Not having at least one of the best bronzers in your makeup bag is practically a beauty crime. After all, there’s no better time to channel your inner bronze goddess than during the summer. With pro makeup artist Andrew Denton describing bronzer as his “secret weapon for everybody," sunkissed, glowy skin is never a bad idea.
One sweep and your complexion is instantly warmed up, giving holiday sunshine vibes all across your face. And if you get the undertone right, it will compliment your skin tone in the best possible way too.
There are a lot (and we mean a lot) of bronzers to choose from, many of which claim to be the best bronzers on the market. So which ones are actually worth investing in?
Picking one from the many options available can be a hard call to make, especially considering that not everyone has the time to read up on all the reviews for hours on end. To save you the trouble, we’ve put together an edit of the very best bronzers out there to fit every budget and preferences, including firm favourites at the GLAMOUR beauty desk as well as viral hits, all-time classics and underrated finds.
Plus, we’ve called in the help of a team of experts to let us in on their must-haves, too. For some extra tips and tricks, scroll to the bottom and find your most frequently asked questions, answered by three top makeup artists.
Meet the experts:
Users have been dousing their powders with setting spray, but does it actually make a difference for their makeup?
Best bronzers of 2023 at a glance:
- Best bronzer overall (our top pick): Charlotte Tilbury Beautiful Skin Sun-kissed Glow Bronzer, £44, Cult Beauty
- Best powder bronzer: Benefit Hoola Matte Bronzing Powder, WAS £28.50 NOW £25.65, LookFantastic
- Best bronzer for contouring: Huda Beauty Tantour, £28, Cult Beauty
- Best baked bronzer: Il Makiage Mineral Baked Bronzer, £35, Il Makiage
- Best affordable bronzer: NYX Professional Makeup Matte Bronzer, £8.50, Boots
How to pick your perfect shade:
"When choosing a bronzer it’s important to find the right one for you," Adeola Gboyega, pro makeup artist says. "I tend to recommend choosing a bronzer that is a couple of shades darker than your skin tone so it isn’t too dark. It’s always best to choose one that isn’t too dark because that way you can build up the intensity gradually, otherwise by the time you build it up it’ll be too dark".
Andrew echoes this, “choose a shade that’s going to add warmth to the face without the dreaded orange. And for darker skin tones, avoid anything that has a too red undertone as this can cause the face to look rosy rather than sun-kissed,” he adds.
"A few other tips to help to choose the right bronzer for you is to look at pictures of your skin whilst you're on holiday, or think back to when you have had a natural tan," says Adeola. "Do you burn and go pinky/red or do you go a more golden colour? This will lead you in the right direction as to which bronzer will suit your skin tone naturally."
"Also, if you know the natural undertone of your skin this will also help you choose the right bronzers that will naturally compliment your skin," she says. "For example, if you have a warm golden undertone choose bronzers that reflect that. If you have a cool undertone then choose a pinky based tone of bronzer."
How to choose the right formula for your skin type
Since there are so many types you choose from, you might be a little lost on where to start, especially as it relates to your skin type. Most makeup artists, including Andrew, tend to reach for cream-based bronzers for their clients to get the most natural finish. Cream bronzers work for most skin types and are pretty fool-proof to use.
Oily skin types will gravitate towards powder formulas for obvious reasons, but Andrew warns only a light hand is needed, otherwise the matte finish can appear a little flat. “On the flip side, other powder based Bronzers can also contain a large glitter content which can result in an overly shiny perimeter to the complexion,” he explains.
How to apply bronzer
As for application, "always apply bronzer on the high points of the face, like the forehead and cheekbones, and take it down onto the neck and chest area to make sure it blends seamlessly and there isn’t a contrast between the neck and the face," says Adeola. Use circular motions with your bronzer brush, then sweep back and forth to avoid any stripes.
"You can also use bronzer for corrective purposes, for example if you get a lot of warmth in your neck and chest area, you can use a bronzer with a similar tone on the face to help balance it out. Or if you have a lot of redness on the face and neck area, use a more golden toned bronzer to help even out the skin," says Adeola.
Andrew’s top tip is to use a larger brush with less product. “Bronzing products can sometimes be very highly pigmented so using a larger buffing brush with a small amount of product will create a mistake-proof soft halo of colour rather than a concentrated application of product with a smaller brush that then takes more time to blend — be brave, it works!” he says.
Looking for something else? Shop our selection of the best bronzers for pale skin, our roundup of the best bronzers for dark skin, the best bronzer brushes and bronzing drops. And for the real beauty buffs among us, why not try your hand at the latest makeup trend - tantouring (yes, it's a thing).