The 21 All-Time Best Bronzers for Every Skin Tone

Keep those cheekbones lookin' sharp.

woman having bronzer applied
(Image credit: Future)

Typically, I go for a pretty natural makeup look. While intense contour has seen its day—and, of course, I could always go for a shimmery highlighter—I have combination skin that requires me to keep my face makeup pretty light. Considering this, one might assume that I'm not a big fan of bronzer, but that couldn't be further from the truth.

While bronzer is essential for anyone pulling off a sharp contour, it's also excellent for those who'd like a more subtle sense of definition around their cheekbones. I find that brushing a bit of bronzer in an E-shape plays a tremendous role in making me look put-together (even when I am not). In college, a friend of mine even remarked, "That made such a big difference!" after I donned just a dusting of my favorite shade. You see, with the right bronzer, a little goes a long way. If you're new to this beauty essential, or if you're just looking to mix up your go-to product, consider this your guide to the best bronzers out there.

How To Apply Bronzer

Whether you're looking for a sharp contour or some subtle definition, we recommend that you apply your bronzer in an E-shape, starting at the center of your forehead and skimming your hairline until you reach your ear. Once you get there, apply in a line down your cheek, just below your cheekbone, then double back to your ear and continue outlining the outside of your face. 

If you're looking to apply more definition to your jawline, feel free to apply the bronzer down to your chin. If, however, you're like me and have a cleft chin, you can stop once you get to the base of your ear. For a step-by-step visual guide, consult our article about how to apply bronzer.

How to Find the Right Shade of Bronzer

Find a shade that's darker than your actual skin tone, of course, but not too dark! The goal is to create a soft, natural sense of definition, and that looks different for everyone. Keep in mind that there's no such thing as a one-size-fits-all bronzer—but these brands have a variety of shades available.

Gabrielle Ulubay
Gabrielle Ulubay

Gabrielle Ulubay is an E-Commerce Writer at Marie Claire and writes about all things fashion and beauty. She's also written about politics, gender, and sex for publications like Bustle, HuffPost Personal, and The New York Times. As a film school graduate, she loves all things media and can be found making art when she's not busy writing.