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A couple years back, contouring took over and bronzing kinda got left in the dust. But, seriously, there is still a time and place for bronzing, especially in the summer—and when it’s done right with the best bronzers, it looks amazing.
With bronzers, rather than sculpting your facial features, you’re doing that plus adding a sun-kissed glow. Between the several different formulas and kinds (let’s not even get into self-tanning bronzer), it can be a trip to figure out which one is best for you. Luckily we’ve tried the lot of them and have found which ones rise above the rest in terms of ease of use, color-to-shimmer ratio, and how natural it looks on your face. Here are eight of our favorites.
They don’t call this a “skin perfector” for nothing! Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector creamy bronzing compact offers a hit of micro-pearl shimmer in your pick of five colors, which can be applied with fingers or with a brush, depending on how deep of a color your want. The creaminess is a fool-proof way to blend and the shimmer adds dimension without the obvious sparkle.
Benefit’s blush game has yet to disappoint, with every single color becoming a cult item nearly. Hoola, their bronzer, is so popular because its formula, flecked with the slightest bit of bronze shimmer, can be brushed on sheer or you can really build it for a more saturated look—and all of it blends seamlessly.
Okay, so this is technically a sculpting contour stick, but hear us out. Clinique Chubby Stick Sculpting Contour can totally be a bronzer. And we included it here because it’s such a great creamy and hydrating formula that is super easy to apply and blend with your fingers. For a bit of contour, keep it light, but when you want to appear like you’ve been in the sun, just strike it on top of your cheeks instead of under them for that tanned look.
E.l.f. Studio Contouring Blush & Bronzing Powder has two colors that are the perfect duo for bronzing and adding a bit of a sunny tone to your skin—it’s not a blush, but it’ll add dimension to your bronzer so you don’t look caked. This little powder compact also is super easy to take on the go, just make sure you’ve got the right brushes.
Guerlain is kind of the grandaddy of luxury bronzers with limited releases (with beautiful palette designs to boot) every season. You can’t beat their standard Terracotta Bronzer though, available from light to really deep, the powder formula is so dense you can pretty much build any amount of tan you like. Enriched with moisturizing ingredients, it blends so well into your skin, you really do look like you spent the week in St Tropez with a couple swipes.
Nars’ Multiple is a great makeup product for anytime you want your skin to look beautifully glowing, blushing, and luminized. Their South Beach Multiple is the perfect shimmering bronze and the formula feels like silky velvet going on, blending into your face in such a pretty, light-reflecting way.
A bronzer that’s also a BB? You can have it all. Physicians Formula has upped their normal bronzer game with Bronze Booster Glow-Boosting Beauty Balm BB Bronzer—all the best benefits of a BB cream in a bronzer!
Amazonian Clay, plus vitamin E, and waterproof–what else can you ask for in this multi-tasking bronzer from Tarte? Formulated to blend and build, Amazonian Clay Waterproof Bronzer will stay put all day (even in the rain) with the a natural sun-kissed color. Amazonian clay is what makes this formula so dense and long-lasting, in the most natural finish.
Originally published March 2015. Updated May 2017.