14 best bronzers
From creams to powders, gels to liquids and from matte to shimmer, whatever your bronzing preference, there’s one here to suit. Apply with a large blusher brush where the sun naturally catches – forehead, nose, chin and cheeks – and build up the colour gradually. Surprisingly versatile, they’re not just the preserve of the summer months – a light sweep of bronzer mid-winter can take the edge off dull, pasty skin giving a gentle healthy glow.
1. Delilah Sunset Compact Matte Bronzer what colours: £34 for 11g, Delilah Cosmetics
With not even a hint of shimmer, this bronzer can easily be used in the winter to give your cheeks a really natural healthy glow, while the soft focus pigments ensure skin looks flawless. And in the summer it’ll enhance whatever colour you have to give a more golden bronze look. It’s slightly peachy and warm in its tone, it settles and blends well into dark and pale skin tones alike, and comes in a light/medium and medium/dark. As with all Delilah products, the packaging is heavyweight and luxurious and the beautiful rose gold compact comes in a sumptuously soft grey pouch to protect it.
2. Urban Decay Naked Skin Bronzing Beauty Balm SPF 20: £23.50 for 35ml, Feel Unique
Now this one has the consistency of very lightweight tinted moisturiser, so it’s not as simple as a brush and powder compact, but it’s still easy to use. Apply all over after your moisturiser – or instead of if you don’t need that much hydration – and blend well. It’s also oil-free to combat summer shine. Urban Decay clinical trials found that after eight weeks, skin feels lifted, more radiant, smoother, more hydrated and there’s an improvement in fine lines. Science aside, this super summer multi-tasker basically acts as an anti-ager, moisturiser, and bronzing glow enhancer in one. Oh, and you can throw in optical blurring too for a flawless, soft-focus effect that minimises the look of pores and wrinkles.
3. Benefit Dew The Hoola: £22.50 for 30ml, Benefict Cosmetics
This liquid bronzer is prettily sheer and sinks into the skin instantly and seamlessly, so no real blending is needed to work it in. It’s got a soft-matte finish without any shimmer, so you really can use it all year round.
4. Dolce & Gabbana The Sicilian Bronzer in Sunshine: £48 for 15g, Harrods
A great bronzer for novice users, as it’s not too highly pigmented so you won’t get a stripy, muddy look (however badly you apply it). It’s slightly rosy pink in its tone and gives a subtle, soft radiance to cheekbones. The compact is stunning and takes its inspiration from the traditional Sicilian caretto – a hand-crafted cart decorated with ornate and brightly coloured paintings.
5. Marc Jacobs O!Mega Bronze in Tantric: £33 for 25g, Harrods
An over-sized, dressing table-worthy compact, this one isn’t handbag friendly. However the large palette combined with a good-sized brush ensures you can easily sweep over the body as well as the face, for bronzed shoulders and décolleté. Incredibly finely milled, this powder melts into the skin and blends in seamlessly with its delicate, slightly rose-pink hue.
6. Clinique Sun-Kissed Face Gelee in Universal Glow: £23 for 30ml, John Lewis
This comes out of the tube surprisingly dark and looks like fake tan – don’t be put off, once worked into the skin, it’s beautifully sheer. It’s oil-free to help keep summer shine at bay and can be mixed with foundation for an ultra-natural healthy glow. You do need to blend it in quickly to ensure it’s seamless, but once it’s on, it’s stunning.
7. English Mineral Makeup Golden Bronze: £25 for 10g, English Mineral Make-up
If you’re after a gorgeous golden glow with a serious sheen, this mineral bronzer illuminates the skin beautifully, whether you’re pale and rosy, olive or already tanned. Vegan, organic and no nasties, English Mineral Make-up ticks all the boxes for natural make-up. Prefer your bronzer matte? Then opt for the soft bronze shade. The Mediterranean Bronze gives a deeper glow and is perfect for darker skin tones.
8. Stila Stay All Day Bronzer for Face & Body in Light: £28 for 15g, Stila
Lightweight, but long-wearing, this won’t disappear by lunchtime and gives a satin matte finish. The light shade is absolutely beautiful on fair and pinker, English-rose skin tones, which can sometimes struggle to pull bronzer off. Go for Stila if you want a touch of sunshine but you think you’re too pale to wear bronzer. (It does come in medium and dark too if your skin tone is warmer).
9. YSL Les Sahariennes Bronzing Stones in Fire Opal 02: £35 for 8g, John Lewis
This nourishing palette contains two tonnes of bronze – one more pink, the other more brown. Swirled together the pink will slightly lift and highlight the skin and the darker will add the bronze look. The ultra-fine milling ensures a barely-there, flawless look. Both are ever so slightly sheeny and give skin a beautiful luminosity – perfect for evening bronzing. It’s also available in two other shades.
10. Kevyn Aucoin The Matte Bronzing Veil in Desert Days: £38 for 10g, Cult Beauty
This slightly peach, ultra-matte natural glow gives skin a warmth that’s great for novice bronzers as it’s so forgiving – and not a speck of shimmer in sight. It melts into the skin with no chance of looking muddy or stripy on cheekbones. Finely milled pigment ensures a really natural finish.
11. Givenchy Healthy Glow Powder in Extreme Saison 04: £36 for 10g, Debenhams
Not too intensely pigmented, this is great for first time bronzing as the colour is so buildable and gives a barely there, nude-skin effect that just looks healthy. Extreme Saison 04 is the perfect evening bronzer – a peachy golden bronze. While Ambre Saison 03 is more pink in tone and less sheeny – more suited to daytime bronzing.
12. Daniel Sandler Instant Tan Wash-Off Face Powder: £22.50 for 9g, Daniel Sandler
A true bronze bronzer, this one is matte and on the warm side, so it’s perfect for olive skin tones. It requires some work to get it into the skin – making it a good option for pro bronzers – but once on, the tone is sumptuous.
13. GlowFusion Micro-Tech Intuitive Active Bronzer in Radiance: £19.50 for 10g, Space NK
For sheeny, glowy, Kardashian-inspired glamour, this is your go-to bronzer. Complex technology and pioneering active ingredients bronze, blur and perfect the skin. The optical diffusers give a soft-focus and luminosity to the skin for a real flawless radiance. Available in three shades.
14. Seventeen Instant Glow Cream Bronzer: £4.99 for 8.5g, Boots
This buildable, lightweight, cream-to-powder formulation is perfect for defining cheekbones and décolleté – apply under the cheekbones as a contouring shade, or sweep across your collar bones to enhance and add definition.
Dolce & Gabbana has by far and away the most beautiful packaging, Urban Decay’s balm includes show-stopping skincare benefits, but Delilah’s bronzer delivers the most natural and prettiest healthy glow.