When it comes to bronzer, there are a few things beauty lovers know for sure. The best bronzers are supposed to make you look like you just stepped off a beach in the south of France; they’re supposed to blend seamlessly into the rest of your makeup; they are not supposed to make you look orange or ashy. But if you have fair skin, finding the best bronzer for your skin tone can feel tricky. As someone who does have fairer skin, I took it upon myself to speak to two celebrity makeup artists about how to find the best bronzers for fair skin—and their picks don’t disappoint.
There’s nothing worse than finding a bronzer that you think is going to work, swiping it on, and realizing that it’s far too dark or muddy-looking. Not to mention, there are also undertones to contend with. A warm shade that works for a friend may fight your rosy undertone and vice versa. And while celebrity makeup artist Lilly Keys—the woman behind Olivia Rodrigo’s '90s-inspired Glossier beauty look at the 2022 GRAMMY Awards and Emma Chamberlain’s glam at the 2022 Vanity Fair Oscars After Party—prefers to opt for “sheer, light shades,” it can still feel tricky to figure out which bronzer shade is right for you.
How to Find The Best Bronzer Shade for Fair Skin
“Generally speaking, your bronzer color should be one to two shades darker than your surface tone (or skin tone),” says Fenty Beauty Global Makeup Artist Priscilla Ono over email.
Personally, I start by looking at the lightest two shades and work towards the darker ones. But if browsing through seemingly-endless shades feels daunting, start with a sheer powder formula or a liquid or cream bronzer that can be blended into your foundation or worn underneath it. Remember, bronzer and contour are not the same, so you don’t need to worry about creating shadows or chiseling your cheekbones at this stage. (If you are looking for a contour, the editors at Marie Claire compiled a guide on how to contour your face.)
How to Find The Best Bronzer Undertone
Once you’ve found a shade family that works, consider your undertone, just like you would with your foundation. “This could be cool, warm, or neutral,” says Ono. Brands like Fenty Beauty often group their shade ranges and undertones together, so it’s easy to find ones that work.
If you’re not sure of your undertone, Ono recommends looking “at the veins in your arm. If they are blueish, you have a cool undertone; if they are more green, you’re warmer; and if you can’t really determine which shade you are, you’re more likely a neutral undertone.”
What Shades Work With Which Undertones?
“Cool undertones work best with warm peach hues or soft browns, while warm undertones are great paired with all golden-brown colors and neutral undertones should opt for more true brown-based shades,” says Ono.
Ahead, shop the best bronzers for fair skin according to Keys, Ono, Marie Claire editors, and reviews across the internet. For even more help on your bronzer search, check out our guides to finding the best bronzer brushes, as well as how to apply bronzer once you’ve got everything you need in your arsenal.
- Best Drugstore Bronzer For Fair Skin: Physicians Formula Butter Bronzer
- Best Cream Bronzer for Fair Skin: Fenty Beauty Cheeks Out Cream Freestyle Bronzer
- Best Matte Bronzer for Fair Skin: Fenty Beauty Sun Stalk’r Instant Warmth Bronzer
- Best Glowy Bronzer for Fair Skin: NARS Bronzing Powder in Laguna
The Best Bronzers for Fair Skin
Best Drugstore Bronzer for Fair Skin
“This may have a drugstore price point, but the formula feels as luxe as it gets. It applies seamlessly onto the skin—there's never any patches or clumping. When it comes to the color of it all, I can confirm that it gives the most gorgeous, bronzed glow. I have super fair skin that runs on the red side, and this bronzer makes me look tan, not ruddy. To top it all off, it smells absolutely amazing. Think: sweet and tropical.” - Samantha Holender, Beauty Editor
Pros: Editor's Pick; Great for skin with pink undertones; Blendable; Top-rated at Ulta.
Cons: Some reviewers say it's not long-lasting; Some reviewers said the scent was too strong.
Customer Review: "I've been using this blush for several years now and it has always been my favorite. I've tried $30, even $50 blushes, but I just come back to this one. The consistency is so soft, the color is buildable, and it lasts forever. I have never applied it to bare skin, so I'm not sure how it performs like that, but it melts seamlessly with my powder foundation. Love it." — Ulta
Best Powder Bronzer for Fair Skin
“My favorite bronzer, hands down, is the Fenty Beauty Sun Stalk’r Instant Warmth Bronzer—it’s also Rihanna’s! I love Sun Stalk’r for so many reasons: It’s easy to use and hard to overdo, it’s long-wearing and transfer-resistant, and it’s truly light-as-air and never streaks. But most importantly, it really works on…everyone,” says Ono. “Rihanna created nine versatile shades that bring out the warmth in all skin tones, from the fairest to the deepest. It’s not about creating a strong contour, but really adding that warmth to your skin with natural dimension. I’m obsessed! I personally use the shade Private Island.”
Pros: Makeup-artist recommended; Blends easily; Comes in a wide range of colors; Top-rated at Sephora.
Cons: Some reviewers said that it's too sheer.
Customer Review: "Wow! what a natural and beautiful bronzer! this is great for creating those soft shadows without looking patchy or orange. this is by far the best bronzer i’ve ever tried!" — Sephora
"This was the first bronzer I ever bought for myself and I still use it in my rotation today. It comes in four shades including the iconic original, has a matte finish, and has a neutral undertone for seamless blending. The color is very neutral-toned on my skin. I used it as a contour when I was in high school to make my cheekbones look a little more chiseled, but I also found that it's great for adding a touch of warmth, too. Apply it on your eyelids for a bronzy, easy, look!" — J.M
Pros: Editor-approved; Top-rated on Sephora; Very beginner-friendly.
Cons: Some reviewers found it too dark for their very fair skin.
Customer Review: "I love this stuff. Matte finish, no breakouts, easy to apply well with minimal skills." — Sephora
Best Cult Favorite Bronzer for Fair Skin
“This is one of my all time favorite warm-toned bronzers. I first tried it as a tester and then became obsessed with it—I use it on my face, yes, but also on the eyes for an easy, monochromatic makeup look. It has a slight golden shimmer running through it that looks healthy, not glittery or sparkly. There’s even a matte cream version that I love, too.” – Julia Marzovilla, E-Commerce Editor
Pros: Editor-approved; Pigmented; Blends easily; Has a healthy glow; Top-rated at Sephora.
Cons: Some reviewers say the powder cracks easily.
Customer Review: "As someone who is a beginner herself, this product is awesome who someone just starting with make up or a more advanced makeup artist. You can apply light, use for a more bronzed sun-kissed look, or even subtle contouring. It gives off a beautiful color and doesn't give an orange payoff like many other bronzing powders." — Sephora
Most Viral Bronzer for Fair Skin
BeautyTok is obsessed with this warm-toned cream bronzer from Charlotte Tilbury, thanks to its long-wearing, hydrating formula. It was worn on Lily James at the 2022 Emmy Awards, so you just know it works for high-glam wear.
Pros: Great for photography; Blends easily;
Cons: Some reviewers say it doesn't wear for a long time.
Customer Review: "This bronzer is very beautiful it leaves you airbrushed. I use a brush to apply it. I just pass my brush on it 2-3 times & that’s all I need for the full face. I either do it before my foundation if I want for a glow within or after if I want to be noticeable when I go out. It has a lot of product so it last you for a while." — Sephora
Best Cream Bronzer For Fair Skin
Ono also loves this cream bronzer because “you can bronze, define or contour so easily and it just softly defines your face,” she says. “I love how it melts into your skin creating the illusion that your skin is glowing from within with it’s sheer-to-medium coverage—it’s very natural looking with just the most subtle of dewiness. The color Amber is the perfect cool undertone for fair skin tones to contour with.”
Pros: Makeup-artist recommended; Blends easily; Has buildable pigment; Lasts all day.
