Here's some breaking news for you: Black and Brown girls like to look tan, too. Yes, just like the light-skinned individuals of the world who engage in a year-round quest for bronzed skin, many women of color also want a deeper glow courtesy of one of the best bronzers. But you'd never know it based on the state of the bronzer aisle in the drugstore, which is pretty much geared only toward light-to-medium skin tones. Why would someone who is already dark want to look darker, right? Welp, here's the quick answer: There's absolutely no such thing as being too dark. Period. With this in mind, we spoke to the experts (celebrity makeup artists, content creators, and brand founders) about the best bronzers for dark skin tones.
Finding a bronzer that has the correct mix of colors is key to achieving a natural look. “Bronzers are tricky for so many people because it seems intimidating,” says Danessa Myricks, founder of Danessa Myricks Beauty. “Oftentimes, shades for deep and dark skin tones lack shades that appear naturally in the skin.” When it comes to finding a shade, look for one that’s two or three shades darker than your foundation shade. If that sounds challenging, find your usual shade in the range and then choose a bronzer either one or two shades down from here.
If finding one shade that works perfectly on your skin is a challenge, makeup artist Jaleesa Jaikaran recommends mixing formulas that you love for the best finish. “For deeper skin, I love using both creams and powders, either on their own or layering both for dimension,” she says. (For more insight on bronzer formulas, check out Marie Claire editors' favorite cream bronzers.)
What Should the Best Bronzer Do?
Bronzing and contouring are not interchangeable, despite their often being marketed that way. As opposed to a contour, bronzers are meant to add warmth to the skin—no matter your skin tone.
“When shade matching a bronzer for those with deeper skin tones, it’s best to choose a shade with warmer undertones,” says Fenty Beauty Global Makeup Artist Priscilla Ono. “This brings out a natural-looking warmth that can define the most delicate of features anywhere on the face.”
For more information about how to make your bronzer look its best, check out Marie Claire's guide on how to apply bronzer or our all-time favorite bronzer brushes. But if you're just looking for a bronzer for dark skin that makeup artists and pros recommend, keep scrolling.
The Best Bronzers for Dark Skin, According to Makeup Pros
"I’ve used the Fenty Match Stix in Espresso since its original launch. It’s honestly one of the most beautiful velvety matte finishes that I’ve ever seen in a cream contour/bronzer for deeper skin. This one is great for anyone with oily combination skin or someone that prefers a matte finish to their complexion.” — Jonet Williamson, Makeup Artist and Content Creator
“Rare Beauty makes an incredible option in a stick form that blends beautifully on the skin. When using a cream, a denser brush is needed to help buff and blend the product to ensure a seamless application.” —Jaleesa Jaikaran, Celebrity Makeup Artist
“I created Balm Contour (opens in new tab) because I saw a need to create a product that everyone could use easily, that would create shape, dimension, and warmth, and would suit every skin tone. Balms are super forgiving and easy, so whether you like a dewy finish, which is what Balm Contour provides, or a more matte finish, which you can find in the award-winning Balm Powder collection, I believe there are shades for all skin tones represented in these collections. Using yellows, bricks, reds, and brown/black tones in the most strategic combination is the key. Throughout our collections we strive to create a balance and the representation needed in order to reflect the nuances in deeper skin tones. For me, bronzing equals liveliness and life to the skin while strategically shaping. ” — Danessa Myricks, Founder of Danesa Myricks Beauty
"One of the only powder bronzers on my list is ILIA's Nightlite Bronzing Powder in Songbird. It reminds me so much of a powder that Sam Fine used to rave about years ago. The tone of it is like a warm terra-cotta with a hint of coolness that works beautifully on dark skin. It adds warmth and definition to the skin with the lightest touch or can be built up for more drama.” — Jonet Williamson, Makeup Artist and Content Creator
"[This] is a great option as it's oil-free and great for those with sensitive skin. The shades blend easily on the skin or on top of foundation or powder. For a powder bronzer such as this one, you’ll need a fluffy bronzer or powder brush to help with nailing the perfect application.” — Jaleesa Jaikaran, Celebrity Makeup Artist
“The MAKEUP BY MARIO SoftSculpt Skin Enhancer in Dark Deep is a beautiful balmy texture that melts into the skin. It effortlessly adds a warmth and richness to the skin that is very unique to find in one product. I love using this for evening/night events because of the glowy sheen it leaves on the skin.” — Jonet Williamson, Makeup Artist and Content Creator
