Faking the Glow During Chemotherapy-Bronzers Liven Up Dull, Sallow Skin

+ Pamela Friedman

These days, you don’t have to risk skin cancer by tanning your face. Bronzers are a quick and easy way to get that sun-kissed look without the harmful UV rays. But there are so many out there, it can be difficult to choose. Since you’re going through chemotherapy, maybe this is the first time you’ve thought of using one. How do you know which is right for you?

Here’s a quick run-down of the common types of bronzers and the pros and cons of each.

Powder: Powders are the easiest to use. When you apply them with a brush, you’re most likely to get a smooth and even look, as long as you’ve chosen the right shade. They easily enhance skin tone, give you a slightly tanned appearance, and are good for oily to normal skin types. Look for a finely milled powder-the finer the crystals the smoother it will look.

Cream: Anyone can use creams, but they’re especially good for dry skin. (If you’re going through chemotherapy and radiation and haven’t used creams before, you may want to try one.) Creams are also great for an overall tanner look, if you want to completely cover rather than just highlight. They’re a bit easier to blend, and give you a more control as to where you put them. If you want a more subtle effect, mix the cream with some moisturizer before applying. Mousse creams can be the best of both worlds, giving you application control in a light formula.

Liquids & Gels: These absorb quickly into the skin, are lightweight, and great for that all-over tan look. You can also experiment by blending them with your foundation for varying levels of color. However, since they do absorb into the skin, you can’t erase the effects, to try just a little in a concealed spot first.

Shimmers: A little glitter can be fun, but a little goes a long way, so use these bronzers sparingly, particularly if you have mature skin. Too much can make the skin look “made up” and will settle into wrinkles and fine lines.

What shade? If you’re just staring out with bronzers, choose suntan browns and golden shades, as these are most universally flattering. If the product looks too orange in the package, it probably will on your skin as well. Think this: you want to “warm” the skin, not color it. Try to remember how you looked after your last natural tan.

Those with cool, pinkish complexions should look for bronzers with touches of pink. Warmer olive tones may do better with deeper shades with amber or honey undertones. Yellow or golden skin does best with gold, tan, or brown bronzer; and brown skin is best with tawny and brown bronzers. As a basic rule: look for something that most closely matches your natural skin tone, similar to the way you would shop for a foundation, only this time you’re looking for something just a shade darker.

If you’re still unsure, choose one of those bronzer duos that has light and dark shades, then you can blend and experiment for your best shade.

How do you choose the best bronzer for you? Let us know.

Photo courtesy of marsadie via

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