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There are two types of people in this world: those who love shimmer and those who, well, don't. And if you fall into the latter category, there's nothing like a disco ball-esque bronzer to send you over the edge in a fit of regret and rage (excuse the dramatics). Love a side of radiance and sparkle with your bronzer? All the power to you. But if you'd rather stick with a matte finish to feign that post-vacay glow, we're 100% here for you.
Though we think there's always a time and place for a shimmering wash of bronzer, we typically prefer a sculpted—versus flashy—result (we're also still relatively scarred by the orange, light-reflecting days of high school football games and formals). But again, you do you. If you want to find the right matte bronzer for you, look for one in the format you prefer to use, whether powder or stick. It should be in a color only slightly darker than your own skin tone, to create a natural-looking finish. And it's definitely a bonus if the formula includes nourishing ingredients, be they hydrating or anti-aging.
Interested to see which matte bronzers Byrdie editors swear are the best? Keep reading for the best matte bronzers available now.
Best Overall: Benefit Hoola Bronzer
Doesn't appear cakey
Looks very natural
Wears off easily
Perhaps one of the most iconic matte bronzers known to womankind, Benefit's cult-favorite bronzer is adored by makeup artists, celebrities, and editors alike. Plus, it comes in two different shades (light and regular) to ensure a flawless finish each and every time.
Finish: Matte | Shade Range: 4, Light to Deep | Size: 0.28 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes
What Our Testers Say
"Where has this bronzer been all my life? Benefit's Hoola Bronzer is just the lightweight, matte product I'd been searching for to enhance my everyday look. It applied evenly, blended well, and I didn’t notice any creases." — Juliane Veloso, Product Tester
Best Budget: Nyx Professional Makeup Matte Bronzer
Perfect for contouring
Can leave skin looking a bit orange
What's more satisfying than finding one of the best matte bronzers on the market? Finding one of the best matte bronzers on the market that comes in at $10. To achieve the perfect matte bronze finish, NYX's ultra-affordable pick gets the job done at a fraction of the price.
Finish: Matte | Shade Range: 5, Light to Deep | Size: 0.33 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best Stick Formula: Milk Makeup Matte Bronzer
Easy to use
Blendable, buildable, and contouring
Limited shade range
In general, we don't associate liquid or stick bronzers with anything short of shimmer, shine, and dewiness. However, Milk Makeup counteracts the assumption beautifully with this user-friendly matte bronzer that comes in wanderlust-encouraging stick form. (In other words, you can officially say goodbye to the days of cracked compacts and shattered powders while en route.)
Finish: Matte | Shade Range: 2, Medium | Size: 3.04 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best Shade Range: Bobbi Brown Bronzer in Deep
Not enough deep pigment
Bronzers have a notorious and annoying bad habit of coming in limited shade ranges—i.e., three at most. However, that's not the case with Bobbi Brown's beloved bronzer, which not only boasts the most flattering of matte finishes but comes in an impressive array of six different hues. We actually own a few so we can blend, mix, and customize our glow based on the season.
Finish: Matte | Shade Range: 5, Light Tan to Deep Golden Brown | Size: 0.28 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best Scent: Too Faced Chocolate Soleil Matte Bronzer
Provides 8 hours of wear
Infused with 100% real cocoa powder
Not very blendable
Not only does Too Faced's Matte Bronzer offer three surprisingly versatile shades, but the drool-worthy formula (we mean that literally) is also infused with real cocoa powder for a signature scent and a lustrous cast of bronze with absolutely zero shimmer. Depending on your skin tone, and quite possibly your taste preferences, choose from the brand's assortment of milk chocolate, chocolate, and dark chocolate and then blend, baby, blend.
Finish: Matte | Shade Range: 3, Light to Deep | Size: 0.28 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best Natural Finish: NARS Sun Wash Diffusing Bronzer
Has a soft-focus effect
Feels weightless like second-skin
Could use more pigment
If you happen to be a member of the shimmering bronzer camp, you're likely familiar with Nars' signature iteration in the now-iconic shades Casino and Laguna. But (to our delight) the brand has branched out to create four gorgeously non-glimmering bronzers in an appreciated matte finish. Laguna and Casino are still members of the collection, but now they're just a tad less light-reflecting.
Finish: Matte | Shade Range: 4, Light to Deep | Size: 2.4 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Waterproof: Tarte Amazonian Clay Matte Waterproof Bronzer
Gives a healthy, youthful glow
Not a very smooth application
Waterproof, vegan, cruelty-free, and matte—what more could you want from your go-to bronzer? One of the best we've tried, this pick from Tarte is a Byrdie editor favorite and manages to look impeccably natural despite its long-wear profile. Plus, it contains moisture-locking ingredients like pure water, vitamins A, C, and E, and naturally, Amazonian clay to ensure the incandescent glow you crave.
Finish: Matte | Shade Range: 2, Medium to Deep | Size: 0.32 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best Cruelty-Free: The Balm Bahama Mama Bronzer
No orange undertone
Doubles as shadow, brow-filler, and contour
Not super blendable
We're not sure why this matte bronzer by The Balm still falls under the radar, but it's honestly one of the most flattering, well-formulated options we've tried (and consider us well versed in that arena). Great for delivering a flush of color and contour alike, this paraben- and cruelty-free pick is a must for the shimmer-averse. Oh, and you can also use it in lieu of your go-to neutral eyeshadow or brow powder.
Finish: Matte | Shade Range: 1, Medium | Size: 0.22 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best Hydrating: Laura Geller Beach Matte Baked Hydrating Bronzer
Full of antioxidants
A bit dull-looking to some
Adorable packaging aside, this best-of-the-best matte bronzer from Laura Geller is a beauty lover's multitasking heroine. Not only does it offer a believable, beachy glow, but it also infuses your flush with a hit of antioxidants (thanks to blueberry and cranberry) and some appreciated hydration from shea butter and jojoba seed oil.
Finish: Matte | Shade Range: 1, Deep | Size: 0.4 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
What to Look for in a Matte Bronzer
Most bronzers come in either powder or pressed powder form, but there are some now that are available in a stick format. A stick is an excellent choice for travel, or when you want to feel a bit more in control of exactly where you're placing the bronzer than you would with a brush.
According to dermatologists, ingredients such as vitamin C, retinol, and peptides may all boost your skin's anti-aging abilities, so those are a bonus to find in any cosmetic product. Additionally, a bronzer that contains ingredients that hydrate, such as hyaluronic acid or glycerin, will not only keep skin in better shape while you're wearing it, it'll help prevent your makeup from looking overly dry on your face.
The Right Shade
In order for your bronzer to give you a sun-kissed glow and not look like, well, makeup, it needs to be the right shade for your skin tone. Byrdie writer Adrianna Barrionuevo notes that "when choosing a bronzer, color matching is the number one goal." There's no overstating the importance of coordinating a bronzer tone with your skin.
Is bronzer supposed to be matte?
The luminosity, or lack thereof, of a bronzer is an entirely personal choice. However, even if you do love a shimmery bronzer, you'll want to avoid using it on certain areas of your face, such as your T-zone.
What is matte bronzer used for?
Should bronzer be darker or lighter than contour?
Can you put bronzer all over your face?
Short answer: no. Bronzer should not be used all over your face, no matter your skin tone. It will give you a fake, made-up look instead of a sun-kissed one. And applying bronzer all over your face could make for a strong demarcation line between your face and your neck, which is not a great look.