Bronzer is an essential part of your base makeup routine since it adds warmth and definition to the face, resulting in a natural glow to trick people into thinking you just returned from vacation — that is, sans the sun damage.
While there are several different types of bronzers available on the market — think: creams, liquids, and powders — bronzer sticks are especially great considering how convenient and user-friendly they are. Unlike contour sticks, which are cool-toned, bronzer sticks are warmer-toned, and some even have a hint of shimmer for extra glowiness.
Additionally, according to New York City-based makeup artist Tobi Henney, the best bronzer sticks have smooth-gliding formulas, allowing for effortless blending. Similarly, makeup artist Judi Gabbay, who is also based in New York City, recommends looking for a bronzer stick with a “hydrating formula” so “that doesn’t tug at [the] skin when applying.” With this in mind, she tells Allure that “the key to a great bronzer stick is bendability and a good, expansive shade range.” And, speaking of shades, Henney recommends selecting one “around 2-3 shades darker than your skin tone.”
Once you’ve found your perfect shade, Gabbay recommends applying the product “straight from the tub” and buffing out with a damp beauty sponge or angled contour brush. She also warns against applying the product “too low under cheekbones.” Otherwise, this can visually drag down the face instead of creating a lifted look.
Below, we’ve rounded up the best bronzer sticks to suit all skin tones, including a handful of editor and makeup artist-approved picks.
Henney loves how effortlessly the Milk Makeup Matte Cream Bronzer Stick glides onto the skin thanks to its ultra-smooth texture. She continues, telling Allure, “The tones are beautiful and give the most gorgeous bronzing effect.” Take your pick of five shades — including Spaced, a very deep bronze (pictured) — each with a natural, skin-like finish. Ingredient highlights include fatty acid-rich castor and sunflower seed oils, along with skin-softening mango seed butter.
According to Gabbay, the Allure editor-approved Makeup by Mario SoftSculpt Shaping Stick is “a great option for first-timers” due to its buildable formula, which softly sculpts while adding warmth. As a bonus, the dual-ended stick conveniently comes with a brush for easy blending — sans any streaks, patchiness, or harsh lines. Select from one of six matte shades ranging from Light to Dark Deep.
For a gorgeous no-makeup makeup look, Gabbay reaches for the Nudestix Nudies Matte Cream Bronzer, which comes in eight distinct hues. The makeup artist is quick to note the product’s buttery formula, which she describes as “super easy to blend” Gabbay also likes to apply the product “directly onto the forehead, under cheeks and jawline as well as under bottom lip and on eyelid” before blending it with an angled blush.
Gabbay loves the LYS Beauty No Limits Cream Bronzer & Contour Stick for its smooth, highly pigmented formula. As such, she says “a little goes a long way.” It’s also spiked with skin-care ingredients such as niacinamide to minimize the appearance of pores, plus antioxidant-laden green tea extract and vitamin C-loaded rosehip seed oil.
Don’t let the name of this product fool you: Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Match Stix Matte Contour Skinstick works wonderfully as a bronzer stick. Available in nine shades (including Soft Amber for light skin tones, Truffle for medium skin tones, and Espresso for medium-deep skin tones), the bronzer stick offers a long-wearing, cream-to-powder formula that’s both buildable and blendable. Though it’s enriched with moisturizing coconut oil, you can expect a natural-looking, matte finish that won’t slip and slide throughout the dog days of summer.
The Rare Beauty Warm Wishes Effortless Bronzer Stick offers a weightless, creamy formula that seemingly melts into the skin, delivering instant warmth that won’t fade: even when the sun does. Its non-greasy, water-resistant formula is spiked with skin-care ingredients like moisturizing meadowfoam and vitamin E-rich sunflower seed oil. Select from eight shades, including three new ones such as Bright Side (soft tan with cool undertones), Good Energy (medium brown with cool undertones), and On the Horizon (deep brown with cool undertones).
Merit is famous for its minimalist, multipurpose makeup staples, including the Bronze Balm Sheer Sculpting Bronzer. The bronzer stick offers a natural finish and sheer tint of color to subtly sculpt and add warmth. There are five shades total: Quince for fair skin, Clay for light skin, Seine for medium skin, Leo for medium-deep skin, and Monarch for deep skin. Plus, fatty acids lock in moisture, making this buttery formula suitable for dry skin.
We already love the Pixi On-The-Glow Blush for its user-friendly stick format, sheer color payoff, and nourishing formula, which is packed with fatty acids, vitamins, and antioxidants. So, it comes as no surprise that we’re equally obsessed with the brand’s On-the-Glow Bronze Tinted Moisture Stick. Simply swipe along the cheeks (and lips!), blend with your fingers or a brush, et voila. Choose from four gorgeous, beach-inspired shades like Warm Glow (a rosy-bronze) and Beach Glow (a deeper bronze).
Elaluz by Camila Coelho’s Stick Bronzer deserves a permanent place in your makeup bag for its blendable and smooth-gliding formula, which is available in three shades: Superstar shimmer (a shimmery bronze), Yummy Natural (a matte tan), and Super Yummy Natural (a matte mocha). Additionally, cosmetic chemist Ginger King previously told Allure that the bronzer stick’s hero ingredient, camu camu, contains 30 times more vitamin C — best known for its superior brightening and free-radical-fighting properties — than oranges.
Priced at just $10, Undone Beauty Water Bronzer gives most drugstore brands a run for their money. Infused with vitamin-loaded coconut water for an added boost of hydration, it’s cool to the touch for an extra-refreshing feel. Thanks to its ultra-blendable formula, you need not worry about any streakiness. Oh, and it’s also non-comedogenic, so it won’t clog up your pores. (Oily skin types, feel free to breathe a sigh of relief.)
Think of the Burt’s Bees 100% Natural All Aglow Bronzer Stick as one-part bronzer, one-part highlighter for a glowy bronze finish. (More specifically, the inner core of the bronzer stick is actually a highlighter.) Additionally, as you can probably guess by its name, the product is made with 100 percent natural ingredients, including a slew of moisturizing staples like coconut oil, jojoba oil, and cupuacu butter, as well as fatty acid-packed linoleic acid. Finally, thanks to how lightweight the formula is, it won’t feel cakey or heavy on the skin. Choose from two shades: Bronze Splash or Golden Shimmer.
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