6 Best Bronzers

6 Best Bronzers


After 18 hours of research evaluating 105 products, we picked Benefit Cosmetics Hoola Matte Bronzer as our top choice.

Want that sun-kissed glow without the harmful effects of actually tanning? Let's be real, who doesn't. Unfortunately, sun tanning can cause some serious skin problems.

According to the CDC, exposure to UV rays while tanning can cause skin cancers including melanoma. Pretty scary, right? But that doesn't mean we have to be pale and pasty forever. Thanks to the best bronzers, you can get that faux-glow all year long. 

You might be wondering: What is bronzer? 

Bronzer is a powder or liquid makeup applied to the face to give you a naturally sun-kissed glow. Bronzers vary from matte to shimmer finishes, light to dark tones, and more afforable options to designer brands.

The secret to getting that perfect glow is not just about having the right bronzer, it's knowing how to appy it as well. We love the tutorial by beauty vlogger, Leigh Ann. She demonstrates exactly how to apply it, flawlessly. 


We spent hours testing and researching hundreds of bronzers for your skin to give you a list of the best bronzers for every skin tone. And, if you need something for those dark circles, be sure to check out our list of the best concealers, too. 

6 Best Bronzers

  • 6. NYX Cosmetics Matte Bronzer
  • 5. NARS Bronzing Powder
  • 4. BareMinerals Warmth All Over Face Color
  • 3. theBalm Bahama Mama
  • 2. Physicians Formula Butter Bronzer Murumuru Butter Bronzer
  • 1. Benefit Cosmetics Hoola Matte Bronzer

Best Affordable Bronzer


NYX Cosmetics Matte Bronzer

Best Affordable Bronzer: NYX Cosmetics Matte Bronzer
156 Bought
84 % Editor Score
80 % User Score

Why People Love it

  • Easily blendable and great for contouring
  • Saves you money
  • The matte finish looks natural on your skin

This NYX Cosmetics Bronzer is affordable, matte, and leaves no shine or shimmer. There are 5 shades so you can find your perfect match. 
The color of this bronzer is orange-toned and may look unnatural on fair skin. 

If expensive beauty products aren't your thing, this is the perfect bronzer for you. And, you can find it any drugstore. 

Color: We love that it has a wide variety of colors available (5 to be exact) so you can save money no matter what skin tone you have. Russet shades range from light to deep tan. This bronzer looks completely natural with no shine, which is always a plus. 

Application: The NYX Bronzer has a traditional round compact case like most drugstore bronzers which allows you to use any kind of brush. As a bonus, it comes with a sponge applicator and mirror for travelling. 

Price: For the $9 price, you can't find better - it's one of the cheapest bronzers out there. And, the cheapest one on our list. 

Best Shimmer Bronzer


NARS Bronzing Powder

Best Shimmer Bronzer: NARS Bronzing Powder
115 Bought
76 % Editor Score
82 % User Score

Why People Love it

  • Gives you a natural, non-orange looking glow
  • Can be worn day or night, all year long
  • Buildable and great for contouring 

A bronzer with a gold shimmer finish that can be worn all year long. 
Has an expensive price tag. 

Color: The NARS bronzing powder has two shades. So, you can use this product no matter what your skin tone may be. Each shade has a rich brown color with a barely-there gold shimmer (that's not overwhelming). This is the kind of bronzer that makes you look subtly luminous and sun-kissed.  

Application: The traditional design of this compact is one we love. It's small in size and comes with a mirror so you can take it with you on-the-go. Although the pan size is thin, it's wide enough to use any brush you desire. 

Price: This bronzer is on the high-end at $40 and the most expensive one our list. However, depending on how much you use bronzer, it should last you a year or more. 

Best Bronzer for Dark Skin


BareMinerals Warmth All Over Face Color

Best Bronzer for Dark Skin: BareMinerals Warmth All Over Face Color
127 Bought
84 % Editor Score
86 % User Score

Why People Love it

  • Very pigmented so a little goes a long way
  • Gives you that perfect sun-kissed glow
  • All natural ingredients won't irritate your skin

Can be used as a bronzer, eyeshadow, or lip color. Formulated without preservatives. 
Messy when applying and can stain countertops. 

Color: The warm, red tone of this bronzer looks perfect on those with dark skin. And, you'll be happy knowing there aren't any awful, orange undertones.

Applications: This bronzer comes in the form of a loose powder, which makes things a little messy and difficult to apply. It does however, feature a "click, lock, and go" sifter so you can control how much powder goes into the top of the container. 

