6 bronzers that won’t leave dark skin looking ashy or gray
There's a pick for you, whether you want a natural golden glow or a rich matte pigment.
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If you ask me, bronzer is one of the most underrated makeup products. While most of us think that the sole purpose of a bronzer is to make the skin look tan, there are so many other reasons this skin enhancer is a must in anyone’s makeup routine. It adds a healthy glow and warmth to the skin and is necessary if you like to sculpt your own Kardashian-inspired chiseled cheekbones. But when it comes to darker complexions, most bronzer formulas leave brown skin looking gray or ashy—not exactly the look you’re going for, I know.
The unfortunate truth is that finding makeup that complements dark skin tones can be quite the challenge. Sure, brands are becoming more inclusive, but it’s still hard to find makeup products with the right color and undertone to give depth and warmth to deep skin.
Here’s where I come in to save the day. As a brown-skinned beauty editor, I’ve swatched and tested my share of bronzing formulas over the years. And while most were disappointing and added to my never-buy list, there were a few formulas out there that were impressive and made my caramel-colored skin glow. Ahead, find the best six bronzers for dark skin tones.
1. For natural color: Guerlain Terracotta Light Natural Healthy Glow and Radiance Bronzing Powder in Deep Golden
If you want to add a flush of color without looking overdone, this natural-looking bronzer is for you. The Guerlain bronzer contains three colors in one compact—deep brown, tan, and rose—that blend together to give the skin an all-over radiance. The best part is you can sweep it across your entire face to use it in place of a lightweight foundation and your friends will be wondering how your skin looks so healthy. Not to mention, it claims to protect against free radicals and pollution that can age the skin. And the smell is, well, amazing. It literally smells like summer.
One Sephora user writes: “In my ongoing pursuit to simplify, I’ve tried several different bronze/glow powders to use as my one and done product for cheeks, eyes, and overall glow/color. This Guerlain compact really checks all the boxes … [It] lasts all day [and] doesn’t oxidize or get muddy looking.”
2. For a matte finish: Bobbi Brown Cosmetics Bronzing Powder in Deep
Yes, it’s totally possible to find a bronzer that doesn’t make you look like a walking ball of glitter. And thankfully, this rich powder option has a matte finish so your warm glow looks like second skin. It’s so lightweight that you’ll forget you’re wearing it, and it makes you look sun-kissed all day long. That’s because the blend of colors includes both red and brown undertones that mimic how the skin naturally tans when exposed to the sun. And because it’s glitter and shimmer-free, it’s hard to be heavy-handed with this formula, so you can build on coverage as heavy or as light as you please.
“This bronzer is bomb. I just ordered my second because it’s so good! I use it as a bronzer and an eyeshadow. It’s such a great color for brown girls—it’s warm without being orange,” says one Sephora reviewer. “The price tag is hefty but it lasts a super long time and it’s totally worth it! It’s buildable so it works for me in the summer and the winter. Love this bronzer so much!”
3. For a little shimmer: Becca Cosmetics Sunlit Bronzer in Maui Nights
Now, if you are looking for a sparkly sheen, there’s an option for you, too. This award-winning formula from Becca Cosmetics is a cult favorite for a reason. The Maui Nights shade pairs perfectly with deep skin tones, thanks to the rich mahogany brown color and golden shimmer—deep skin tones should steer away from makeup with silver shimmer to avoid unwanted ashiness. Golden notes are your friend. I also love how long-wearing this bronzer is because the summer heat is known to melt makeup in minutes. I can apply this bronzer in the morning and still see the subtle shimmer at the end of the day.
One Ulta reviewer: “I bought the Maui Nights shade and fell in love! I kept looking for the perfect bronzer that would give me the perfect amount of warmth and not look grey on my skin, I have warm and golden undertones. This shade was spot on! It also has a very subtle natural glow and makes me look like I had the perfect amount of sun to hit me on a warm sunny day. ... I’m now thinking I should buy a backup.”
Get Becca Sunlit Bronzer in Maui Nights at Ulta for $38
4. For contouring and shading: E.L.F. Cosmetics Bronzer Palette in Deep Bronzer
For those of you who love and know how to contour and shade, you’ll fall in love with this four-shade palette. Each shade looks great on brown skin individually, but the fun is mixing and matching for a totally customizable look. There’s a shade for a matte finish and one for shimmer, plus a super-rich chocolate color that will make sculpting a cinch. And with a price tag that’s under $10, you’ll have trouble finding a reason not to purchase this palette.
A reviewer writes: “This product swatches great, the formula is to die for, the color payoff is amazing, and it’s most definitely professional and worth the price. E.L.F. doesn’t disappoint on formula and this is going to be in my new favorites kit!”
5. For red undertones: Huda Beauty Tantour Contour Bronzer Cream in Rich
If you know anything about Huda Beauty, you know its formulas never disappoint. This creamy bronzer is rich in pigment and rivals designer makeup. It’s a cream-to-powder formula which means it’s easy to blend, whether you apply it in the hollows of your cheeks or along the creases of your eyes. The rich shade is similar to a deep burgundy hue that looks flawless on deep skin tones with red undertones. But this color is really deep and because it has a purple-red tint to it, it won’t complement medium skin tones. This shade is best for those with deep, dark skin.
One Sephora review writes: “This is probably the best contour on the market for dark-skinned women. [It] might be a bit pricey but it has a lot of product in it.”
Get Huda Beauty Tantour Contour Bronzer Cream at Sephora for $30
6. For golden undertones: Fenty Beauty Sun Stalk’r Instant Warmth Bronzer in Bajal Gyal
RiRi does it again. Just like all of Fenty Beauty’s formulas, this bronzer was made with all skin colors in mind. The Sun Stalk’r Bronzer is a powder formula that glides onto the skin as smoothly as a cream. And keeping in mind how much undertones matter, the shade Bajan Gyal is formulated for skin tones that have warm tones, like yellow and gold. As someone who has yellow undertones, I know the struggle of finding makeup that gives added warmth to already warm skin, but this bronzer does just that. It’s like my skin, but better and the finish is semi-matte, so it gives an airbrush-like finish.
One Sephora user agrees: “_The best bronzer I have ever used!_ I’m a professional makeup artist. But I have never found the ‘perfect’ bronzer because of my tan skin tone …This is the most beautiful shade I’ve ever found for my skin tone. It blends and builds beautifully, it’s natural but still shows, it lasts all day, it’s no fuss! It’s perfect. If [you're a brown/tan-skinned person] who’s never been able to find a perfect bronzer—there’s one for us now!”
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.