The Best Bronzers for a Year-Round Natural Summer Glow

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Everyone wants a gorgeous sun-kissed glow year-round. Once winter comes around, this isn’t quite as easy to obtain. Regardless of the time of year, bronzer can enliven healthy-looking skin, giving you an extra touch of flawless radiance. Choosing the wrong bronzer for your skin tone can, however, make you look muddy looking or worse: like a walking orange. When choosing a bronzer, it's super important to choose the right shade and to consider your natural skin tone. This means you may have to change the color bronzer you use during different times of the year. Don’t let this sound confusing, though, because bronzer can take you from a pale zero to a gorgeously glowing hero in no time, and we’re here to guide you through this mini transformation. Before we get into the details, here are our favorite picks for the leading bronzers in 2022.

The Top Bronzers of 2022 Reviewed in Detail

Rimmel  —  Best Overall

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Key Features

  • Fantastic value for money
  • Waterproof and SPF15 formula
  • Velvet matte finish
  • Available in 4 shades

We love Rimmel's bronzer selection and its options that are perfect for most skin tones. The shade options include Sunshine for fair tones, Sun Dance for medium tones, and Sun Bronze for darker tones. This waterproof bronzer stays put for up to 10 hours giving you a lasting glow without excessive shine. Plus, the velvet matte finish enhances your natural complexion without looking orange or glittery.

This versatile bronzer is also suitable for contouring, highlighting, and setting to keep your makeup in place all day long, even in the summer heat. With an SPF15 and a fantastic price, you really can’t go wrong.

Beauty Bakerie  —  Best For All-Skin Types

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Key Features

  • Portable, travel-friendly size 
  • Highly pigmented and long-lasting formula
  • Suitable for all skin shades and types 

The Beauty Bakerie Brownie Bar Palette is a travel-sized mini bronzer kit designed to suit all skin shades and types. The kit consists of three universal shades of bronzer, contour, and highlighter. All the shades are highly pigmented with a fade-free formula that lasts from day till night. A good thing about this bronzer kit is its cruelty-free construction and paraben-free, vegan formula. The kit is designed to be very portable and features a magnetic snap closure to keep the shades safe. The powders are really light, smooth to apply, blend seamlessly and build up very well. Plus, it has a magnetic closure to keep the products safe. 

Physicians Formula  —  Best for Sensitive Skin

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Key Features

  • Nourishing and moisturizing blend with natural ingredients
  • Pressed powder with a light shimmer finish
  • Available in 4 shades
  • Cruelty-free and vegan
  • Hypoallergenic formula that is oil- and paraben-free

Physicians Formula Murumuru Butter Bronzer is designed specifically for sensitive or breakout-prone skin. The nourishing pressed powder is made from murumuru, cupuaçu butter, and tucuma butter, to soften and condition your skin while giving you a sun-kissed glow.

The soft-focus pigments brighten and smooth your tone with a subtle shimmer definition. In addition, the product is easy to blend and glides on effortlessly with a makeup brush or using your fingers.

Covergirl  —  Best for Darker Skin Tones

Key Features

  • Available in 3 shades for deep skin tones
  • Mineral-enriched powder formula
  • Suitable for use as a bronzer or contour color
  • Slight shimmer finish

Covergirls previous range of dark bronzers was discontinued and with the relaunch of the Full Spectrum range of Ebony, Sunlight, and Warmth shades, reviewers are over the moon. This bronzer is ideal for dark skin tones and offers just the right amount of moderate shimmer. The mineral-enriched powder is long-lasting, controls shine, and is also perfect for contouring. If you have a deep skin tone, choosing this bronzer is a no-brainer!

Benefit  —  Best On-The-Go Option

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Key Features

  • Natural matte finish
  • Pressed powder formula
  • Travel size with a brush included
  • Ideal for lighter skin tones

Hoola bronzing powder from Benefit Cosmetics is a travel-size bronzer that fits perfectly into a purse or small bag, allowing you to get your glow while on the go. The bronzer comes with a small brush in its box, so you don’t have to worry about carrying a brush with you. If you are not into a shimmer bronzer, this is an ideal choice, as the product has a natural matte finish allowing it to be used for contouring and highlighting to enhance and define facial features.

Elizabeth Mott  —  Best Formula

Key Features

  • Certified cruelty- and paraben-free
  • Sweat-resistant, oil-control formula
  • Matte finish with a hint of shimmer
  • Buildable coverage for color control

Whatup Beaches bronzer from Elizabeth Mott is a wonderfully lightweight, superfine, and highly blendable soft powder. The matte finish offers an all-day glow with a hint of shimmer. Elizabeth Mott also has a luminous bronzer available in a deeper shimmer tone. The long-lasting formula is sweat- and oil-resistant to prevent excessive shine in hot or humid weather. Plus, you can use the bronzer for a naturally tanned touch or to sculpt, highlight, define, and contour.

Buyer's Guide: Finding Your Perfect Bronzer

Bronzers come in a range of different shades, from very light to deep tones, making a healthy glow possible no matter how light or dark your natural skin color is. Bronzers don’t require much time or skill to apply but getting the right shade is vital.

We’ll guide you through shade selection, application techniques, and versatile ways to make the most of your golden glow, so keep reading!

