Finding the Perfect Bronzer for Your Skin Tone

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Liliya Rodnikova / Stocsky

When it comes to bronzer specifically it's all about the perfect match for your skin tone, and no complexion is too pale or too dark to reap the benefits of beautiful, radiant makeup. We have to shop smart (because we all know nothing is worse than an unnatural look or a borderline-orange faux glow). Enlisting the help of the top industry pros, we sought out the lowdown on how to shop for your bronzer soul mate—because we don't know about you, but we're not going to settle for lackluster skin this season. As it turns out, finding a shade that works for you is a lot easier than it might seem. From cream to powder, shimmer, and matte, read on to find out how to find the perfect bronzer for your skin tone.

Dark to Deep

ABH Powder Bronzer in Cappuccino
Anastasia Beverly Hills Powder Bronzer in Cappuccino $28
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Unfortunately, shopping for deeper skin tones can still be a challenge. Former Make Up For Ever Director of Artistry and Education Lijha Stewart has some advice: "Be careful with shimmer if you have a richer skin tone. Try to choose a golden shimmer versus pink or silver, which can reflect a gray cast over deeper skin tones." Stewart adds that neutrals are a big no-no: "Avoid neutral or yellow shades that could make the skin look ashy." This option from Anastasia Beverly Hills in the shade Cappuccino is the perfect matte shade — it has buildable coverage so you can go for a sunkissed look or really layer it on for a dramatic date night moment.

Danessa Myricks Cream Bronzer
Danessa Myricks Power Bronzer Cream Bronzer in Deep $26
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Cream bronzers might seem a bit intimidating, but once you get the hang of it, they are easier to use than powders. They're easier to blend (you can even use your fingers!) and usually don't have any shimmers or glitter to worry about. To apply, just dab a bit along the hairline and temples, the low point of your cheekbones, and underneath the jawline. Blend, blend, blend, and voilá, an easy bronzed look is yours.

Medium to Tan

Medium to Tan
Nars Bronzing Powder in Laguna
Nars Bronzing Powder in Laguna $38
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The golden shimmer creates an all-over warmth on the skin, perfect for enhancing the look of olive and tan skin tones. It delivers a soft, shimmering color for a luminous glow. Kelli Bartlett, Artistic Director at Glamsquad, explains: "Nars' Bronzing Powder in Laguna has gained a huge cult following because the bronzer effortlessly mimics sun-kissed skin. It's more intense than a bronzer I'd recommend for paler complexions but perfect for those with medium to tan skin tones."

Fenty Sun Stalk'r Instant Warmth Bronzer in I$land Tings
Fenty Beauty Sun Stalk'r Instant Warmth Bronzer in I$land Ting $30
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If a shimmering bronzer isn't your thing and you want a matte look, this option from Fenty Beauty fits the bill. If you want a super precise, contoured look, use an angled bronzer brush and apply to the cheek bones and along the temples. For an all over glow, go a big, fluffy brush, like Fenty Beauty's Cheek Hugging Bronzer Brush 190 ($36).

Fair to Light

Fair to Light
Make Up For Ever Pro Bronze Fusion Bronzer in 10M
Make Up For Ever Pro Bronze Fusion Bronzer in 10M $36
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When choosing a bronzer, color matching is the number one goal. So where do you begin? Becca Global Style Director Kerry Cole says, "When looking for the right shade for your skin tone, try to find something that mimics how your actual skin looks when it's slightly tanned."

For fair to light complexions, Stewart stresses the importance of neutral or golden undertones. "Don't go too dark or red with color. Otherwise, your skin will look patchy or mismatched." In other words, stay away from warm shades, which tend to look orange on light skin tones. Less is more in this case.

LYS Beauty No Limits Clean Bronzer
LYS No Limits Clean Bronzer in Motivate $18
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This bronzer from LYS Beauty (a Black-owned clean beauty brand), in the shade Motivate, is a great option for those with fair to light skin. It's milled super fine for a lightweight finish and is also infused with green tea extract, niacinamide, and sodium hyaluronate to help soothe and nourish your skin.

Fair to light skin looks great with a soft, sculpted look. Use a big, fluffy brush and apply along the hairline, the cheeks, the jawline, and even down to the neck if you want. We love the Bobbi Brown Bronzer Brush ($62) — the synthetic bristles and dome-shaped head are specifically designed to be used with powder products.

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