The best bronzersGet the Full StoryWith bronzer, getting a sun-kissed glow can be easier and safer than sunbathing for hours.
There are a ton of formulas and finishes, but instead of having you try them out yourself, we did all the hard work for you.
For the ultimate sun-kissed glow, Becca's Sunlit Bronzers are our top pick for their creamy powder formula and blendability.
If you're looking for a bronzer specific to your skin tone, check out our guides to the best bronzers for fair skin and the best bronzers for medium skin. A guide to the best bronzers for deep skin is currently in the works.
Whether you have fair skin like me and want a radiant, sun-kissed color all year round, or you're trying to maintain a post-vacation glow, bronzer should be a must-have product in your makeup arsenal.
But before we even get to the products themselves, application is key. Use a big, fluffy brush to sweep bronzer almost like you're writing the number three, starting from your temples, going under cheekbones, and finishing along the jawline. You can also use what's left over on the brush across your nose and chin, and make sure you blend it out to your ears and neck too. Less is definitely more so don't cake product onto the brush, but build up the color instead.
Bronzing powders with a matte finish are ideal in the winter months and can also be used as a contour powder, while bronzers with a shimmer are great in the summer to maintain a glow or to give you some sparkle for a night out.
There are a lot of bronzers out there but some can be too shimmery or sparkly, others might make you look like an Oompa Loompa or even like you've just done Tough Mudder. That's why we've gone through hundreds of expert and buyer reviews to find the best bronzers, and then tried and tested them for ourselves to see if they live up to the hype.
Here are the best bronzers:
The best overall: Becca Sunlit Bronzer
The best for fair skin: Benefit Hoola Matte Bronzer
The best for medium skin: Laura Mercier Viva Cuba Bronzing Powder in Soleil 2
The best on a budget: Milani Baked Bronzer
The best all-natural bronzer: W3LL People Bio Bronzer
The best liquid bronzer: Perricone MD No Makeup Bronzer
Updated 2 11 2020 by Jen Gushue and Jada Wong: We updated our picks for best for fair skin and best for medium skin to reflect our larger buying guides on the subjects, and we replaced our pick for best liquid bronzer because the previous pick was no longer available. We're currently testing bronzers across all skin tones to bring you updated picks.The best overall
For a fabulous year-round faux glow no matter your skin tone, Becca's Sunlit Bronzers are the best you can buy.
The Becca Sunlit Bronzers are my favorite. Available in five shades for a variety of skin tones, they deliver the perfect natural, luminous glow.
There are five colors to complement any skin tone. The colors range from Bali Sands, a soft golden beige for fair skin tones, to Maui Nights, a rich sienna shade for deep skin tones. Bali Sands was amazing on my fair skin and made my complexion look radiant and healthy.
Becca's range of matte bronzers come in a creamy powder formula with a hint of luminosity. The bronzers give your skin a healthy-looking, gorgeous glow without adding too much shimmer. The powder is buildable, too, so you can go from a hint of color to just-stepped-off-the-beach bronze.
Don't just take our word for it. Allure and Byrdie recommend the Becca Sunlit Bronzers as well.
Pros: Variety of shades to suit all skin tones, compact is easy to carry in your bag
Cons: Fairly expensive
The best for fair skin
Benefit Hoola Matte Bronzer is totally matte and blendable, and most importantly, it nails the natural look for those with even the fairest of skin tones.
Insider Picks freelancer Erin Mayer tested several bronzers for her guide to the best bronzers for fair skin, and the Benefit Hoola Matte Bronzer came out on top. While she often uses the original shade with a light hand, Benefit also came out with a Lite shade to accommodate those with even fairer skin, allowing you to achieve a natural look with greater ease.
She writes, "While not as cool-toned as contouring powders, Hoola does work well for creating shadow and depth under your cheekbones, as well as imparting a wash of color across your cheekbones, jawline, and forehead."
The Matte Bronzer contains no shimmer, so it's versatile for a wide range of looks that can transition from a day at the office to a dinner date to a night out. Plus, it's buildable and blends easily, so you can layer the product on top of itself for a bolder look.
Pros: Matte finish, multiple shades for various skin tones, buildable, good for contouring
Cons: Small amount of product in the pan, included brush is low quality
Check out our full guide to the best bronzers for fair skin.
The best for medium skin
Where other bronzers can make medium skin look ashen, Laura Mercier's Viva Cuba Bronzing Powder in Soleil 2 pops with its yellow undertones and gold tint.
If you have a medium skin tone, you may find yourself playing Goldilocks as you search for the right bronzer not too light and not too dark. Insider Picks freelancer Neha Tandon tested dozens of products in her search for the best bronzers for medium skin, and Laura Mercier's Bronzing Powder in the shade Soleil 2 is her best overall pick.
She writes, "I'm Indian, and my skin is unique due to its multiple undertones. While many people have either pink or blue undertones, Indian people tend to have a mix of yellow, pink, and blue in varying degrees. Even when bronzer shades are darker, their undertones are better suited to lighter skin and can look ashy or grey on mine."
The Laura Mercier bronzing powder has been her go-to for daily wear thanks to its reasonable pigmentation not too dramatic but not too faint and its satin sheen that gives her a natural look that lasts all day.
Here's how she applies it: "For a contoured look, I tap a medium-sized, fluffy brush into the powder, tap the excess off, and blend it into the hollows of my cheeks, jawline, and hairline. Because it has a bit of a gold tint, you can use it for more than just contouring. If I want an all-over bronzy, warm glow, I'll take a large brush and tap it along my cheekbones, hairline, and neck."
Pros: Lightweight, satin finish, long-wearing, gentle on sensitive skin
Cons: Product loss when tapping excess powder off the brush
Check out our full guide to the best bronzers for medium skin.
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