The Best Drugstore Bronzer: Rock A Bronze Skin Color All Year Round

Want to fake a bronze skin color or extend your summer vacation glow? When searching for the best drugstore bronzer, there are options to suit every skin tone and skin type. A bronzer will add warmth and dimension to your face. Just like a tan, bronzing makes your skin look healthy. There's a slight change in your skin tone's hue - a sun-kissed glow - but your undertone has not changed. It's still you, not some bad Halloween costume or spray tan gone wrong.

When you hit the counter looking for bronze makeup, come prepared with your ideal formula, finish, and shade. Follow our recommendations, and even in the dead of winter, you'll leave everyone guessing where you were last weekend.


Whether you want to bronze your face or your body, bronzers come in a range of formulas. As with any product, start with your skin type: oily, dry or combination. There's a lot of debate about whether a bronzer powder is better for dry skin than a bronzer liquid / cream formula. If you are putting bronzer on top of your foundation base, powder will be easier to apply and give a natural, matte, all over glow. If you are using a bronzer to replace foundation, then use a powder for a light base or a liquid cream for fuller coverage.


Powders usually are best for dry skin types. But since the powder may be applied alone on top of a moisturizer or top of foundation, a bronze powder can be used by all skin types. A powder will give you a natural, matte payoff. If you have oily skin, the shade may adjust slightly when the powder absorbs the oils, and you may find it more difficult to blend.


A liquid bronzer works well with dry skin. A liquid will blend in well and tend to give a dewy look, even without a shimmer formula. If you have oily skin, the finish in the liquid formula will have its own shine, which could become doubly shiny when your skin's natural oils breakthrough during the day.


A cream bronzer sits between powder and liquid. Many people find creamy liquids easier to apply than a straight up liquid, with less streaking. The best cream bronzer can be used without foundation and for fuller coverage, cream bronzers can be applied immediately after your foundation for a natural finish.

Cream Stick

Cream formulas are available in two formats: as a creamy liquid or as a stick format. A cream bronzer stick formula is applied in the same way that you contour. If you find blending creams easier than powders, a cream stick is the way to go.


Gel bronzers are a water-based, oil-free formula in an easily blendable format. The weightless formulas are a great option when you are looking to contour. Gels will also be available with both a matte and a shimmer formula, and you can achieve very sheer coverage which looks like a weekend in Miami or a deeper, fuller coverage for that "two weeks in St Bart's all over glow." Since gels are water-based, they will tend to dry quicker than creams, so you'll want to work quickly to avoid any streaking.


A matte bronze finish will look more natural; the effect can be warm without looking slick. A matte bronzers is ideal for defining features. When you want the radiant, sleek, bold look, choose a bronzer with a bit of shimmer. A shimmery finish, with light-reflecting particles, will give a highlighter effect. For very fair or very dark skin tones, a sheer finish will achieve a natural look, neither mattifying the skin nor boosting the shine, but instead leaving a natural sun-kissed glow. A shimmer can give a boost to dull looking skin, but can also increase the prominence of uneven skin tone and texture. If you have any of those skin issues, a matte or sheer finish will work better.


As with any product, start with your skin's tone and undertone. If you aren't sure, read our post here: URL. Your ideal bronzer shade should be one or two shades darker than your current skin tone - remember if you are already tan, this shade will be slightly different than your natural skin tone.

Best Bronzer For Medium Skin

Those with warm undertones will have the most choice out of everyone. Any bronzer product with gold or honey hues will work well. Look for a subtle sheen or sheer formula, which will enhance the glow and radiance on your skin. If your skin tone is on the red side, look for products with a sienna hue.

Best Bronzer For Fair Skin

For cool undertones, look for a shade which has rosy pink hue or a champagne tone in the product. You may find that brands have bronzers with blush to achieve the perfect peach-pink shade. Since cool undertones are typically associated with fair skin, look for bronzers with a shimmer which will look more natural. As with contouring, a matte bronzer on a lighter foundation can be used to give a glow and definition to a face.

Best Bronzer For Neutral Skin

If you have neutral skin, look for a copper tone which combines yellow gold hues with red sienna. As with cool undertones, you'll find plenty of brands which combine copper tones with a blush tone.

Best Bronzer For Olive Skin

For olive skin tones, a bronzer with a copper, yellow or orange hues is great because it adds warmth. Look for a matte bronzer which will build added warmth to these shades.

Best Bronzer For Dark Skin

Dark toned skin can get in on the bronzer fun. Remember, a bronzer isn't used to change your skin color, but give your existing skin tone warmth and more definition. Go with a bronzer skin tone shade that is one step darker than your skin tone. Look for products which contain yellow and orange hues, since a dark bronzer can look patchy and muddy on darker skin. Choose a sheer or shimmery formula and stay clear of mattes, which can dull your skin tone.

We've listed our picks for best drugstore bronzer below. And head over to our post on makeup brushes to discover the best bronzer brush.

Five Steps To Achieve The Perfect Dark Bronze Skin

Bronzer is NOT contour. Contouring creates faux shadows and accentuates definition on your face. Bronzing creates "day at the beach glow" with added warmth to your skin. When applying bronzer consider about how you apply blush and invest in a quality bronzer brush.

  1. Apply bronzer where the sun would naturally skin your skin. Think cheekbones, the bridge of your nose, your forehead. But also consider your hairline, behind your ears and the back of neck. Blend well to achieve a seamless transition between your face and these areas.

  2. If using a powder, start off lightly and build coverage. Remember, this isn't contouring. Using a medium fluffy powder brush, apply a small amount onto the brush, tap off any excess and then gently sweep across the areas.

  3. When using a cream or liquid bronzer as a foundation base, you would apply with a sponge and blend well.

  4. If you are using a cream stick, apply as you would a cream blush and blend well.

  5. When using a shimmery finish, apply to the higher points on the face, as you would with a highlight which also reflects light.
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