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What are Bronzers?

Alison Faria
Alison Faria

Bronzers are powders or lotions that, when applied, give skin the appearance of a tan. Women sometimes like to apply these products as a way to avoid sun exposure. If applied correctly, a bronzer can also be used as a way to even out skin tone.

Until the early part of the 20th century, tans were generally thought to be unfashionable. Tans were often associated with the working class because they would become tanned from working long hours in the sun; for the upper class, pale skin was prized. While outside, women would normally shield their skin with parasols.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

Then, in the early 20th century French socialite Coco Chanel was photographed on vacation with a tan. That started the tanning trend among both men and women. The appeal of tanning became widespread. People discovered that tans could dry up acne, hide imperfections, and make them appear more toned.

Although tans seem to have many benefits, obtaining them through natural sunlight or tanning booths can be dangerous because of the ultraviolet (UV) rays they contain. When skin is exposed to UV rays for long periods of time, melanin production in the skin can increase. Melanin is a pigment that skin produces in order to protect itself.

Common manifestations of excess melanin production include freckles and moles. When these manifestations continue to be exposed to UV rays, they can continue growing and become cancerous. Applying bronzers is generally considered to be a healthier alternative to tanning.

If not chosen correctly, bronzers can make the skin look orange, especially in people with very light skin. Bronzing powders are usually lightly applied to the face and then smoothed wherever needed. Women sometimes apply lotion counterparts on their arms or legs.

Foundation is typically not applied if a bronzer is going to be used. When both are used together, it can give the skin an artificial look. A tinted moisturizer can, however, be substituted for foundation.

The effectiveness of bronzers has a lot to do with skin types. Powdered bronzers are usually considered to be best for people who have oily skin. Creams and lotions are typically the best choices for people with dry skin. People generally use their fingers to blend these bronzer forms into their skin.

Powdered bronzers are normally applied to the face with a fluffy, wide brush. After placing the brush into the powder, excess amounts are often tapped off on the side of the powder container. Color is then typically applied to the forehead, chin, bridge of the nose, and cheeks.

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