The best bronzers for believable, sun-kissed skin at any time of year

Our pick of the best bronzers to suit every skin tone and give you a gorgeous glow

three of the best bronzers on a collage with a lilac background including chanel, tom ford and guerlain
(Image credit: Future)

The best bronzers can make your skin look instantly bettercheekbones more defined, tired skin warmed right up, veins or redness covered. It's makeup's cherry on top, but one that we often worry about too, will it streak or cake or make me look like I've been competing in Tough Mudder? Not with this selection of beauties, we promise.

Finding the perfect bronzer for your skin is a little bit like finding the best foundation. With so many shades and tones available, it can seem like a minefield. But once you find one that works and learn how to apply bronzer like a pro, it'll become your holy grail and you'll never look back. 

Whether you want to bring a bit of health back to a winter pallor or top up your year-round glow from the best fake tan for face, a great bronzer can transform your complexion from dull and drab to healthy and glowing in just a few seconds. Here's how to get it right. 

How to choose the best bronzers for you

First things first, how do you go about picking the best bronzer? It comes down to a few factors: 

  • Skin tone: If your skin is fair, opt for cool-toned hues that err on the ashy side, while golden-based bronzers are a beautiful match for olive and dark skin tones. (want to bronze your whole body with an olive undertone? Our Coco & Eve tan review has the solution you seek)
  • Texture: Should you use a cream, powder, or liquid? bareMinerals International Makeup Artist SJ Froom has broken it down. "As a general rule, powder bronzers can work really well on oilier skin types while normal and dry skin might be better suited to a cream or liquid."
  • Base: "You must also think about the base you are using, noting that your bronzer should work in harmony with your foundation, BB, or CC cream," says SJ. "If you're wearing a cream or liquid bronzer, it will melt beautifully into light, silky bases of the same texture, while bronzing powders will sit particularly well with a higher-pigment matte or the best powder foundations."
  • Finish: A little sheen can be flattering, but glitter will make dehydrated skin or lines like crow's feet more obvious. If you want to contour pick a bronzer that's entirely matte. Like it or not, the shadows you're attempting to mimic shouldn't sparkle.

The best bronzers, as chosen by our experts

nars bronzing powder

(Image credit: Nars)

1. Nars Bronzing Powder

Best overall bronzer

Specifications

RRP: $38/£31
Shades: 4
Formula: Powder

Reasons to buy

+
Range of shades 
+
Easy to blend
+
Finely milled 

Reasons to avoid

-
Pricey

This award-winning bronzer seems to top all the beauty charts—and no wonder. The sophisticated, finely-milled texture blends beautifully without streaking or caking so suits mature skin particularly well, while the compact is light enough to pop in your handbag but sturdy enough that you needn't worry about breakage. 

With four very forgiving shades available, you're bound to find one that suits you. It doesn't contain any shimmer so is perfect for warming up your complexion without looking all sparkly, as well as defining cheekbones to help you nail how to contour makeup

Chanel LES BEIGES BRONZING CREAM

(Image credit: Chanel)

2. Chanel Les Beiges Bronzing Cream

Best cream bronzer

Specifications

RRP: $50/£43
Shades: 2
Formula: Cream

Reasons to buy

+
Luxury, hydrating formula 
+
Easy to blend
+
Super glamorous 

Reasons to avoid

-
Creams don't last as well as powders

This is one of Chanel's most coveted beauty products and also one of the best bronzers available full-stop. Its creamy, hydrating formula glides onto the skin and gives a beautiful color to cheekbones, as well as gently hydrating and plumping dry or dehydrated patches. 

For a long time this cult buy was only available in one color, but happily, a deeper shade that's more suited to darker skin tones is now available. It's also sheer enough to wear all over the face, so we suggest making it a staple in your makeup kit for glowing skin all year round.

Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Bronzer

(Image credit: Charlotte Tilbury)

3. Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Bronzer

Best bronzer for a natural look

Specifications

RRP: $56/£39
Shades: 4
Formula: Powder

Reasons to buy

+
Infused with hyaluronic acid
+
Great shade range
+
Easy to blend

This pressed powder bronzer is so finely-milled that it almost melts into the skin for a seamless finish. In four shades to suit all skin tones, it's one of the best bronzers for everyday, year-round wear. 

The soft-focus effect it leaves on the skin is classic Tilbury, blurring over pores and uneven skin tone to high-glamour effect. We suggest blending it in with one of the best makeup brushes you've got to ensure it diffuses nicely over the whole face. It may be a little too glowy for oily skin but makes for a perfect party makeup look.  

Benefit Hoola Matte Bronzing Powder

(Image credit: Benefit)

4. Benefit Hoola Matte Bronzing Powder

Best bronzer for fair skin

Specifications

RRP: $30/£27.50
Shades: 4
Formula: Powder

Reasons to buy

+
Completely matte formula 
+
Easy to blend
+
Pigmented 

Originally available in only one shade, Benefit's iconic Hoola bronzer now comes in four colors to suit every skin tone. It's soft, finely-milled, and very easy to blend. Just sweep across high points of the face for a natural makeup look or use under the cheekbones for a seamless contouring effect. 

Cult for a reason, the pure matte pigment is grown-up and flattering, while the soft-bristled brush is just the right length and slim shape to chisel in those cheekbones. Nowhere near orange, Hoola is a great everyday bronzer with a finish that's as pretty in winter as it is in summer.

Too Faced Chocolate Soleil Bronzer

(Image credit: Too Faced)

5. Too Faced Chocolate Soleil Bronzer

Best long-wearing bronzer

Specifications

RRP: $32/£27
Shades: 3
Formula: Powder

Reasons to buy

+
Long-lasting color
+
Highly pigmented
+
Smells like chocolate 

Reasons to avoid

-
A little dryer

If you like your bronzer to be completely matte and long-lasting, this is the one. It has a drier texture that makes it great for oily skin types, as it'll last well without melting away or creasing. 

With that said you might need to work a little harder to blend it in, and those with very dry skin may find it a touch draggy. But as long as your skin type agrees with it, this is a great long-lasting choice that offers an enduring, natural warmth. It also smells like chocolate—we'll leave it up to you whether that's a great thing or not.  

ICONIC London Sheer Bronze

(Image credit: Iconic London)

6. ICONIC London Sheer Bronze

Best bronzer for dry skin

Specifications

RRP: $25/£18
Shades: 6
Formula: Liquid

Reasons to buy

+
Hydrating
+
Easy to blend
+
Affordable

Reasons to avoid

-
A little sticky

If your skin is on the dry side and you're worried about a powder bronzer looking too chalky, opt for this liquid formula instead. It's incredibly hydrating and delivers buildable color to the skin, so is a good option if you want a glow but are concerned about Tango-ing your skin. 

Obviously, even the best bronzer alone can't be relied upon to hydrate parched winter skin (you'll need your best face moisturizer for that) but this will certainly help things along, is easy to blend with the fingers or a brush, and is perfect for blending into the best cream blush too. 

CATRICE COSMETICS Clean ID Mineral Bronzer

(Image credit: Catrice)

7. Catrice Clean ID Mineral Bronzer

Best budget bronzer

Specifications

RRP: £4.99 (UK only)
Shades: 2
Formula: Powder

Reasons to buy

+
Affordable
+
Easy to blend
+
Pigmented

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited shades

With 84% natural ingredients and a completely talc-free formula, this powder bronzer is for you if you're looking for something to suit sensitive skin that's also a real bargain. 

