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Is bronzer supposed to be orange?

Bronzer is a cosmetic product designed to give skin a sun-kissed, tanned appearance. When applied properly, bronzer should look natural and blend in seamlessly with your complexion. However, many people find that their bronzer comes out looking too orange or unnaturally dark on their skin. This orange tint is usually a sign that the bronzer shade you’ve chosen is not the right undertone for your skin. With the right shade and application technique, your bronzer can give you a healthy glow without the Oompa Loompa effect.

Choosing the Right Bronzer Undertone

The undertone of a bronzer refers to the base color it contains underneath the tanning pigments. Just like foundation and concealers, bronzers come in cool, warm, and neutral undertones. Choosing the wrong undertone is usually the reason why bronzer appears too orange. Here are some tips for finding an undertone match:

  • Cool undertones: Your skin has pink, red, or blue undertones. Cool bronzers have hints of pink or red and tend to work best for fair skin.
  • Warm undertones: Your skin has yellow, peach, or golden undertones. Warm bronzers contain yellow/orange pigments and complement olive and medium to deep complexions.
  • Neutral undertones: Your skin has an even mix of warm and cool tones. Neutral bronzers with a balance of pink and yellow work well for many skin tones.

To determine your undertones, look at the veins on your wrist in natural lighting. Blue or purple veins indicate cool undertones. Green or olive veins point to warm undertones. Can’t tell? Then you likely have neutral undertones.

Choosing the Right Bronzer Shade

Along with choosing the correct undertone, you also need to pick the right bronzer shade depth for your skin tone. A shade that’s too light won’t show up at all. But going too dark can result in that orange glow. Here are some shade selection tips:

Skin Tone Recommended Bronzer Shades
Fair Light bronze, sand
Light Soft bronze, honey
Light-Medium Golden bronze, mocha
Medium Rose bronze, chestnut
Medium-Deep Deep bronze, amber
Deep Espresso, cocoa

Go for a shade that’s no more than one or two shades deeper than your natural skin tone. Test bronzer on your jawline to see if the tone looks natural before applying all over the face.

Application Techniques

How you apply bronzer can also affect whether it appears orange. Here are some application tips for a seamless, natural-looking bronze:

  • Start with a primer: Priming your face helps bronzer go on smoothly and evenly.
  • Use a light hand: Apply bronzer sparingly, building up gradually as needed. Too much at once can look muddy.
  • Blend well: Buff bronzer into the skin using a brush or sponge so there are no harsh lines.
  • Focus where the sun hits: Apply bronzer where your face naturally tans – cheekbones, nose, forehead and chin.
  • Avoid the under-eyes: Bronzer accentuates shadows and fine lines in this area.
  • Set with powder: Finish with a translucent powder to make bronzer last and lock in the right tone.

Using quick, light strokes to blend bronzer creates a softer, more natural effect than harsh bronzer lines. Take a minimalist approach and build coverage slowly for the most seamless application.

How to Fix Orange Bronzer

If your bronzer still comes out looking too orange, don’t panic. Here are some troubleshooting tips:

  • Sheer it out: Add a dot of face moisturizer or primer to your bronzer and mix together. This dilutes the pigment to make it more sheer.
  • Neutralize it: Apply a light dusting of translucent powder over bronzed areas. The powder helps counteract orange tones.
  • Blend with blush: Sweep a matte pinky-nude blush like tarte exposed over bronzer to neutralize orange undertones.
  • Switch colors: Try a different shade with cooler pink undertones to counteract orange hues.
  • Add luminosity: Dab a champagne highlight on top of bronze to lend a glassy finish and dilute orange.

You can also remove bronzer completely and start over if needed. Use a makeup wipe or damp cloth to take off excess product. Then re-apply lightly using the tips above.

Best Bronzers for Different Undertones

Finding the most flattering bronzer for your skin doesn’t have to be guesswork. Here are top-rated bronzers based on different undertones:

Skin Undertone Best Bronzer Shades
Cool, Pink NARS Laguna Bronzer
Warm, Yellow/Golden Physicians Formula Butter Bronzer
Neutral Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze & Glow
Fair Too Faced Milk Chocolate Soleil Bronzer
Light Hourglass Ambient Bronzer
Medium Benefit Hoola Bronzer
Deep Fenty Beauty Sun Stalk’r Bronzer

With the right shade for your skin tone, you can create a beautiful, natural-looking bronzed glow.

Bronzer vs. Contour vs. Blush

It’s easy to confuse bronzer with contouring powder and blush. But each product serves a different purpose:

  • Bronzer warms up the complexion evenly and mimics a sun-kissed tan.
  • Contour uses cool, matte shades to create shadows and definition.
  • Blush brightens the cheeks with a flush of color.

Bronzer is applied in a 3 shape along the forehead, cheeks and jawline. Contour powder is applied under cheekbones, temples and nose to create depth. Blush goes on the apples of the cheeks.


Orange, unnatural bronzer is typically due to using the wrong shade or undertone for your skin. Choosing a bronzer with undertones that match your skin’s base and a depth suited for your complexion will help you achieve a sun-kissed glow without the orange effect. Using light, blended layers of bronzer focused on the high points of your face also contributes to a more seamless finish. With the right formula and application approach, your bronzer can beautifully enhance your complexion without looking orange.