Pop quiz: What’s harder than picking a
bronzer that looks natural? Finding one that looks natural and is natural. (We’ll give you a second to let that sink in.) Ready? Great.
Finding a good bronzer is tough enough: There’s cream, liquid, powder; shimmer and matte; plus a variety of shades to choose from. And if you’re in the market for something with a low preservative count and minimal carbon footprint? That’s a tall order. Luckily for us, celebrity makeup artist Katey Denno took a break from her star clients — like Amanda Seyfried, Mindy Kaling, and Olivia Munn — to put together a foolproof guide for just this purpose.
Denno is known as the “green celebrity makeup artist,” which means the
majority of the products she uses hew as close as she can get to the natural side of the makeup spectrum, without sacrificing performance. Ahead, she’s selected nine bronzers she loves — and organized them by skin tone and type — to make your summer glow totally foolproof.
At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.
Vapour Organic Beauty Cream Stick in Mirage
Skin Tone: Fair Skin Type: Dry
Bronzers can look streaky and obvious on pale skin, which makes choosing the right formula of utmost importance. For those with dry, fair skin, Denno recommends a creamy formula, like this one, that can be mixed with your daily moisturizer. Simply blend a dab into lotion on the back of your hand and apply where the sun would hit your face naturally — forehead, nose, cheeks, and chin — using a makeup sponge, like the Beautyblender.
Vapour Organic Beauty Solar Translucent Bronzer – Mirage , $36, available at DermStore
Chocolate Sun Creme Cocoa Illume Lite
Skin Tone: Fair Skin Type: Normal or combination
“Cream bronzers are more forgiving,” Denno says. “Wait a minute for your moisturizer to sink in, then apply the cream with either a small stippling brush, lightly tapping it into the skin, or with clean fingertips — pressing it into cheeks, along the brow bones, hairline, and wherever else it’s needed.”
Chocolate Sun Cocoa Illume Lite Sunless Tanning Face Gel , $34, available at Amazon
Alima Pure Satin Finishing Powder
Skin Tone: Fair Skin Type: Oily or acne-prone
Denno’s trick for fair skin that tends to get oily? “I often prefer to simply use a darker loose or pressed powder — not one specifically designated a bronzer,” Denno says. Then, she suggests giving the skin a spritz of toner to add a little dewiness. For day, Denno suggests Alima Pure’s powder in Keiko or Ami. For night, you can opt for one with shimmer, like the Radiant Finishing Powder in Augusta.
Alima Pure Satin Finishing Powder, $24, available at Alima Pure
Ilia Illuminator in Sway
Skin Tone: Medium Skin Type: Dry
Have dry skin? The same rules apply to medium skin tones as fair, but you can skip the lotion step (you don’t want to sheer out the color too much). Simply pick a creamy formula, like this Illia stick, and dab onto skin using a Beautyblender.
Ilia Illuminator in Sway, $34, available at Ilia
Kjaer Weis Cream Bronzer in Dazzling
Skin Tone: Medium Skin Type: Normal or combination
Opt for a creamy formula, like this one from fellow makeup artist Kjaer Weis. Just press it on as the last step in your face makeup routine.
Kjaer Weis Bronzer, $56, available at The Detox Market
W3LL People Bio Bronzer Powder
Skin Tone: Medium Skin Type: Oily or acne-prone
The biggest reason your bronzer gets streaky? You’re not letting your moisturizer or foundation properly dry. “Powder bronzer
must be applied to a dry face,” Denno says. “This means a face oil or moisturizer must be given plenty of time to soak in. And if you’re more on the oily side, using a blotting paper to remove any excess oil on the skin will help your bronzer to look even and not streaky or clumpy.” Once your moisturizer has set in, sweep some of this powder along your cheekbones. It’s super pigmented, so start small, then build for more coverage if you wish. W3LL People Bio Bronzer Powder – Natural tan (0.21 oz.), $21.99, available at DermStore
RMS Buriti Bronzer
Skin Tone: Deep Skin Type: Dry
“This bronzer is great because it imparts a lot of moisture
and color,” Denno says. It has quite a bit of finely micronized shimmer, so apply only to the apples of cheeks, down the bridge of the nose, on the inner corners of eyes, and on the Cupid’s bow. Use a light touch for day, but feel free to use a heavier hand when you want to glow after sunset. RMS Buriti Bronzer, $28, available at Credo
Vapour Organic Beauty Solar Translucent Bronzer In Spicy
Skin Tone: Deep Skin Type: Normal or combination
You can add dimension to deep skin tones by lightly patting a creamy formula on the cheeks, forehead, and down the bridge of the nose, always making sure to go back over it with a damp sponge so there are no patchy areas. Denno recommends this stick formula in Spicy, but if you want some nighttime shimmer, try topping cheekbones with the RMS bronzer above beforehand.
Vapour Organic Beauty Solar Translucent Bronzer In Spicy, $36, available at DermStore
Nvey Eco Mattifying Compact Powder
Skin Tone: Deep Skin Type: Oily or acne-prone
Those with deep skin tones can benefit from a sheer powder bronzer in a slightly darker shade than their natural complexion; Denno’s partial to Nvey Eco’s shine-busting formula. “Pick a medium-density fluffy brush, slightly bigger than the apple of your cheek,” Denno says. “Swirl the brush into your bronzer and tapping off the excess or swirl it into a tissue, then, beginning on the forehead or cheekbones, lightly sweep the color onto skin in the places where sun would naturally hit.”
Nvey Eco Mattifying Compact Powder, $34.84, available at Nvey Eco
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