The 20 Best Expert-Approved Bronzers for a Post-Vacation Glow

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Ask anyone you know: there’s no better feeling than coming home from a sunny, tropical vacation with a toasted tan that reminds you of sandy toes, sunscreen, and pina coladas. Then, reality sets in days later when your warm tan reverses back to your normal skin tone and you have to wait until your next vacation for that warm, bronzed look again. Luckily, you don’t have to wait that long, thanks to a staple in every beauty obsessive’s collection: bronzer.

As the name suggests, bronzer imparts a brownish-reddish glow to whatever part of your body it’s applied to. “Bronzer can be used for so many different things: giving a subtle, sun-kissed glow to the skin, adding dimension to the face, and waking up your makeup routine without looking like you did too much,” Charlie Riddle, Stila’s global beauty director, tells ELLE.com. Bronzers come in various formulas—from liquid to powder to cream—but the one for you ultimately comes down to your skin type. According to celebrity makeup artist Matthew Allen, powder bronzers are better for oily skin. “After setting the makeup with a loose powder or setting spray, use a big, fluffy brush to warm up your neck, and ears with a little bit of powdered bronzer. This will connect the face to the body flawlessly,” he explains. Liquid or cream bronzers provide a luminous glow for dry or normal skin.

Scroll down for the 20 best expert-approved bronzers tailored to every skin type and skin concern.


Best Splurge

Poudre De Beauté Éclat Soleil Bronzing Powder Gucci Read More


Best Texture

Cheeks Out Freestyle Cream Bronzer FENTY BEAUTY by Rihanna Read More


Best For Versatility

Heat Spell Bronzer/Highlighter Duo Haus Laboratories Read More


Best Sunkissed Finish

Kosas The Sun Show Moisturizing Baked Bronzer in Gold Bronze at Nordstrom Kosas Read More


Best For Double-Duty

Stila Convertible Color Stila Read More

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Best Splurge

Poudre De Beauté Éclat Soleil Bronzing Powder

  • Buttery smooth formula
  • Can look muddy

Gucci’s bronzer is a bit pricey, celebrity makeup artist Eric Jones says it’s “Assolutamente bella because it’s “lightweight and great for a natural and youthful glow.”

Best Texture

Cheeks Out Freestyle Cream Bronzer

FENTY BEAUTY by Rihanna
  • Creamy, blendable texture
  • Not best for oily skin

Although it comes in powder form, Jones prefers the texture of its creamy sister. Fenty Beauty describes the bronzer as “no fuss” and Jones says they’e right and “feels as though you have a piece of the sun in your pocket,” he adds.

Best For Versatility

Heat Spell Bronzer/Highlighter Duo

Haus Laboratories
  • Comes with a highlighter
  • Needs deeper shades

You can bronze without highlighting and vice versa, but everyone knows these two look flawless when paired together. “Powders are generally better if you desire all-day wear,” Sarah Tanno, artistic director at Haus Labs, explains. Naturally, her pick is the Heat Spell duo, which comes with a powder and a highlighter “so you still get that soft sun-kissed glow. They also look great on the eyes,” she adds.

Best Sunkissed Finish

Kosas The Sun Show Moisturizing Baked Bronzer in Gold Bronze at Nordstrom

  • Gives a fake vacation glow
  • Can harden over time

Kosas is beloved for its clean formulas and bestselling gems like the Sun Show Bronzer. Geoffrey Rodriguez—who has worked with Gigi Hadid, Padma Lakshmi, Emma Watson, and more—says its baked powder formula “gives a beautiful, ethereal glow.” Suppose you’re looking for a dewier alternative. In that case, Rodriguez also recommends Kosas’ other bestseller, the Color & Light Cream Palette in Tropic Equinox since it “has a rich sculpting shade and a complementary highlighter for a beautiful, sculpted, sultry glow.”

Best For Double-Duty

Stila Convertible Color

  • Can be used as a blush
  • Needs deeper shades

Charlie Riddle, Stila’s global beauty director, recommends the Stila Convertible Color for its double-duty powers. Serving as a blush and a bronzer, Stila created five supple shades that range from soft pink to brown.

