The best liquid bronzer

Liquid bronzers can be used for contouring, a popular makeup technique to shape your face for a more chiseled look.
Liquid bronzers can be used for contouring, a popular makeup technique to shape your face for a more chiseled look. (BestReviews)

When you’re looking for a sun-kissed glow without exposing your skin to UV rays, a liquid bronzer is a surefire way to mimic a healthy tan. Liquid bronzers have a dewy finish and are blendable, unlike bronzing powders, for a more natural look that melts in with the rest of your makeup.

Before purchasing a liquid bronzer that is right for you, there are some important considerations that should be taken into account. Read our shopping guide to learn more. We've also included our top liquid bronzers below, like Clinique's bronzer for a sun-kissed face.


How to choose a liquid bronzer

Skin type: Liquid bronzers work best on dry and mature skin types, and many of the formulas feature hydrating ingredients. If you have oily skin, you may do better with a powder bronzer. That being said, liquid bronzers also come in oil-free formulas, which are suitable for acne-prone, oily, and combination skin types.

Face vs. body: While most liquid bronzers are non-comedogenic for use on the face, there are some liquid bronzers designated for the body. They feature heavier formulas, which we don't recommend on the face because they can cause breakouts. However, you can use a facial liquid bronzer on your body in a pinch. A select few liquid bronzers are formulated for both the body and the face.


Finish: Liquid bronzers have a luminous finish on the skin. Their shimmery appearance is ideal for dry or mature skin, which can appear dull on its own. While the dewy look is on-trend, those who don't care for a glow-up can select a liquid bronzer with a satin finish that offers a more subtle sheen. Be advised that only powder bronzers can provide a matte finish.

Liquid bronzer features

Shade: Liquid bronzers generally come in one "universal" shade. However, if you have particularly deep or fair skin some brands offer multiple shades so that you can find one that will look natural with your skin tone. You may also want to consider the bronzer's undertone when making a purchase. For contouring, select a bronzer with a subtle grey undertone. Red undertones work well on olive and tan skin, and yellow undertones on paler skin.

SPF: Some liquid bronzers contain SPF, which is a great feature if you want to look like you've gone out in the sun while still protecting yourself from UV sun damage. Look for an SPF of at least 15 that offers broad spectrum protection.

Fragrance: Because of their association with tanning, many liquid bronzers feature tropical fragrances like pineapple or coconut to mimic the scent of tanning oils. However, if you have a sensitive nose or skin, select a liquid bronzer that doesn't contain added fragrance.


Liquid bronzer prices

Expect to pay anywhere between $4 and $45 for a liquid bronzer. For a quality bronzer that’ll give you a more natural glow, expect to pay between $16 and $30.

Liquid bronzer FAQ

Q. What’s the difference between a bronzer and a self-tanner?

A. Liquid bronzers only give you a temporary glow, which you lose when you remove the makeup. Self-tanners contain the active ingredient DHA, which causes a chemical reaction on your skin that deepens your skin tone for a more lasting, sunless tan. Some liquid bronzers contain self-tanners for a two-in-one product.

Q. How do I apply a liquid bronzer?

A. The best way to apply a liquid bronzer is to use a makeup sponge and gently press the product onto your face. You can also use a fluffy, synthetic makeup brush to dab the bronzer onto your skin. Don't apply a liquid bronzer over your entire face. Concentrate on your nose, jawline, cheekbones, and the edges of your forehead for a realistic, sun-kissed look.

Which liquid bronzer should I get?

Our take: From a highly reputable brand, this lightweight bronzer creates a natural glow.

What we like: Sheer and oil-free formula doesn't feel heavy on the face. Ideal for all skin types. It's a little product that goes a long way.

What we dislike: Must be rubbed in quickly for best results.

Best bang for your buck: FLOWER Beauty Heatwave Bronzing Essence

Our take: An oil-free liquid bronzer that delivers a healthy glow at a good value.

What we like: Reasonably priced. Oil-free formula is still hydrating with natural ingredients like jojoba. Dewy finish. Doesn't contain orange undertones.

What we dislike: Drop dispenser isn't straightforward to use.

Our take: A two-in-one liquid bronzer and self-tanner from a premium brand.

What we like: Offers lasting and buildable color. Can be used both on the face and the body. Applies smoothly and leaves a silky feel on the skin thanks to its vegetable-sourced silicone.

What we dislike: Mixed reviews on how well the self-tanner works and how it smells.

Ana Sanchez is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun