11 bronzers for skin that looks naturally sun-kissed
Never look muddy or orangey again.
Beauty Crew Contributing Editor / July 31 2023
Want to look like you just got back from a holiday? Keen to sculpt more definition into your face so your cheekbones are front and centre? Or simply want your complexion to look all healthy and radiant? Well, bronzer has your back.
But getting the right shade and formula that’s all glow and not muddy is where things get tricky. How you apply it changes its magic powers, too. Hint: Below the bone sculpts, and on the high points sun-kisses your complexion.
Skin tone and skin type come into it a lot as well. It’s very easy to end up with a shade that’s too warm (which will look orangey) or too cool (that just looks dirty), or a formula that pools on dry patches or leaves you a shiny mess. What you need is a really great bronzer that’s nailed its colour choices and has a fool-proof formula so you can’t go wrong. And we have found just the thing for you. Actually, a whopping nine of them.
We asked our Beauty Crew team and Review Crew members to share their best bronzer reviews...
Maybelline New York City Bronzer
The best drugstore bronzer for a variety of skin tones (there are four shades so there’s something for light skin tones, for medium skin and for dark skin tones), this Maybelline bronzer is for the matte lovers. With a rich colour payoff and your choice of warm or cool bronze shades, it delivers customised and healthy-looking radiance that brightens up the face.
The review: “I found this bronzer did much the same job as the more expensive brands. The pigment is really high quality and with four shades to choose from it’s easy to find a perfect match for all skin colours. It’s packaged nicely, looks quite luxe and is super easy to use either for contouring or just a sunkissed glow.” - Debbie P, Review Crew member
$15.49 (down from $17.99) at Chemist Warehouse
Estée Lauder Bronze Goddess Powder Bronzer
This one’s an oil-free powder and it contains an oil-control complex, so it’s great for oily skin types and sweaty days. The golden bronze colour has a natural-looking finish and it comes in four shades to suit each skin tone.
The review: “I have been using Estée Lauder Bronze Goddess for years now (it takes years to use it up). I like the elegant packaging, I like the fact that the brush is included and the brush actually does a good job applying the product. I like the shade of the bronzer. It is not a contouring product though, it is a typical bronzer to warm up the complexion. It is very long-lasting.” Anita, SUPERcrew member
$71 at Myer
ulta3 Dream Duo Baked Bronzer
Looking for a bronzer that delivers an effortless summer glow? Meet your perfect match. This baked bronzer duo is velvety soft and glides effortlessly onto the skin, offering buildable coverage that allows you to sculpt, highlight and bronze your skin as you desire. Oh, and did we mention it smells like chocolate? We'll take 10...
The review: "Ultra 3 is a great budget friendly brand and this bronzer works a treat. I use a quality kabuki brush to apply this easily and it gives me a nice natural glow. I especially love this for highlighting cheekbones and it gives a nice light sheen without looking too fake or too shiny. It’s buildable and it lasts really well without having to reapply. I love the classy simple black packaging it’s really elegant and the handy compact fits perfectly in my makeup bag." - Debbie, Review Crew Member
$11.50 at Ulta3
Clinique True Bronze Pressed Powder Bronzer
Beautifully lightweight with a radiant (but not glittery) finish, the powder is really easy to build to your desired coverage. And once it’s on, it last well into the night.
The review: “My fave bronzer is the Clinique bronzer - it comes with its own little brush and the colour and formula look so natural and boosts my whole look. It's not flat matte but it doesn't have any seeable glitter either.” Vanessa, SUPERcrew member
$56 at Myer
This drugstore bronzer will have you bronzed to the gods in just one swipe of a brush. The ultra-fine powder blends effortless and wears like a dream, offering enough coverage to sculpt and define your face without being cakey.
The review: "I get a nice natural glow from this bronzer, it’s buildable and looks quite natural, like I've been out in the sun and have a nice tan. It’s great for highlighting cheekbones and I often use this just over a good bb cream and skip the foundation for day. It has no fake glittery shine so it doesn’t look tacky." - Debbie P, Review Crew member
$4.50 at Woolworths
MAC Cosmetics Bronzing Powder
That elusive golden glow is a cinch to create with the help of the light-reflecting pigments in this bronzer. It comes in four shades to really cater to every skin tone. Refined Golden is a soft golden shade with pearl pigments; Golden is a muted golden tan-beige with shimmer; Bronze is a true-bronze colour with shimmer; and Matte Bronze is a pretty universally-flattering shade of bronze. All of them are sheer with a buildable formula.
