Believe it or not, there was once a time when I did not own any bronzers. Not only did I fail to understand how to use bronzers, but I never understood why I should use bronzers. In today’s post, I’m ranking the best bronzers for fair skin.
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First, what is the difference between bronzer and contour?
Although often used interchangeably, bronzers and contours are two very different products.
A bronzer is a cosmetic product that adds warmth to the face, with the intention to provide a healthy, sun-kissed appearance. Finish-wise, bronzers can be matte, shimmery, or somewhere in-between. From an color perspective, bronzers undertones are warm colors such as orange, red, and yellow. Additionally, bronzer shades vary in depth.
A contour is a cosmetic product that adds shadow to the face, with the intention to provide definition or structure. Common places to contour include the jawline, cheekbones, forehead, and nose. Additionally, contouring is often used to hide flaws or minimize the appearance of larger aspects of the face.
Unlike bronzers, contours typically have a cool or neutral undertone. This makes perfect sense given that bronzers imitate shadows. However, other products can be used to contour the face – such as concealer or foundation in lighter or deeper shades than individuals’ natural skin tones.
Now that we’ve established the difference between bronzers and contours, let’s move ahead to my bronzer ranking for fair skin.
The Milk Makeup Matte Radiance Baked Bronzer is hyped for good reason. This is a super flattering, easy to blend, natural-looking bronzer that works on a wide range of skin types and skin tones. Plus, this is a HUGE bronzer for the price. Read about some other cult classic products from the brand in my Milk Makeup brand Review.
1 | Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Contour Wand ($68.00, CF)
I realize how boujee I must look right now, but the Hollywood Contour Wand* is a stunning liquid contour that is easy to apply. Although it looks way too dark for fair skin, it blends very naturally on the skin.
Initially, I complained that this contour wand came with very little product. However, my opinion changed after steadily using this product in an attempt to pan it. A little product goes a long way.
I regret purchasing the Anastasia Beverly Hills Powder Bronzer in the shade Rosewood. The 2-3 times I used this bronzer, I quickly discovered that this bronzer is too deep, too red-toned, and too difficult to apply on my fair skin. The formula is difficult to blend. I decluttered this bronzer in 2020.
14 | MAC x Disney Aladdin Collection Powder Blush (Bronzer) – Your Wish is My Command ($35.00)
To be fair, MAC technically defines the Limited Edition Your Wish is My Command Powder as a blush, not a bronzer. However, it looks like a bronzer for light to medium skin tones.
Packaging and Aladdin imprint aside, I don’t love this MAC bronzer. The shade too dark for me and is difficult to blend. Check out my Aladdin Collection Review.
Similar to the below bronzer, the Natural Lust Satin Bronzer likely would have ranked higher in today’s ranking if it were not a limited edition product. From a design standpoint, this bronzer is one of the prettiest products I’ve ever owned. However, the size makes it difficult to store.
12 | MAC x Aaliyah Collection Baby Girl Bronzer ($35.00)
The MAC x Aaliyah Baby Girl Bronzer was a limited edition find that I discovered at Marshalls. Despite containing shimmer particles, the bronzer doesn’t look too glittery on the skin. If this bronzer were still available, I may have ranked it higher.
11 | Cover FX Monochromatic Bronzer Duo – Sunkissed Bronze ($38.00, CF)
I wanted to love this bronzer, but I just don’t reach for it like I hoped. Although I appreciate that the formula is talc-free, the Cover FX Sunkissed Bronzer Duo* doesn’t blend as easily as I hoped. Moreover, the shade I own is just slightly too deep.
However it is worth noting that some days this bronzer applies perfectly. On other days, it is a struggle to blend this formula. For the price tag, the bronzer isn’t reliable. But are the Monochromatic Blushes any better? Read my review to find out.
I was beyond excited to try the Golden Hour Lawless Beauty Summer Skin Bronzer.* The tone is warm without pulling too orange, but the formula is quite stiff. For this reason, I have neutral thoughts on the bronzer. I feel as though this will be a formula that improves with time.
