The Best Bronzers For Faking A Sun-Kissed Glow

The OG of contouring is all the sunshine you need right now...

best bronzers

Kate Middleton’s every fashion switch on Zoom makes global headlines. But what’s been on our beauty radar is her sunbathed-all-day shade of bronzer. As for what it can do for your complexion? Our edit of the best bronzers serves up a cloud of warm colour that floats up from the cheekbones for a luminous glow.

So What’s New For Summer?

Charlotte Tilbury has created the first bronzer containing hyaluronic acid powder in pressed form.

‘I really wanted it to behave on the skin like sun behaves on the skin,’ says Tilbury. ‘This bronzer doesn’t sit on top of the skin like a powder. The hyaluronic acid moisturises, amino acids make it silky and smoothing polymers create an airbrushed finish.’

Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Bronzer in Medium, £39, Cult Beauty

best bronzers

No lie: this made for one of the most natural-looking beach flushes I’ve ever achieved with make-up. The shade range is impressive, too, catering for the most lilywhite complexions to the deepest skin tones, all housed in a retro-chic compact that’s refillable.

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Additionally, Chanel has re-worked it’s classic Soleil de Tan just in time for summer when our obsession with bronzers reaches a crescendo.

Renamed Les Beiges Healthy Glow Bronzing Cream, it has removed potential allergy-triggers and replaced them with protective botanical alternatives including kalanchoe. It also imparts a more modern caramel and less rust colour.

Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Bronzing Cream Soleil Tan Bronze Universel, £42, John Lewis

best bronzers, Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Bronzing Cream Soleil Tan Bronze Universel, £42, John Lewis

What thankfully hasn’t changed from the original is the stand-out cream-gel finish. This perhaps feels a little more liquid on the skin but, when buffed in, gives you the same J-Lo bronze goddess vibes with a middle-of-the-road sheen.

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Choosing The Right Shade For Your Skin Tone

Put simply, this is key if you want to avoid looking oddly radioactive.

‘Getting it wrong can either make you look orange, ashy or like you’re not wearing any make-up at all,’ explains Bobbi Brown Pro Artist Zara Findlay.

‘The easiest way to see if it is the perfect colour for you is to place the bronzer against your chest and see if it lifts and complements your skin tone.’

Best Bronzers For Pale Skin

You might think a bronzer on pale skin will look garish, but the key is to go no more than one or two shades darker than your natural complexion.

You should also choose a formula with a beige base. As fair skin lacks a yellow undertone, adding a golden bronzer is what creates that dreaded orange look.

Best Bronzers For Medium skin

Go warmer and aim for a bronzer that’s a little rosy. Be wary of formulas that have too much shimmer, though, as this can make you look washed out.

Best Bronzers For Dark Skin

For deep complexions, red or orange tones of bronzer will make your features pop.

Best Bronzer For Contouring

The ideal shimmering bronzer has light-reflective particles so finely milled that you don’t have to worry about getting the glitter ratio right.

Meet Telluride, a mauve highlighter for medium skin tones that makes up one half of the Bobbi Brown Summer Glow Collection Medium/Telluride Bronzing Powder Duo.

Bobbi Brown Summer Glow Collection Medium/Telluride Bronzing Powder Duo, £28, Lookfantastic

best bronzers, Bobbi Brown Summer Glow Collection Medium,Telluride Bronzing Powder Duo, £28, Lookfantastic

Use Telluride on the tops of cheeks and nose for skin that glows in all the right ways. Anywhere else can make you look sweaty. Then hit the sides of the forehead, underneath your cheekbones, the jawline, and just under the chin with the matte bronzer.

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Finally, remember that using bronzer is like salting food: you can always add more, but it's hard to take it away.

Keep reading for the Marie Claire edit of the best bronzer buys...

Fiona Embleton

Fiona Embleton has been a beauty editor for over 10 years, writing and editing beauty copy and testing over 10,000 products. She has previously worked for magazines like Marie Claire, Stylist, Cosmopolitan and Women’s Health. Beauty journalism allowed her to marry up her first class degree in English Literature and Language (she’s a stickler for grammar and a self-confessed ingredients geek) with a passion for make-up and skincare, photography and catwalk trends.