The 12 Best Bronzers for Adding a Sunkissed Glow

Benefit Hoola Bronzer comes in several shades and is a cult favorite

In This Article

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Bronzers on a pink background

Huda Beauty

Summer is officially here, but by now you’ve likely learned of the pitfalls of constant sun exposure. As such, you might find yourself wearing more hats, applying more sunscreen, and spending more time indoors, all of which equate to a less glowy complexion—one of this season’s best beauty looks. But before you go sulking about it, remember that bronzers exist for this very reason.

Since there are so, so many bronzers on the market, we searched high and low for the top-rated, most-adored bronzers beauty lovers can buy. With the help of a handful of celebrity makeup artists, we discovered that the Benefit Hoola Bronzer reigns supreme—though, there are 11 other best-selling bronzers worth checking out as well. Keep reading to find out what they are.

These are the best bronzers to try.

Best Overall: Benefit Hoola Bronzer

4.8
Benefit Hoola Matte Bronzer

Ulta

What We Love: It’s a natural-looking bronzer that stays put all day.

What We Don’t Love: The packaging is cardboard, so it’s easier to bang up if you’re not careful.

Benefit’s Hoola Bronzer is one of the few beauty products that’s truly withstood the test of time. Since launching in 2001, the natural-looking bronzer has risen to cult-favorite fame thanks to its easy-to-blend nature and seemingly universal, sun-kissed shade. Universal as it may seem, however, the brand took note to extend the range, which, as of this year, now includes four shades. Needless to say, fans of the product are even more obsessed, with more than 300,000 Sephora shoppers giving the bronzer their heart-shaped seal of approval.

Of course, everyday beauty lovers aren’t the only ones fawning over this top-rated bronzer. Celebrity Makeup Artist Tobi Henney is a major fan, too. While she applauds the impeccable formula for all who wish to achieve a natural-looking bronzed beauty beat, she admits that due to the matte formula, it’s especially beneficial for those with medium-to-oily skin types, as it won’t up the shine factor.

Formula Type: Pressed Powder | Shades: Four | Size: 0.28 oz.

Best Value: Physician’s Formula Murmuru Butter Bronzer

Physicians formula

Ulta

What We Love: It has light enough shades for very light skin, and it’s not too warm or red-toned.


What We Don’t Love: The plastic packaging doesn’t seem like the highest quality—but since the formula within it is, it’s not enough to deter us.

Say hello to InStyle senior commerce beauty editor, Shannon Bauer’s, be-all, end-all bronzer. “I have tried many, many bronzers — high end and drugstore — and this is still one of the best,” she says. “It has light enough shades for my very pale skin that isn't too warm or red-toned. It is easy to sweep on and layer up but looks super natural and sunkissed.”

Bauer is just one of many Physicians Formula Butter Bronzer devotees. One thing to note, though, is that if you’re not a fan of fragrance, this one might not be the option for you. “It does have a strong coconutty scent, I don't mind it, but it may be a con for some,” Bauer shares.

Formula Type: Pressed Powder | Shades: Six | Size: 0.38 oz.

RELATED: Anyone Can Look Good in Bronzer, Honest—Here's How

Best Splurge: Chanel Les Beige Healthy Glow Bronzing Cream

4.5
Chanel Les Beige Healthy Glow Bronzing Cream

Saks

What We Love: It’s creamy, easy to blend, and just warm enough for summer.

What We Don’t Love: The texture of this cream makes it difficult to apply with anything but a brush.

If you prefer cream formulas over powder (given powder is more prone to mishaps like fallout), turn your attention toward Chanel’s Les Beiges Healthy Glow Bronzing Cream. Sold in three shades, this blendable cream bronzer makes achieving a beachy glow easier than ever.

“This is one of my most-used bronzers in my kit,” says NYC-based makeup artist Marco Campos. “It blends in so beautifully, giving the skin a velvety-smooth look and feel.” For best results, he suggests applying this cream bronzer with a brush for the most even end look.

Formula Type: Cream | Shades: Three | Size: 1 oz.

Best Powder: Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Matte Bronzer

Charlotte Tilbury ​​Airbrush Matte Bronzer

Sephora

What We Love: It has an incredibly smooth finish and is one of the bigger bronzers on the market.

What We Don’t Love: It’s undeniably pricy.

Although four shades may not seem like a lot, when it comes to bronzer, Henney says it’s the perfect range. “I love this range of bronzers as there is a shade for every skin tone,” she says. “It is perfect for any skin type dry, normal, or oily as it is in powder form.” To copy Henney’s technique, try applying it with the #12 Bronzer Brush from Trademark Beauty Essential Makeup Brush Collection x Tobi Henney.

It’s worth mentioning if at first you don’t feel like the pigment is quite rich enough, Campos says that this bronzer layers beautifully. “The finish is so smooth and the formula is so fine which makes it great for layering,” he explains. “I use these on their own — especially on humid days or if my client has oily skin. I also layer this on top of a cream bronzer to amplify it if I really want the bronzer to be the focal point of the look.” He, too, says that using a brush is your best bet for a flawless finish.

