Bronzers are a year-round staple in my daily minimal makeup routine; a good one instantly livens up my face, adds subtle definition to my features, and gives my skin a healthy glow.
In my quest for the best barely-there bronzers for my light complexion, I’ve tried dozens of brands and formulas at every price point, from powders to creams and serums. Through lots of trial and error, I discovered that my ideal bronzers have matte formulas with little to no shimmer, and are only 1-2 shades darker than my natural skin tone.
Exhibit A: In the photo on the left, I’m wearing base of sheer foundation, tinted brow gel, mascara, and a swipe of lipstick (NARS Audacious in ‘Apoline’; one of my favorites). On the right, I warmed things up with bronzer as a finishing touch. See how it gives my light skin a little boost?
To apply bronzer, I lightly swirl it over the high points of my face, concentrating most of the color on the tops of the cheekbones and temples, and dusting what’s left on the brush into the hairline and down the center of the nose. I like big fluffy powder brushes for the job; my top three are the It Cosmetics Airbrush Powder Wand ($26), the Real Techniques Powder Brush ($9) and the powder brush from Drew Barrymore’s Walmart cosmetics line, FLOWER.
All the bronzers below deliver natural, sun-kissed color for light skin tones, with foolproof formulas that are easy to apply and blend.
Physicians Formula Butter Bronzer :: A creamy powder formula infused with a blend of Murumuru, Cupuacu, and Tucuma butters for a hydrated, soft-focus glow. Bonus: it smells like the beach!
Rimmel Natural Bronzer in ‘Sunlight’ :: Exactly what it says on the label: a super natural-looking mineral bronzer that’s like a sunless tan in a compact.
MAC ‘Mineralize’ Skinfinish Natural in ‘Warm Tan’ :: The warmest (red/orange toned) of the bunch, with the tiniest bit of luminosity that looks beautiful on the skin. It’s effortless to blend and stays put all day long.
Benefit Hoola Matte Bronzer :: A best-seller, hailed as one of the most universally-flattering bronzers on the market. Ditch the included brush, and use a fluffy powder brush instead. The newly-launched Hoola Lite is a paler version that’s great for fair skin.
Too Faced Milk Chocolate Soleil Matte Bronzer :: The lighter little sister of the Chocolate Soleil Matte Bronzer that smells like cocoa and gives your skin a soft wash of color. Just make sure you give your brush a good tap to remove the excess, because it kicks off a lot of powder.
Bareminerals Invisible Bronze in ‘Fair to Light’ :: A silky sheer powder that offers a buildable, radiant glow.
Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze & Glow Palette :: The only bronzer I’ve ever “hit pan” on! The bronzer lasted well over 2 years with weekly use, and the color is perfect for my skin. I wish Charlotte Tilbury sold it separately; I haven’t made much progress on the highlighter, so I’m stalling on repurchasing the palette.
Hourglass Ambient Lighting Bronzer :: This is the most shimmery bronzer of my picks, but it’s more glow than glitter. All of the Hourglass Ambient Lighting powders are incredible. They give the effect of soft-focused candlelight on your skin; ‘diffused light‘ is one of my favorite powders to set my under-eye concealer.
One last tip:
As a last step in my makeup routine, I spray my face down with MAC ‘Prep + Prime’ Fix+ Finishing Spray; it melts all my powder products (including bronzers) into my base for a natural, seamless finish.