Even if you can’t remember the last time you’ve seen a beach IRL, there’s no reason you can’t look like you were soaking up the sun at one. The best bronzers provide a gorgeous glow and allow you to contour for cheekbones that pop. There are a slew of options out there, too, so you can find a bronzer that delivers the look you crave. “There are so many gorgeous formulations of bronzers on the market and each serves a different purpose, though all are designed to really warm up the skin and give a natural sun-kissed glow.” says Lulu Muca, Head of Makeup Content at ICONIC London.
Powder bronzer is perfect for customers who want more control and precision when applying their bronzer, while liquid and cream bronzers are blendable and buildable, Muca explains. “Overall, a liquid bronzer is ideal for those who want more of a glowing look, and a powder bronzer is great for those who desire a matte bronzed look,” she says.
Beauty rules are meant to be broken and Muca is a firm believer that your choice of bronzer shouldn’t be dictated by your skin type. “I believe it is a total myth that people with oily skin should stick to powders and people with dry skin should stick to creams,” she says. “It is all about how you want your skin to look. For those who like a more matte, air-brushed glam, stick to powder bronzer. For those who love a glossy, all-over glow, reach for cream or liquid bronzers.”
When shopping for a bronzer, Muca advises avoiding anything that looks too orange (warm) or too gray (neutral). “Generally, look for a bronzer that is one or two shades darker than your natural skin tone, and if you’re nervous about finding the perfect shade, make sure to swatch it in natural light to see the true pigment payoff,” she says.
To nail application, apply bronzer to the high points of the face. “Simply think about where the sun would naturally hit the face, so the top of the forehead, cheekbones, and down to the jaw,” Muca says. “My favorite trick is applying my bronzer in the shape of a W across the face — starting at my temples, across my cheeks, and up to my nose, then swooping across my other cheek and up to the temples. This gives the perfect sun-kissed finish every time.”
Now that you know how to work a bronzer, scroll through some of the best bronzers to add to your makeup bag below.
Shop the Best Bronzers:
Iconic London Ultimate Bronzing Powder ($35; iconiclondoninc.com)
“Our Ultimate Bronzing Powder is the best matte bronzer on the market; the texture is buttery-soft and applies perfectly to the skin while also blurring pores and fine lines,” Muca says. “I get compliments on my skin every time I wear it!” Available in six shades, it covers a wide range of tones.
e.l.f. Putty Bronzer ($6; ulta.com)
The putty-to-powder formula is impressively buildable and has a semi-matte finish that evens out skin tone, leaving it with a golden glow. It’s infused with argan oil and vitamin E to hydrate and nourish skin.
Tower 28 Bronzino ($20; sephora.com)
Creamy and dreamy, this illuminating cream bronzer can be used practically anywhere—we’re talking lips, eyes and cheeks. Each of the five shades is spiked with skin-loving ingredients like moisturizing mango butter and calming green tea extract.
Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Bronzer ($56; sephora.com)
In case the oversized refillable compact didn’t give it away, this matte pressed powder is meant as a body and face bronzer. Micro-fine perfecting powders provide depth and coverage, while the microspheres deliver increased pigment, a silky texture and long wear. The powder is also infused with hyaluronic acid for hydration and mica treated with amino acids for a smooth feel on skin.
Benefit Cosmetics Hoola Bronzer ($30; sephora.com)
An OG favorite, this powder bronzer has stood the test of time for good reason. The award-winning formula is finely milled so that it effortlessly blends right into skin. The compact has a built-in mirror and comes with a powder brush, making it ideal for on-the-go application.
Revlon SkinLights Prismatic Bronzer ($9; target.com)
Prismatic indeed, this silky-smooth powder bronzer lives up to its name, thanks to the crystal-esque pigments that provide that glow. The refined pearls offer buildable yet translucent shimmer and color, giving off a natural looking bronze in three shades.
Rare Beauty Warm Wishes Effortless Bronzer Stick ($23; sephora.com)
The stick formula makes application easy and effortless, and the water-resistant cream formula feels like a liquid once it hits skin and smoothly sinks right in. Buildable for a customizable effect, it won’t clog pores or cake.
Physicians Formula Murumuru Butter Bronzer ($16; ulta.com)
If the color doesn’t do it, taking a whiff of the tropical scent will transport you to a beach vacation. Available in six shades, all feature pearl pigments for a luminescent vibe. The potent combination of Brazilian Murumuru butter, cupuacu butter and tucuma butter from the Amazon hydrate skin with pro-vitamins and essential fatty acids.
Chanel LES BEIGES Healthy Glow Bronzing Cream ($50; ulta.com)
This Chanel bronzer has a cream-gel consistency that leaves a velvet-matte finish and a real-looking radiance thanks to its light-reflecting pigments. Soft-focus powders and silica essentially work as a filter for your face to smooth skin.