How to Choose a Bronzer Color

Skin type

Bronzers can come in powder, gel, cream, or liquid formulas. The type you choose may depend on whether your skin type is dry, oily, or a combination.

Powder bronzers are usually the best choice for oily or combination skin while creams and liquid formulas will be more beneficial for dry skin. Most bronzers do, however, come in pressed powder forms, so if you prefer a powder product and you have dry skin, make sure to prep your skin before application to prevent further dryness. You can do this by moisturizing your skin beforehand and choosing a bronzer with a somewhat silky texture. 

If you are prone to breakouts or struggle with an oily complexion, skip cream or sparkly bronzers, as the additional shine and moisture will increase the oily appearance. You should still prep your skin before applying your bronzer, however, opt for mattifying moisturizers, foundations, or sunscreen.

Skin tone

Knowing which color makeup and clothing best suit and compliment your complexion requires you to know whether your skin undertone is cool, neutral, or warm. This will also help you choose a bronzer that harmonizes with your natural skin tone. In general, using a bronzer one or two shades darker than your natural tone is recommended.

Your skin tone refers to the skin's surface color. This may differ according to the seasons and time spent in the sun. The undertone of your skin is however slightly different and this does not change. This refers to your inherent complexion and is what makes certain colors look naturally good on you.

To determine your skin's undertone, have a look at the inside of your wrist. If the veins just below the skin surface are a blue color, you have a cool undertone. If they lean more towards green or have a greenish tinge you are warm. A blend of both is classified as having a neutral undertone.

If you have a warm undertone you will look great with the majority of golden-brown color bronzers. If you have a slightly yellow complexion try warm peach colors with soft brown and tan tints. Neutral undertones pair well with shades that have neither a yellow nor pink tint. The best bet is a natural brown-based or beige shade.

If your skin is on the lighter side and has a neutral to beige undertone or if you have cool undertones, you may have more difficulty finding natural-looking bronzing options to suit your complexion. Soft browns, warm peaches, and beige are good choices, however, you can cheat by using a regular pressed powder that is a shade or two darker than your natural skin tone for a bronzing effect. So, if you can’t find a bronzer specifically to match a light undertone, start looking at other compressed powders that can serve the same function with more suitable colors.

Skin color

Above we determined whether to look for peachy, brown, or more yellow undertones. These can, however, differ in their depth and how dark they are. The shade you choose here will depend on the time of year and how dark or light your skin color is during that season. You may, for example, choose a light beige during winter if you aren’t getting much sun and a warmer beige tone in summer when you’re a little more tanned.

  • Fair to light complexions: Avoid orange and red hues and opt for lighter rose, peach, pink, and light beige options. Fair skin often turns more pink than olive in the sun, so reach for the lighter hues for a natural and realistic effect. For shimmers, choose pink or silver as opposed to gold.
  • Medium or olive skin tone: Although medium skin tones can get away with most bronzer colors, it is still best to opt for earthy and copper shades that will enhance your natural tan rather than making it look unnatural, muddy, or clashing with it.
  • Deep Skin Tones: Warm hues such as deep terracotta and chocolate look gorgeous on deep skin tones. Shimmers on deep tones are best with subtle gold flecks.

Tips for Applying Bronzer

Do it slowly

The best way to start applying bronzer is gradually. Start with a light application and build on it for a deeper color if desired. Over-applying from the get-go will result in an unnatural look and will likely require you to reapply most of your makeup from scratch to fix it.

Rule of three

You can choose to apply bronzer in selective areas depending on how you are using it. If a lightly tanned glow is what you are going for, apply it on the areas of your face that sunlight would naturally catch. This could be where your hairline and forehead meet, the bridge of your nose, and cheeks. An easy way to apply your bronzer is by using the shape of the number 3 along the side of your face. Start at your forehead along the hairline, coming back in towards your cheek, and complete the ‘3’ shape just under the jawline. Do this on both sides of your face.

Shimmers and oily skin

Shimmers make any skin tone slightly shinier. If you have oily skin especially, make sure you check how the shimmer application looks on your face in natural direct light to ensure you don’t end up with an overly shiny glow. A little extra shimmer can be beautiful for a night out, but it might not look natural for day wear.

Powder bronzers

Use a medium-size fluffy brush for the best control when applying a powder formula. The brush should have slightly firm bristles but still be soft. Tap any excess powder off the brush before applying it to your face. Angled brushes are also a great choice for finer features.

Cream bronzers

Cream bronzers are best applied with a makeup sponge or synthetic foundation brush. If you don’t have either on hand, your fingers can work just as well. When using creams, start with a very small amount, dot and blend, and build the color where necessary.

Gel and liquid bronzers

Gel and liquid bronzers dry pretty quickly, so work fast with your fingers as you dot and blend it on your face.

Bronzer remedy

If you’ve applied your bronzer and realize when checking it in natural lighting that it is too dark, use a clean and dense powder brush to blend out the excess color. Rub the brush in small round motions. Blend out any uneven application with a slightly damp makeup sponge to ensure you get an airbrushed look.

Bronzer is an extremely versatile addition to your makeup bag and can also be used to sculpt and create dimension, highlight, and define your features.