7 of the Best Bronzers for a (Safe) Sun-Kissed Glow
A makeup artist shares tips for applying bronzer for a natural-looking glow, plus seven products to try.
I’ve never been much of a bronzer girl. Because I’m super fair, I thought it would look silly, like I’d only tanned my face. But Plutino Group makeup artist Kim Creton convinced me that I, too, can look like a beachy b*tch.
Creton says the key to achieving a natural look is to remember that bronzer isn’t a spray tan. “You’re not trying to change the colour of your skin, you just want to look like you’ve been having a cocktail outside with a friend and got sun-kissed,” she explains.
The easiest way to get that look, says Creton, is by applying bronzer to only the “high” points of your face, like your cheekbones, the bridge of your nose and a bit on your forehead. Basically, you want to apply it anywhere you would get a sunburn if you went in the sun without an SPF—which you would never do!
Picking a shade that’s right for you is key. The general rule of thumb, according to Creton, is to choose one that’s about two shades darker than your natural skin tone and also complements your skin’s undertones—warm, cool or neutral. A quick way to figure this out is to think about whether silver or gold jewellery looks best on you. If you gravitate towards silver, chances are you have a bluey-pink undertone and should choose a shade that has a touch of pink in it. If you’re more of a gold girl, you likely have a warmer undertone, so a golden bronzer is a good bet. If you look equally cute in both gold and silver, you’re neutral and can go either way.
Next, you have to choose a formula—cream or powder—based on your personal preference. A cream bronzer can easily be applied with your fingertips (tap lightly, don’t wipe), and a powder one should be applied with a brush. Creton says a bronzer brush should be about the size of a toonie or a bit larger and have a feathery feel. “A fluffier brush will give you a nice, sheer wash of colour. A dense brush will pack it on too heavily.” To apply it, she suggests treating it like “a tiny broom that you’re doing little baby sweeps with.”
Here are some of our favourite bronzers to help you become the toast of the town (see what I did there?).
Maybelline FaceStudio City Bronze Bronzer
This affordable drugstore pick is an easy way to test the bronzing waters. The easy powder formula is infused with a touch of whipped cocoa butter to moisturize skin and leaves a soft matte finish.
$12, Shoppers Drug Mart
Benefit Cosmetics Hoola Bronzer
This iconic matte powder bronzer is one of Creton’s first picks for lighter skin tones. She loves that its pigment is sheer but buildable—making it ideal for beginners. “Some brands are so pigmented that the first swipe is already too much,” she says.
Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Matte Bronzer
Makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury is known as the “Queen of Glow,” so it’s no surprise that her makeup line brings it in the bronzer department. It gives skin a “bronzed filter” that lasts all day and comes in a refillable package.
$69, Holt Renfrew
Physicians Formula Murumuru Butter Bronzer
This drugstore favourite is halfway between a powder and a cream. It has a coconut-y scent that makes you feel like you’re on a tropical vacation, even if you’re just yelling at your kid to stop licking the ladder at the city pool.
$24, Shoppers Drug Mart
NARS Laguna Bronzing Cream
NARS’ original Laguna Bronzing Powder, an award-winning formula beloved for its super golden glow, now comes in a cream version. Pick from five shades that leave a soft-matte finish.
Fenty Sun Stalk’r Instant Warmth Bronzer
If anyone knows how to get a sun-kissed glow, it’s Barbadian national hero Rihanna. Her makeup line, Fenty Beauty, is known for its inclusive shade range and she brings that ethos to her bronzer lineup, too, with nine shades. Queen Riri also makes it easy for newbies by specifying the undertones for each shade.
Milk Makeup Bionic Liquid Bronzer
Milk’s new liquid bronzer feels super light on skin. It’s infused with hyaluronic acid and plant-derived collagen to plump and smooth your skin while giving you a golden glow.