that beach-y glow, here are some powders to add some faux-tan:


I recently converted to Estée Lauder's bronzer -- that's what I'm wearing in the above picture. AND YO, I'm not tan. I still have an iron deficiency, coat my body in SPF 50 constantly, and the only red meat I've had in the past month is an In-N-Out burger.

So rather than putting a powder that's obviously not the color of my white-white skin on my face, I use a technique that doesn't make it look like I smeared dirt on my face:

Using a blush brush, I swipe the bronzer powder at the tan spot: If my excellent paint job doesn't quite show you that exact location, it's just below your cheekbone. This creates some contouring.

On top of that (at the blue spot in the above pic) I'll apply a slighty lighter bronze color with some shimmer, still using a blush brush. I LOVE MAC's Mineralize Skin Finish in Soft and Gentle. It looks like space makeup! Blend the two upwards on your cheekbone, to about a half an inch outside the corner of your eye.

To finish, DROP THAT BLUSH BRUSH and use a fan brush with your bronzer o' choice. Make sure all the bristles are coated with powder, swipe it on the back of your hand to dust excess product off -- and to prevent the powder from being concentrated in one area -- and lightly swipe it over your forehead, nose, and chin.

If Estée's bronzer seems too fancy-schmancy for you, here are a few other choice picks:

Lots of people love Benefit's Hoola Bronzing Powder -- this was previously my go-to! Although it's a great hue that goes with lots of skin tones, if you don't apply it correctly, you'll TOTALLY look like you smeared dirt on your face. Even the woman selling the product at Benefit told me that. PLEASE THROW THE TINY BRUSH THAT COMES WITH IT OUT RIGHT AWAY. It is horrible. A fan brush for this product is a must.

For the drugstore option, I like NYC's Sun 'n' Bronze Powder in Montauk Bronze.

As for choosing what shade(s) of bronzer are right for you: It should be one to two shades darker than your skin tone. So there's your excuse to go to Sephora and play! You're welcome. And I'm sorry.

What's your favorite bronzer? Secret SHHH: My absolute favorite bronzer is this French brand you can only buy on eBay that a makeup artist once let me use and it's now my shallow lifelong goal to find it again. I hate that shit!

Follow me on Twitter: @caitlinthornton.