"Mented Cosmetics has an amazing range of bronzers for deeper complexions. I love how rich their deepest shade, Out of Office, is my favorite shade, Yacht Life, is also great because it has subtle hints of shimmer that look gorgeous when applied to the skin!" — Ofunne Amaka, Beauty Content Creator
“My favorite is the Haus Labs by Lady Gaga Power Sculpt Velvet Bronzer. I love it because it’s talc-free, has a velvety smooth, weightless texture, and comes in 12 shades. I love the colors as well because it gives you a true sunkissed effect without making you look red or orange. It’s also infused with fermented arnica and plant squalane, delivering skincare benefits without compromising color performance. It melts seamlessly into the skin and effortlessly defines and sculpts.” – Rokael Lizama, Haus Labs by Lady Gaga Complexion Consultant
"This one is more of a bronzer and highlighter fusion. Best Coast has a warm bronze undertone which is great for dark skin whereas Pacific Coast has more of a rich copper tone that looks gorgeous on deeper skin. I love that it's a cream that can be easily tapped in with just your fingers for a healthy skinlike finish.” — Jonet Williamson, Makeup Artist and Content Creator
Meet The Experts
As a makeup artist, photographer, and entrepreneur, Danessa Myricks has mastered the perfect beauty application and image and made a name for herself as one of the most creative in our makeup industry. With the creation of her eponymous line Danessa Myricks Beauty and her work in the studio, Danessa continues to creatively combine art and product manipulation as she pushes the beauty industry forward in both her artistry and product innovation. Inspired initially by the inner sphere of the beauty business, Danessa’s career hit the ground running at the corporate level, where she discovered her true passions aligned with the trajectory toward artistry. With insight and business structure intact, she noted the highest opportunities were to alleviate the issues of cosmetic marketing for ethnic skin tones coloring the world. From fair to deep complexions, Danessa always aimed to touch all faces equally. Danessa’s artistic expertise and drive enabled opportunities to work on the faces for numerous celebrity projects with entertainers from music to film and her approach to beauty ignited the desire to co-create with global beauty brands like Kiss, Benefit Cosmetics & Limelight By Alcone. Danessa also has had multiple consulting initiatives for prestige, pro, and massive beauty brands globally.
Jaleesa Jaikaran is a Trinidadian makeup artist based in New York City. She works behind the camera on beauty & fashion campaigns with brands including Kith, Nike, Pyer Moss, Lancome & MAC, to name a few. In front of the camera, Jaleesa creates content driven by beauty education and has collaborated with various brands including Mary Kay, Ulta Beauty, and Pinterest. She hosts The Life of a Makeup Artist podcast, which focuses on rising and defining voices in beauty, breaking into the industry, and why it’s critical to create an inclusive future.
Jonet Williamson is a New York-based Pro Makeup Artist and Content Creator specializing in relatable beauty from a pro perspective. Her work has been featured in commercial campaigns for Dolce & Gabanna, Levis, L'Oreal, Shea Moisture, and more. If you follow her online you can expect to see lots of fresh skin, a vibrant use of color, striking graphic liner shapes, and soft glam looks fit for a red carpet.
Rokael Lizama is one of the most celebrated industry makeup artists working with some of the top women in the world. His clients include Beyoncé, Kim Kardashian, Demi Lovato, Normani, Ariana Grande, Nicole Scherzinger, and more. Rokael has also created and collaborated with some of the best-loved beauty brands including KKW, Urban Decay, Dose of Colors, Kylie Beauty and Anastasia of Beverly Hills. Through his own passion for the development of beauty and skin care, in 2017 Rokael began developing and testing his new line of luxury lashes with his A-list clients. Once approved and adored, Rokael took the exceptional step of bringing his vision to the world. With his name on the brand, Rokael is in every facet of his company including product development, marketing campaigns, branding and creative direction. He is truly one to watch.
As a digital strategist and content creator, Ofunne Amaka seeks to produce and inspire innovative solutions to the beauty world's "wicked problems.” With the launch of her Cocoa Swatches app, Ofunne helped set a beauty industry standard for inclusive makeup swatches. Through her creative ventures and strategic work behind the scenes, she continues to champion diversity, equity, and inclusion and strives to help beauty lovers with deeper complexions find makeup products that work for them.
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 + 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.
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