Find your perfect bronzer with our go-to guide for creating a faux glow like a pro
There are a few makeup products that should be found in every makeup bag and the best powder bronzer that your budget can accommodate should be one of them (along with the best cream blusher and best budget mascara in our humble opinion).
As well as adding instant warmth to our skin, bronzers are great for contouring and adding shape and definition. We asked Beyonce’s makeup artist, Sir John how to create a natural-looking contour using powder bronzer and he delivered! But we also asked him for his top powder bronzer tips in general and this is what he had to say.
Sir John's powder bronzer tips
- Go one shade lighter. “If you’re applying a powder bronzer on top of a cream foundation the powder is going to get ‘heavier’ and look darker when you work it into cream textures so if you have the option always go a shade lighter than you think you want.”
- Use a fluffy but small brush. “You want to avoid dense brushes as they are much harder to use, so choose a brush that has long hairs and is fluffy. You don’t want it too big so often blusher brushes are better and will make it easier for you to sculpt with.”
- Tap away excess. “Get into the habit of dusting excess powder off by brushing a bit onto the back of your hand. That will prevent you from putting too much bronzer in one place.”
- Buff away. “Never be satisfied with your first powder bronzer application. Work with it and move it a bit.”
- Bronze all year round. “We’ve been slightly pre-conditioned to think that bronzers are only for summer but I use bronzers on my clients all year round. In winter it makes us look healthier and in summer it adds glow.”
- Think about tone. “There isn’t the nuance in powder bronzers that there is foundations, they are more forgiving so we’re ok with seeing four or five shade options. The key to choosing the best powder bronzer shade for your skin tone is just to make sure it’s not turning you orange, you want it to create a nice olive tone or warm your complexion up.”
So with all of that in mind, here is our pick of the best powder bronzer.
12 of the best powder bronzer
1. Best luxury powder bronzer: Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush bronzer, £44
Shade range: 4
While this is a matte bronzer, it isn’t flat or full in any way. This is thanks to it containing special ultra-fine silicone powders that disguise pores and create an airbrushed effect. So actually, your skin ends up looking like the best version of itself.
2. Best budget powder bronzer: L'Oreal Paris Infallible 24H Fresh Wear Matte Bronzer, £12.99
Shade range: 3
This is everything you want a powder bronzer to be, silky to apply and fairly sheer so you can build it up to the intensity you want with zero risk of looking too oompa loompa like. It has amazing staying power and is waterproof.
3. Best powder bronzer for oily skin: Pat Mcgrath Divine Skin Bronzer, £40
Shade range: 8
The powder in this bronzer is so finely milled and velvety smooth that on looking at this bronzer (which comes in gorgeous packaging btw) you could easily mistake it for a cream bronzer. But it is most definitely a powder one. One shade has some glimmering particles, but the other shades are all a demi-matte finish and absorb any shine or oil on the skin without making it look dull and ashy.
4. Best powder bronzer for shade range: Mac Skinfinish Sunstruck Matte Bronzer, £28
Shade range: 15
One could argue that 15 shades of bronzer is offering up too much choice and makes it even harder to find the right shade. However, Mac has made it easier to decide with their latest powder bronzer. The range is divided into light, medium, rich, richer and deep tones. Within each of those is a golden and rosy option depending on whether you want to keep it to 'straight' bronze or a bronzer with a little warmth. See, told you it was simple.
5. Best natural-looking powder bronzer: Jones Road The Bronzer, £32
Shade range: 7
Queen of the easy-breezy laidback makeup vibe (if you haven’t read our review of the Jones Road What The Foundation, then you should), it’s no wonder we think that makeup artist Bobbi Brown’s bronzer is the one to reach for if you want a powder bronzer that gives you sun-kissed skin without it looking like you’ve done anything to get it. There is a wide range of shades to choose from, including one very pink-based bronzer which is a great option for anyone who’s slightly wary of bronzer for fear of looking overly tanned. The powder feels silky smooth and the finish is super sheer.
