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Liquid bronzers have been having a real moment ever since Glossier launched its liquid bronzer Solar Paint , £17, last summer. We’ve cast aside our powder bronzers in favour of easily blendable liquid formulas that look ultra-natural and bronzing drops that you dab straight onto your face. "With natural dewy skin and soft glam bang on trend at the moment, liquid bronzers are one of the best products to help achieve the look," says makeup artist Joy Adenuga. "The finish is more realistic on the skin compared to powders."
Liquid bronzers are a favourite of Jennifer Lopez, who took to Instagram to share her sculpting and contouring routine using just liquid bronzer. She uses all four of the liquid bronzers from her JLo Beauty collection (AKA Daily Complexion Boosters , $39) for a subtly sculpted look.
Little Mix bandmates Perrie Edwards and Leighanne Pinnock are also fans of a liquid bronzer, wearing Iconic London's Sheer Bronze , £14.40 for a natural golden look.
It’s the natural look you can achieve with liquid bronzers and bronzing drops that makes them appeal to makeup artist Lisa Caldognetto. “I love them because they’re so much more like skin texture on the skin,” she said. “They sit on the skin like a veil and blend so easily so if you’re not confident with makeup it’s simple.”
If you prefer a more targeted glow, liquid bronzers might just be for you. “You can be more specific with the placement of a liquid bronzer so it’s an ideal product to apply on smaller areas such as the temples or cheekbones,” says Justine Jenkins, ethical make-up artist and author of Sustainable Beauty: Practical Advice and Projects for an Eco-Conscious Beauty Routine .
How to apply liquid bronzers
"Use your fingers to dot liquid bronzer on the high points of your face, cheekbones, temples, the tip of the nose, chin and just under the jaw - areas that don’t see much sun," says makeup artist Ruby Hammer. "Blend with your fingers or a soft fluffy brush and use thin layers to add or build more colour."
Fellow makeup artist Hannah Martin follows a different approach for applying liquid bronzer; she applies it to the back of her hand then uses a foundation brush to gently sweep it where she wants warmth “The key is to have a really light hand because too much pressure blends it away,” she says.
Which skin types does a liquid bronzer work best for?
Liquid bronzers work best with normal and dry skin types, as long as you moisturise dry skin before applying, says Justine. “Anyone with open pores, blemishes or oily skin should consider their liquid bronzer carefully. Make sure you choose a product without heavy shimmer or sparkle as it can highlight uneven skin tone.”
Liquid bronzer is great for more mature skins as well as bronzer novices, adds Ruby Hammer. "It is also great in humid conditions as a powder product may end up streaking or look patchy."
The best liquid bronzers and bronzing drops
Available in four shades, this vegan formula blends in seamlessly and is comfortable and lightweight to wear. The sponge-tipped wand and thicker texture (a little thicker than the brand’s Cloud Paint blush) takes the spills out of applying a liquid bronzer. The satin finish and lack of shimmer make it really easy to achieve a natural skin-like effect, without the muddiness that can come from a powder bronzer. If you want to warm up your whole face you can dot it lightly straight over moisturiser.
Not only does this look fancy on your dressing table, it gives the most gorgeous bronze wash that still lets your own skin and freckles shine through, making it look ultra-natural and youthful. It comes out of the dropper the colour of balsamic vinegar but easily blends into your skin with a few taps. It’s extremely lightweight, almost as light as water but it doesn’t drip and doesn't transfer onto white tops. Solar Glow can be used directly onto the skin as bronzer or added to your moisturiser or foundation if you prefer an all-over glow.
Skincare brand Pai made its first foray into makeup with these bronzing drops last year, and as you’d expect from a brand famed for its skin-loving formulas, these aren’t your run of the mill glow-giving drops. As well as imparting a just-off-the-beach luminosity, they also include hydrating hero ingredients hyaluronic acid and sea kelp to nourish your skin as well as vitamin C rich lemon water for an extra hit of radiance. Like the D&G drops, you can apply these directly onto the skin for a fresh-face beauty look or mix with moisturiser for a subtle full face glow.
If you’re after a no-makeup look, these drops are your go-to. They feel like a serum (similar consistency to Glossier’s Skin Tint ) and are infused with peptides. They give a soft-focus glow wherever you apply them. They do have more of a shimmer than other bronzing drops in this edit, but it’s still subtle. Apply two or three drops onto dry skin and you’re good to go. All of Versed’s products are vegan and cruelty-free and it always uses unretouched skin in campaign imagery.
Iconic London is best known for its luminosity giving highlighters, but the brand’s Sheer Bronze liquid bronzer is worth a try too. Makeup artist Hannah Martin loves it “It’s nice and lightweight and deliciously sheer,” she says “It’s like someone read my mind when they created it. I’m obsessed.” It’s available in six shades and is blendable; depending on how much you dab on, it can give a soft wash of bronze or a deep bronze normally only achieved with two weeks on holiday. Little Mix’s Leighanne Pinnock and Perrie Edwards wore it to the Brits in 2021, while Paris Hilton wore it during Oscars week for a dewy glow.
MUA Ruby Hammer's liquid bronzer of choice for her Asian skin, this is more than just a universally flattering bronzer. These high-performing drops protect the skin barrier too, shielding it from pollution with vitamins F and D. Add them to your serum or oil for a lit from within, summery glow. If you’re not too precious about saving them, apply to your collar bones and arms and legs too for a subtle hint of sheen all over. As with all Drunk Elephant products, they are fragrance - paraben- and silicone-free.
We first came across Nordic brand Lumene when we tried (and fell in love with) the Liquid Blush , £22.50, and we’re happy to report the liquid bronzer is just as lovely. It’s infused with pure Arctic spring water for hydration and pearlescent pigments for an illuminating bronzer that gives a radiant complexion. Tap it on the points of your face the sun normally hits for a natural look. Or use it over a more pigmented bronzer to amp up your glow.
MUAs, including Nikki Wolff, have long been fans of the original Dr Hauschka bronzing tint, Ruby Hammer even named it as a finalist in the best base category in last year’s Get the Gloss Beauty Awards 2021, where she sang its praises for all skin tones. Now a new version is still 100 per cent natural but it’s also now certified vegan too. In winter when your skin is more washed out, a powder bronzer can be too pigmented. This lovely liquid bronzer is the ideal thing to mix with your moisturiser to add warmth to your skin without creating too much depth. If you use a very rich moisturiser, try applying the tint after your moisturiser so the colour doesn’t get lost.
Moroccan-inspired skincare brand Whind only uses ingredients from ‘sun-kissed climates’ and all of their products are designed to boost your skin health and help all skin tones get their glow on. So, we were very excited to try their tinting water which uses erythrulose, a natural alternative to DHA to (very) gradually build up a natural-looking tan over time. It's not as strong as DHA, we found only a very slight hint of fake tan after cleansing, which is why we've added to our edit of bronzing drops as opposed to self-tan drops. The use of the word 'water' might lead you to think that this is a mist, but these dark brown drops can be applied directly to skin or mixed in with your serum or moisturiser. Our light-skinned tester reported that the initial colour was quite intense (although this dissipates nicely for a warm glow) so you need to be careful with your application and wash hands thoroughly afterwards to avoid any fake tan style patchiness.
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