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Let's face it: Sun-kissed skin is sexy. Few things give your skin a radiant glow like a light tan (aside from a pro facial, which can do serious damage on your wallet). But one problem with tans: UV damage from sun exposure. So what's a girl to do? Invest in a great bronzer.
But hold on: You haven't solved all your complexion problems yet. You're facing another challenge when turning to bronzer: finding the perfect flattering shade for your naturally tan skin tone.
Visit a cosmetics counter where you can test shades on your face. Swinging by the drugstore and blindly picking a shade that looks great in the package isn't going to cut it. Bronzers can be seriously deceiving; what looks great in the compact may look ruddy and dull on your skin. So visit a department store -- and don't be afraid to ask for help from a makeup artist at the counter.
Begin bare -- as in, free of makeup. You want clean, makeup-free skin to give you the truest results when trying on bronzer. Foundation, concealer or powder can alter the way bronzer looks on you; you want to match your natural skin tone with the bronzer, since that's what you're trying to mimic when applying bronzer.
Eschew shimmer. Tracey Brown, author of beauty website Blinging Beauty, recommends a bronzer without shimmer particles for the most natural finish. For tan- and darker-skinned ladies, bronzer can double as foundation; it will even out your skin tone and temporarily mask any imperfections, like dark spots or post-acne scars.
Hand-pick a selection of shades in a powder formula. Powder is easiest to brush on with a natural look. Trial and error is the only way you'll know if a specific brand or color works for you. Beauty website Daily Makeover suggests starting with a shade or two lighter than you think you'll need; shades that are too dark can make you look ruddy, orange or striped.
Use a fluffy face brush to sweep the bronzer on areas of the face where the sun would naturally hit: cheekbones, forehead, down the bridge of your nose, and just lightly on the center of your chin. Ask the sales associate if you can borrow a bronzing brush. Some artists will even offer to apply the bronzer for you.
Remember your neck. Since we naturally incur sun exposure on a daily basis, your face, which is the most frequently exposed body part, may be a shade or two darker than your neck. Be sure to sweep the bronzer on your neck; it should look natural there, as well as on your face.
Examine your handiwork in a mirror. When a bronzer is right, you'll instantly know because you'll look refreshed, radiant and glowing. When it's not right, your color will look ruddy, orange, dirty, or even washed out. Ask the sales associate for a moist makeup wipe, available at all cosmetic counters, and wipe your face clean. Then start fresh with the next shade. Repeat until you find your golden bronzer of choice.
Never go more than two shades darker than your natural skin tone.
Don't go overboard in your quest for the glow. Especially when in comes to bronzer, less is always more.