Formula Type: Pressed Powder | Shades: Four | Size: 0.56 oz.

Best Cream: Saie Beauty Sun Melt Cream-Balm Bronzer

Saie Beauty Sun Melt Cream-Balm Bronzer

Sephora

What We Love: It’s so velvety — and it’s part of Sephora’s Clean + Planet Positive Beauty collection.


What We Don’t Love: The lightest shades may still be too dark for the palest skin tones.

If makeup ingredients are of vital importance to you, makeup artist Jaleesa Jaikaran recommends Saie’s Sun Melt Natural Cream Bronzer. “Saie Beauty is perfect for those looking for a formula that's gluten-free and cruelty-free,” she says. “It's lightweight and leaves a velvety finish.”

As much as Jaikaran applauds the formula and finish, it’s the inclusive shades that make her swoon. “An issue I see with a lot of bronzer is that they don’t cater to rich deep skin tones — Saie’s range goes very deep, making it a top contender in the bronzer category for me,” she says.

Formula Type: Cream | Shades: Four | Size: 1 oz.

Best Stick: Rare Beauty Warm Wishes Effortless Bronzer Stick

Rare Beauty Warm Wishes Effortless Bronzer Stick

Amazon

What We Love: It’s so easy to apply. 
What We Don’t Love: It’s so popular that it’s difficult to get your hands on.

According to celebrity makeup artist Eddie Cook, Rare Beauty’s Warm Wishes Effortless Bronzer Stick is the easiest bronzer to use. Thanks to its stick shape, you can just swipe it on and blend with your fingers, makeup sponge, or a brush. It’s likely due to just how easy it is to use — and how delightfully creamy the formula is — that this stick bronzer sells out so regularly. To put it in perspective, the bronzer, which is sold in five shades, has earned accolades from over 120,000 Sephora shoppers and is currently sold out on the site. Thankfully, you can still snag it on the brand’s DTC site.

Formula Type: Cream Stick | Shades: Five | Size: 0.25 oz.

Best Illuminating: Tower 28 Bronzino Illuminating Cream Bronzer

Tower 28 Bronzino Illuminating Cream Bronzer

Sephora

What We Love: The glow factor is hard to beat.

What We Don’t Love: If you have oily skin, the high-shimmer might be a touch too much for your preference.

If your bronzer goal is to layer on the shimmer, Cook and Sephora Beauty Director Melinda Solares agree: Tower 28 has you covered. “Bronzino is an illuminating bronzer balm that gives a lit-from-within, effortless summer glow,” Solares says. “This formula has ingredients like moisturizing mango butter and calming green tea extract that give your skin some love and help create the balmy consistency that feels so good. This is my go-to for no-makeup, makeup days where I really want to show off my skin.” Best of all, since it’s a balm, Solares says that it blends out seamlessly using just your fingers.

Formula Type: Cream-Balm | Shades: Five | Size: 4.5 oz.

Best Subtle Shimmer: Huda Beauty GloWish Soft Radiance Vegan Bronzing Powder

4.9
Huda Beauty GloWish Soft Radiance Vegan Bronzing Powder

Sephora

What We Love: It’s multicolored so it creates a dimensional glow.

What We Don’t Love: It can look cakey if you apply too many layers.

Although this bronzer, which is sold in five colors, isn’t marketed as a shimmer product, the satin marbled powder delivers a gorgeous glowy finish. Since each compact features a few tones seamlessly blended together, a quick swatch on the high points of your face will create a natural-looking summery appeal. You’ll love it so much that you’ll be stoked to find out it’s sold in mini versions, too, so you can always bring it on the go without sacrificing precious clutch space.

Formula Type: Pressed Powder | Shades: Five | Size: 0.28 oz.

Best Fair-to-Medium: Nars Bronzing Powder in Laguna

5
Nars Laguna Bronzer

Sephora

What We Love: It’s sold in four shades ranging from light to dark.

What We Don’t Love: Only one of the shades is available in miniature.

Sold in four shades (the most popular of which is also available in miniature), this NARS powder bronzer is a top contender for your summer bronzing needs. It’s beloved by Sephora shoppers, not to mention Henney herself. “I have used this bronzer in my kit for my entire career,” she reveals. “The Laguna tone is perfect for fair-to-medium skin. It works on any skin type  — it looks like you have been on a Euro vacation.” Need we say more?

Formula Type: Pressed Powder | Shades: Four | Size: 0.28 oz.

Best Dark: Juvia's Place Bronzed Duo Bronzer

4.4
Juvia's Place Bronzed Duo Bronzer

Ulta

What We Love: Each compact includes two shades so that you can custom blend your perfect bronze. 
What We Don’t Love: It’s made with paper packaging, which is easier to dent or break.

Do you ever feel like single-tone bronzers never quite match your skin tone? Jaikaran says that Juvia’s Place Bronzed Duo Bronzer is here to save the day. “This bronzer duo has been a staple in my makeup kit,” she shares. “This is the only matte bronzer that offers two shades in one product. Seeing that a lot of our skin tones adjust slightly in summer and winter months, this has your ideal shade all year round. I love layering both shades to give a dimensional look to the skin.”