Best For Blur

Matte Bronzing Brick

Victoria Beckham
  • Comes with contrasting shades

Riddle says to reach for the Victoria Beckham Bronzing Brick if a blurring effect is what you’re after. “I’m obsessed with the Victoria Beckham Beauty Bronzers. They are dual shades one lighter and dark and highly pigmented and they are so smooth and blurring on the skin,” he says.

Best Liquid Formula

KVD Beauty ModCon Liquid-Gel Contour

KVD Beauty
  • Great applicator
  • Can be patchy

“An easy tip for adding more warmth to hands, chest, legs, and overall body is mixing a warmer shade of the KVD Beauty ModCon Liquid Gel Contour to body lotion,” KVD Beauty global artistry ambassador Sandra Saenz explains. The brush tip helps to control the product placement and “and the gel formula makes it super easy to blend with other products.”

Best All-in-One

Bronze Summer Glow Powder – Tulum

  • Blendable formula
  • Needs deeper shades

“Nothing screams summer like radiant skin, but sometimes the use of highlighter when bronzing the skin can detract from that bronzed look. Code 8 Beauty cracked the code with this natural-looking powder bronzer, which has the perfect amount of shimmer, so no highlight is needed,” celebrity makeup artist Aaron Barry says.

Best For Summer Shades

Cali Contour Blush, Highlighter & Bronzer Face Palette

  • Multi-use product
  • Needs more shade options

“I love this palette, so much so I think it cured my seasonal depression,” Barry says. The palette is summer packaged in each square—blush, highlighter, and bronzer. “To create a daytime bronzed look with the Cali Contour Palette, I use the bronzer as a stand-alone or cocktail in some blush to give me that true sun-kissed look,” he adds.

Best For All Over Glow

Dr. Hauschka Translucent Bronzing Tint, 0.6 Fl Oz

Dr. Hauschka
  • Can we used a multitude of ways
  • Thin formula

Nicolette Brycki finds several ways to use Dr. Hauszka Translucent Bronzing Tint, thanks to its lightweight formula and skin-loving ingredients. “You can mix it with moisturizer, or sometimes, I even use it under foundation to contour under the cheekbones,” she says.

Best For Natural Ingredients

Terracotta Sunkissed Natural Bronzer Powder

  • Contains argan oil

According to Rodriguez, Guerlain’s Terracotta Sunkissed Natural Bronzer Powder’s versatility has proved its staying power in his kit. “It’s available in a formula derived from 96 percent natural ingredients and is an extremely versatile formula because it wears equally well with full makeup or on its own,” he explains.

Best For Subtle Shimmer

Estée Lauder Bronze Goddess Powder Bronzer

Estée Lauder
  • Shimmer without looking kiddish
  • Can be a bit red

Jami Svay says Estee Lauder’s Bronze Goddess Powder Bronzer has the kind of glow that keeps people wondering, Did she go to Bali for a week? What’s great about this bronzer is the glow it provides. “It doesn’t have that kid-like glitter; It glides on, subtly warming up the skin. I apply using a big powder brush so it’s not streaky,” she explains.

Best For Pigment

Thrive Causemetics – Sun Chaser Blur + Sculpt Bronzing Powder – Shade: Rhea (Matte)

  • Can look muddy

“Enriched with hyaluronic acid, which hydrates and plumps the skin, this formula is also highly pigmented. The bronzer has a velvety texture that blends to a smooth, rich, long-wearing matte finish, with a blur effect that softens pores and fine lines,” states Rodriguez.

Best Budget-Friendly Option

Sunlight Bronzer

Jason Wu Beauty
  • Super affordable
  • Needs deeper shades

Celebrity makeup artist Sang Jeon—who works with CL from 2NE1, Ryan Destiny, and more—uses this affordable option because it works for all his clients. “It’s pigmented and works well as an essential palette,” he says.

Best For Definition

Mineral Baked Bronzer

Il Makiage
  • Soft, blendable texture
  • Needs deeper shades

For a defined bronzed look, Jeon loves Il Makiage’s Baked Bronzer. “This is a baked type bronzer so you can really control the pigment,” he adds.

