Blush isn’t the only makeup product that gives your complexion an instant pick-me-up. A sweep of one of the best bronzers on the high points of your face creates subtle definition (hello, cheekbones) while also adding a beautiful, all-over warmth that will trick people into thinking you just got back from vacation — minus the sun damage.
However, much like foundation and concealer, bronzer can go catastrophically wrong if you don’t find the right shade for your skin tone. As a general rule, you want to steer clear of any bronzers that look too orange or gray, as these tones can make you look unnaturally tan or washed out. It’s always a good idea to check out how the color looks in natural light to ensure it’s a spot-on match.
If you have fair skin, New York City-based makeup artist Elisa Flowers recommends looking for one just a shade or two darker than your natural skin tone and always, always using a light hand when applying. Those with light-to-medium complexions can also benefit from choosing shades one or two decimals darker than their natural skin color, but in terms of undertones, look for options that are neutral to get the most natural-looking glow possible. “Be sure to avoid bronzers that appear overly orange or red-toned in the pan, as it will only come across more intense when you apply it to the skin,” says Flowers.
People with tan, olive-toned skin can get away with wearing most bronzer shades as long as they don’t stray too far from their natural skin color, says Flowers. However, she also says to look for terracotta hues that have a hint of red to them, as they look beautiful on tan complexions.
It can be especially tricky (and unfairly so) for those with dark and deep complexions to find a suitable bronzer, as there are fewer options on the market that cater to them. That being said, there are some brands like LYS and Fenty Beauty getting it right. Ultimately, your best bet is to look for ranges that offer deep shades that will not only show up but add a gorgeous glow to the skin, like many of the ones ahead.
Since we know how confusing it can be to determine which bronzer complements your exact skin tone and its undertones, we tapped makeup artists who bronze faces on the daily to share their knowledge on this beloved beauty staple. Ahead, check out their expert picks that’ll make your skin look glow like a post-vacation tan, sans excessive exposure to UV rays.