Formula Type: Pressed Powder | Shades: Five | Size: 0.78 oz.

Best Shade Range: Fenty Beauty Sun Stalk’r Instant Warmth Bronzer

Fenty

 Courtesy of Sephora

What We Love: The velvety finish and inclusive shade range.

What We Don’t Love: Some reviewers found the powder to apply patchy on dry spots.

Nobody does an inclusive makeup shade range quite like Rihanna—and the Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Sun Stalk’r Instant Warmth Bronzer is no exception. “Sun Stalk’r is a tried-and-true powder bronzer and a community favorite that works for all skin types,” Solares says. “It comes in nine different shades, curated to bring out the warmth in all skin tones.” Beyond the vast shade range, Solares loves the “soft-matte, light-as-air formula” that makes bronzing and contouring possible. “It is also transfer-resistant and long-wearing,” she adds.

Formula Type: Pressed Powder | Shades: Nine | Size: 0.22 oz.

Best Talc-Free: Lawless Summer Skin Velvet Matte Bronzer

Lawless

 Courtesy of Sephora

What We Love: It has major color payoff and is easy to blend.

What We Don’t Love: It’s only sold in two shades.

InStyle senior beauty editor Pia Velasco adores the Lawless Summer Skin Talc-Free Velvet Matte Bronzer — and for good reason. The color payoff is abundant; especially for a clean bronzer. It’s also very easy to blend and part of Sephora’s Clean at Sephora initiative, so ultimately there’s a lot to love.

Formula Type: Pressed Powder | Shades: Two | Size: 0.3 oz.

What to Keep in Mind

Formula Type

When looking for your perfect bronzer, it’s important to think about your skin type. If you have dry skin, a creamy bronzer or one made with hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid might be your best bet; whereas more oily skin types fare best with powder formulas. Additionally, you’ll want to consider the end look you’re aiming for. If you plan to use your bronzer as more of a contour, opt for a matte formula; if your goal is glow, reach for a shimmery option.

Shades

Bronzer is designed to mimic the effects of sun exposure by tanning the color of your skin, along the contours of the face. “To find the best bronzer shade for your skin tone, consider what your skin naturally looks like when you get some sun,” Solares says. “If you have a lighter skin tone, anything that is too deep or has a red undertone can look unnatural. People with medium skin tones often look fantastic in a bronzer with a golden undertone. And someone with a deeper complexion might avoid a yellow undertone because it can look ashy, and instead consider a red undertone, as it can help bring a natural warmth.”

It’s because of this that bronzers with extended shade ranges are becoming so popular — they can truly cater to everyone. 

Size

Once you find a bronzer your love, you’ll want it to last — especially if you paid beaucoup bucks for it. As such, when looking for your perfect bronzer, be sure to weigh the price to size ratio to ensure it’s the best option for you.

Your Questions, Answered

How do you apply bronzer?

Like most makeup products, how you apply bronzer depends on the product formulas and your desired end look. “You can use your fingers, a sponge, or a brush to apply most cream bronzers, but as a standard, you may want to use your fingers for a more natural application, a sponge to build up to a medium coverage, or a brush for a more glam look,” Solares says. That said, it really does vary by specific product. Because of this, Solares recommends checking the products “How to Use” section for best results.

That said, if you’re looking for the easiest way to apply bronzer, Campo suggests using a dense fluffy brush (and a powder formula). “I think it creates a very beautiful feathered effect and it’s more forgiving if you’re a beginner,” he says. “Just remember that it’s all about layering and adding more as you go through the application.”

Where do you apply bronzer?

Since bronzer is meant to mimic a natural tan, Cook says to apply it wherever the sun would naturally hit your face. “For some people, that can mean all over if you like a bronzy look,” he says. Though, generally speaking, he recommends sticking to the high points of the face. “Top of the cheekbones, forehead, nose, and a little on the chin,” he says. “Unlike contour which is meant to sculpt the face by creating depth or shadow — and uses cooler tones and a more precise application — bronzer is meant to warm up the face and add life. Although some use a bronzer to achieve both.”

When should I use self-tanner instead?

If achieving a realistic bronzer feels like too much of a chore, Solares reminds us that you can create a longer-lasting bronzed look with the help of faux tanner. “Adding an all-over sun kiss with faux tanner before using a temporary bronzer will level-up your glow,” she says. “I love using the Isle of Paradise Self-Tanning Water on my face and body to boost my summer bronzer look.” If you want to skip your bronzer altogether, she says that you can spritz the self-tanner onto a makeup brush, like the Sephora Collection PRO Bronzer Brush #80, to add a bit more glow to the high points of your cheeks, forehead, nose, jawline, and shoulders.

Why Trust InStyle

Rebecca Norris is a full-time freelance writer. She writes for a variety of publications, covering everything from beauty and wellness to style and celebrity news. Keeping in mind the different shades and finishes, Norris found the best bronzers available. She researched, read reviews, and talked to makeup artists, like Tobi Henney, Marco Campos, Jaleesa Jaikaran, and Eddie Cook.

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