When it comes to contouring your face or achieving an all-over-glow without the risk of sun exposure, bronzer is essential. That said, choosing the right bronzer can be tricky: some formulas lean way too orange, some are impossible to blend, and some contain way too much shimmer, which will be a disappointment for anyone who loves a matte look. That's why the definition of the best bronzer will vary for everyone — so before you get to shopping, try to figure out exactly what type of results you're hoping to achieve. Do you want a bronzer that's totally matte, or do you love a hint of sparkle? Are you interested in a traditional powder, or do you prefer a creamier, more moisturizing liquid formula? Whatever you're looking for, you'll find it ahead in this breakdown of the best bronzers on the market now. But first, a few bronzer tips and techniques.
Using bronzer in a way that looks natural concerns mainly two things: the shade you choose and the way you apply it. To add just the right amount of warmth to your face, you'll want to choose a bronzer that's one to two shades darker than your actual skin tone. Using a fluffy powder brush, swirl it in the bronzer in a circular motion to evenly cover the bristles, then gently tap it to get rid of any excess product. To make your bronzer look as natural as possible, apply it where the sunlight would normally hit your face (along your temples, cheekbones, jawline, and nose). However, you should apply a liquid bronzer or a stick formula with the same brush (or a BeautyBlender, or your fingers) you use for liquid foundation. With cream or liquid formulas specifically, you'll want to make sure your skin is nice and moisturized before application, otherwise blending might be more difficult.
Now that you're ready to get glowing, here are six of the best bronzers to buy now.
1. The Cult-Favorite
This bronzer has been a beauty editor staple as far back as I can remember. The matte formula means there's no added shine to your skin, so you can save the shimmer for your highlight (if you want any at all). Even though it's a pressed powder, the Benefit Cosmetics Hoola bronzer blends seamlessly into skin, thanks to the finely-milled formula. Because it's a matte powder, it works perfectly for contouring, too, particularly when it comes to defining the eyes.
Although Hoola is Benefit's original shade (perfect for fair to medium skin tones), the brand recently expanded their range for a better match. You can choose from Hoola Lite for especially fair skin, Hoola Caramel for warmer tones, and Hoola Toasted for a deep bronzer formulated for dark skin tones.
- Available shades: Hoola Lite, Hoola, Hoola Caramel, Hoola Toasted
2. Best Liquid Bronzer
If you stick to liquid formulas when it comes to your face makeup, you'll probably find a liquid bronzer preferable, too. They're super-easy to blend, and liquid formulas tend to be more hydrating for drier skin types. Singer Camila Cabello teamed up with L'Oréal Paris to create this Havana-inspired liquid bronzer, which was created specifically for achieving a faux vacation glow.
This liquid bronzer has a shimmery effect to it, which Amazon users note is subtle once you blend it out. "Beautiful glow, not streaky, great pigment for mixing," commented one reviewer. Another wrote, "I love this so much. I mix a little with my foundation — it looks so natural and stays on all day."
- Available shades: Light-Medium, Medium-Deep
3. Best Bronzer Stick
For a bronzer that's just as easy to use on-the-go as it is at home, try the W3LL People Bio Bronzer Stick. The creamy stick can be swiped directly onto your skin, blending into a more powdery finish with the subtlest hint of shimmer. Even better, the brand strives to focus on using natural ingredients, so this bronzer is free from common irritants and harsh chemicals like parabens, synthetic dyes, fragrance, and silicones, in addition to being cruelty-free. Because of its more natural formula that uses hydrating and soothing ingredients like castor seed oil, jojoba oil, and green tea seed oil, W3LL People's bronzer is a great choice for people with dry, sensitive skin.
4. Best Bronzer For Fair Skin Tones
To take the guesswork out of color matching, this Physicians Formula bronzer gets top marks for fair skin tones in the Light shade. The pressed powder formula has a shockingly creamy texture because of its blend of murumuru, cupuacu, and tucuma butters. Found in the Amazon, these ingredients are naturally full of fatty acids and vitamins that leave the skin moisturized and feeling soft. The bronzer also contains ultra-refined pearl and soft-focus pigments that are less shimmery and more brightening, and the formula is hypoallergenic, oil-free, paraben-free, and cruelty-free.
The Physicians Formula bronzer is also a popular choice on Amazon, with over 1,000 five-star reviews. One reviewer wrote, "I'm the palest person you'll ever meet, and I love this bronzer. It smells incredible, and more importantly, has never made me look orange. It has a slight sheen, but no glitter."
- Available shades: Light, Bronzer, Sunkissed, Deep
5. Best Bronzer For Medium Skin Tones
For warmer skin tones, you can't beat the price of this NYX Matte Bronzer in Medium. The matte finish means you can use it for contouring as well as an all-over glow, and because you won't find any moisturizing ingredients in the formula, it's also a good choice for more oily skin types. Amazon reviewers with self-described medium skin tones have found particular luck with this range of bronzers, particularly in the Light, Medium, and Deep shades.
- Available shades: Light, Medium, Deep, Deep Tan, Dark Tan
6. Best Bronzer For Dark Skin Tones
The CoverGirl Full Spectrum Sculpt Expert Bronzer in Ebony gets rave reviews for its mineral-enriched powder that was designed specifically for darker skin tones. Though the pressed powder has a bit of shimmer to it, because it's mineral based, it leaves you with more of a matte glow as opposed to an oily shine. As an added bonus, the bronzer, which is available in two shades, is cruelty-free.
Amazon reviewers with darker skin tones love this bronzer just as much as its CoverGirl Queen Collection predecessor. "I cannot even begin to explain how happy I am to have ebony bronze back," wrote one reviewer. "There are no other products on the market at this price point that compare. It is so difficult to find an actual bronzer for dark skin that brings color back to your face without making you too red. And it has the perfect amount of shimmer."
- Available shades: Sunlight, Warmth, Ebony
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