Let's clear something up firstâ€”there's a big misconception that bronzers aren't made for women with dark skin tones. This is because old-school bronzers from way back in the day would often look oddly orange or chalky on deep complexions. At the time, those bronzers were solely made for tanning purposes on lighter skin tones. Brown girls deserve a beachy glow, too.
Fortunately, that's not the case anymore, thanks to innovative formulas that add warmth and definition to dark skin tones. Whether it's a powder, cream, or velvety texture, there are hardworking bronzers out there that'll impart a striking sun-kissed glow on every shade of brown. Trust us on this one. When looking for a bronzer, you'll want a color that matches your undertones, and just enough shimmer to add some highlight to your face. You'll also want it to have a light enough texture that it doesn't overwhelm your other makeup products.
Ahead are the best bronzers for dark skin tones.
Best Overall: Guerlain Terracotta Original Bronzing Powder
Meet my favorite bronzer of all time. This gem from Guerlain is a cult product among celeb makeup artists because it will contour, sculpt, and bronze your skin at the same time for an all-around sun-kissed glow. I use it every day.
Best Budget: Rimmel Natural Bronzer
For just $4, opt for a rich radiance from this Rimmel classic. If you truly want to look sunlit, layer it up on your cheekbones.
Best Splurge: Tom Ford Skin Illuminating Powder Duo
We get that the price tag is a little discouraging, but your skin deserves to beam to the heavens above. The bottom shade is a gorgeous golden hue that pairs nicely with dark skin tones. Plus, you can make it pop with the above pearlescent hue for a multidimensional radiance.
Best Lightweight: Make Up For Ever Pro Bronze Fusion Bronzer
This finely-milled, gel-based texture allows you to dust this onto your skin for a lit-from-within glow. This caramel tone looks especially gorgeous against dark skin tones. Your skin will look warm and radiant without the residue that's often left behind from heavy powder formulas.
Best Texture: Dior Diorskin Mineral Nude Bronze
If you're a fan of velvety formulas, this bronzing powder will deliver a healthy-looking glow on dark skin tones. It feels weightless and is full of sheer pigments that won't leave an ashy cast on your skin.
Best Sheer Finish: Iman Cosmetics Sheer Finish Bronzing Powder
Iman has created products with women of color in mind since the company's inception. Sweep this bronzer all over to enhance the warmth of your skin. Or build it up on the high points of your face for a more noticeable glow.
Best Creamy Formula: Becca Cosmetics Sunlit Bronzer
Becca is a brown girl's dream. In fact, the brand is at the top of the running with the largest shade range of highlighters out right now. This extension of its cult Shimmering Skin Perfector will give your skin a show-stopping glow. Its creamy formula allows you to amp it up to your liking.
Best Natural Ingredients: RMS Beauty Contour Bronzer
Rose-Marie Swift, the founder of RMS Beauty, created this bronzer specially for dark skin tones. You can trust that it's made with all-natural ingredients and it'll glide right on like a second skin. It imparts a starry glow that'll also deliver definition for contouring purposes.
Best Palette: e.l.f. Cosmetics Bronzer
Customize your glow-up with a combination of matte and shimmery textures in this palette. Whether you want to sculpt, highlight, or shade, these multitasking hues beautifully complement deep complexions.
Best for Red Undertones: Bobbi Brown Bronzer in Deep
Calling all my brown beauties with red and brown undertones: You'll look like you just stepped off the beach with this bronzer. Apply it all over to enhance overall radiance or pile it up for a summery glow.
Best Sculpting: NARS Bronzer Powder
You might not be on vacation, but that doesn't mean you can't have gorgeously tanned skin. There's a reason this bronzer is beloved by makeup artists and editors everywhere. It warms up your skin just enough for a freshly sculpted effect.
What to Look For in a Bronzer
Color That Matches Your Undertone
Your bronzer color should be one to two shades darker than your skin tone, but it should also match your undertone, which may be cool, warm, or neutral. Becca Global Style Director Kerry Cole previously told ishonest, "When looking for the right shade for your skin tone, try to find something that mimics how your actual skin looks when it's slightly tanned.
You can, of course, go matte with your bronzer, but a hint of shimmer is quite common and will add that great glow to your look that most everyone loves. For darker skin tones, opt for a golden shimmer. Makeup educator Lijha Stewart says choose gold over pink or silver shimmers because the latter can "reflect a gray cast over deeper skin tones."
Bronzer should never leave you looking streaky and it shouldn't overwhelm the other makeup on your face. Choose one that isn't heavy so that you can build your look gradually if needed. Powders are an excellent choice for those who are less well-versed in makeup application, as creams and liquids can be a little daunting to work with.
Both bronzers and contours can add dimension to darker skin tones. Lightly sweeping it on can make you look more radiant, and can amp up your overall look in a lovely, glamorous way. Bronzers can also give your face a more sculpted shape.
To choose a bronzer shade, you'll want to go a shade or two darker than your own skin color. If this feels challenging, first find your skin color match in the lineup of bronzer, then look at the color options right next to it.
If your goal is to accentuate the angles of your face, strategic placement of your bronzer is key. When demonstrating her technique to applying bronzer, makeup artist Tobi Henney lightly sweeps the powder along her cheeks, forehead, and jawline in "C" formations. She makes sure to use a gentle hand to avoid harsh lines.
Applied correctly, bronzer doesn't make you look darker. It gives your face dimension, radiance, and can have a sculpting effect.
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