The review: “My favourite bronzer is MAC Bronzer in 'Refined Golden' because it’s not orange, nor is it muddy. It has tiny golden specs which give you a sunkissed glow. Also, it’s value for money, I’ve had mine for years and I use it every day.” Aneta, SUPERcrew member
$62 at Myer
Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Bronzer
If you’re tired of bronzer that looks cakey and muddy, this silky formula will knock your socks off. Available in four shades, it features a soft-focus finish and buildable colour that blurs pores and leaves skin looking sun-kissed and smooth. Infused with hyaluronic acid, it’s ideal for those with dry skin who want a powder that doesn’t look powdery.
The review: “I love how buttery this big (and I mean seriously big) bronzer is. I’m partial to powder on a work day and this one is foolproof to apply on a rushed morning. It also lasts really well and can be layered over creams with no problem. I use it everywhere; cheeks, temples and even as an eyeshadow. The size also means it lasts for AGES.” - Helen, SUPERcrew member
$80 at Harrods
Nude by Nature Touch of Glow Highlighter Stick
Cream bronzers are surprisingly hard to come by. While powders are more commonplace, cream formulas nail that dewy radiance that sun-kissed skin dreams of, and they’re perfect for dry skin types who find powders turn patchy as the day goes by. This bronzing stick also makes an excellent cream eyeshadow. The Australian natives kakadu plum, quandong and desert lime in the formula load up the skin with antioxidants for an added bonus.
The review: “Ever since I first tried a cream bronzer, I haven’t looked back. This one is literally as easy to apply as swiping over the cheekbones and blending with your fingers. Two seconds later, I’m left with a believable, creamy glow. I don’t pack a lot of makeup when I travel, but this bronzing stick always makes the cut.” Chelsea Tromans, Beauty Crew’s Contributing Editor
$24.95 at Nude by Nature
L'Oréal Paris Back to Bronze Matte Bronzer
With a 4.4 star rating from over 90 reviews, this is one affordable bronzer buy that won't disappoint. Sweep it onto your cheeks with confidence knowing that the subtle colour won't look OTT, and there'll be no hint of orange in sight.
The review: “This bronzer really surprised me. I expected it to be too dark for me, but if you use a light hand it works well (and I am VERY pale.) It's a nice matte colour which I appreciate, it's hard to get a good matte bronzer without glitter being added. A little definitely goes a long way, but it is easy to blend and I can see it working for many skin tones.” - Jackie Mellor, Review Crew member
$29.95 at Adore Beauty
Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Bronzing Cream
If you only try one makeup product from Chanel in your life, you can’t go wrong with the cult cream bronzer. It melts into the skin beautifully to deliver a warm, skin-like radiance that can be applied with a dense brush or damp beauty blender. And don’t be fooled into thinking it won’t last because it’s a cream — it’s got staying power to boot.
The review: "Whenever I want to look like I've just come back from a tropical holiday, I reach for this. It lights up my skin in a noticeable yet natural-looking way that instantly makes my complexion look luminous. It's a unique formula; it glides on effortlessly, but once set it won't budge and looks just as good as the end of the day as it did at first swipe." - Samantha McMeekin, Beauty Crew's Editor
$91 at Myer
Benefit Cosmetics Hoola Bronzer
Not everyone wants a side of shimmer with their bronzer - actually, according to the overwhelming number of votes from our SUPERcrew for this bronzer, not a lot do. The matte finish means it's equally as good for contouring as it is at giving your entire face a tanned look. It also comes in a Lite, Caramel and Toasted version to suit different skin tones.
The reviews: “My go-to (and half the planet it seems) is the Hoola Bronzer from Benefit. It is a beautiful, matte (I hate with a passion anything ‘glittery’), wearable (for just about everyone) shade that gives a summertime glow all year round. It lasts all day, feels beautiful on the skin and one compact will see you through an entire year. I also love that you can use this for so many purposes...dust on collarbones /décolletage and shoulders for a gorgeous hint of tan; try it as an eyeshadow to tie in a bronzey makeup look; and lip colour (just add a touch of balm over the top). And on top of all that, it smells divine and has the cutest little box packaging.” Jacqui, SUPERcrew member
$59 at Sephora
Chelsea is BEAUTYcrew’s Contributing Editor. She has a sweet spot for anything that claims to make skin glow and won’t leave the house without a slick of mascara. Chelsea has 10 years of experience as a beauty editor and her words can be found on BEAUTYcrew, Women’s Health, Daily Addict, The Joye and Primped.