Cons: Some reviewers said it wasn't great for their dry skin.
Customer Review: "I love this cream bronzer & have it in multiple tones. It’s lightweight, buildable, & stays put all day long. It works great with my minimal makeup routine & easily makes me look sun-kissed & refreshed." — Sephora
"I have this bronzer in the two lightest shades, Aura and Lunar. I love to wear Lunar all over the face in the winter for a healthy flush, whereas Aura is great for sweeping across my eyelids and on my cheekbones for a bronzy look in the summer. I have dry skin so I tend to avoid powder bronzers and blushes, but this formula is so fine that it practically disappears on my skin after I apply it. My skin looks healthy and not cake-y or dry." — J.M
Pros: Editor-approved; Very blendable; Has a very lightweight formula; Great for dry skin; You can buy a refill instead of buying the case again.
Cons: Has a matte finish so it won't give you a glow.
Customer Review: "I haven't been using a bronzer for a while now - probably since the early 2000s but now I will be using this constantly. This stuff is THAT good." — MAKE Beauty
"I swear, there is truly nothing (and I mean nothing) better than this cream bronzer. Every little ounce of hype it's received, is well deserved. It gives the perfect glow, sculpt and defines without looking ruddy, and blends like a dream. It's one of the only formulas I've found that stays on all day, doesn't pill, and looks good on just about every skin tone." — S.H
Pros: Comes in a large pot and will last a long time; Editor-approved; Top-rated on Ulta;
Cons: Only comes in two colors; Some reviewers said it was too orange-toned on very fair skin.
Customer Review: "Looks beautiful on no matter what foundation I use. I will forever buy this product." — Ulta
Meet The Experts
Priscilla’s passion for beauty began in the ‘90s, watching music videos on MTV. She has since translated her obsession for artistic expression into a 13-year career as a celebrity makeup artist and instructor, leading sold-out master classes and creating looks that have graced international magazine covers, campaigns, and red carpets. A California native with Mexican roots, Priscilla is one of the leading makeup artists in the industry, known for working with many different skin types and face and eye shapes to perfect her craft. Fueled by her motto that “practice makes perfect,’ her profound expertise caught Rihanna’s attention and led her to be chosen out of hundreds of artists to join the Fenty Beauty Global Artistry Team. Whether she’s creating headline-making looks for Rihanna or developing training tools to educate thousands of Sephora makeup artists worldwide, Priscilla lends her diverse experience and masterful hand to Fenty Beauty’s groundbreaking launches, playing a key role in the brand’s commitment to inclusive artistry.
Lilly Keys is a Los Angeles based makeup artist. A native of Cape Town, Lilly moved to London in 1997 and became influenced by the city's multicultural fashion, music and visual art scenes. She graduated from the London College of Fashion and began pursuing makeup professionally in 2007. Lilly refined her editorial skills while working on runway shows for Gucci, Balenciaga, Antonia Berardi, Topshop, Jaeger and Maison Martin Margiela. Lilly's celebrity clients include Dua Lipa, Anya Taylor Joy, Alessandra Ambrosio, Charli XCX, Kali Uchis, Ella Mai, Melissa Barrera, David Beckham and Joanne Froggatt. Her work has appeared in publications such as Hunger, Esquire, King Kong, Grazia, Vogue Italia, Teen Vogue and Galore and she has collaborated on major advertising campaigns for Swarovski, Adidas, Converse and Olivia Von Halle.Lilly's celebrity clients include Dua Lipa, Anya Taylor Joy, Alessandra Ambrosio, Charli XCX, Kali Uchis, Ella Mai, Melissa Barrera, David Beckham and Joanne Froggatt. Her work has appeared in publications such as Hunger, Esquire, King Kong, Grazia, Vogue Italia, Teen Vogue and Galore and she has collaborated on major advertising campaigns for Swarovski, Adidas, Converse and Olivia Von Halle.