The Best Bronzers for Your Skin Type
Creating a natural glow starts with selecting a product that suits your complexion.
Beauty trends come and go, but many are recycled. This year, bronzer has once again taken center stage, although not for the chiseled, contoured look it's been used to create in the past. Instead, natural, sun-kissed skin is in, and you definitely need a little bronzer to get that lit-from-within glow. We'd like to emphasize the natural aspect of this trend, since many new-age products have embraced this style. Gone are the overly-shimmery formulas of the past: Today's iterations come with subtle finishes and are a welcome addition to any beauty routine.
Of course, in order to achieve the intended effect—a warm, bright complexion—you need to know which bronzers work best for your skin type and how to apply them for the most natural look. Fortunately, a few of the industry's top makeup artists are here to help us with both. When it comes to perpetually dry skin, celebrity makeup artist and LORAC Artistry Advisor Kelsey Deenihan recommends using a cream formula. "Powders can be too drying and often make the skin even dryer by absorbing the remainder of what little oil is naturally there," she explains. Cover FX Senior Education Executive Megan Curtin adds to this, noting that cream or liquid bronzers are best for thirsty complexions, as they'll help smooth out any texture and won't make your skin feel tight.
Those with oily skin fare best with powder iterations. "A powder formula helps absorb excess oils and combats shine while also giving your skin a healthy and safe way of looking like you've been in the sun," Deenihan says. While finding the perfect powder bronzer is paramount for oily skin, MAC Cosmetics Director of Makeup Artistry Romero Jennings says understanding how to prep your face before applying any bronzer at all is just as important when it comes to the final look. "It is key to start with a primer first to help balance the oil all over the face," he says, noting that his favorite primer to start with is the MAC Prep + Prime Skin Refined Zone ($23, www.nordstrom.com), since it minimizes pores, mattifies the skin, and controls oil for hours.
And while the following formulas—which we've curated to suit every skin type—are winners, you can create a glow sans bronzer. According to Deenihan, you can use a liquid or cream foundation three to four shades darker than your skin tone and apply it along your hairline and under your cheeks for a sun-kissed effect. "Just make sure you blend to avoid any unwanted blotches," she says.
Best for Dry Skin: Chanel
Best for Dry Skin: YENSA
This brand-new silky cream bronzer boasts an age-defying superfood-infused formula. In addition to creating a sun-kissed glow, the product brightens and smoothes skin, boosts natural radiance, helps protect against free radicals, and reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Shop Now: Yensa Bronzing Base Sunlit Glow, $38, yensa.com.
Best for Combination Skin: Charlotte Tilbury
Best for Combination Skin: Kosas
Made with shea butter and meadowfoam oil, this baked powder bronzer works wonders for those with combination complexions. Despite being baked, this powder is creamy as can be and hydrates the skin upon application. For best results, apply with a fluffy brush.
Shop Now: Kosas "The Sun Show" Bronzer, $34, credobeauty.com.
Best for Oily Skin: LORAC
"This is an easy, foolproof palette with multiple shades of matte bronzer," Deenihan explains of this powder set. "The palette gives you color options, as well as varying undertones."
Shop Now: LORAC PRO Contour Palette, $36, amazon.com.
Best for Oily Skin: MAC Cosmetics
"The MAC Hyper Real Glow Palettes come in four different colorways and each one is super versatile," Jennings, says, adding that there is an option for every skin shade. When applying your bronzer, the pro advises only applying it in places where the sun would naturally hit the skin.
Shop Now: MAC Cosmetics "Hyper Real" Glow Palette, $39.50, maccosmetics.com.
Best for Oily Skin: Cover FX
While this bronzer is suitable for all skin types, given its powder formula, Curtin recommends it for oilier complexions. "It features a split pan with both a matte and a shimmer bronzer, so you can customize your look!" she says.
Shop Now: Cover FX Monochromatic Bronzer Duo, $38, ulta.com.
Best for Sensitive or Acne-Prone Skin: VMV Hypoallergenics
Best for Sensitive or Acne-Prone Skin: Clinique
Another brand that's consistently touted as being great for sensitive or acne-prone skin, Clinique is also known for their easy-to-apply products. This chubby contour stick is no exception—just swipe and blend this shimmer-free option, which leaves a natural, dewy finish in its wake, for a seamless glow.
Shop Now: Clinique Chubby Stick Sculpting Contour, $25, sephora.com.
Best for Sensitive or Acne-Prone Skin: Jane Iredale
A cross between a blush and bronzer, this four-tone compact leaves you looking perfectly flushed—of the many products on this list, its the most likely to give you day-at-the-beach skin, sans the sun damage, of course.
Shop Now: Jane Iredale Bronzer, $56, dermstore.com.