Move over contour, because the soft, all-over glow of the best bronzers has well and truly made a comeback.
While nothing can quite compare to a holiday spent basking in the sun’s rays, picking the right bronzer for your skin type can leave you looking sun-kissed – without the skin damage.
These days bronzers come in all shapes and forms, from matte powders to the best cream bronzers – but which is right for you? OK!’s beauty team has tested dozens over the years to bring you a selection of the very best products for a golden glow, whether you’re sun or shade bathing this summer…
The best bronzers to shop in 2022
VIEVE Modern Bronzer, £31 Cult Beauty
From YouTuber and Jamie Genevieve’s very own makeup brand, you’re really getting two bronzers in one here. VIEVE Modern Bronzer comes in four different shade options, each with two shades of bronzer. It’s also refillable for £23 here when you finally hit pan.
Beauty writer Lucy says: “Another super lightweight bronzer, this has a slight shimmer to it, but it’s not *too much*. I love the two shades for adding warmth and sculpting, which also allow you to adapt it to your skin tone depending on the time of year. The mirror is a great size, too.”
L’Oréal Paris Infaillible Bronzer, £12.99 here
L’Oréal Paris has just launched a bronzer version of THAT viral TikTok-famous powder foundation. Made with ultra-fine pigments, it’s got the seal of approval from Beyoncé‘s makeup artist and the brand’s ambassador, Sir John, who says that it’s now all about “soft sculpting” rather than heavy contour – a bit like a “contour 2.0”.
Lucy says: “This is a great affordable bronzer. It’s super light, diffuses out easily and actually stays matte, which is no mean feat on my oily complexion. I’m confident that it’ll last me ages.”
Catrice Clean ID Mineral Bronzer SPF15, £4.99 here
A bargain bronzer with a vegan formula and the added benefit of an SPF (although this shouldn’t be relied on as your only sun protection).
Beauty editor Laura says: “The colour leans towards the warmer end of the bronze-y spectrum so anyone with cool-toned skin may find it a little too orange, but it blends easily and has a very ‘skin-like’ finish (matte but not dull and powdery). I often apply bronzer as eyeshadow but I found this irritated my sensitive eyes slightly – perhaps because of the SPF ingredients – so keep it away from this area.”
Fenty Beauty Cheeks Out Freestyle Cream Bronzer, £29 here
There’s no chance of not being able to find the right colour for you, as this bronzer is available in seven shades. It has a semi-matte finish and dries quickly, so won’t slip and slide around your face on a hot day.
Laura says : “Creams are usually my bronzer formula of choice and I immediately loved the butteriness of this one. I applied it using a densely-bristled foundation brush and it blended out beautifully sheer. If, like me, you worry you may have picked a shade slightly too dark, don’t – it’s actually very hard to overdo it.”
Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Bronzer, £42 here
From the same line as Charlotte Tilbury’s Airbrush Flawless Finish Powder, which sells one every minute, the bronzer comes in four very flexible shades, which have been tested on the very palest to the very deepest skin tones.
Laura says: “This gives the same lovely finish as the Airbrush powder – matte and perfected, as if a filter has been applied to the skin, blurring pores and evening out the skin tone. The gorgeous compact is pricey but HUGE (bigger than my hand!) and refillable, so it won’t be a regular expense.”
IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores Bronzer, £27 here
Another pore-smoothing powder, and it contains blurring technology to soften the look of imperfections. Like all IT Cosmetics make-up, this is also full of skin-friendly ingredients like hyaluronic acid and vitamins A, C and E.
Laura says: “I tried the lighter of the two shades and it warmed up my complexion in a very natural-looking way. The texture is very smooth and gives a lovely finish, soft and subtle with no harsh lines. Foolproof to apply, this would be a great choice for bronzer beginners.”
Top tips for applying the best bronzer
• “To find the right shade of bronzer, pick one that’s the same colour as your skin naturally tans, and has the same undertone as your skin (i.e. warm, cool or neutral),” advises Bobbi Brown Pro Artist Zara Findlay.
• Apply your bronzer where the sun would naturally hit your face. “This is typically the top of the forehead, cheeks, a touch across the nose and a little on the chin,” says Jamie Genevieve, YouTuber and founder of VIEVE. “I always start with cheekbones, working inwards with small circular brush motions and using my pupils as a guide on where to stop. This ensures you’re bronzing to suit your face shape and will give a beautiful, natural warmth to the skin.”
• When it comes to application, the right brush is also super important. Sir John, L’Oréal Paris ambassador and celebrity makeup artist, advises choosing something with a larger base and longer hairs. “Never start in the centre of the face,” he explains, “Always start along the hairline and come forwards. When you get to [in line with] your pupils, this is where you want to stop anything shimmery – anything from here in shouldn’t be shiny.” And don’t forget to cover your hairline if you’re a blonde!
• “Before applying powder bronzer, use a translucent powder very lightly first. This will make it glide on more easily and give a more even look,” says Revlon make-up artist Malin Coleman.
Consider your crash course in the best bronzer complete.