6. Best powder bronzer for contouring: One/Size Made for Shade Bronze & Sculpt Trio Palette, £37
Shade range: 6
Before we get into the fact that you essentially get three bronzers for the price of one, we have to comment on the smiley faces that are embossed into the powders. Yes, they won’t stay once you’ve swirled your brush over them, but that small detail pleases us greatly. Now to the product specifics, each tone contains three complimentary shades of bronzer. The idea being that you use the darker tones to contour and the lighter ones to highlight. However, you could also just use them as ‘regular’ bronzers and alternate throughout the year depending on how tanned you are. Either way, this is a very clever and budget-savvy bronzer.
7. Best sheer powder bronzer: Makeup by Mario Soft Sculpt Bronzer, £32
Shade range: 6
Created by makeup artist, Mario Dedivanovic whose A-list clients include Kim Kardashian, Chrissy Tiger and JLo, this powder bronzer makes frequent appearances on TikTok. The powder feels really soft and it’s quite sheer so you can build it up to your desired bronzing intensity.
8. Best hydrating powder bronzer: Kosas The Sun Show Moisturizing Baked Bronzer, £32
Shade range: 5
It may sound strange to label a powder as hydrating but as so many powders can dry out on the skin, accentuating fine lines and scarring as it does so, then it’s quite key to highlight when a powder does the complete opposite. And that’s exactly what this powder bronzer does. It adds a real radiant glow to the skin and comes in 5 ultra-realistic shades.
9. Best powder bronzer for glow: Nars Bronzing Powder, £32.50
Shade range: 4
An absolute icon of a powder bronzer, originally it was only available in one shade - Laguna - but now there are three additional shades; one lighter (San Juan) and two darker (Casino and Punta Cana). All contain just the right amount of shimmer, it’s there but you won’t ever end up looking glittery. This bronzer is the product you want and need all year round. In colder months the glow will give you a radiance boost and in summer it will make it look like the sun is bouncing off your cheeks. Perfection.
10. Best inclusive powder bronzer: Fenty Sun Stalk'r Instant Warmth Bronzer, £29
Shade range: 9
Of course, Rihanna’s brand, Fenty Beauty knows how to create bronzers that will serve all skin tones. From the moment it was launched Fenty Beauty has been the brand that caters for all and Rihanna is the ultimate queen of inclusivity. And this isn't just about shade breadth, it's also about the fact that all undertones have been considered too so for anyone who's struggled to find a bronzer that works with the levels of yellow, blue or red in their skin - this is a great place to head to. The bronzers are non-transferable and the compact comes with a really good-sized mirror in the lid so you can touch up or just check on your makeup when you’re out and about.
11. Best powder bronzer for shimmer: Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick, £39.50
Shade range: 4 (sort of)
This is another icon of the powder bronzer hall of fame. And the reason we’ve been slightly vague about the shade range is because there are four shades of shimmer brick but one of them only contains pink and coral tones so really sits in the blusher category. However, the remaining three all contain a cacophony of bronzing tones so most definitely work as a powder bronzer. If you’re unfamiliar then each compact is made up of five coordinating shimmering powders. In theory, and if you had a fine enough brush, you could use them individually but the reality is that you swirl your brush over all of them and you get the perfect blend of deeper tones mixed with medium hues and a highlighter shade to create a gorgeous veil of glow.
12. Best refillable powder bronzer: Victoria Beckham Beauty Matte Bronzing Brick, £56 (refills are £40)
Shade range: 5
Housed in a gorgeous tortoiseshell compact, this refillable powder bronzer is probably the chicest you’re ever going to find. Cleverly each bronzer is made up of two tones, which again you can either use individually for one hue all over depending on how tanned you are, or use the darker shade for contouring and the lighter as a highlighter, or you can swirl your brush over both for a mix of the two. Bravo Mrs Beckham, bravo.