Price: At $21, the price of this product is somewhat more affordable than its competitors. Our favorite products are the ones where a little goes a long way (mostly because it saves us money), and the BareMinerals Warmth All Over Face Colors is one of them. This container will last for years so you don't have to buy it again for a while. 

Best Bronzer for Medium Skin


theBalm Bahama Mama

Best Bronzer for Medium Skin: theBalm Bahama Mama
167 Bought
88 % Editor Score
89 % User Score

Why People Love it

  • Super pigmented so a little goes a long way
  • Can be used as an eyeshadow for a natural look
  • No sparkle, shimmer, or orange color whatsoever 

Bahama Mama is a matte bronzer and also doubles as the perfect contour powder and matte brown eyeshadow for medium toned skin. No orange undertones.  

Darker than expected so not for those with fair skin. 

If you haven't heard of theBalm, you're seriously missing out. This brand is a best-kept-secret (and not sold in beauty stores). 

Color: This is a matte bronzer that doesn't make you look orange or fake. The rich, bronzy color is very, very pigmented so you only need a little bit to get a natural-looking glow. 

Application: We have mixed feelings about theBalm's choice of packaging, mostly because it comes in a thin, flimsy box. Despite our feelings about the durability of the box, the pan is larger than most making it easy to apply with just about any brush. The mirror and magnetic closing are also features we sort of love. 

Price: We're not complaining about the $20 price, especially since bronzers are typically more expensive. And, don't be fooled about the small packaging. Reviewers claim they've used it daily for a year and haven't hit the bottom. Now, that's impressive. 

Keep in mind theBalm isn't sold in beauty stores, so you're better off ordering directly from Amazon.  

Best Bronzer for Fair Skin


Physicians Formula Butter Bronzer Murumuru Butter Bronzer

Best Bronzer for Fair Skin: Physicians Formula Butter Bronzer Murumuru Butter Bronzer
243 Bought
84 % Editor Score
93 % User Score

Why People Love it

  • Gives fair skin the perfect bronze glow
  • The creamy, buttery texture blends easily
  • Delicious coconut scent

A light colored bronzer infused with Murumuru Butter that moisturizes and smooths skin texture, brightens skin tone and delivers a gorgeous bronze finish. Hypoallergenic, paraben free, gluten free, cruelty free, and oil-free.

If fragranced products bother you - steer clear. Those with darker skin won't be able to see the color. 

If your skin is fair, you know how scary the makeup aisle can be. Physicians Formula is the best bronzer for fair skn. It won't leave your skin looking orange or like you rolled around in a pile of dirt. 

Color: The Physicians Formula Butter Bronzer is a light color that is the perfect combination of matte and shimmer. Even though the product is light, it effectively gives a nice glow without being too shimmery. As a bonus, ingredients such as Murumuru Butter, Cupuacu Butter and Tucuma Butter help to moisturize and soften your skin texture. 

Application: This bronzer comes in a round case and features a mirror with a little sponge applicator underneath. While most use a brush to apply, the applicator is nice for when you're on-the-go. 

Price: Most decent bronzers average around $30. This product is half the price and is just as beautiful! If you have fair skin, this is definitely the bronzer you should be wearing. 

Best Overall Bronzer


Benefit Cosmetics Hoola Matte Bronzer

Best Overall Bronzer: Benefit Cosmetics Hoola Matte Bronzer
197 Bought
99 % Editor Score
97 % User Score

Why People Love it

  • Gives a natural look
  • Super pigmented so you don't need a lot of product
  • Pure matte color that blends easily

An award-winning, matte bronzer for a natural, sunkissed glow. Perfect for any skin tone. 

This product may cause those with sensitive skin to break out. 

This bronzer from Benefit Cosmetics is the best of the best. We know because we've tested it ourselves. And, it's the number one best-selling bronzer at both beauty stores, Ulta and Sephora. So why do we love this product so much? It's formula is ultra-lightweight and gives you a natural look.

Color: The thing we love most about the Hoola Bronzer is its pure matte color that doesn't leave behind any shine or shimmer. This pigmented bronzer gives a beautiful hint of color right away, so you don't need to use more than one layer of product at a time. Unless of course you want a darker look for nighttime. The chocolate brown color isn't too dark so even those with fair skin can wear it without ever looking orange. 

