The Best Bronzers for Sun-Kissed Skin, According to Makeup Artists

The pros swear by these bronzers for a natural-looking summer glow, minus the damaging sun exposure.

Dwyer Frame Jun, 12, 2017

This article was originally published on Health.

By now we all know the dangers of tanning—whether on the beach or in a tanning bed, it’s all bad for you. So how do you recreate that sun-kissed glow without upping your skin cancer risk? Bronzer is the answer, and no, we aren’t talking about that orange-looking stuff that has you looking like a Jersey Shore reject. When bronzer is applied the right way and with the right formula, you can take your complexion from pale and pasty to fresh-from-the-tropics. To help narrow down your search for the best bronzers, we reached out to celebrity makeup artists, who revealed their favorite bronzers as well as tips on the best ways to use them. 



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“I love, love, love, By Terry's Tea to Tan. This is like a lovely bronzey watercolor—sheer, but tints the skin the most realistic shade of tan. I tend to steer clear of powdered bronzers when the heat turns up. Powders tend to sit on top of the skin. I also avoid bronzers with shimmer for the face. If glow is what you're after, use your shimmer just on top of cheekbones for a little kick, or keep shimmer to the body.” —Sage Maitri, Los Angeles-based makeup artist who has worked with Rashida Jones and Kaley Cuoco

available at barneys $88 Buy

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“This hydrating, luminous powder bronzer is a flattering shade that suits most fair to medium complexions beautifully. The mica-based pigment deposits a rich amount of color while the vitamin E in it helps it to settle the powder into the skin for the perfect natural-looking bronze.” —Roxy, Los Angeles makeup artist who has worked with Shailene Woodley and Gina Rodriguez 

available at target $18 Buy

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“It's a cream formula that is amazing at warming up foundation or used around the perimeter of the face for defining or contouring. Its formula is incredibly sheer but can also be built up depending on coverage desired. What makes this product so great is its universal shade can warm up the fairest complexions and deepen the deepest skin tones.”—Robert Sesneck, New York City-based makeup artist who has worked with Chrissy Teigen and Kate Upton  

available at nordstrom $50 Buy

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I love how sheer this bronzer goes on and that it gives a beautiful golden glow to skin that’s not too orange.
I usually apply it with a small powder brush to the high points of the face and along the cheek bones, chin, jawline, and down the neck to give a natural golden warmth to the skin.”—Julie Harris, New York City-based makeup artist who has worked with Eva Mendes and Allison Williams

available at sephora $42 Buy

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“This bronzer is matte and waterproof. Perfect for the active outdoorsy type. I'm not saying I endorse wearing a full face of makeup to the beach or on a hike, but if you want a little warmth on your skin while at a pool party, this is your bronzer. The color is a perfect neutral bronze without shimmer. You won't feel completely made up and you can find peace of mind knowing that even if you get a little hot your bronzer isn't going anywhere.” —Jenna Kristina, Los Angeles-based makeup artist who has worked with Emily Ratajkowski and Hailee Steinfeld

available at tartecosmetics $34 Buy

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“This is a stunning bronzer for a more shimmery, glowy, bronzed look.  The color glides on and gives a beautiful glow that is shimmery without being sparkly. It looks just as lovely on the face as it does on the shoulders and décolletage.” —Fiona Stiles, a Los Angeles makeup artists who has worked with Jessica Alba and Jennifer Garner

available at neiman marcus $115 Buy

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“They are amazing not only because of the color range but because they are so incredibly sheer. Many bronzers can apply very heavy, but not these­—these can be built up to desired effect, as well as having some of the most believable shades I've ever seen. Lastly they are semi-matte and flatter in texture so they don't look sparkly or glittery on your skin, so it looks as though you've actually been on vacation.”—Sesneck

available at nordstrom $58 Buy

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“Perfect for the person that isn't afraid of slight shimmer in their bronzer. This will give you that bronze goddess look we all strive for during the summer months. I dust it on my eyelids, frame the outside of my face, add mascara, and I'm good to go.” —Kristina

available at sephora $40 Buy

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“This color is perfect for a truly believable bronzed look. There’s no shimmer so you can use it all over the face and it will truly look like sun-kissed skin.” —Stiles 

available at amazon $23 Buy

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“I love this cream bronzer when I want to create that ultra-natural look, a.k.a the 'no-makeup makeup' look.  The texture is super smooth and blendable and it melts onto the skin like butter! It's perfect for everyday because the creamy texture mimics real skin so you know you are in good hands. Tip: if you have oily skin like I do, dust the smallest amount of powder over it to set.” —Liu

available at sephora $62 Buy

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“This stunning bronzer is simply sexy. The combination of its warm undertones and mixed minerals give your complexion a healthy flush of faux-sun and natural radiance. It will make your skin glow like you just returned from a tropical vacation.” —Roxy

available at neiman marcus $65 Buy

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“I love this liquid bronzer for those days when you really don’t want t—o wear makeup but you want a bit of color. It looks so real on the skin, not at all like makeup, just a soft bronzed flush that melts invisibly into the skin.” —Stiles

available at $45 Buy