Best Liquid Bronzers

Updated January 2021
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

30 Models Considered
22 Hours Researched
3 Experts Interviewed
98 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for Best liquid bronzers

If you want to keep your skin looking smooth and youthful, you have to stay out of the sun and wear sunscreen when you venture outside. But avoiding those aging UV rays doesn’t mean you have to forgo a sunkissed glow. With liquid bronzer, you can fake an envy-worthy tan whenever you want.

Liquid bronzer is similar to traditional powder bronzer in that it adds a healthy tan glow to the skin. But it comes in liquid form, which melts into the skin more easily than powder. Liquid bronzers often contain hydrating ingredients, too, for a fresh, luminous look on the skin. Some liquid bronzers are meant solely for the face, while other formulas are also suitable for the body.

But finding the right formula can be challenging. You have to consider your skin type, decide if you want a self-tanning formula, and figure out what texture and finish you prefer. Our buying guide has all the facts you need to choose the right liquid bronzer for your makeup bag. When you’re ready to shop, check out our picks for the best liquid bronzers on the market.

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When choosing a liquid bronzer shade, remember to consider the undertone. Many bronzers have either a red or yellow undertone, while bronzers used for contouring are slightly gray.

Key considerations

Skin type

Depending on the formula, liquid bronzer can work for nearly any skin type. However, because these bronzers are liquid and usually contain hydrating ingredients, they’re a particularly good option for dry and mature skin. Powder bronzers can cling to dry patches and settle in fine lines and wrinkles, but liquid bronzers contain emollients that help them melt seamlessly into the skin for a more natural look.

Liquid bronzer isn’t necessarily as good an option for oily skin. If you have oily skin, you’re usually better off with a powder formula that absorbs oil. However, if you like the natural look that a liquid formula provides, opt for an oil-free liquid bronzer.

Face vs. body

Most liquid bronzers are meant specifically for use on the face. These formulas feature ingredients that aren’t too heavy, so they won’t clog pores and cause a breakout.

However, some formulas are meant for use on the body and contain more intensive hydrating ingredients for the thicker, drier skin of the body. You can usually use a face-specific bronzer on the body, too, but you shouldn’t use a body-specific formula on the face if you want to avoid acne and other irritations.

Some liquid bronzers are multipurpose products and can be used on both the face and body. Be sure to read the application directions carefully before using a liquid bronzer.

Bronzers vs. self-tanners

Liquid bronzer instantly adds a golden, sunkissed glow to the skin, but its effects are only temporary. When you remove your makeup, you lose the bronze color. But some liquid bronzers also contain self-tanner, which means they not only give you an immediate bronze glow but also produce a sunless tan that develops over a few hours and lasts for about a week.

Self-tanners can be tricky to apply because they often go on streaky. Using a two-in-one liquid bronzer and self-tanner makes the process easier because you can see exactly where you’re applying the color to make sure it goes on evenly. This type of product is also a good option if you don’t want to apply bronzer every day because the color will last for several days.

Consistency

Liquid bronzers vary in consistency. Many have a gel- or cream-like texture that spreads easily over the skin. Other formulas are more watery, which means they’re lighter weight and look more natural. However, thinner liquid bronzers can be a bit messy to apply since they can run down the face if you don’t blend them quickly enough.

Finish

Unlike powder bronzers, which often have a matte finish without any shine, liquid bronzers usually have a radiant or dewy finish on the skin. This finish is especially flattering for dry or mature skin, which can look a little dull. If you aren’t a fan of an overly glowy makeup look, though, you can find some liquid bronzers with a satin finish, which only has a slight sheen.

Instead of applying liquid bronzer over foundation, try mixing a small amount of bronzer into your liquid foundation. This can give you a sunkissed glow that looks like it truly comes from within.

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Features

Shade

Many liquid bronzers are available in a single universal shade that is meant to suit all skin tones. If you have particularly fair or deep skin, though, these bronzers may not work for you. Other liquid bronzers come in multiple shades, which allows you to choose an option that’s right for your specific skin tone. You’ll typically get the most natural, flattering look from a liquid bronzer with a wider shade range.

