The Best Bronzers

Woman applying bronzer with a brush.

Buying Guide for Bronzers

Brush with bronzer on it.

Why buy a bronzer?

Bronzer is a versatile makeup product that can be used all over the body to provide a healthy balanced glow, especially during the colder months when tanning in the sun isn’t an option. Or it’s possible you want a sunless tan all year round—either way, a bronzer can serve that purpose and more by evening out your skin tone. Speaking of skin tones, bronzers can be worn on any; however, if you’re particularly fair-skinned, you could benefit the most from using this product. And if you’re already olive-skinned or naturally tan, a bronzer is the perfect way to maintain your skin’s warmth and enhance it.

What should you look for in a bronzer?

  • Type: Bronzers come in cream, powder, or liquid form. They’re all quite common and used among various skin types; however, there are specific benefits of each. Cream and powder are probably the easiest to apply, with liquid being the most challenging. If your cream bronzer comes as a stick, you can warm it up by applying it with your fingertips and then blend it out for a natural finish. Powder is pretty straightforward to apply with a brush and is great for oily skin. Liquids are perfect for dry skin, and despite their tricky application, you can thin them out with a moisturizer and spread it where your skin needs it the most.
  • Finish: Bronzers will typically come in two finishes—matte or shimmer. Mattes have zero shine or glossiness to them, and their primary purpose is to deliver pigment and warmth. Shimmers have particles that reflect the light and sparkle, usually highlighting the highest points of the face and giving you that sun-kissed dewy glow.
  • Shade/Undertone: When choosing the right shade for your skin tone, you first need to determine your undertone. Do you have a cool, neutral, or warm undertone? Cool undertones will typically match well with bronzers that have blue, red, and pink tones. Neutral undertones can go either way—warm or cool. Warm undertones are best paired with peachy, golden, or yellow-toned bronzers. You may want to invest in two different bronzers: one that’s a shade darker to even out your neck with the rest of your face and one that’s a shade brighter that has a peachy or pink tone to make you look more refreshed.

What are some tips for applying bronzer?

The purpose of bronzer is to warm up the parts of your face where the sun would typically hit. This includes your cheekbones, the bridge of your nose, your forehead, and your shoulders and collarbone area. For the most natural-looking results, you’ll want to use a wide rounded brush with a dense head to buff out the product all over, making sure it’s well distributed without any harsh lines.

Our Picks for the Best Bronzers

Pros: Transport yourself to the tropics with this Murumuru Butter Bronzer from Physicians Formula that will have you glowing from within and smelling like coconuts. It’s formulated with three types of butter: murumuru, cupuaçu, and tucuma. The smooth, soft blend of these butters is packed with fatty acids and vitamins that are essential for conditioning and moisturizing the skin. Once you find the right shade from the eight that they offer, you can apply it with a brush or your fingertips for a seamless, shimmery finish. If that’s not enough to reel you in, this product and the rest of this brand’s makeup line are cruelty-free and made with high-quality, hypoallergenic ingredients so that you can feel safe and in good conscience with every swipe.

Cons: Depending on your skin tone, this may appear lighter when applied. Also, it has a strong coconut scent, so it may not be best for those sensitive to smell.

Bottom Line: Tan, smooth skin may not be so hard to achieve with this butter bronzer on hand. Whether you need a more sculpted, bold look or a natural, even glow, you can create both with ease with this super soft formula.


Pros: You’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that this bronzer, as simple as it looks on the outside, packs high-quality formulated powder with incredible benefits. One of these is SPF 15, so you can stay out and feel protected, and the other is waterproof, so it can last up to 10 hours. It comes in four shades, each with a dry, matte finish that can warm up fair to neutral skin tones.

Cons: Although they are advertised to have a matte finish, some shades may have a slight shimmer to them.

Bottom Line: If you’re on the lighter and neutral end of the skin tone spectrum, this bronzer from Rimmel will warm up your appearance without being overpowering. Factor in its protection from the sun and water, and you’ll have the true definition of a healthy glow.


Pros: When getting prepped for a date night or an outing with the girls, this bronze and highlighter duo will make applying your makeup a breeze. The bronzer and highlighter both come in a cream formula infused with seed oil that makes them simple to spread where you need them. Apply with a brush or your fingertips, and you’ll see the pigment from the bronzer easily melt into the skin while building definition. As for the highlight, take some product onto a brush and sweep it onto the highest points of your face—the apples of your cheeks, your forehead, and the tip of your nose.

Cons: You may find you have to reapply the bronzer throughout the day. Also, the highlighter may have chunks of glitter.

Bottom Line: Instead of reaching for two different products, you can now have a warm illuminated look with this bronzer and highlighter in one. You’ll have efficiency and high color payoff in an instant.


Pros: Who says you can only bronze your face? This Lumi Bronzer from L’Oreal can be used on your face and body, so you’ll look sun-kissed from head to toe. Its powdered formula comes in a super-sized container of 0.41 fluid ounces, giving you plenty of product to define and add a healthy glow to wherever you need it. There are three different shades for deep, medium, and light skin tones, so you can have warmth all over, no matter your complexion.

Cons: It may be best to use this as a layering product than just by itself, or consider buying a shade darker than one that matches your skin tone. It has a sheer quality to it rather than being a bold bronzer.

Bottom Line: Once you pick the right shade for your skin tone, you can restore that well-balanced glow with as much shimmer and shine as your heart desires. And stopping at your face is not required—apply it to your collarbone area, shoulders, and even your legs for full-body radiance.


Pros: One sweep of this multicolored bronzer is one step closer to a natural, healthy-looking complexion. Choose from three varying shades: 1-Light Bronzer, 2-Bronzer, and 3-Healthy Glow Bronzer, with the last one being the deepest. Each one is formulated with a mix of pink and tan shades to add a well-balanced layer of warmth to the skin. The bronzer comes in a handy compact with a small fan-like brush and mirror built into the bottom. All ingredients are hypoallergenic and made from the finest Italian talc to deliver safe and quality results.

Cons: For fairer and lighter skin, the lightest shade may appear too tan or dark once it’s applied.

Bottom Line: When it comes to high-quality, skin-sensitive makeup, this multicolored bronzer from Physicians Formula won’t fail you. No more time wasted shuffling through your makeup bag when you have a brush and mirror conveniently inside one compact.


Pros: Are you wanting that fresh-faced, dewy bronzed skin with minimal hassle? Look no further than this two-piece cream contour stick kit from FOCALLURE. You’ll get one highlighter and one bronzer, so you can control and create the most natural or sculpted look. They’re both buttery soft and will melt into the skin, leaving you with a youthful glow without the grease or stickiness. Both are also made with a water-resistant formula, so you can have coverage that lasts, rain or shine.

Cons: These may be expensive for what you get; the tubes are quite small.

Bottom Line: Glide this soon-to-be iconic duo onto your face for a bronzed, highlighted, flawless finish. While the coverage is full and will last for hours, the creamy consistency makes it easy to build a simple, natural look or a more contoured face.

Final Thoughts

Sometimes that boost of confidence comes from enhancing what is already there. With a swipe or glide of your favorite bronzer, your skin can transform from flat and dull to a well-balanced, healthy complexion. It’s a safe, sunless, and more creative way to get tan and glowing skin when you want it, how you want it.

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