Application: The Hoola Matte Bronzer comes in a square box and includes a soft, natural bristle cheek brush that is stored inside. 

Price: We think $29 for an award-winning bronzer is a pretty good deal. Not to mention, because this is so pigmented you don’t have to use very much to get the job done. The less you have to apply, the less you have to buy. And, depending on how much you use on a daily basis, it will last you 6 months to a year. If you're still feeling skeptical, you can always try this product for $15 and get the travel size.

Faveable Expert Tips

What is bronzer?

When many think of bronzer, most of the time they picture that ridiculous orange powder that leaves you looking like an oompa-loompa. But bronzer has come along way and it is (or should be) brown. Bronzer is a powder or liquid makeup applied to the face to give your skin a naturally sun-kissed glow. Not only does bronzer give your face warmth, but it also shapes your face by adding dimension. Without bronzer, your face is left looking flat. When bronzer is applied to certain areas such as the forehead, cheekbones, and chin, your face becomes contoured. This makes your face look slimmer and more structured. Trust us, it’s definitely a product you’re going to want to have in your makeup bag.

In case you were wondering, not all bronzers are the same. In fact, there are hundreds of bronzers to choose from. They vary from matte to shimmer finishes, light to dark tones, and more affordable options to designer brands. There are also many different consistencies of bronzer including powder, gel, liquid, cream, stick, and oil. Feeling overwhelmed yet? Don’t worry, we’ve already chosen the best ones in the list above so you don’t have to.

How do you use bronzer?

The secret to getting that perfect glow is not just about having the right bronzer; it's about knowing how to apply it as well. The good news is, applying bronzer is pretty simple. Before applying, you want to make sure your face is cleansed with a good facial cleanser. Also make sure to exfoliate at least once a week to remove any dead skin cells. This will create a smoother canvas for your makeup. After you’ve washed your face, it’s time to hydrate and protect your skin. Massage in a quality moisturizer with an SPF. An unclean, dry face will leave your makeup looking caked on and flakey.

It’s important that you create an even base before applying your bronzer, and that starts with foundation and concealer. After you’ve applied these products, you are ready for bronzer. To apply bronzer, you want to use a wide, fluffy brush with a rounded top. There are bronzer brushes available, although any large brush will work just as good. Swirl the brush in the bronzer to lightly coat the end of your brush. You want to make sure to tap off the excess powder onto the lid of the container. Simple sweep or tap the bronzer onto the parts of your face where the sun would naturally hit you. Here’s what we mean:

First, apply the bronzer to your forehead. Your bronzer should be applied in the shape of a “3”. What do we mean by this? Lightly sweep the brush along the outer sides of your upper forehead and along your hairline. Next, you want to apply the bronzer to your cheekbones. You can do this by making a fish face. This makes it easier to see where your cheekbones actually are. Finally, sweep the bronzer along your jawline as well. This will add definition to your face. Don’t forget to brush lightly over your chin, nose and neck. Do a final dusting of bronzer to your neck so that it matches the color of your face. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also apply bronzer to your chest area to emphasize your collarbone.

Why use bronzing powder?

Like we said before, bronzing powder (or bronzer) is used to warm up the complexion of your face. It gives you a naturally sun kissed glow without being out in the harmful rays. Bronzing powder is also used to give your face dimension through contouring. When your face is all one color, it tends to look dull and flat. With the use of a darker shade, your face is instantly left looking slimmer and more structured.

Can you use bronzer as a highlight?

No. Basically, highlighter is face makeup that attracts light, creating the illusion of brightness, hence that glow-from-within look. A bronzer adds a natural-looking tan to your face, which is completely the opposite. Bronzers are basically darker versions of highlighter. Highlighter contains shimmer that reflects light to create flattering points on your face. Highlighter is applied to the brow bone, bridge of your nose, inner corner of eyes, and top of the cheekbones. If you were to apply bronzer in these areas, you would be left looking like a muddy mess.

How do you use highlighter?

Now that you’ve got bronzer down, it’s only fitting that you master highlighting, too. Highlighter is a miracle product that leaves you feeling like a sun goddess. We’re serious here. If you don’t currently use it, we suggest you start. We love highlighter because it gives your face a nice, angular contoured look and spotlights your best features. When the sunlight hits the highlighter on your face, it shimmers like no other.