SPF

Just because you want to look tan doesn’t mean you want any actual sun damage. That’s why some liquid bronzers contain SPF to provide additional protection against UV rays that can cause skin cancer, fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots, and other damage. If you want a formula with sunscreen, though, make sure that it has an SPF of at least 15 and offers broad-spectrum protection.

Fragrance

Like many beauty products meant to mimic the look of a sunkissed glow, liquid bronzers often feature a tropical fragrance that’s reminiscent of tanning oils. Many boast a coconut or pineapple scent. If you have sensitive skin, though, you should opt for a fragrance-free liquid bronzer. Synthetic fragrances can irritate the skin if you have sensitivity issues.

Packaging

Most liquid bronzers come in a squeeze tube, so you can squeeze out the amount you need and apply it to your skin. Others come in a bottle with a pump dispenser for easy application. Some thinner, more watery liquid bronzers come with a doe-foot applicator. This allows you to easily dot the product over your face and blend it into the skin. Other watery formulas come with a medicine dropper to make it easy to dispense the product.

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DID YOU KNOW?
Most liquid bronzers are fairly sheer, so you can control the amount of pigment that the product delivers by building it up.
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Accessories

Makeup brushes: BS-Mall Premium Makeup Brush Set
To keep your hands clean, it helps to have a good makeup brush to blend liquid bronzer into your skin. This set from BS-Mall is ideal because the brushes feature synthetic bristles that won’t soak up too much of the bronzer and waste product.

Makeup sponges: Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponges
If you aren’t a fan of brushes, makeup sponges are another effective tool for blending liquid bronzer into the skin. These sponges from Real Techniques are completely latex-free and precisely contoured to allow for application all over the face.

Liquid bronzer prices

Liquid bronzers vary in price based on the quality of the ingredients and the amount of product. Most formulas cost between $4 and $45.

The most affordable liquid bronzers are typically from drugstore brands. They feature lower-quality ingredients and usually don’t offer SPF. You’ll generally pay between $4 and $16 for these liquid bronzers.

Mid-range liquid bronzers usually feature hydrating ingredients that help deliver a natural, sunkissed glow. Some formulas contain SPF, and many come in multiple shades. You’ll typically spend between $16 and $30 for these liquid bronzers.

The most expensive liquid bronzers are formulas from luxury beauty brands. They feature hydrating ingredients for a natural look and may contain SPF. Some are also self-tanning formulas. You can expect to pay between $30 and $45 for these liquid bronzers.

If your liquid bronzer isn’t overly warm or golden, you can also use it to contour your face for a slimmer, more chiseled look.

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Tips

  • When it comes to choosing a natural bronzer shade, don’t go any deeper than three shades darker than your usual foundation shade.
  • Liquid bronzer formulas are usually buildable. That means you can apply multiple layers until you get the color depth you want. You can even use a powder bronzer on top of a liquid formula to deepen the color and set it in place.
  • You shouldn’t apply liquid bronzer all over the face. Instead, concentrate it on your jawline, cheekbones, nose, and around the edges of your forehead – all the places the sun would naturally hit it.
  • Blending liquid bronzer in fully is crucial for a natural look. Make sure that there aren’t any harsh lines and that it melts seamlessly into your skin.
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A fluffy synthetic brush is your best bet for applying liquid bronzer with a brush because it diffuses the product better than a natural-bristle brush.

FAQ

Q. What’s the best way to apply liquid bronzer?

A. Some people prefer applying liquid bronzer with their hands because the heat from your fingers can help the product blend into the skin. However, most makeup artists recommend using a damp makeup sponge and gently pressing the bronzer into the skin. If you prefer, you can use a synthetic makeup brush to dab it into the skin instead. You can apply liquid bronzer directly to the skin or work off the back of your hand for more control.

Q. Can I use liquid bronzer over my foundation?

A. Yes, you can apply liquid bronzer over your liquid, cream, or stick foundation. But be sure to apply it before you set your foundation with powder. If you use a liquid or cream product on top of powder, it won’t blend as well, causing it to look streaky and uneven. For powder foundation, it’s best to stick to powder bronzers.

Q. What’s the shelf life for liquid bronzers?

A. All makeup products go bad after a certain period. Liquid and cream products usually spoil the fastest, so you should toss your liquid bronzer after 12 to 18 months or whenever it changes in consistency, color, or smell.

 

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