Yes, Dark Skin Tones Can Wear Bronzer—These Shades Are Proof

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Byrdie / Lecia Landis

Let's clear something up first—there's a big misconception that bronzers aren't made for women with dark skin tones. This is because old-school bronzers from way back in the day would often look oddly orange or chalky on deep complexions. At the time, those bronzers were solely made for tanning purposes on lighter skin tones. Brown girls deserve a beachy glow, too.

Fortunately, that's not the case anymore, thanks to innovative formulas that add warmth and definition to dark skin tones. Whether it's a powder, cream, or velvety texture, there are hardworking bronzers out there that'll impart a striking sun-kissed glow on every shade of brown. Trust us on this one. When looking for a bronzer, you'll want a color that matches your undertones, and just enough shimmer to add some highlight to your face. You'll also want it to have a light enough texture that it doesn't overwhelm your other makeup products.

Ahead are the best bronzers for dark skin tones.

Best Overall

Guerlain Terracotta Original Bronzing Powder

4.6
Guerlain Terracotta The Bronzing Powder

 Courtesy of Sephora

What We Like
  • Multipurpose

  • Natural-looking shades

  • Silky texture

What We Don't Like
  • Contains fragrance

Who else recommends it? Style Craze, Refinery 29, and Cosmopolitan all picked the Guerlain Terracotta Original Bronzing Powder.

Meet my favorite bronzer of all time. This gem from Guerlain is a cult product among celeb makeup artists because it will contour, sculpt, and bronze your skin at the same time for an all-around sun-kissed glow. I use it every day. 

Coverage Level: Medium | Finish: Natural | Shades: 6 | Size: 0.4 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Budget

Rimmel Natural Bronzer

4.7
Rimmel Natural Bronzer

Amazon

What We Like
  • Buildable

  • Great value

  • Long-wearing

What We Don't Like
  • Contains mineral oil

For just $4, opt for a rich radiance from this Rimmel classic. If you truly want to look sunlit, layer it up on your cheekbones. 

Coverage Level: Light | Finish: Shimmer | Shades: 2 | Size: 0.5 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Splurge

Tom Ford Skin Illuminating Powder Duo

Tom Ford Skin Illuminating Powder Duo

 Courtesy of Nordstrom

What We Like
  • Imparts a glow

  • Shades can be mixed

  • Works on different skin tones

What We Don't Like
  • Not ideal for very dry skin

We get that the price tag is a little discouraging, but your skin deserves to beam to the heavens above. The bottom shade is a gorgeous golden hue that pairs nicely with dark skin tones. Plus, you can make it pop with the above pearlescent hue for a multidimensional radiance.

Coverage Level: Medium | Finish: Shimmer | Shades: 2 | Size: 0.4 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Lightweight

Make Up For Ever Pro Bronze Fusion Bronzer

Make Up For Ever Pro Bronze Fusion Bronzer

Courtesy of Make Up For Ever 

What We Like
  • Smooth, gel-like texture

  • Beautiful, deep shade

  • Imparts a glow

What We Don't Like
  • May not show up on all skin tones

This finely-milled, gel-based texture allows you to dust this onto your skin for a lit-from-within glow. This caramel tone looks especially gorgeous against dark skin tones. Your skin will look warm and radiant without the residue that's often left behind from heavy powder formulas.

Coverage Level: Light | Finish: Shimmer | Shades: 1 | Size: 0.4 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Texture

Dior Diorskin Mineral Nude Bronze

Dior Diorskin Mineral Nude Bronze

 Courtesy of Nordstrom

If you're a fan of velvety formulas, this bronzing powder will deliver a healthy-looking glow on dark skin tones. It feels weightless and is full of sheer pigments that won't leave an ashy cast on your skin. 

Best Sheer Finish

Iman Cosmetics Sheer Finish Bronzing Powder

Iman Cosmetics Sheer Finish Bronzing Powder

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Gives a custom color

  • Buildable

  • Multipurpose

What We Don't Like
  • Can break easily

Iman has created products with women of color in mind since the company's inception. Sweep this bronzer all over to enhance the warmth of your skin. Or build it up on the high points of your face for a more noticeable glow.

Coverage Level: Sheer | Finish: Shimmer | Shades: 1 | Size: 0.5 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Creamy Formula

Becca Cosmetics Sunlit Bronzer

Becca Cosmetics Becca Sunlit Bronzer Maui Nights

 Courtesy of Nordstrom

Becca is a brown girl's dream. In fact, the brand is at the top of the running with the largest shade range of highlighters out right now. This extension of its cult Shimmering Skin Perfector will give your skin a show-stopping glow. Its creamy formula allows you to amp it up to your liking.