9 | Tom Ford Soleil Glow Bronzer – Gold Dust ($112.00)
First, I did not pay $112.00 for this Tom Ford Bronzer. Instead, I purchased the Soleil Glow Bronzer at 60% Off. Ultimately, the very steep price tag is the only reason why this bronzer is ranked at 9th place. I have a hard time recommending this bronzer to makeup lovers when there are other amazing bronzers in this line up that are a 10th of the price.
NARS’ Sunwash Diffusing Bronzer was a makeup steal that I found at Marshalls. This is a very natural, diffused looking bronzer – as promised. However, I have some difficulty building pigmentation on the skin. Sadly, this bronzer was discontinued.
7 | Ofra x Samantha March Bronzer Duo in River ($35.00, CF)
The River Bronzer Duo* is a super pigmented bronzer duo with a split-pan design that includes matte and shimmer formulas. This bronzer is super pretty on the skin; however, the bronzer is almost too pigmented for my fair skin. A light hand is needed for anyone with fair skin.
Wow. The Milani Silky Matte Bronzer Powder* is a gorgeous, affordable bronzer that provides instant warmth to the cheeks. Although the formula is matte, it doesn’t look flat or lifeless. Also, this bronzer is warm without pulling too orange.
5 | KOSAS – The Sun Show Moisturizing Baked Bronzer – Light ($34.00, CF)
When I saw the promotional images of KOSAS’s Sun Show Moisturizing Baked Bronzer, I was stunned. Everything from the packaging to the product itself captured my attention. Sadly, the product was out of stock for sometime before I could finally get my hands on it.
Similar to the my Makeup Geek Bronzer, the shade Light looks very natural on fair skin. This bronzer looks deeper in the pan than it does on the skin. In fact, anyone with a deeper complexion should get the next shade up given that. Also, this bronzer has a very warm, orange undertone.
My only complaint with this bronzer is the powdery formula. Go in with a very light hand to avoid a powdery mess.
4 | Makeup Geek Bronze Luster in Sunkissed ($15.00, CF)
At first, I was a little terrified that Makeup Geek’s Luster Sunkissed Bronzer would be too light for my skin tone. While this is the lightest shade in my bronzer collection, the lighter tone provides ultra natural warmth to my face. I look naturally radiant and healthy.
My feelings on the Fenty Sun Stalk’r Bronzer evolved over time. At first, I had issues blending this bronzer and found the undertone of Shady Biz* to be too orange.
However, I quickly learned that the Sun Stalk’r Bronzer is a product that gets better with time. In other words, it becomes easier to work with once you get beyond the top layer of product. Also, this is a bronzer that is best used on days when I’m wearing a full beat – including contour.
I lusted after the Urban Decay Beached Bronzer* when it was released a few years ago. This bronzer provides such a naturally radiant sun kissed look to my face. Plus, the packing is beautiful and peaceful.
My beloved Physicians Formula Murumuru Butter Bronzer is the only powder bronzer that I completely panned. Moreover, this is the bronzer that truly inspired my love of bronzer. It is super buildable, easy to blend, and smells so delightful. Clearly, this is one of the best bronzers and can compete with with high end formulas. Finally, this is the only bronzer that I’ve EVER repurchased.
P.S. I’m really happy that the brand extended the shade range. The formula is so good that I’m glad the brand is taking steps to make it more inclusive to individuals on both ends of the shade spectrum.
I love my drugstore bronzers just as much as my luxury bronzers!
Note: my Too Faced Natural Lust Bronzer and MAC x Aaliyah Bronzers are not yet ranked in my collection as they are still “new” to me.
Final Thoughts on my Bronzer Collection & Ranking
When it comes to bronzers and contours, ease of application and a natural-looking finish are the two most important attributes. I don’t reach for bronzing and contouring products that cause me to unintentionally mess up my makeup.
Interestingly, I tend to love and reach for my affordable, drugstore bronzers more than the high-end ones. This is a signal that I need to slow down on high-end bronzer and contour purchases. If I buy more bronzers, I will have to try more from the drug store.