The 7 Best Drugstore Bronzers Under $20

You'll look you've just returned from Ibiza.

two models wearing bronzer
(Image credit: Monica Schipper / Getty Images)

If you’re on the hunt for the very best bronzer, you're probably already familiar with the struggle. Some bronzers are so sheer that you might as well have put nothing on; others can veer so orange or so gray that the finished result looks like you applied bronzer, rather than just stepped off the beaches of Saint-Tropez. But as it turns out, some of the best bronzers out there can actually be found at the drugstore, no tropical vacation or trip to Sephora needed.

Drugstore bronzers have historically gotten a bad rep: They've been pegged as patchy, discolored, and drying on the skin. And when it comes to cream bronzers from the drugstore, the pickings used to be so slim (or so shimmery) that a traditional powder can feel like your only option. Thankfully, times have changed. A bunch of new (and iconic!) affordable picks are giving the higher-priced bronzers a run for their money—and you don’t have to spend more than $20 to achieve your best bronzer look. (If you’re new to bronzer, or are just looking for a refresher, check out Marie Claire’s guide on how to apply bronzer.)

What to Look For in a Drugstore Bronzer

“I personally look for the same things in makeup, whether it’s drugstore or designer," says Jenna Kristina, celebrity makeup artist to clients like those known for their glow like Megan Fox and Zoey Deutch. The number one deciding factor for Kristina? Whether or not the bronzer is shimmery or matte. “I always want my bronzers to not have shimmer,” she says.” I like to be able to control where shimmer is applied. I like shimmer in a highlighter and not all over the face, personally.” 

Another important factor: The undertone of the bronzer that you choose. The Bronzer vs. Contour debate continues to rage on, but here’s the bottom line: Contours generally have a cooler undertone to create the look of shadows, whereas bronzers will have some warmth to them—but not too much so that it looks too orange or red. “Lighter [skin] tones tend to need cooler undertones where darker skin tones tend to need more warmth, otherwise it can look a bit green and not mimic a natural tone depth,” says Kristina. (Check out Marie Claire’s guide to the best bronzers for dark skin for the best options.) Her favorite pick? “Hands down Maybelline City Bronzer,” Kristina says. 

If you're interested in contouring instead, you can read our guide on how to contour your face. Otherwise, keep reading to shop an editor- and celebrity makeup artist-approved list of the best drugstore bronzers money can buy.

The Best Drugstore Bronzers

Julia Marzovilla
E-Commerce Writer

Julia Marzovilla is an E-Commerce Writer at Marie Claire covering all things fashion, beauty, and entertainment. Offline, she’s most likely browsing the web for another pair of black boots or listening to music too loudly—often at the same time.