Best Natural Ingredients

RMS Beauty Contour Bronzer

RMS Beauty Contour Bronzer

Courtesy of Verishop

What We Like
  • Beautiful, deep shade

  • Imparts a glow

  • A little goes a long way

What We Don't Like
  • Not ideal for oily skin

Rose-Marie Swift, the founder of RMS Beauty, created this bronzer specially for dark skin tones. You can trust that it's made with all-natural ingredients and it'll glide right on like a second skin. It imparts a starry glow that'll also deliver definition for contouring purposes.

Coverage Level: Medium | Finish: Satin | Shades: 1 | Size: 0.2 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Palette

e.l.f. Cosmetics Bronzer

elf bronzer

Courtesy of elf Cosmetics  

What We Like
  • Gives a custom color

  • Inexpensive

  • Pigmented

What We Don't Like
  • May irritate acne-prone skin

Customize your glow-up with a combination of matte and shimmery textures in this palette. Whether you want to sculpt, highlight, or shade, these multitasking hues beautifully complement deep complexions.

Coverage Level: Medium | Finish: Matte, shimmer | Shades: 1 | Size: 0.6 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Red Undertones

Bobbi Brown Bronzer in Deep

Bobbi Brown Bronzer Deep

 Courtesy of Bobbi Brown

What We Like
  • Range of deep shades

  • Matte without looking too flat

  • Natural-looking color

What We Don't Like
  • Could be more pigmented

Calling all my brown beauties with red and brown undertones: You'll look like you just stepped off the beach with this bronzer. Apply it all over to enhance overall radiance or pile it up for a summery glow.

Coverage Level: Light | Finish: Matte | Shades: 5 | Size: 0.3 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Sculpting

NARS Bronzer Powder

NARS Bronzer Powder

 Courtesy of NARS

What We Like
  • Pigmented

  • Range of deep shades

  • Available in mini size

What We Don't Like
  • Contains parabens

You might not be on vacation, but that doesn't mean you can't have gorgeously tanned skin. There's a reason this bronzer is beloved by makeup artists and editors everywhere. It warms up your skin just enough for a freshly sculpted effect.

Coverage Level: Light | Finish: Shimmer | Shades: 4 | Size: 0.1 / 0.3 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

What to Look For in a Bronzer

Color That Matches Your Undertone

Your bronzer color should be one to two shades darker than your skin tone, but it should also match your undertone, which may be cool, warm, or neutral. Becca Global Style Director Kerry Cole previously told Byrdie, "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.

Golden Shimmer

You can, of course, go matte with your bronzer, but a hint of shimmer is quite common and will add that great glow to your look that most everyone loves. For darker skin tones, opt for a golden shimmer. Makeup educator  Lijha Stewart says choose gold over pink or silver shimmers because the latter can "reflect a gray cast over deeper skin tones." 

Light Texture

Bronzer should never leave you looking streaky and it shouldn't overwhelm the other makeup on your face. Choose one that isn't heavy so that you can build your look gradually if needed. Powders are an excellent choice for those who are less well-versed in makeup application, as creams and liquids can be a little daunting to work with.

FAQ
  • What can bronzer do when applied on darker complexions?

    Both bronzers and contours can add dimension to darker skin tones. Lightly sweeping it on can make you look more radiant, and can amp up your overall look in a lovely, glamorous way. Bronzers can also give your face a more sculpted shape.

  • How do I choose a bronzer shade?

    To choose a bronzer shade, you'll want to go a shade or two darker than your own skin color. If this feels challenging, first find your skin color match in the lineup of bronzer, then look at the color options right next to it.

  • Can I put bronzer all over my face?

    If your goal is to accentuate the angles of your face, strategic placement of your bronzer is key. When demonstrating her technique to applying bronzer, makeup artist Tobi Henney lightly sweeps the powder along her cheeks, forehead, and jawline in "C" formations. She makes sure to use a gentle hand to avoid harsh lines.

  • Does bronzer make you look darker?

    Applied correctly, bronzer doesn't make you look darker. It gives your face dimension, radiance, and can have a sculpting effect.

How We Researched

To compile this list, our team of editors and contributors spent hours researching the best products on the market in this category, evaluating their key features—like ingredients, shade range, or design—in addition to reviews from customers and other trusted sources. We then used this research to assign a star rating from one to five (five being the best; one being the worst) to certain products on the list.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. 15 best bronzer for dark skin tones of 2022. StyleCraze. https://www.stylecraze.com/articles/best-bronzer-for-dark-skin

  2. Bronzers that actually work for medium, dark, & deep complexions. Refinery 29. https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/bronzers-for-black-girls#slide-9

  3. 15 best bronzers for dark skin tones. Cosmopolitan. https://www.cosmopolitan.com/style-beauty/beauty/g28404561/best-bronzers-for-dark-skin-tones

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