Highlighter is one of those beauty products you can use on many areas of your face. Using a small to medium brush, lightly tap the highlighter along the tops of your cheekbone from under your eye area towards your hairline. Highlighter can also be used to make your eyes look bigger and more awake. The oldest trick in the book for looking awake when you’re running on no sleep? Add just a pinch of highlighter to the inner corner of your eyes to brighten them. Just a touch of highlighter in the center of your eyelid will simultaneously make your eyes look bigger and more awake, too. Finally, apply highlighter just under your brow bone, but above the crease in your eyelid, to give the illusion of larger eyes.

Highlighter can also be used to accentuate your lips. With a small, pointed brush, apply highlighter to your cupids bow and just under your bottom lip. This makes your lips look larger and more defined. Who needs lip injections when you can use highlighter? We’re still not done. You can also apply a lightly dusted line of highlighter down the center of your nose to make it look slimmer.

What is the difference between blush and bronzer?

This is a question that confuses many. Both are applied to the cheek, so what’s the difference? Let us explain. Bronzer is meant to make you look like you just came from the beaches of Mexico. It gives you a sun kissed tan that makes you glow all year long. Bronzer only comes in brown shades. Its main job is to emphasize the cheekbones and contour your face. Bronzer can be used on your cheekbones, nose, forehead, jawline, and even your chest.

Blush is used to add color to your cheeks, and only your cheeks. Blush is used to imitate the natural blushing of your skin. You know that pinkish color that comes out when you see the guy you’ve been eyeing? Therefore, it comes in shades of peach, pink, and red.

Many women face the dilemma of choosing between wearing a bronzer or a blush. The good news is, you can essentially wear both at the same time. Sweep bronzer along your cheekbones and lightly tap blush on the apples of your cheeks. If wearing both is too dramatic for your liking, consider the occasion instead. Outdoor events such as beaches, parties and concerts make bronzer a more ideal choice. For indoor events, like weddings and meetings, choose blush. It’s a classic choice. The time of year is also important. During the winter months, you’re probably looking a little more pale. Wearing blush can help turn a pale winter look into a rosy dream. When summer arrives, consider using bronzer to accent your (real or fake) tan.

How to select a bronzer:

Choosing the right shade of bronzer can be somewhat overwhelming. The good news is, we’re here to help. Your bronzer should be one to two shades darker than your natural skin tone. Those of you with fair skin should be wearing a bronzer with golden and honey undertones. For medium skinned girls, choose a warmer bronzer that’s a little rosier. And if you have darker skin, an amber bronzer with red undertones will look best.

It’s also important to think about your skin type when choosing a type of bronzer. Liquid bronzers are more moisturizing and give you a dewy appearance. So, those with dry skin should use this type. Those with more oily skin can benefit from wearing a powder bronzer as it can help absorb any excess oil throughout the day. Finally, choose two different bronzers to have on hand. One for when you are palest in the winter, and one for when you are tanner in the summer.

What is the best bronzer?

Because choosing a bronzer depends on your skin type, it’s hard for us to pick just one. However, the Benefit Hoola Matte Bronzer is award winning and a number one best seller pretty much everywhere. We even put it at the top of our list as the Best Overall Bronzer based on reviews.

The thing we love most about the Hoola Bronzer is its pure matte color. It doesn't leave behind any shine or shimmer. This pigmented bronzer gives a beautiful hint of color right away, so you don't need to use more than one layer of product at a time. Unless of course you want a darker look for nighttime. The chocolate brown color isn't too dark so even those with fair skin can wear it without ever looking orange. The Hoola Matte Bronzer comes in a square box and includes a soft, natural bristle cheek brush that is stored inside, so you don’t have to spend extra money on a brush. We like that. 

If you are looking for something with more of a shimmer, we suggest the Nars Bronzing Powder. It’s highly rated and a best seller as well. On a budget? Grab the NYX Matte Bronzer. It comes in five shades and you can find it at any drugstore.

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Article Staff

Marina is a California girl and former Idaho resident who is currently living her best life in the Seattle area with her husband and newborn baby. She has a BA in Journalism from Boise State University, as well as a M.Ed from Western Washington University.

Marina has a passion for running, hiking, brunching and, of course, all things home decor. When she isn’t writing, Marina loves to be with family and friends, preferably in the outdoors.

Marina covers everything from health and beauty to babies and women. If the product is in one of these categories, she's likely tried it. For all beauty + mom advice, she's your go-to girl. Want to be friends? Follow her on Instagram: @mrswiersma

Editor Jenna Holtz
Researcher Ronnie Langston
Art Director Cherry Barbacena

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