Best For Dark Skin

Tantour Contour & Bronzer Cream

Huda Beauty
  • Great pigment
  • Needs lighter shade options

Another must-have of Jeon, rest assured that your Huda Beauty Tantour Bronzer will last you a long time. The insanely pigmented formula glides on smoothly without picking up any of your foundation.

Best for Warmth

Solarise Bronzer

  • Buttery smooth
  • Needs more shade options

“The Solarise bronzer is a great multi-use product that can be used to warm up the skin while adding depth and dimension to your makeup look. This bronzer not only warms up the skin but adds a subtle contour that looks great on all skin tones,” Kristen Fortier, makeup artist & product innovation lead for Crunchi Cosmetics, says.

Best For Moisture

Brazilian Glow Bronzing Serum

  • Contains hyaluronic acid
  • Needs more shade options

“What I love about this bronzer is it applies quickly for an all-over glow, smells like a vacation in a bottle, and has moisture-boosting hyaluronic acid and brightening vitamin c,” Barry says. Barry reaches for this bronzing serum on sets to create the perfect “no-makeup makeup” look.

Best Wallet-Friendly Option

e.l.f. Cosmetics Putty Bronzer

e.l.f. Cosmetics
  • Costs as much as a latte
  • Not long-lasting

Fake a fresh-off-vacation glow with this $6 bronzer from E.L.F Cosmetics. The cult-favorite bronzer comes in an array of shades, is formulated with vitamin e and argan oil, and dries down to a soft matte finish—for $6 might I add again.

Best For Airbrushed Finish

Morphe X Avani Gregg Baecation Luminous Bronzer

  • Super affordable
  • Can appear very warm

If you’re missing the sunkissed radiance of your recent baecation, the Morphe x Avani Gregg bronzer can help you replicate it. The shade is warm enough to be used as a bronzer but can work as a contour as well.

How do you apply bronzer and where does it fall in the makeup routine?

Each beauty expert has their way of applying bronzer. According to Sandra Saenz, KVD global artistry ambassador, she applies after foundation. “I like to apply bronzer to the outer edges of the face right after foundation to help bring color back into the complexion. For powder bronzers, I prefer to use a powder brush that’s not too dense and more on the larger, fluffier side so it’s easier to buff and diffuse around the face,” she explains.

“You apply bronzer where the sun would normally tan your face, which is the high points of the face. I apply on the cheekbones, forehead, bridge of the nose, and chin. I apply after foundation and before blush,” celebrity makeup artist Kasey offers.

How do you decide on a shade?

Kasey adds that you want to look for shades that don’t appear too orange on the skin. “You want to choose a shade about two to three shades deeper than your natural skin tone. Choose a bronzer shade that has nice warmth to it without getting too orange. Also, remember, your bronzer can be used to contour, and a true contour shade has grey tones in it to create the illusion of shadows. Don’t choose anything with those grey tones to bronze the face otherwise you’ll look dead,” he says.

Focus on the three T’s

Celebrity makeup artist Matthew Allen shares the following advice:

  • Tone – “Choose the tone of bronzer that best matches the undertone of your skin. A good way to match this is to hold the bronzer up above the center of your chest and verify that the bronzer matches that tone in the body, even it if is slightly darker. Skin undertones can be pink (cool/red undertones), yellow (warm/golden undertones), or neutral (“olive” skin tones, or equal parts of yellow and pink undertones). This will ensure that the result is natural and will avoid the skin looking muddy or too orange.”
  • Type – Choose a formula that will best suit your skin type: oily (powder bronzers), normal/dry (liquid or cream bronzers)
  • Temperature – “No matter where you live in the world, bronzer is a great way to keep the skin glowing and looking tonally balanced,” Allen says. Like your foundation, your bronzer shade should also change throughout the year. “In the summer, it’s okay to take your color a bit deeper, just make sure it matches your natural undertone. If you know that your body is likely to get more sun-kissed than the face, make sure to bring that warmth into your face by building and layering with bronzer,” he adds.

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