Best Bronzer for Your Skin Type and How to Apply Bronzer

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Summer is coming, time to glow! Rather than baking yourself in dangerous cancer-causing tanning beds, use bronzer to achieve that “just returned from vacation” color.

Nearly every cosmetic company sells bronzers, so the selection process can be daunting. It’s difficult to tell which will impart the correct coloring to enhance your skin tone, rather than create muddy or orange hues. Here is a list to help you choose the best bronzer for your skin type and suggestions for how to apply them.

Oily Skin - Use Loose Powder or Pressed Powder Bronzer

Those with oily skin should steer clear of liquid bronzers and opt toward loose or pressed powder. Skin oil essentially causes liquid formulas to break down faster, giving you streaky application and blotchy color. Loose or pressed powder formulas tend to adhere well on oily skin and provide the most even coloring. Oily skinned girls can go with either a matte or shimmery bronzer, just be sure not to apply with a heavy hand. The key to looking natural? Blend, blend, blend! Whether using a powder puff or powder brush, be sure to tap away excess before application. Use light, wispy motions toward the hair-line for the most natural looking color.

*Additional Tip: When using a shimmery bronzer, apply it to upper forehead and outer apples of cheeks, but skip direct application on the T-Zone where oil is more apt to gather. You don’t want the shimmer of the bronzer to make your face look oilier than it already is; so skipping the T-Zone will ensure that most of your face looks matte while still giving you a sun kissed glow.

Best Bronzers for Oily Skin:

Physicians Formula Summer Eclipse Bronzer: A pressed powder bronzer, somewhat matte, with two color variations. The darker bronzer is great for minimizing the sides of face, creating a defined cheekbone, or slimming the nose. The lighter bronzer is best for brightening the center of nose, chin, and forehead. For an all-over bronze, sweep powder puff or powder brush over both color variations to create a warming glow. Buy at drugstores for around $10

Mattify! Cosmetics Bronzer: A shimmery loose powder bronzer with built-in oil control. The product contains Kaolin Clay, which absorbs excess skin oil to prevent a greasy looking face – especially important in hot, humid weather. This bronzer works best when applied with a powder brush, and is especially flattering when used on upper forehead and outer cheeks. You can mix it with moisturizer, sunscreen, foundation, and body moisturizer if you would like an all-over glow for your entire body.

This bronzer can even be mixed with clear lip gloss or nail polish - it turns into a gorgeous coppery shade that’s perfect for summer. Buy at for around $ 7

Dry Skin – Use Liquid Bronzer

Liquid bronzers work best for dry skin. The liquid suspensions usually contain some form of oil or lubrication to aid in ease of application, giving dry skin some added moisture. The liquid form will glide easily onto dry skin and allow for proper blending without making dry areas more noticeable. Those with dry skin can wear either matte or shimmery bronzer, although a bronzer with some shimmer will uplift the brightness of your complexion and allow skin to not look as dry. Allow your moisturizer to dry for 2-3 minutes before applying bronzer.

Best Bronzers for Dry Skin:

Prestige Summer Brilliance Luminous Liquid Bronzer: A light-weight formula that gives a fresh, sheer bronze color. Best for those wanting a subtle glow without looking obvious. Buy at some CVS drugstores or for around $ 8.

Cargo Multi Mix Bronzer: A highly blendable formula that can be used alone or mixed with foundation, moisturizer or sunscreen. Provides delicate, nearly undetectable shimmer and healthy radiance. Buy at or Sephora for around $28.

Neutrogena Instant Bronze Sunless Tanner: This doubles as a bronzer and tanner - so while it gives you a temporary tan, you are also working on achieving a more permanent tan. This works well for face and body, and is the best choice if you want a completely tan face that will last 8-10 days (rather than just highlighting selective areas to bronze). Buy at drugstores for about $10

Normal/Combination Skin – Use Any Type of Bronzer

Lucky you! If you have this skin type, you can use any form of bronzer on this list from liquid, to pressed, to loose powder. However, if your skin is more toward the oily side, you may want to skip the liquid bronzers.

Bronzer Application Tips:

Before applying any type of bronzer or self tanner, you always want to exfoliate first, so you can achieve even, flawless color. Dead, dry skin cells are present on everybody’s skin, whether you can see them or not. When left on the skin, products end up clinging to these patches, which eventually flake off. This leaves you with blotchy coloring and an uneven finish. Exfoliation will remove these problem areas so they don’t interrupt your finished look.

St Ives Apricot Scrub is one of the most commonly used exfoliants – very easy to use and found at most drug stores for around $4. Dampen face (and/or body) then apply the scrub in circular motions for a few seconds. Rinse away and then finish with your usual cleansing routine.

Bronzer can be applied anywhere on the face or body. It can be swept across the forehead, bottom of chin, and sides of cheeks to provide a healthy glow. If want to achieve an all-over tan, it can also be applied on the entire face, but be sure to use a semi-matte bronzer (one without much shimmer) for this so your skin doesn’t look ultra shiny.

Bronzer can also be used to visually slim areas of the face and body. At cosmetic stores like Ulta and Sephora, you can find angled bronzing brushes that allow you to create defined bronzing. After completing each step, it’s important to blend so there is no visible line of bronzer.

To slim the nose: Use the angled brush to sweep bronzer on each side of the nose, leaving your natural color in the center.

To create cheek bones: Glide bronzer brush under the apples of the cheek outward toward the hair line.

To slim a round face: Apply bronzer to lower cheeks down toward each side of chin.

To slim arms and legs: Sweep bronzer on inside and outside of the area you want to appear smaller, leaving your natural color down the center.

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