8 budget bronzers that will give you a gorgeous sun-kissed glow
These drugstore buys get our tick of approval
Beauty Crew Contributing Editor / October 15 2019
Sun-kissed skin looks healthy, vibrant and glowing; that’s why we can’t get enough of bronzer. A sweep on the cheekbones (don’t forget your temples, jawline and the bridge of your nose, too) is often all it takes to warm up the complexion and let off those carefree, summer vibes. While we love our cult-favourites like Benefit Cosmetics Hoola Bronzer, when money is tight and you’re after a purse-friendly option, it’s nice to know you don’t need to compromise on quality. There are a surprising number of cheap bronzers that deliver that elusive straight-off-the-beach glow at an affordable price. These are our top pick for the best budget bronzers right now.
#8 / Revlon Colorstay Skinlights Powder Bronzer
Give your cheekbones a natural-looking tan with the fine pigments of this bronzer, which blends effortlessly into skin. This bronzer comes in two shades - Havana Glean is perfect for light skin, while Cannes Tan is a rich shade that works best for dark skin tones or those with an existing tan.
The review: “Revlon Skinlights Bronzer (in Havana Gleam) is the perfect bronzer for my paler skin tone. It looks very natural on the skin and in no way muddy or orange and as it has a natural satin finish so gives a bit of life and glow to the skin.” Kylie, SUPERcrew member
#7 / Rimmel London Kate Sculpting Kit
The three tones in this bronzer palette gives you maximum versatility. The formula is high-shimmer and colour-rich and stays put from morning to evening.
The review: “This is a bronzer I never get sick of. Besides featuring three generous colours that you can mix and match (and seriously, you won’t run out for a loooong time), the colours are really versatile and are complementary for olive skin and medium skin tones.” Iantha Yu, Beauty Crew’s Beauty Editor
#6 / elf cosmetics Bronzer Palette
The best drugstore bronzer for those wanting to chop and change between shimmer and matte finishes, this bronzing quad ticks a lot of boxes. You can contour, shade, sculpt, and highlight for under $20. It’s also has the perfect colours for lighter skin tones.
The review: "Most bronzing powders scare me, because it's so easy to go overboard and end up looking muddy. But this palette is amazing. The four shades give you so much versatility to match your skin tone as it changes with the seasons, and the colour payoff is on the sheer side, so you can build to the perfect intensity." Chelsea Tromans, Beauty Crew's Contributing Editor
#5 / NYX Professional Makeup Matte Bronzer
For those looking for a matte bronzer, we like this NYX one. The bronze colour is cool-toned and gives skin a healthy-looking bronzed glow. It has a good colour payoff and feels soft and luxurious on skin.
The review: “This is a little pot of wonder for my skin. This bronzer gives my skin a nice soft glow. I apply lightly at first and then build up if I need more intensity. The formula is soft and glides over my skin for an instant sun-kissed glow. It is not cakey or orangey on my skin. Since it is matte, I don't have to worry about any shimmer, instead my skin has a healthy sun-kissed tan to it. It's a perfect everyday-use bronzer.” Sarrah, SUPERcrew member
#4 / Rimmel London Sunshimmer 3-in-1 Shimmering Bronzer
If you’re after a one-stop shimmer bronzer palette that can also be used for contouring, this is it. The three tones of light, medium and dark complement each other for a multidimensional look, or they can be used on their own. The colour payoff is more subtle than some bronzers, which is good for those wanting a believable sun-kissed radiance.
The review: “My skin is fair, and this brick is great as it contains a few shades and you can go lighter or deepen your look a little. The product is fabulous value, easy to apply and lasts for ages. You get a lovely, natural shimmer and it's great for day or night use.” Ariane, SUPERcrew member
#3 / Nude by Nature Mineral Bronzer
This mineral loose powder formula has a neutral bronze shade that adapts to your skin tone for the most natural-looking finish. The shimmery powder also contains skin-loving ingredients, including antioxidants to protect against the damaging effects of the sun, jojoba esters to nourish and kaolin clay to absorb excess oil (yep, this is a good drugstore bronzer option for acne skin types - it’s oil-free, too). We also like this bronzer for sensitive skin types.
The review: “In my opinion, the best cheap bronzer would have to be Nude by Nature Mineral Bronzer because it gives such a believable, natural-looking, sun-kissed warmth to the skin.” Aneta, SUPERcrew member
#2 / L'Oréal Paris Glam Bronze La Terra
The ultra-lightweight micronised pigments ensure breathable coverage, while the velvety finish looks natural and non-cakey on skin. This bronzing powder comes in two shades, which are both warm-toned and deliver a brightening effect. We’re also fans of how large this palette is - it will last you ages.
The reviews: “This is my number one bronzer - it is reliable and always looks great. For the price especially, you can't beat it! You can build it up and layer it, so it can be used for a subtle glow or as a deep bronzed highlight. It has a bit of a light glitter/shimmer effect, which is great for illuminating and contouring, too. It is super lightweight and never feels heavy or overwhelming.” Milan, SUPERcrew member
“This lasts so long! Great value for money. It's been very reliable for me as it is buildable, can be used in winter for cheekbones and in summer for all-over bronze. It's a little bit shimmery so it picks up light and looks fantastic day or night. It also looks good as an eyeshadow!” Georgia, SUPERcrew member
#1 / Maybelline New York City Bronzer
Taking out our vote for the best drugstore bronzer in Australia is this matte bronzer and contour powder from Maybelline. The City Bronzer is a micro-milled powder with cocoa butter that blends seamlessly and effortlessly to nourish the complexion and delivers a natural finish that feels velvety on the skin. We love the shade range - there are four to choose from: a light cool tone, a medium cool tone, a medium warm tone, and deep cool tone.
The reviews: “I love that this adds just the right amount of warmth to my complexion without looking muddy or too dark (I have a light to medium skin tone with neutral undertones and I use Medium Warm). Great for days I want to give my skin some definition and colour without any shimmer or shine.” Carli Alman, Beauty Crew’s Editor
“I don’t usually wear bronzer because I always feel like it looks too intense on my pale skin, but Maybelline City Bronzer in Medium Cool is an exception. It gives me a perfectly natural, healthy glow without making me look too ‘overdone’ - so it’s perfect for everyday wear.” Erin Docherty, Beauty Crew’s Beauty Writer
Good to know: Liquid bronzers deliver a sheer coverage and are easier to blend for beginners. For dry skin types, you might prefer a cream blush as it won’t catch on dry patches and they tend to deliver a more dewy finish.
If you’re after a great blush to complement your bronzer, these are our picks for the best blush buys.
What’s your pick for the best cheap bronzer? We’d love to read your reviews below.
Main image credit: @emrata
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.