Highly pigmented and easy to blend, this could be a makeup bag staple for creating a warm, natural-looking glow. The only drawback is the limited shade range. In light-medium and medium-dark, you should be able to find a shade to suit well enough, but we'd like to see a few more in the range. 

guerlain terracotta bronzing powder

(Image credit: Guerlain)

8. Guerlain Terracotta Bronzing Powder

Best bronzer for mature skin

Specifications

RRP: $56/£39
Shades: 6
Formula: Powder

Reasons to buy

+
Hydrating formula
+
Naturally-derived pigments
+
Buildable formula

Reasons to avoid

-
Scented

If you have mature skin or fine lines the prospect of powder bronzer can be daunting, but this classic argan oil-rich formula is anything but drying. It's as glamorous as makeup compacts come, in chic tortoiseshell with a beautiful, very French fragrance that will be welcome to everyone except the most sensitive or reactive skin types. 

Once you've applied one of the best foundations for dry skin, swirl a fluffy brush into the powder and apply to the high points of the face. Its silky and refined texture blends easily, diffuses nicely and warms up the skin beautifully. 

Hourglass ambient lighting bronzer

(Image credit: Hourglass)

9. Hourglass Ambient Lighting Bronzer

Best bronzer for glowing skin

Specifications

RRP: $52/£49
Shades: 4
Formula: Powder

Reasons to buy

+
Slight shimmer
+
Hydrating
+
Easy to blend

Reasons to avoid

-
Pricey

This is one of those products that looks so glamorous in the compact you almost don't want to use it—but dig in you must, because it looks even better on the skin. The mixture of shades means you can bronze and highlight the skin at the same time, plus the glam packaging makes this one of the best bronzers for gifting. 

The shade is warm with coppery flecks so would suit olive and deep skin tones beautifully. Swirl a brush around to pick up both the bronze and highlighting shade then sweep it up cheeks and over the centre of your nose. The only thing not to love about this is the high price tag, but it's more than justified by the quality of the product. 

Perricone MD No Makeup Bronzer

(Image credit: Perricone MD )

10. Perricone MD No Makeup Bronzer

Best bronzer for easy blending

Specifications

RRP: $35/£29
Shades: 1
Formula: Liquid

Reasons to buy

+
Buildable color
+
Easy to blend
+
Hydrating liquid

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited shades

Bronzing skin with a liquid doesn't have to be nerve-racking (streaks, agh) as proven by this ultra-blendable tanning tint by Perricone MD. Water-light, it can be mixed into your best skincare products, applied neat for all-over warmth and a dewy makeup look, or placed strategically in cheekbone shadows and under the jawline for definition.

This versatile product is also great for ramping up an already-tanned face, so if you're looking a little pale, learn how to fake tan like a pro, then top up with this to keep that glow going.

Tom Ford Soleil Glow Bronzer

(Image credit: Tom Ford )

11. Tom Ford Soleil Glow Bronzer

Best ultra-luxury bronzer

Specifications

RRP: $70/£55
Shades: 2
Formula: Powder

Reasons to buy

+
Luxury packaging
+
Easy to blend 
+
Subtle shimmer

Has bronzer even been this luxurious? Add to your Tom Ford collection, or start one now with this enormous gleaming white and gold compact, packed with the silkiest, most finely-milled bronzing powder we've ever met.

Obviously, part of the appeal of this product is just how glamorous it is, but this isn't a case of style over substance. The shade has olive undertones rather than orange, giving it a subtle, natural-looking finish. The large surface area makes this one of the best bronzers for the body as well as the face, and you'll get serious kudos from other beauty buffs every time you pull it out in public.


woman&home thanks Sarah-Jane Froom for her time and expertise

Emma North is a Beauty Writer who works for digital titles including woman&home, Woman, Woman’s Weekly, Woman’s Own, Chat and GoodtoKnow. Emma’s career in beauty journalism began with internships at publications including Vogue, Elle, The Telegraph and Glamour. She was then taken under the wing of Funmi Fetto, Contributing Beauty Editor at Vogue where Emma assisted with Funmi’s debut beauty book, Palette.