Here's some breaking news for you: 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 want a deeper glow, as well. But you'd never know it based on the state of the self-tanning 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: When it comes to women of color, there's absolutely no such thing as being too dark. Period.
Listen, there is nothing more beautiful to me than being surrounded a huge range of chocolate skin tones, and a major part of what makes me feel magical as a Black girl is the color of my skin. Being brown just feels special, like I'm a mighty golden goddess capable of harnessing all the powers of the world, so why wouldn't I want to look darker? (Safely, of course—skin cancer makes zero people feel like a goddess.)
But, thanks to the inherent light-skin favoritism in the tanning market, most bronzers look ashy and milky against our skin, while self-tanners do, uh, literally nothing. Still, I promise you that options do exist, as long as you know where to look. Which is why I took the headache out of one more prejudiced aspects of the beauty industry and found the very best bronzers and self-tanners that were actually made with dark skin in mind.
St. Tropez Self Tan Dark Bronzing Mousse
No vacay, no problem. Calling all brown girls who want to get bronzed from the comfort of their couch: Get yourself some of this. It's a mousse formula that adheres to all skin tones and will stick, without looking streaky for a long-lasting tan.
Saie Sun Melt Natural Cream Bronzer
Dry-skinned beauties, this one's for you. This pigmented balm is packed with soothing colloidal oatmeal and antioxidant-rich grapeseed oils that'll never snag on flakes or fine lines. And if you're shifting from a day at the pool to a night out, the formula is buildable and blendable so you can buff your way to your perfect complexion.
Banana Boat Summer Color Self-Tanning Lotion in Deep Dark
This is a go-to for brown girls who are already somewhat skilled in the world of sunless tanning, since the tinted lotion really will give you a rich, deep color—even on dark-chocolate skin.
Glossier Solar Paint
Glossier's newest addition focuses on faking that subtle, ray of light-style glow, and the doe-foot applicator makes it easy to apply the gel-cream formula to the spots the sun would naturally hit your face.
Huda Beauty Tantour Contour & Bronzer Cream
Overpackers, listen up. If you can't stand to leave any of your precious makeup at home during a week away, I'll raise you a multi-formula that might make life easier. This cream-to-powder formula can be used with a stiff brush or stippler to contour, or be buffed out with a fluffy brush to create bronze-y warmth.
TAN-LUXE THE FACE Illuminating Self-Tan Drops
Just add a few drops of this rave-reviewed facial self-tanner to your moisturizer—you can add more or less drops over time, depending on how concentrated you want the formula to be—and you'll wake up with bronzed, glowy skin. One reviewer raves: "I'm so in love with this product! My main concern, besides whether or not it would actually tan my darker complexion, was whether it break my face out? It does not!!! It gives a nice, realistic tan glow!"
Tower 28 Beauty Bronzino Illuminating Cream Bronzer
It's summer. You're sweating your ass off, which means it's probably not the time for a matte, pore-erasing finish. Enter Bronzino (I mean, how cute is that name?), a shimmery, almost gel-like formula that warms up deep skin tones with a 'just left the beach' kind of finish.
Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Matte Bronzer
Pressed powder doesn't have to flatten you out—on the contrary! This classic from one of the UK's beauty queens contains micro-fine perfecting powders to create a blurring filter over the skin, while hyaluronic acid helps keep your skin looking and feeling bouncy.
Fake Bake Flawless Darker
Not many self-tanners can take darker skin to an even deeper shade without looking weirdly fake, but this cult-favorite spray can and does, and even includes a mitt for easier application.
Becca Sunlit Bronzer in Ipanema Sun
Counting down the days until you can be on a beach again? Well, this bronzer was inspired by "sun-drenched destinations"—so, basically it's a vacation must-have you need. With the help of super finely-milled pigments, this blendable bronzer imparts the most gorgeous glow on dark skin tones.
e.l.f. Cosmetics Bronzer Palette
Four bronzer colors for the fraction of the price of one? We'll take two, please. The $6 price tag is unmatched, and the universal shades allow you to mix and match as you please to create a glow that caters to your complexion.
Vita Liberata Body Blur
Meet your real-life Instagram filter. This wash-off bronzer won't deepen your skin tone like other self-tanners, but will instead even out discoloration and hyperpigmentation for an airbrushed-looking finish.
bareMinerals Endless Summer Bronzer
Don't feel like putting on a contour powder and a highlighter? Same, girl, *time is money*. Instead, employ this beautiful blend of the two, which combines the luminosity of a highlighter and the depth of color of a contour powder. Simply swirl a fluffy brush around in this pot, and apply this wherever you want a warm glow.
Kosas The Sun Show Moisturizing Baked Bronzer
Shea butter and meadowfoam seed oil make this baked powder glide on on like a dream and helps you mimic that universally flattering sunset glow.
FENTY BEAUTY by Rihanna Sun Stalk'r Instant Warmth Bronzer
Who among us doesn't want to look like Rihanna on the daily? Well, this bronzer from her beauty brand might be the closest we can get, and that's fine by us. This pigmented powder creates a sculpted complexion with just a bit of blending.
Versa Spa Bronzing Mist
One of the main causes of a splotchy, streaky self-tan is having dry patches on your skin. Luckily, the blend of green and brown algae in this bronzing mist makes up for any spots you may have missed while moisturizing.
Danessa Myricks Beauty Power Bronzer Cream Bronzer
If you have dry skin, this formula provides creamy, dreamy warmth without bunching up around dry patches or flakes, and it stays for hours without creasing.
Dior Forever Natural Bronze Powder Bronzer
If you love your look to be as matte as possible, this bronzer will keep things glamorous play perfectly with your foundation and give you that soft, Hollywood star warmth.
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